Online voting has the potential to improve every aspect of an election. As more people begin to embrace using technology to improve the processes around them, paper voting may become a thing of the past. To the untrained eye, however, it may be difficult to recognize what features are vital for an efficient online voting system.
What are the most important features online voting systems should have?
Security measures guarantee the integrity and fairness of the voting process. Therefore, security should be a key concern of Internet voting systems. Not only does a robust security infrastructure protect the secrecy of ballots, but it also prevents ill-natured third parties from committing election fraud. In a secure voting system, the personal data of every participant is kept safe via encryption.
The following key security features should be included in a secure online voting system:
- Confidentiality and encryption of data: Encryption is the process of safeguarding information using mathematical techniques, making it inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t have the appropriate credentials. Online voting system data must be hosted on servers secured with the use of encryption and constant monitoring.
- Secure connections: Just as encryption improves the safety of servers, this process must also be implemented on Internet connections. If security protocols are put in place, the data flowing between nodes will be shielded from potential threats.
- Integrity of the ballot: Since confidentiality guarantees the authenticity of elections, the ideal online voting system must keep every single vote anonymous. Nonetheless, individual ballots and all user interactions with the voting system must be logged, archived, and meticulously monitored. This is particularly important to ensure a transparent auditing process. The election results should only be generated on demand, after passing a double authentication process. These should only be accessible by authorized persons, or those pre-identified by the organization. Every election participant using the system should be provided with a confidentiality/non-disclosure charter to use the software.
- Blocking of fraudulent access: Blockages are implemented to prevent Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks on the server. Since DoS attacks are one of the most effective methods hackers use to compromise an undefended system, the addition of defensive software measures is crucial. Likewise, blocking systems improve the security of connections, allowing every participant to manage their voting rights.
2. Member verification and anonymity
Proper voting management requires that every voter confirms their identity. During a traditional presidential election, for example, it is customary for voters to provide some form of ID during registration or at their polling station. Online elections are similar in that regard, as member verification is crucial to prevent election fraud and give voters a satisfactory electoral experience.
The most sophisticated identification features used by Internet voting systems use a multi-verification solution. By using data encryption methods in tandem with unique member PINS, user data is kept in a system akin to a virtual bank vault. Individual voters can access electronic ballots with the same ease as logging into social media, while the system architecture keeps their data functional and safe.
3. Device-responsive voting
For most of recorded history, the election process has been handled by making voters travel to a specific place to make their vote count. An online ballot, however, can be cast from any place with an Internet connection. By switching to online voting, the time and resources necessary to vote can be drastically reduced
Online ballot features provided by an online voting system should be device responsive Eligible voters should be given the chance to access the voting system from their method of choice. A complete Internet voting system includes accessibility from any smart device, such as a phone or a tablet, or through a mobile-first responsive web page that can be entered from any personal computer.
4. Alerts and reminders
Administrative features of online voting systems can help enhance the communication between the election organizers and eligible voters. State-of-the-art voting solutions allow organizers to schedule automated notifications for voters, letting them know if an election will take place soon or other information relevant to the electoral process. Notifications make sure voter turnout is not affected by a lack of information about voting.
The automated alerts and reminders can be set up to reach voters in a variety of ways. While voting solutions may allow for automatic emails to be sent, refined systems also allow for SMS alerts and even give voters a phone call. Specialized reminders can be sent before, during, and after the voting process, to keep voters up-to-date with the elections.
5. A fully-customizable platform
When it comes to software implementation, every organization has its own needs. To satisfy those needs, online voting systems must include customization features, allowing election organizers to change the layout and interface of the vote to suit their particular requirements.
For example, brands implementing an online voting solution should expect to have their logo and colors displayed whenever voters access the platform. Furthermore, organizers should look for customization options that let them enable or disable features, such as support for cumulative voting and other voting methods. If it is required, multiple language support is also provided by the more refined Internet voting systems.
6. Voter support
Technical support is an indispensable asset to ensure the best experience for all users of a software solution. Despite how intuitive a platform can be, the risk that users may run into complications is always present. The best online electoral platforms have a team of voting experts ready to assist any voter who may be disorientated by the process.
Market-leading online voting technical support is available for contact during the full duration of the elections. This means that the support teams of the best online voting platforms will be reachable for support before, during, and after the election process. Communication with customers should be direct, concise, and friendly.
7. Real-time dashboards and reporting
If an Internet voting system possesses the right data management and reporting tools, then it can supply valuable insights about many aspects of voting. For instance, by analyzing online ballot information in real-time, a voting system should be able to produce an accurate and constantly updated assessment of voting participation rates.
If the appropriate software is being used, data can be displayed on a dynamic dashboard that will update itself as more people vote. Not only can this system be used to create documents summarizing the election results, but some voting systems are flexible enough to give organizers the ability to produce tailor-made reports during or after the elections have taken place.
Once the voting period is over, reports should be instantaneously created with the election result for each question. The ability to filter results by defined criteria, such as demographics, is also a valuable feature to further analyze election results.
8. Turnkey option
WIth a turnkey online voting solution, the provider handles every step of the voting process. This means that there is no need to train or dedicate a resource in the organization to handle voting. Businesses and organizations can rely on Option.vote’s expertise every single step of the way, whether it be for the creation of questionnaires, voter import, reminder set ups, etc.
9. All common question types
When people think of public elections, the most common images that come to mind are choosing between a set of parties, normally narrowed down to two during a presidential election. Nonetheless, the voting process can be held in a wide variety of ways, depending on the issues at hand and the nature of the organization performing the elections.
Customization features built into online voting systems should take several question types into account, including radio button, checkbox, ranking, and open-ended questions. A complete voting platform allows organizers to use a combination of question types, allowing for the creation of surveys, consultations, and other types of voting structures.
10. Experienced provider
Working with an experienced provider means working alongside an expert team with a commitment to building innovative, secure, and intuitive solutions. As a pioneer in the field of electronic voting, Option.vote has been working with all kinds of organizations, including political parties, unions, federations, companies, and more.
Option.vote’s online voting system provides the flexibility to work on elections, referendums, surveys, consultations, TV shows, and many other types of votes. Additionally, the software is supported on any digital platform, allowing voters to access the system from the web or their smart device of choice.