Friday, June 14, 2019

Elections with a Large Number of Candidates

Some online elections at OpaVote have a very large number of candidates. We'll sometimes see a single contest with hundreds of candidates or many contests where each contest has a large number of candidates.

An OpaVote manager recently asked me the best way to run an election with a large number of candidates. The best answer is don't run an election with a large number of candidates! In some instances, it may be unavoidable, but as an election manager, you should work hard to have a reasonable number of candidates.

In this blog post, we explain (1) why should not have a large number of candidates and (2) if you do, how to improve the process.

Don't Run Elections with a Large Number of Candidates

As an election manager, by asking your voters to vote in an election, you are asking each of your voters to do a favor for you. Your voters are busy people, and they have lots of things going on in their lives. They also get overwhelmed with emails. You are lucky if they open the voting email, never mind clicking a link in the email and then reviewing a list of candidates to cast a vote.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Why I'm against lowering the voting age to less than 18

It is quite rare for me to be against any kind of voting reform. After all, I started OpaVote for the primary purpose of promoting ranked-choice voting. But when it comes to the supposed reform of lowering the voting age from the current standard of age 18 to something lower, I am dead set against it.

Here is my reasoning in a nutshell: I don't see lowering the voting age as having any significant impact in improving voter turnout. To the extent that people or organizations advocate for lowering the voting age, they are distracting us from real reforms that could make a difference.

Voting Reforms that Could Make a Difference

I'll limit myself to voting reforms that are focused on improving voter turnout since that seems to be the objective of advocates of lowering the voting age.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Largest Election Ever with 57,000 Voters

Our largest election ever was completed yesterday with a total of 57,000 voters. Although we've carefully designed our online voting platform to scale to handle elections of any size, we must admit that we do get a little nervous when a customer has an election that goes where no election has gone before!

One amazing aspect of modern cloud computing is the ability to quickly scale the number of servers running your website behind the scenes. For typical daily usage of OpaVote, we have a relatively small number of servers, but when a large election starts, the number of servers will increase quickly to handle the sudden increase in traffic. When the traffic slows down, the number of servers will decrease so that we are not paying for computing power that we don't need.

The graph here shows the change in the number of servers when the election with 57,000 voters started. We are happy to report that the election with 57,000 voters went off flawlessly.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Easier payments with OpaVote

A few months ago, we stopped PayPal support to make it easier to make payments to OpaVote for your online elections. We are happy to now announce those improvements!

We process our payments using a company called Stripe, which provides amazing services and is one of those unicorn companies that you hear about.

When you provide your credit card number at OpaVote, we never see it. It goes directly from your browser to Stripe, and then Stripe processes it for us. Processing credit card numbers is serious business so we let Stripe handle that for us.

Saving of Credit Card Info

You can now save your credit card info so that you don't need to enter it for each payment. For those of you running many elections, this will save you the trouble of having to repeatedly enter your credit card info.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Customer Spotlight: Impact 100 uses OpaVote to award grants to nonprofits.

In this blog post, we highlight the great work of Impact 100 of Northwest Florida, and describe how they used OpaVote to allow voting at their meeting both on smart phones and using election kiosks.

The mission of IMPACT 100 of Northwest Florida is to financially support nonprofit organizations in Northwest Florida by empowering women as philanthropists and leaders, by bridging the geographic areas of the region, and by leveraging the talents of women to be a positive force for good in our communities.

IMPACT 100 is an amazing group. The group has 514 women as members and each member contributes $1000 per year. All of the money goes to supporting nonprofits so the group was able to make awards totaling $514,000! IMPACT 100 used OpaVote to select five nonprofits as award winners from nine candidate organizations. The worthy winners this year were Sinfonia (music education for schools), Youth Village (after-school programs for children), One Hopeful Place (homeless shelters), Oasis (AIDS support), and Gulfarium (rehabilitation of rescued sea turtles).

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Above the Line (ATL) Voting with OpaVote

Some single transferable vote (STV) elections use what is called above-the-line (ATL) voting or a group voting ticket. ATL voting is most common in Australia where STV elections sometimes have a large number of candidates and voters are required to rank a certain number of candidates in order to cast a valid ballot.

To reduce the burden on voters, the voters have an option to allow their favorite party to choose the rankings for them. This post explains how you can implement an ATL online election with OpaVote.

Above, is an example of a ballot that includes an ATL option. The thick black horizontal line there is the "line" of above the line. A voter can vote above the line (ATL) or below the line (BTL) but not both (I suppose some implementations may allow both but I'll skip that to simplify the discussion).

An ATL vote is to select a party of the four parties competing in the election. If a voter picks a party, then the voter's vote is determined by the party's "ticket". Before the election, each party specifies its ticket, which corresponds to a ranking of the candidates competing in the election. Each party presumably ranks it own candidates the highest and followed by candidates of ideologically similar parties.

A BTL vote allows the voter to rank the candidates any way he or she wants.

Friday, September 28, 2018

No Longer Allowing PayPal Payments

For many years, we've allowed customers to make payments to OpaVote using a credit card via Stripe or via PayPal.  Because PayPal is such a difficult company to work with, we've decided to stop accepting payments via PayPal.  Stripe supports payments in more than 135 countries so this should be a good solution for nearly all OpaVote customers.

I suspect some customers will find it a hardship to no longer be able to make payments via PayPal.  If that is the case for you, please contact us, and let us know what payment options (besides PayPal) are available to you, and we'll do our best to make it work.

Thank you for your understanding!