In 2019 voters approved an amendment that allows New York City to use ranked choice voting though they use a different version than what you can find on ElectionBuddy.


New York City

The version of ranked choice voting that New York City utilizes is as simple as:

ElectionBuddy & Meek’s Method

ElectionBuddy uses a version of ranked choice voting, but we use Meek’s Method to determine a quota to eliminate the candidates at:

At some point, the quota may change if a vote is “exhausted". This happens if the voter has not indicated a different candidate to transfer their vote to or if their candidate indicated has already been eliminated. Once their first ranked candidate is eliminated, their vote is eliminated. This changes the quota as the total number of votes cast decreases.

For more information, please check out our help article and this article on Meek’s Method.

Conclusion

There are many different voting systems that you can use to run your voting, and within that, there might be different methods. We recommend reading your bylaws to determine what voting system should be used for your elections. Please reach out to us at support@electionbuddy.com if you have any questions regarding our voting systems.

There is always a rhyme and reason to web desgin.


You might have noticed when building your ballot that ElectionBuddy alternates between using radio buttons:

Sample of Radio Buttons

And the use of checkboxes:

Sample of Checkboxes

While it might seem like this design choice is random, it is actually an industry standard when it comes to web design. So, what is the difference between radio buttons and checkboxes?

Radio Buttons

The radio button is a circle that is meant to limit the voter's choices, meaning they can only select one of the presented options/candidates when voting on ElectionBuddy. You can also find radio buttons:

Checkboxes

The checkbox is used when there is a range of options and the voters in ElectionBuddy can select more than one option. Places where you will see checkboxes used include:

A Third Option?

There is a third choice where this is a standalone checkbox. This is used for a single option that a user can turn on and off. Places where you will see this used are:

Third Type

In Conclusion...

Overall, this web design helps guides voters to see what is expected from them when they fill out their ballot. Radio buttons indicate that they can only pick one option/candidate while the checkboxes indicate to them that they can pick more than one option/candidate/ For more information on radio buttons and checkboxes check out this article: Checkboxes or radio buttons? Let the UI design battle commence!

Ever wonder how compulsory voting in Australia works? If so, then you have come to the right place!


First Off, What Is Compulsory Voting?

Compulsory voting is when a country legally requires that a citizen who is of legal voting age participates in elections. Some countries that currently enforce compulsory voting are:

For more information on compulsory voting and how it works check out this page.

What Is Compulsory Voting Like in Australia?

In Australia, if you do not register to vote or go to the polls if you are eighteen years old and older there is a chance that you might receive a fine. The fine itself is pretty minuscule (anywhere between about $15 to $55 USD); however, it is enough to encourage voters to go out and participate in the election. With that said, if you do not vote you do not automatically receive a fine. Voters are given the opportunity to appeal a fine and explain why they were unable to participate in the election.

In recent years, there has been a rise seen in informal spoiled ballots. This is when a ballot is submitted into the polls and is either blank or filled out incorrectly and cannot be counted in the final tally. As well, there are also some ballots that are a donkey vote. A donkey vote is when a voter lists their preferences in the order of appearance. Donkey votes still count towards the results of an election.

Australia voting hotdog

Although there have been chats within some of the political parties regarding abolishing compulsory voting the current system largely has support from people across the country. Many local community groups even use election day to help raise money by setting up a grill at the polling stations, so when you go to vote you have the additional bonus of supporting a local cause and enjoying some food. As well, in Australia election day takes place on a Saturday which makes it easier for a majority of the voters to be able to go out and participate. The large amount of people present along with the food helps to create a fun atmosphere at the polling stations. You also don’t have to vote in person, there are other ways to vote.

Australia is a great example of a country that enforces their compulsory voting laws and how they make it work for them. It is interesting to see and learn about different countries democratic processes and how it makes an impact when it comes to elections.

“To sit back and let fate play its hand out and never influence it is not the way man was meant to operate.” — John Glenn


Voting in Outer Space

If you have ever found yourself wondering about voting in outer space, this is the blog post you have been looking for. In 1997 a law was passed in Texas that allowed astronauts to vote electronically while in outer space. This law states that “a person who meets the eligibility requirements of a voter under the Texas Election Code, Chapter 101, but who will be on a space flight during the early-voting period and on Election Day, may vote.”

Here are the processes astronauts must follow in order to vote:

Interestingly enough, these unique credentials sound fairly similar to how ElectionBuddy makes use of access keys!

There is no opportunity to procrastinate if you wish to vote in space since the process starts a year before the mission’s launch. If the astronaut does not select the elections they wish to participate in, in advance, they will be unable to participate. Once the astronauts are in space procrastinating still isn’t advised because there can be a 20-minute communication delay between the space station and Earth. The astronauts do their part in order to ensure that their vote will be counted.

Voting in Outer Space

If you would like to watch a short video on voting in outer space you can view it here.

Apparently, this voting process isn’t much different than absentee voting. The biggest difference is the fact that in outer space they have to list their address as “low-Earth orbit.” Perhaps one day this legislation will reach further than just Texas. There is the potential for this law to extend to civilians based on the fact that space hotels are on the horizon.

The processes that have been put in place to allow voting in outer space shows the importance of remote voting and how there is always a way to go and have your voice heard in the voting process.

The people have spoken, and what they want is well-being and hygiene.


Foot Powder for Mayor?

Once upon a time, during the year 1967, it was election time in the tiny Ecuadorian town of Picoazà. Like many other small towns, they were holding an election for the mayor of their community. This election was different, however, as the results led to a foot powder called Pulvapies being announced as the winner. Yes, you read that right.

Hilariously enough, the foot powder was not a candidate that was included on the slate but was a write-in candidate. In other words, when the masses came out to vote, a majority of them somehow all decided not to give their vote to anyone already on the ballot, but instead independently came to the conclusion that they should add a foot powder to the slate and vote for it to be their mayor! The obvious questions is, “Why?!” — what would possess so many people to write in Pulvapies the foot powder? Well, Pulvapies had just released a very successful advertising campaign that was made to look like an election slogan, which stated: “Vote for any candidate, but if you want well-being and hygiene, vote for Pulvapies.” This statement must have resonated with the people, as it led to the foot powder winning the election.

It is unknown how Picoazà dealt with the election of the foot powder to their mayoral role. This election goes to show that people will vote for the “ridiculous” option when all of their other non-ridiculous options appear to be undesireable. Furthermore, this election truly shows the power of writing in a candidate for an election and the impact it can have on the results.

This isn’t the first non-human electoral candidate to be elected into office and I am sure it will not be the last. Some of the various non-human candidates include but are not limited to: cats, dogs, goats, a wooden trading post, rhinos, and boars. In fact, a joke party exists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York called the Inanimate Objects Party (IOP). The IOP was formed as a protest to the fraternities deciding the nominees.

People, when given the option to vote for what they believe in, will make all kinds of decisions, including voting for inanimate objects if they do not feel anyone else on the slate rightly represents their wants and needs.

Electronic voting as becoming a popular way to conduct elections but what would electronic voting actually look like on a national level?


Estonia and I-Voting

Estonia is the first country to allow for electronic voting (or i-voting) in conjunction with paper ballots for a nation-wide election. Estonia’s i-voting has been in place since 2005. I-voting is on the upward trend in use in these Estonian elections, as 43% of the votes for the 2019 election were cast using this method!

While this is all fascinating and exciting, you might be wondering how their voting system works. Essentially, voters in Estonia have an ID card that they can use to log into the online voting system during a designated voting period. When the vote is submitted it becomes encrypted so it is impossible to see who the voter voted for. After the ballot is cast the voter’s identity is separated from the ballot to ensure anonymity during the election process. For more information on this process please see this page. Apparently, there were concerns about people’s votes being bought or coerced with this online voting method. To accommodate for potential vote coercion Estonia allows the voter to log into the online voting system and vote as many times as they like. Each time the voters vote, their previous electronic ballot is discarded and replaced with the new one during the advanced voting periof of the elecion.

Once a voter has placed their vote they can verify their vote by using a mobile app that scans a QR code that the voter receieves once they have finished the online voting process. This QR code will allow the voter to view their preferred choice of their mobile right after their vote has been completed. This way the voter can ensure that their vote was registered the way it was intended.

Estonia I-Voting

So, how do they count these electronic “i-votes” and verify the results of the election? Below is the i-voting process as it is outlined on this website:

  1. All i-votes have to be annuled due to changing of i-votes are annulled;
  2. The personal data (digital signatures) of voters are separated from electronic votes. Anonymous votes are subject to counting. An i-vote contains only the election identificator, and a candidate registration number;
  3. I-votes are opened, using the vote-opening key. Access to the key is distributed between the members of the National Electoral Committee;
  4. Votes are counted and the number of votes cast for candidates is ascertained;
  5. The voting results are entered into the election information system.

Interestingly, Estonia appraoched i-voting in an attempt to increase voter turnout. Not only is electronic voting convenient and on the rise in Estonia, but it was also noted that voting electronically is the most cost-efficient voting system that is currently offered in Estonia. Estonia can help to offer a glimpse at what the future of voting might look like. If you are interested in learning more please go and take a look at Estonia’s website on their i-voting!

“Young people need to vote. They need to get out there. Every vote counts. Educate yourself too. Don’t just vote. Know what you’re voting for, and stand by that.” - Nikki Reed


What My Grade 11 Social Studies Teacher Taught Me About Voting

I remember my mother always being actively engaged in the idea of democracy and voting since I was at least seven years old. As far as I know, she has never missed voting in an election and volunteered her time at the polling stations for the election that took place last April. But, with that said, I didn’t really pay much attention to the idea of voting until my Grade 11 Social Studies class. My teacher (let’s call him Mr.French) was quirky, but he was also so passionate about voting.

One of the anecdotes I remember him telling consisted of a conversation between his grandpa, his brother, and himself when they were around the ages of 3-5:

Grandpa: So now that I’ve given you some time to think about it, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Brother: I want to be a fire truck!

Mr. French: I don’t know what I want to be but I want to be voting!

What do fire trucks have to do with voting

Mr. French was taught from a young age the importance of voting and I am positive that, to this day, he has never missed voting in an election since he gained the ability to do so. He taught us that it is important to get out and vote. Clearly, this is a leasson that has begun to reach the masses considering that in Alberta (where our Canadian office is located) the last provincial election had a voter turnout of 64%. This is the highest turnout since 1982!!

The most important aspect of voting Mr. French taught me was that no matter who you vote for your vote still matters. With this knowledge in my head, I was excited when I was able to vote in 2015. A surprising amount of people I talk to have the mentality of “why should I vote, my vote will not make a difference.” But if everyone with that mentality voted I guarantee it would make a difference.

Why voting matters

Interestingly, there is a party that exists in Canada for people who do want to vote but don’t necessarily want to vote for any of the running parties. This party is The Rhinoceros Party of Canada (which I did first hear about in my Grade 11 Social Studies class). The Rhino Party was created in 2006 and promises to not keep any of their promises if they are elected.When we did a fake federal election across my highschool - The Rhino Party won by a landslide, proving that The Rhino Party is for people who want to vote but either have no idea what is going on or they don’t like any of the other options. One of The Rhino Party’s most recent promises is that they “want more green cars on the road, including dark green, pale green and fluorescent green cars. In fact, the party wants fluorescent green to be Canada’s national colour.”

The fact of the matter is if you can vote you should vote! Voting makes a difference on all levels and it is important to have a say within your government, your organizations, your school, etc..

If you haven’t already devoured the U.S. election coverage like a Thanksgiving turkey drumstick, I came across some oddities about elections that you might find interesting.

Election oddity

Forget the red versus blue states and who won Florida — the real information you need is all here. Earlier this month we blogged about some unusual indicators that historically seem to predict who will win the election.

In this blog we discuss important issues like what’s up with an election on a Tuesday? And why is it rare a politician is photographed wearing sunglasses?

Last question first. Politicians are almost never photographed wearing sunglasses, especially during election campaigns and even at leisure because style consultants tell them people won’t trust them as much.

President Obama plays golf with the sun glaring in his eyes, and this summer, Governor Mitt Romney was photographed on the back of a jet ski, bare-eyed, though his wife Ann wore sunglasses.

Sunglasses, though a fashion must if you want to look cool, are considered a barrier between them and you (every heard the expression, “Eyes are the windows of the soul?”).

And elections on Tuesdays? Why not the weekend? And why November?

One easy answer is because it’s federal law in the United States; a law that dates back to 1845.

In the early decades of the union, most Americans made their living as farmers and lived in rural areas. Planting fields and crops took precedent in the summer, but by November the harvest was over. The weather was still dry and mild enough to allow travel over dirt roads and making a trip to a polling station meant an overnight trip via horseback.

Another good reason for having a November election — it’s far enough from April 15 that voters have forgotten about the last tax-day and haven’t started worrying about the next one.

With the U.S. Presidential Election only six weeks away all kinds of pundits and experts are coming out with their opinion on who is going to win or they’re busy analyzing the latest poll results from all angles.

Voters are taking this seriously too and rightly so — the economy is still struggling and people are wondering who is the best person to lead them out of this quagmire. Still, this election seems to have more of a circus atmosphere than year’s past — is this a trick or a treat? It depends on your perspective.

Political masks

No one can blame you for leaning towards the trick side. How else can you explain countless articles and polls on which candidate is selling more Halloween masks or the best pumpkin carved with a candidate’s face!

While a fun and light exercise, a poll showing who is leading in mask sales isn’t the best indicator of who will win the actual election. President Obama is leading with about 58% of the sales (on average) over his rival Gov. Mitt Romney according to buycostumes.com and other costume sites, but will that sway you to vote for him?

At least the company selling the masks are up front about this election — it CAN be bought. Buy a mask and you get to vote; it’s that simple! And I hate to give more free advertising but their site is just plain awesome with a map of the U.S. that shows who is leading by state, graphs showing day-to-day trends and even which vice-presidents’ mask is more popular.

Have fun with this and give us your feedback on which mask you like better!

I’d like to think I have a decent grasp at history. My dad is a huge history buff and is quite the library in his home office. I love listening to him telling me a neat detail or fact he picked up in some history book.

But last week when I asked I pondered to myself “Who was the first democratically elected female head of state?” I drew a blank, so naturally I asked my dad. He didn’t know, but he was more surprised I asked him a history question instead of using “the Google” (as he likes to call it.) He was right, every time I come home for a dinner, we also seem to ask ourselves random question: Where was the first subway system? (Britain) When and where did people first start using toothpaste? (obviously not Britain – source Austin Powers) While it is fun to try and figure out all of life’s mysteries on our own, it amazes me that we still need to have a 20 minute conversation on the first subway system, because it always ends with me going on the Internet for the answer. Seriously…. there is no need for arguing or asking questions in this day and age. Just Google everything. If you have smartphone, you don’t even have to leave the dinner table! It’s amazing.

I digress. In any case, in the time it took me to dial my parent’s house I was able to launch a web browser and search for the answer…

Sirimavo Bandaranaike

Born in 1916, Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 1960. Bandaranaike became the world’s first woman head of government, after her husband was assassinated in 1959. She took over her husband’s position of leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, and led them to win the country’s government  elections in 1960. She served as PM three times, 1960-65, 1970-77, and 1994-2000. What an amazing accomplishment!

I can already play out the next conversation with my dad:

Me: “Hey I found the answer the world’s first democratically elected female head of state!”

Dad: “Oh, who was it?”

Me: “Sirimavo Bandaranaike.”

Dad: “I knew that.”

Liar.

I remember the first time I got to vote in a serious election. I was in my first year of college, and Canada was gearing up to elect a new Prime Minister or go with the incumbent. Sure I voted for NHL All-Star Teams in the past, and less impactful votes. But the All-Star thing was easy, just simply select which ever Montreal Canadians player was on the ballot and check of their name. There was no real thought put behind the selection.

But the ’06 federal election was different.

Voting line
People waiting to vote

Unfortunately it wasn’t the glamorous affair I was expecting. It was just an empty room set up in my dorm, with an old desk and even older lady sitting behind it with a ballot box. But it felt good. It felt like I was actually doing something good for our country. And because I voted, I earned the right to complain if my chosen candidate didn’t end up winning!

While the saying is true, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” there is a bigger lesson involved in your first time voting. And that is the right to vote.

Voting gives you a power and a voice. It provides equal opportunity and a democratic way of deciding on major issues.

It is not something to take for granted either. It’s a privilege to be given the right to vote. Not everyone has the same advantages and a say in the issue at hand.

These were all things I learned when I first stepped into the voting booth (or at least that’s what it was marketed as).

What were your experiences like in voting in your first “serious” election? Why is the right to vote important for you? Let us know via support@electionbuddy.com.

Does my vote really matter?

Yes. Of course it does. It’s true that in a larger election, the election is probably not going to be decided by one vote. But if the. The same thing for eating a hot dog or chocolate bar. One is probably not going to make a difference, but enough of them are going to have an impact. A negative impact in the food analogy, but a positive one if you get enough people out to vote.

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