Voting Update – Paper Ballots
Because of difficulties with the online voting platform, we will be using paper ballots in 2017.
The elections committee was able to identify the problem from 2016 and determine the solution to it. However, the solution is not working consistently or reliably on the back end of the site, so the decision was made to use paper ballots in 2017 and evaluate other platforms for 2018.
For more details, click either of the questions below:
Some people were curious about what went wrong with the voting in 2016. Here are the details of what we determined.
The problem in 2016 was with the administrator account of the voting platform – on the ‘back end’ of it.
In setting up and testing the polls, a single administrator account was used. At the Convention, however, the elections committee members were asked to monitor the polls, since several would be open simultaneously. The thought was that each committee member could monitor one or two polls and let the chair know when it appeared everyone had voted. Since these monitors were not going to be taking any actions, we thought it wouldn’t be a problem to use the same account login information for them. This was incorrect. When more than one person used the same administrator account, the platform, we later discovered, responded only to the actions taken by the last person to log in with the admin account. In 2016, the person who was charged with opening the polls logged in first, and those monitoring the polls logged in afterwards. The result was that the person who was opening the polls was being blocked by another person logged in to monitor the polls. This was not clear, though, because there was no error message on the first person’s computer – it reflected that the polls were open.
We were able to duplicate this result reliably when testing it later, so we feel confident this was the problem. We also verified other issues were not a problem:
- The wi-fi was not the problem. The wi-fi was robust enough to handle all the voters logging in. The school had installed additional wi-fi access points, and we checked the signal strength and coverage, and it was more than enough to handle the traffic.
- The “front end” of the voting website (what was visible to voters) worked as expected. Voters did reach the voting website and were able to log in with their credentials.
- The links from the website to the voting platform worked correctly. It may have looked like they didn’t work because when a voter clicked a link from the website, they saw a blank landing page on the voting platform. That landing page is where open polls would have been displayed. It was blank because the polls weren’t actually opened, due to the problem above.
Once we verified that the problem last year was logging more than one person into the same administrator account, we looked for a way to create separate user accounts for those who would be monitoring the polls. We found that the platform does have this capability.
We created one additional administrator account for the Elections Chair with no difficulty, and it appeared to function as expected. Additional accounts for the elections committee members, however, did not function as well. Creating additional user accounts was the proposed ‘fix’ to last year’s problem, but creating the additional accounts was not working as expected. Members were unable to activate their user accounts or log into them and receive error messages that the accounts didn’t exist.
We like the user-friendly front end of the site (the way it appears to voters), and we like the flexibility that the site allows in setting the specific parameters we need for each poll and a clear results display on the back end (the way it appears to the administrators). However, we’re still having trouble on the back end when we want more than one member of the elections committee to be able to log in simultaneously.
We are likely to evaluate different platforms for next year.
If you try to vote and see a red box with an error message saying something about cookies, use this guide to enable them. Feel free to contact the diocesan office or a tech savvy friend or family member for help if you get stuck.