The advantages of secure online voting systems over cloud-based survey software

‘Off the shelf’ packages are inexpensive but do they offer the security and transparency your election needs?

 

If you are responsible for running an election, ballot or poll, you will want to ensure that it is conducted in a fair, transparent, impartial and secure manner.

Organisations which elect members to positions of responsibility will often appoint an Independent Scrutineer to carry out the ballot. This will usually happen by asking members to vote via a postal method or online via a secure online voting site.

As a leading election services provider, UK Engage acts as both an Independent Scrutineer and Returning Officer for organisations across the country, and has witnessed the rise of online voting a very popular method of capturing votes. For organisation that chose to run elections, ballots and polls in house, online survey software is sometimes selected as an inexpensive way to collate opinion without incurring administration costs from outside. It’s also quick and easy to use.

Sounds good, what’s the problem?
If organisations carry out this activity internally they may be at risk of diluting the key election principles of impartiality, security and confidentiality, which may call into question any election results. For organisations that have contentious issues on which to vote, or if the election is high profile, this may be an issue. These systems also don’t easily support more complex voting methods such as the Single Transferable Vote (STV).

Best practice for online elections
If you want to make sure your election, ballot or poll is impartial, it is always best to outsource this activity to an election service provider who can undertake the administration and scrutiny of your process. Such companies have the experience, systems and knowledge to run secure and transparent elections, ballots and polls, especially those conducted online.

Secure online voting v survey software – the key differences:-

Security:
Secure online voting systems like UK Engage’s platform offer security. Firstly, your member will have to enter information personal to them, in order to access the voting site (the most secure systems can request up to three unique pieces of information before access is granted). Furthermore, votes can be encrypted so that the vote is completely confidential to the voter; the scrutineer nor the client can see their choice.

Complex voting methods:
Custom-built secure online voting systems support more complex voting methods, such as the single transferable vote, where proportional representation is achieved through ranked voting.

Member engagement:
Online voting provided by an external election services provider can offer the added benefits of engaging with your members. As part of UK Engage’s online voting system, clients can brand the system with their colours and imagery. The site can also link to a dedicated engagement hub, where all election-related information is kept, alternatively they can be redirected to a client’s election page on their website.

Survey systems indeed have a place in canvassing opinion and gauging reaction, and have many merits. However, if you want to ensure the validity, transparency, security and impartiality of your organisational election, it’s best to consult an Independent Scrutineer to discuss a robust, secure online voting system that is fit for purpose.

To find out more about UK Engage’s online voting solution and e-democracy package, please contact us today:

Contact UK Engage:-

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