Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 Year in Review

Screenshot of the OpaVote website as of December 2014.
OpaVote in December 2014
It has been a tremendous year at OpaVote!  We have been constantly adding new features and improving existing features to provide you with the best experience possible for running your elections.

To the right, you can see a screenshot of how OpaVote appeared in December 2014.  Shortly afterwards, we hired a graphic artist to design a new logo and we completely revamped the site to make it mobile friendly and better looking.

Below are some other highlights of the past year, and we are looking forward to an even better 2016.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Best Methods for Electing a Single Person

OpaVote offers 23 different counting methods that you can use for counting the votes in your election!  Most other election providers give you just one option.  Here, we help you navigate the options for electing a single person (president, vice-president, treasurer, etc.) We'll have a follow up post to discuss electing a group of people (committees, councils, etc.).
First off, if you insist on having a boring, traditional, and unfair election where voters pick one candidate and the candidate with the most votes wins, then select the "Plurality/FPTP/SNTV" option and move on.  On the other hand, if you really care about electing the best people to lead your organization, then keep reading.

Instant Runoff Voting

Generally, our top recommendation to most organizations is to use instant runoff voting (IRV).  IRV provides good results and is easy to understand. In particular, we recommend San Francisco RCV because the rules are well defined.

With IRV, a voter ranks the candidates in order of preference (e.g., 1, 2, 3, etc.). The first step in the counting is to count the first place votes. If a candidate receives a majority of first place votes, then he or she is the winner. If not, the candidate with the fewest first place votes is eliminated and those votes are transferred to their second choices. This elimination process is repeated until a majority winner is obtained.

The results of an IRV election are also easy to understand, and here are results of our favorite ice cream flavor poll with IRV.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Using OpaVote for On-Site Elections

A cartoon of a person in a voting booth. Most people use OpaVote for conducting elections over email, but it is actually very easy to use OpaVote to conduct on-site elections where people vote in person at a voting booth or kiosk.  One of our customers did this, and shared the details with us so we are sharing with you in case you find it helpful for running your own on-site election.

Email Voters and Code Voters

As a first step, it is important that you understand the difference between email voters and code voters in OpaVote.

An email voter has an email address associated with it, and when the election starts, OpaVote will send an email with a secret voting link to allow that voter to cast a vote.  The voting link actually has a secret code embedded into it to make sure the voter only votes once.  When the voter clicks on the link, OpaVote knows who the voter is because of the secret code embedded in the link.  After the voter enters his or her vote, OpaVote marks that code as being used so the voter cannot vote again.

A code voter does not have an email address, it is just a secret code and nothing else.  In order to use a code voter, you must assign the code to a voter and send the code to the voter so that the voter can use it.  For example, you could send it to the voter via postal mail or print it out on a piece of paper and give it to the voter.  The voter can then go to the web page for your election, type in his or her code, and then cast a vote.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Just Say No to "None of the Above"

A graphic showing an example ballot line to vote for none of the above.
Some OpaVote users use a "None of the Above" (NOTA) option when voting to fill an office.  Others call this a "Seek Further Candidates" (SFC) option, a "Reopen Nominations" (RON) option, or an "All Candidates Suck" (ACS) option.  The reason for a NOTA/SFC/RON/ACS option (hereinafter "NOTA") is to allow the voters to decide that none of the candidates are worthy of being elected and that the organization is better off leaving the position vacant for the present time.

In my opinion, organizations are better off not using a NOTA option.  I'll explain my reasoning here. But if you insist on using a NOTA option, you need to make sure you do so correctly and I'll also explain how to do that.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Welcome to the OpaVote Blog!

We have just set up a blog to make it easier for us to share information with you to help you run your elections with OpaVote.  Here, we will have longer posts than what you will find on other social media sites, such as our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages.

A huge motivation in creating OpaVote was to provide tools to make it easier for organizations around the world to use better voting methods.  Traditional check-the-box voting (a.k.a. first past the post or plurality) does not provide good outcomes in many situations, and organizations can have better outcomes by using better voting methods.  Accordingly, many of our posts will be focusing on the benefits of ranked-choice voting and other non-traditional voting methods, such as instant runoff voting, the single transferable vote, Condorcet voting, and approval voting.

To whet your appetite, here is a summary of blog posts that we will be working on:

  • Recommended voting methods for different types of elections (single winner, multi-winner, agenda setting)
  • Why instant runoff voting, Condorcet, and approval voting are all much better than traditional techniques
  • Why proportional representation (e.g., STV) is great for electing committees, councils, and other groups
  • Just say no to a None of the Above candidate
  • How to use OpaVote for onsite voting
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for topics you would like to see covered in a blog post.