The MSL e-voting system enables the conduct of online elections and referenda for any organisation in your site from Union-wide down to faculty reps, union council or an individual club or society. It offers full control over the entire elections period from the initial notice of elections to the setting of the elections administrators to the confirmation of results.
Setting Up An Election
The Elections Administrators can set up an election via the website using the election administration tools. The polling periods for e-voting, postal voting and proxy voting can be set up independently. Deadlines for candidate submissions and manifesto submissions – both paper and electronic - can also be specified. When elections are scheduled to run, a link appears anywhere you like on the website with information about the posts, how to stand and how to vote. This content is all editable by the Elections Administrator to include any details specific to the current election.
Posts and Candidates
Posts that are up for election are stored within the system as groupings enabling the Elections Administrator to use membership requirements to specify who may stand and / or vote for a particular post – e.g. only Undergraduates can vote for the Undergraduate Faculty rep. This also handles self definitions for certain roles. Candidates can nominate themselves and subsequently update their profile and manifesto via the website. The Elections Administrators can approve and disqualify candidates at any point.
The polling process takes place through the website, enabling members to cast their vote from any internet-connected computer (and it can automatically recognise if a viewer is voting on a smartphone and display an optimised template). You also have the option to have touchscreen polling stations allowing students a quick and easy method of voting around campus. The ballot papers are randomly ordered every time, and there is comprehensive help available at every stage. Information on the posts and the candidates’ manifestos are available from the ballot paper itself. During polling the Elections Administrator has access to voting statistics, which detail the total number of voters and votes cast, and votes per post with the number required to reach quorum where specified.
The counting procedure conforms to the Electoral Reform Society’s ‘ERS97’ Single Transferable Vote guidelines. It also deals with multiple RON candidates, adding a new candidate and transferring any surplus as appropriate.
The count is largely automated but retains a manual element to allow Returning Officers the opportunity to try ‘what-if’ scenarios if necessary to resolve disputes in the event of a close result. Any number of counts can be run.
If candidates are withdrawn or disqualified after polling starts, they are automatically excluded from the count, with their votes passed to the next preference candidate.
At any point, the count control sheet can be generated to allow manual cross-checking of the calculations.
Results can be exported from the count application in CSV text file format for publication elsewhere. You can also publish in Open STV format for complete transparency.
The system also features the ability to run referenda. A referendum period is set up by the Elections Administrator much like an elections period.
For each referendum motion, the arguments for and against are put forward. Those responsible for each argument can edit their case via the website up until the deadline specified by the Elections Administrators.
Polling takes place via the website – as for elections, postal and proxy votes can be submitted. Abstentions can also be registered – these count towards the total vote.
The count procedure is fully automated so results can be obtained seconds after the polling period ends.
Any organisation can run their own online elections through the system in exactly the same way as specified above allowing you to bring the ease of use and fairness of e-voting to your clubs and societies.
The whole process has been designed to maximise turnout in your elections from the ability to email non-voters to an improved voting experience on smartphones. If you would like more ideas to increase turnout take a look at the MSL blog.