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Election Administration: Voting Procedure

Before you start with the actual administration of your election you'll first need to decide on a voting procedure. The details are often already stated in your organization's bylaws or electoral code. For instance, your organization's preferred voting procedure may be traditional ballot box voting, postal voting or online voting - or perhaps an optimal combination of all three. If you are yet to decide on a voting procedure, you should take into consideration the pros and cons of different procedures in order to select the most appropriate for your election.

Ballot box voting: is everyone attending?

Voting by ballot box means voters have to go to a polling station, identify themselves and then cast their vote. If voters are listed in the electoral roll, they'll get a ballot paper to vote in secret before putting the completed ballot into the ballot box. Once all votes have been cast, election volunteers will count them.

Ballot box voting is the most well-known voting procedure. Election fraud is unlikely as the entire voting process is carefully and personally supervised, which makes ballot box voting one of the most trusted voting procedures. Still, it also has disadvantages: 

  • Mistakes can be made counting the votes by hand
  • A single election day is typically used, rather than an election period 
  • Higher election administration expenses

Conclusion: many are accustomed to ballot box voting, are familiar with the procedure and it seems to be the most “secure”. However, it requires physical attendance which excludes those who, for whatever reason, cannot make it to the polling station on the single day set aside for the election.

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Postal voting: timing Is everything

In contrast to ballot box voting, postal voting is a form of absentee voting. It doesn't matter where the voter is as long as they can be reached by mail. Voters have to be registered in the electoral roll with the correct address and send their completed ballot papers back within the given time-period. Timing is everything in postal voting because mailing is the slowest way of communicating with voters.

Voter turnout can decrease as a result of postal voting for several reasons:

  • Voters have to fill out the ballot paper, stamp it and bring it to the post office themselves, which can lower voters' motivation to participate
  • Everything needs to be done within strict time-frames – but these can easily be forgotten
  • Errors can occur within the delivery process - ballot papers don't reach voters or ballot papers don't arrive at the polling station or arrive too late.

Postal voting is the most expensive voting procedure

  • Creating, delivering and returning the ballot papers takes up 50% of the overall costs of an election
  • Ballot papers filled out by postal vote have to be dealt with and counted by hand 

Conclusion: using postal voting is appropriate to include voters who cannot make it to the polling station for whatever reason. However, it is highly cost-intensive and requires highly motivated voters. In addition, postal voting is prone to election fraud as the identification process is less rigorous and can be more easily manipulated by third parties. Finally, the success of postal voting is always dependent on a logistics service provider, adding another risk-variable to the election process. 

 

POLYAS-Tip: you can combine voting procedures like ballot box voting, postal voting and online voting to achieve the best mix for your election. The election officer or committee can decide on the voting procedures available to voters and then voters can choose which option is best for them. Contact our election experts about combining various voting procedures! 

Online voting: digital possibilities

Online voting is a different, digital form of absentee voting procedure. It is the most modern form of conducting an election – highly favored by younger generations but often viewed with suspicion by older generations. Voters log-in to the voting system with several authentication features and security questions, cast their vote, and log out. As simple as that.

Online voting procedures have numerous advantages:

  • Most cost-effective way to conduct an election
  • Conducting the election is quick and the result is automatically available
  • Voting can be done from anywhere in the world, without any special technical knowledge
  • Online elections are thoroughly documented and can be verified externally after the votes have been counted 

If you decide on choosing an online voting system, you'll need to provide your voters with information about the voting procedure. Offer convenient and easy ways to get answers to voters' questions like making available the email address or phone number of the election officer, or setting up a dedicated election website which can be accessed from your organization's homepage. A transparent election process helps to reduce doubts surrounding online voting. Security is always one key issue, however election officers and voters alike can rest assured that POLYAS certified online voting software is secure; both data and secrecy of the ballot are protected.

Conclusion: online voting systems are modern and have many advantages such as offering location-independent voting, promptness, precision and cost savings. All your voters need is access to the internet - then they can vote with ease.