Secure e-voting: How secure is the platform you use?

May 5th, 2017

UK Engage looks at secure e-voting and the levels of user verification

 

As security is an inherent part of any election process, it is imperative that the election services provider you choose can run elections with transparency and impartiality, incorporating the most secure procedures, systems and software possible.

Leading election services provider UK Engage knows that ensuring voter security and confidentiality remains the key requirement in any election.   Whether an organisation is operating a paper ballot or is using an online system, stringent measures must be taking to ensure that each voter has unique credentials which allow only them to vote.

In order to ensure client requirements, in relation to voter security, are maintained – UK Engage has updated its e-voting platform to include up to three-factor verification.  In simple terms, this means that clients can now have the option to ask voters to input up to three pieces of information before they can vote.

Andy Tye, General Manager at UK Engage says of the update. “Usually clients opt for one or two factor verification because reducing barriers to vote often results in higher voter turnout. However, on occasions, clients require a higher level of security.  The enhancement to our platform means that, where required, clients can ask voters to input three pieces of information, for example this could be a unique code generated by UK Engage, a membership number and a date of birth, resulting in an extremely secure e-voting platform”.

The additional verification option makes the e-voting platform one of the most flexible and secure on the market. Clients can choose the level of security they want for their election.  So, if a client wanted the most secure system, they would choose three-factor verification.

Three-factor verification is just one of the enhancements UK Engage has made to its e-voting platform. In addition, each and every online ballot and election is encrypted.  Furthermore, to supplement its existing ISO 27001:2013 Accreditation for Information Security, UK Engage now holds the Cyber Essentials certification.

To find out more about how UK Engage can help your e-democracy requirements, contact us on: –

Tel: 0161 209 4808
Email: enquiries@uk-engage.org

Voting methods and e-voting used in organisational elections

April 26th, 2017

Does your e-voting system support the complexities of voting methods like the single transferable vote, as well as first past the post?

 

For membership organisation that govern by democracy, making sure the election process to your Board, Council or Committee is impartial and delivered according to the relevant election rules or constitution, is crucial to the validity of the result. This is why most organisations that undertake elections, ballots or referenda choose election services providers that act as independent scrutineers or returning officers.

As one of the country’s leading providers of election services for non-statutory elections, UK Engage is experienced in overseeing all types of democratic processes. As more and more organisations incorporate e-voting into their election processes, a common question we get asked is whether or not our e-voting platform supports a company’s particular voting method.

By far the most popular voting methods delivered by UK Engage are First Past the Post (FPTP) and the Single Transferable Vote (STV).

First Past the Post
Also known as FPTP, voters mark an X against their preferred candidate(s). Depending on the number of seats available the candidate(s) with the most votes are elected.

Single Transferable Vote
Often considered a more proportional system, the Single Transferable Vote or STV, requires voters to numerically rank candidates in order of voter preference.

There are advantages to using each system, however it is universally thought that first past the post is a much simpler process. For election administrators such as UK Engage, this means that conducting this type of election on and offline is a simpler process than the STV method. For organisations that want a more representative result, STV is often the more popular choice.

The principle behind STV is more complex, with many supporters of STV saying that it is more proportional and transparent than other methods. Votes get transferred, so if voter’s preferred candidate has been excluded or has a surplus, votes are then transferred to the next available preference, in accordance with the STV rules. STV therefore ensures that very few votes are unused. The quota for a candidate to be elected is calculated on the number of valid votes cast, divided by the number of seats plus 1. Then either the surplus is taken from those who have reached the quota or by eliminating the least popular candidates and redistributing their votes throughout the remaining candidates.

Due to the more complex nature of the count, although producing ballot packs and e-voting solutions that support the STV method may seem fairly straightforward, the method of counting and verifying the successful candidate/s will require an election specialist. That’s why ‘off the shelf’ e-voting systems or ‘survey’ based software often only support the first past the post method.

If STV is a method that appears in your organisation’s constitution and you want to ensure an impartial, robust and accurate election result, then a specialist election services provider should be assigned to adjudicate that election. Key suppliers of election services, such as UK Engage, have tried and tested e-voting platforms which accommodate both FPTP and STV voting methods and have the correct algorithm in place to calculate complex counts such as STV.

To find out more about how UK Engage can help your e-voting requirements, contact us on: –

Tel: 0161 209 4808
Email: enquiries@uk-engage.org

UK Engage is a Cyber Essentials certified supplier

April 13th, 2017

Election services provider enhances its security against cyber attacks with Cyber Essentials

 

As a leading election services provider, UK Engage has to protect its company assets, IP and customer data, against common cyber threats.

Having held ISO 27001, the international standard for Information Security, for 5 years, information security processes are common practice at our North West based business.  However, to further secure our systems, UK Engage has gone through the Cyber Essentials application in April 2017 and we are pleased to announce that we have passed.

What is Cyber Essentials?
Cyber Essentials is a government-backed cyber security certification scheme that sets out a good baseline of cyber security suitable for all organisations spanning all sectors. The scheme addresses five key controls that, when implemented correctly, can prevent around 80% of cyber-attacks.

UK Engage has successfully shown that we have implemented the following five Cyber Essentials Controls to help us stay secure: –

  1. Demonstrated a secure configuration of computers and network devices
  2. Use boundary firewalls and internet gateways to block attackers and external threats
  3. Manage strict access control and administrative privileges to staff
  4. Showed evidence of software patching and licencing
  5. Implementation of appropriate malware protection

Why Cyber Essentials?
Working with all types of organisations to provide multi-channel nomination and voting solutions means handling confidential data and information.  For UK Engage it is therefore crucial to eliminate risk wherever possible, as cyber attacks can cause expense and disruption, something the company will go to extreme lengths to avoid.

Managing Director, John Foster, says of the certification “The reason we applied for Cyber Essentials was to add an additional layer of security to our already robust security set-up.  Knowing that, as a business, we are protected from the vast majority of common cyber attacks allows us to concentrate on our customers’ needs with confidence.”

UK Engage Services Director and Customer Service Excellence ambassador, Stephen Power, added “Achieving the Cyber Essentials certification will help to further enhance customer trust and confidence in our organisation and our service.  As a team we work extremely hard to put the customer first; the customer experience and security has to be at the heart of everything we do.”

Included in the assessment was an external penetration test, which UK Engage passed.  The assessment was completed by IT Governance, the full scope included firewalls, routers, end user devices and hosted systems at the company’s headquarters.

For more information please contact the UK Engage team on: –

Tel: 0161 209 4808
Email: enquiries@uk-engage.org

Brand identity and membership organisation elections

April 6th, 2017

How important is your brand identity to the outcome of your election?

 

Like any brand, membership organisations have to work hard in order for members to feel affiliation and loyalty. A brand identity means that consumers can more easily relate to the brand, forming an emotional attachment. By joining a membership organisation individuals inherently relate to the organisation, however emotional attachments can fade if the organisation changes (or doesn’t change), creating a ‘disconnect’ between the two.

Election specialist, UK Engage looks at how part of a brand’s personality – its visual identity, can encourage participation in elections, ballots and referenda.

The visible elements of a brand such as its logo, colours, design, name and symbols, together identify and distinguish the brand in the consumers’ mind.   For a membership organisation, its identity should be a representation of its reputation, conveying its attributes, values, purpose, strengths, and passions.

Member organisations will apply an identity to all manner of visual communications, ensuring the message is received by and understood by members.  The identity will be applied to websites, intranets, social media platforms, sales collateral, advertising, signage, stationery, merchandise and packaging.

Maintaining the same brand identity when employing external suppliers can be a little harder to manage.  UK Engage has encountered many examples where organisations need help with the continuation of the brand identity.  In a democratic scenario, where an external adjudicator is assigned to run an election, careful attention should be paid to a company’s brand guidelines in order to maintain the continuity of the identity and what it ultimately stands for.

Applying brand identity to election materials

If any third party is representing an organisation, they must be fully aware of its brand guidelines in order to fully represent the brand.  Although an election may be administered by an external company, the communication channels, be it print or online, must seamlessly replicate the organisation’s identity.

UK Engage’s in-house design team works to an organisation’s brand guidelines to develop printed election materials.

When designing printed communications such as nomination forms, candidate statements, ballot packs and engagement materials, such as letters, postcards, banners and posters, election service providers are able to transfer the brand identity easier than with online alternatives.   Most election services suppliers offer online nomination forms and e-voting platforms but these online alternatives may not offer the freedom that’s available with printed materials, in terms of applying a brand identity.  Often online forms are generic in design with limited opportunities for customisation.

In order to apply a brand identity to every element of the election, membership organisations should choose an election services provider that has innovative and modern online solutions, which can be customised to support their brand identity.  UK Engage has updated its e-democracy services and now offers branding opportunities on its online nomination and e-voting platform.   Logo, colours, designs and imagery can now bring your brand to your online election, continuing the relationship members have with their membership organisations.

To find out more about how UK Engage can help bring your brand identity to every aspect of your election, contact us on: –

Tel: 0161 209 4808
Email: enquiries@uk-engage.org

How handheld voting can help improve participation at your AGM

April 4th, 2017

Make it easy for members to exercise their AGM voting rights with handheld voting devices

Depending on the size of your organisation you will probably take a different approach to AGM voting. Voting on resolutions and/or candidates for board or council positions, can be carried out in a number of ways before and at the AGM, and in person or by proxy.

Votes can be cast before the AGM; the most popular methods are by a paper ballot or by an online voting system, often referred to as e-voting.  In this scenario, organisations can begin engagement well in advance, ensuring all eligible members receive communications by post or online, including information about the AGM and instructions on how to vote, including appointing a proxy.

For members who wish to attend the AGM in person, in order to exercise their democratic rights, the voting options may differ depending on expected attendance and of course, budget.

Smaller organisations may simply prefer a traditional show of hands or perhaps may opt for a paper ballot, which is still a popular way to collect votes. However, larger organisations may consider the benefits of handheld digital voting systems as a way to encourage more votes at the AGM, as voting via these devices is quick and easy to do, and offers an immediate response.

Voters simply select the button which reflects their preference or preferences. Using an audience response system makes it easier for the member to vote, aiding participation and improving voter turnout.

Benefits of handheld voting:

  • Immediate response while the member is fully- engaged
  • Improved visibility of how engaged the audience is overall
  • Fast, accurate count (no spoiled votes)
  • Determine voter turnout quickly
  • Limits the requirement for count staff
  • Easy to use handheld devices
  • Full technical support at events

To find out more about how UK Engage can help you organise the right voting system for your AGM, workshops or other organisational events, contact us via the details below. Alternatively, visit us at MemberWise’s Membership Excellence 2017 on 27th April 2017 at the Park Plaza Hotel Victoria, London, where we will be supplying the handheld voting devices as well as exhibiting.  You will find us at Stand 14.

Tel: 0161 209 4808
Email: enquiries@uk-engage.org

UK Engage launches enhanced digital election system into the UK market

March 23rd, 2017

An improved election system to administer elections and improve engagement

 

UK Engage has launched an enhanced digital election system into the UK market.  The system is aimed at organisations and institutions that practice democracy by electing members to positions of responsibility to boards, councils and committees.

The digital election system can replace or complement the traditional printed elements often associated with running an election, such as paper nomination application forms, candidate statements and postal ballot packs.  In addition, the system acts a central ‘hub’ for the election, building a virtual election community, where members of an organisation can download  information, ask questions, support debate, put themselves forward as candidates and vote in the election.

In recent years, the demand for secure online membership-based democracy, especially electronic voting, has soared.  In response to this demand, UK Engage has launched a system that meets its clients’ needs, combining security, aesthetics and functionality.

John Foster, Managing Director at UK Engage, said of the new system “We are confident that the new system provides customers with a complete digital election system; it is unique to any other system on the market.  The system allows UK Engage to provide customers with a solution that supports candidate nominations, e-voting and engagement – acting as a client’s bespoke election online community.”

Services Director, Stephen Power, added “As elections become paperless throughout Europe, the UK market has few suppliers that can now offer a system as secure, yet simple to use. Early indications show that the enhancements we have made have been extremely well-received. Customers like the new features, especially the security elements and the new design opportunities clients have to customise the e-voting platform to replicate their brand identity.”

To find out more about UK Engage’s improved digital election system or to request a demonstration, please contact us today:

Tel: 0161 209 4808
Email: enquiries@uk-engage.org

Member participation in MNT pension scheme elections

February 14th, 2017

Making it simple for eligible members to participate in democracy

The transparency of a pension scheme election is crucial to its credibility. Confidence in the process is fundamental to its success, especially as MNT pension scheme elections and governance remain a leading topic within the industry. For this reason pension schemes must ensure that MNT pension scheme elections are transparent, secure and open to all eligible members.

UK Engage takes a quick look at three ways to ensure MNT elections are easily accessible to all members.

Communicate extensively to all members:
In order to allow your members to participate in the decision making process, your election should have a pre-election engagement strategy. For members to be fully involved in the process they first have to know about it. By informing members of the election early you are able react to any questions and queries your members may have before the nomination period. Clear communication of what is required to (a) become a nominee for election to the board and (b) how to vote in the election, will make the process relatively straightforward.  Consider using different channels to get your election-related messages out to you members. The most common channels are letters and information packs, emails and websites.

Explain the role and duties:
The role of a Member-Nominated Trustee is one which requires skill, experience and knowledge. Explaining what the role entails will allow members to acknowledge whether the role is right for them. Having a two-way method of communication (with the pension scheme or your election services provider), will allow candidates to access information, from which they can make an informed decision as to stand as a candidate or not.  Allowing candidates to have supporters or referees will add credibility to candidate nominations.

Make it easy for members to vote:
Making ballots more accessible is a key sign that a pension scheme is putting its members first and encouraging member participation. Making voting easy will have a positive impact on your voter turnout. Whether the voting method you opt for is online (via an e-voting platform), postal, or both, the systems you have in place must make the act of casting a vote easy to do. Providing unique voting credentials, voting instructions and FAQs will help members to cast their vote with ease.

Contact UK Engage:-
Tel: 0161 209 4808
Email: enquiries@uk-engage.org

UK Engage’s new online voting platform helps to raise money for charity

January 23rd, 2017

Customers vote from a selection of charities via online voting, in the company’s annual Christmas donation.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility activities, election service provider, UK Engage, has an annual commitment to donate to charities.  Each year, the team at UK Engage submits suggestions for charities it would like to support.  At the end of last year, UK Engage invited customers to vote for one of three charities, via its new online voting site, as an alternative to receiving a Christmas greeting card.

The charities included in the vote were Alzheimer’s Society, Cancer Research and Help 4 Heroes. As a result of customer votes UK Engage donated over £390 to the three charities.

Charitable donations are just one part of UK Engage’s CSR policy and make up part of its community involvement. Developing online election and engagement solutions is another part of the policy, as it reduces the paper the company uses on candidate nomination forms and statements, ballot packs and other printed communications  – which helps support its environmental action.

Being ISO 9001 and 27001:13 compliant for a number of years, UK Engage continually strives to keep up the high standards it has in relation to its current ISO Standards and considers new ones for the future, for the benefit of all the stakeholders it engages with.

UK Engage’s new online voting site is one of the most secure, easy to use and visually pleasing on the market.  Organisations which have online voting as part of their election process have praised the site for its unique features, simplicity and security.

To find out more about UK Engage, ISO Standards or its online voting and engagement solutions, please contact UK Engage:-

Tel: 0161 209 4808
Email: enquiries@uk-engage.org

UK Engage is announced as an Official Membership Excellence 2017 (#MEMX2017) Delivery Affiliate

January 9th, 2017

Election services provider, UK Engage, will equip #MEMX2017 delegates with a handheld digital voting solution during the forthcoming one-day conference

 

Election services and member engagement specialist UK Engage, will partner the UK’s leading membership and association professional network – MemberWise, at the #MEMX2017 event on 27th April 2017. The event, which is aimed at membership organisations and associations of all shapes and sizes, celebrates and promotes best practice for organisations hoping to engage with members, to ensure a positive and fulfilling membership experience.

UK Engage has been a MemberWise approved supplier for three years. As a leading elections service provider, UK Engage fully supports the network’s objectives to improve member engagement, especially in relation to governance by providing engagement, election and ballot services to membership organisations across the UK.

The one-day event encourages interaction and participation with delegates, which is similar to the way UK Engage approaches elections with its clients.  One way MemberWise has successfully improved interaction over the years, has been to encourage delegates to vote on key thoughts and questions, during the popular keynote and seminar sessions.

This year, UK Engage will be providing handheld digital voting for all delegates who attend the seminar sessions held in the main auditorium at the event’s venue – the Park Plaza Hotel, Victoria, London.

Clara Robinson, Marketing Manager at UK Engage, says of the partnership announcement, “UK Engage is delighted to be an Official Delivery Affiliate at MEMX2017. Since becoming a member in 2014, we have seen the network grow significantly and the conferences have fast-become one of the key events in the membership calendar.”

She continued, “To be involved in an event which supports member engagement completely fits with our company ethos; we constantly try to encourage participation, involvement and engagement when administering elections, ballots and AGMs. We fully support this event and are delighted to supply the handheld voting devices so that delegates can vote on key questions, throughout the day.”

MemberWise’s MEMX2017 Conference takes place on the 27th April 2017 at the Park Plaza Victoria Hotel. UK Engage will be exhibiting at Stand 14.

Contact MemberWise for tickets:

Ticket Offer: From 5th January to 31st March association and membership professionals have exclusive access to Early Bird (£50 off) and group booking discounts (3 for 2). For further information about #MEMX2017 visit www.membershipexcellence.com

For more information about UK Engage, our election and engagement services and our attendance at MEMX please contact: –

Tel: 0161 209 4808
Email: enquiries@uk-engage.org

 

 

UK Engage improves its customer satisfaction rating

January 5th, 2017

The election services provider improves its customer satisfaction level to 98%, following its latest customer satisfaction survey

 

Results from last year showed that UK Engage, one of the leading election and engagement services providers, improved it customer satisfaction rating from 2015, by 4%.

As part of its commitment to the Customer Service Excellence Standard, UK Engage carries out an annual survey to compile customer satisfaction, in relation to its service.  The company has a customer base that includes all types of organisations, including NHS Foundation Trusts, membership organisations, housing providers, pension schemes and co-operatives.

Following such a busy year, UK Engage was keen to understand what customers thought of the service it delivered. Customers were invited to take part in an online satisfaction survey. The survey asked customers to rate key areas of service including: – overall satisfaction, sales and account management, products and service, and finally to compare its service to other election service providers.

54% of the customers that received the survey completed it, which was an increase on the previous year.

Key highlights were: –

  • 100%* overall satisfaction – all respondents rated the overall service ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’
  • Respondents rated satisfaction with both sales and account management as 100%*
  • Excellent scores were noted for the quality, reliability, design and value for money of our products
  • Customer service and attention to detail were rated highly for excellence when it came to service
  • 100%* respondents would recommend us to other organisations

Stephen Power, Services Director said of the survey results “Customer service is something which is embedded in our company culture. We pride ourselves on offering the best customer service and it is our ethos to help our customers to overcome challenges. We are particularly pleased with the response rate we received this year, which was up by 48% on 2015. We are extremely proud of the overall satisfaction score of 98%, which far exceeds our customer service target of 90%.”

Managing Director, John Foster, added “To achieve such a high satisfaction score is fantastic news for us. The UK Engage brand was our response to a growing need for innovative and engaging election services, for both public and private sector organisations. Delivering democracy is our core goal; however our talent for providing engaging communications, across a multitude of online and offline channels, has helped our clients to achieve improved participation.”

To review the results of the survey, download here>>

For more information about UK Engage, please contact us: –

Tel: 0161 209 4808
Email: enquiries@uk-engage.org

 

 *100% satisfaction in this instance means that customers rated the service as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’