Voting methods and e-voting used in organisational elections

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