Frequently Asked Questions
- What can I do with OpaVote?
- Can I manage an election with an email address that is not from Google?
- How many voters can I have?
- What is the difference between an election and a poll?
- How much does it cost?
- How do I get help?
- I made a mistake. Can you fix it?
- Is it secure?
- What about privacy?
- Are the votes anonymous?
- What if two voters share an email address or a voter does not have an email address?
- On the management console, what are the numbers for opting out, bouncing, reporting spam, and blacklist?
- Can you provide a custom solution?
What can I do with OpaVote?
OpaVote allows you to run an election online. You provide the information about your election (candidate names, etc.) and the email addresses of the voters, and OpaVote takes care of the rest. OpaVote sends each voter a private link that allows the voter to cast his or her vote. At the end of the election you can download the ballots and count the votes with the OpenSTV software.
Can I manage an election with an email address that is not from Google?
Yes! You can create a Google account with any email address and you do not need a gmail address. Create a Google account with your own email address here.
How many voters can I have?
OpaVote can currently support up to one million voters per election.
What is the difference between an election and a poll?
An election has a voter list, sends emails to voters, and ensures each voter can vote only once. A poll does not have a voter list and allows anyone to vote. For a poll, you must publicize the links to allow people to vote and download the ballots (e.g., on a web page or via email).
How much does it cost?
Elections are free for a duration of up to 2 weeks, up to 400 voters, and up to 20 total candidates. Each additional two weeks is US$5.00, each additional voter is US$0.05, and each additional candidate is US$1.00
How do I get help?
To see how OpaVote works, you can try this example poll. You can also create an election, use your own email address as a single voter, and try out the whole process from beginning to end. If you still have questions, send an email to openstv at googlegroups.com.
I made a mistake. Can you fix it?
Because of the extremely low prices, technical support is not included. Please run a test election to make sure you understand the process and do not make any mistakes for a real election. For a technical support fee (no less than US$50.00) we may be able to make changes to an election in progress. If you would like to inquire about paid technical support, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is it secure?
Yes. Each voter is sent a secret code that is required in order to cast a vote. Encryption (SSL) is used for casting votes in elections.
What about privacy?
Are the votes anonymous?
Yes. Each vote is stored independent of the voters, so votes cannot be linked back to voters.
What if two voters share an email address or a voter does not have an email address?
The easiest way to do this is to use a technique called plus addressing. This technique works with gmail addresses, but may not work with other email addresses so be sure to test this before using it for an actual election.
If the election manager has the email address email@example.com, then the manager will also receive emails addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. So if voter John, does not have an email address, then add a voter with the email address manager+John@gmail.com. The manager can then receive John's vote and enter it for him. This requires John to trust the election manager to enter his vote correctly.
On the management console, what are the numbers for opting out, bouncing, reporting spam, and on blacklist?
OpaVote takes great care to make sure that emails get delivered to voters and to ensure that voters are not receiving unwanted emails. OpaVote uses Amazon's Simple Email Service (SES) to send email, and SES provides feedback to OpaVote about sent emails that we can share with election managers. The following are four outcomes (not mutually exclusive) of sending emails to voters:
- Opting Out — Each OpaVote email to a voter contains a link that allows that voter to stop receiving email for that election. A voter may vote and opt out or just opt out.
- Bouncing — An email bounces when it cannot be delivered to a voter. A bounce may occur if the user has deleted the email account, the email account is full, or there is a typo in the email address.
- Reporting Spam — Most email providers allow a user to report an email as "spam." Some email providers will report this information back to Amazon SES, which in turn provides this information to OpaVote.
- On Blacklist — These voters requested to never receive email from OpaVote or marked an OpaVote email as spam. This may have happened during your election or during a previous election.
Election managers will receive email reports for each of the first three outcomes above, and the information is also presented on the management console. Managers must take care in selecting a voter list. Elections with too many opt outs, bounces, or spam reports may be terminated.
Can you provide a custom solution?
For a fee, OpaVote can provide a custom solution. Please send an email to email@example.com.