“If I can shop and bank online, why can’t I vote online?” For many Americans, that seems to be a common sentiment. Of course, this is mostly in relation to presidential elections, in which considerations for online voting must be closely scrutinized. For many organizations that need to hold an election, however—whether it’s selecting a new company board member, a district official, or just a new fraternity or sorority president—an online voting system may be the best way to go.
Support for Online Voting Increases
In our recent blog, Online Voting for Elections During the Coronavirus, we discussed how the call for social distancing had put discussions about an online voting system into overdrive. Rather than come together in person to cast a vote and risk spreading COVID-19, many believed free online election voting using an online ballot was the way to go.
Not only would an online voting system help to contain the virus, but it would also eliminate common voter suppression tactics, which the New York Times highlighted as a major problem. “Messing with polling stations is one of the most common voter suppression tactics,” wrote Alex Tapscott, Co-Founder of the Blockchain Research Institute. “Across the country, polling stations have been closed in minority neighborhoods, had their locations changed from election to election, and have been kept understaffed, or inaccessible, or ill-equipped, so that voters must stand in line for hours.”
While these aren’t necessarily concerns an organization may have regarding their elections, an online voting system still offers a wealth of benefits.
Top 8 Benefits of Voting Through Online Ballots
Here’s a quick look at the many benefits of voting through online elections.
- Lowering Costs. Holding postal or ballot box elections can be expensive. There’s the cost of finding an appropriate space to hold the election, informing eligible voters, preparing postal voting forms, and organizing the vote count. With an online voting system, these costs are eliminated.
- Improving Efficiency. An online voting system allows organizers to create ballots easily online. It also eliminates the need to configure elections from scratch each time. Organizers can create the ballots just one time, and in subsequent years, copy that election specifying only candidate names and election dates.
- Reducing Carbon Footprint. Paper-based elections can become a burden on the environment. Online ballots save paper and reduce CO2 emissions associated with the creation, printing, sending, and returning of election documents.
- Minimizing Mistakes. By eliminating the need for manual vote counting, organizers can avoid result-distorting mistakes such as loss of voting ballots and miscounting. Automated tallying also makes election results available within seconds of the close of the election.
- Improving Voter Turnout. Online voting reduces the barriers of participation (lack of time, inability to get to the voting location, etc) because voters can cast their online ballots from their computer or mobile device at any time within the election period. An online voting tool also allows organizers to send out reminders conveniently via email with a link straight to the online ballot, so voters can’t use the excuse that “they forgot.”
- Reducing Fraud. Electronic voting helps eliminate the opportunity for ballot tampering. Michael Shamos of Carnegie Mellon University, who favors electronic voting, states that “Paper voting records have shown themselves for the past 250 years to be horribly insecure and easy to manipulate.”
- Improving Fairness. Candidates’ names on each ballot can be shuffled so each gets a fair chance at prime name placement on the ballot.
- Comprehensive Reporting. Organizers can often view voter turnout in real-time with data that goes beyond the question of “who won.”
Security Challenges with Online Ballot Elections
While there are many benefits to holding an online election, concerns remain regarding security. Today’s technologies are deeply interconnected, and foreign adversaries and others with malicious intent may look for security vulnerabilities to undermine the voting system and even change the results. Thankfully, security is constantly improving, and awareness of the potential for hacking is growing. Improved security measures combined with the knowledge that there are threats make an online voting system more viable.
Tech Crunch, one of the most highly regarded publications in the tech industry, agrees. “While [security] concerns can be valid, they should not outweigh both the necessity and potential benefits of internet-based voting,” they wrote in 2020. “Just as we cannot place blind faith in the infallibility of our technologies, we also cannot fall into a senseless, all-encompassing mistrust that would both disenfranchise millions of voters and shake trust in our elections.”
Holding an Online Ballot Election with SurveyLegend
Considering holding an online ballot election? Then consider using SurveyLegend. Our online voting platform allows you to easily create surveys, or ballots. Here’s how it works:
- Create a survey/ballot. You can create a multiple-choice survey (or image choice survey) and set it so that only a “Single Selection” can be made. You can also make it so that voters cannot skip over any selection by activating the “Answer is Required” setting.
- Share the survey/ballot. You’ll receive a link that can be shared with anyone via email or social media. Privacy is likely a concern, so you can restrict access with a password to it. Check out our password protection feature at the bottom of this page.
- Collect votes. Our Survey Logics ensures that each voter can only submit their ballot one time, and you can keep track of who has or hasn’t responded even while keeping the voting anonymous.
- Analyze the results. Once you’ve collected votes, you can download the data into an Excel or CSV format, or simply export it directly to Google Drive. You can even share your real-time analytics page, publicly or privately.
SurveyLegend has achieved an Extended Validation Certificate, which can only be obtained after a company has been thoroughly investigated and certified by a valid EV Certificate Issuer, so you can count on us when it comes to online voting security. All data transfers within our site, app, and surveys go through highly encrypted connections, and we are compliant with the GDPR. Your security is our priority!