Candidate Names Obfuscated Until Election Closes

July 3rd, 2018 by David Simms

Categorized as: Product Development

Candidate Names Obfuscation

Consider this. An individual working at an association is in charge of managing an election. That individual favors candidate A instead of candidate B. The individual checks the live election results while the election is underway and sees that candidate A needs a few more votes to win. The election manager informs candidate A of that so that he or she knows to campaign a little harder before it’s too late. Worse still, I’ve seen cases where the person overseeing the election also appears on the ballot! While both of the above certainly violate Election Oversight Best Practices and should never happen in the first place, an update to the ElectionsOnline results page prevents it from even being possible at all.

When an election administrator logs into their ElectionsOnline account to view the results during the election, candidate names are now obfuscated. Nothing else has changed. You can still visit the results page and witness that voting activity is under way and see the number of votes in favor of the leading candidate, you simply can’t read who that leading candidate is.

How is This Done?

Two things make this work. While an election is in progress:

  1. The candidate name is blurred. That’s nice, but doesn’t do everything needed to protect the results until the election concludes. If there were only two candidates running and one had an especially long name while the other was very short, it would still be possible to figure out which candidate had the lead just by the length of the blurred text. A resourceful election manager could also do a View Source to see the source code for the results page. So…
  2. The candidate name is swapped out in favor of the text, Lorem Ipsum. You might ask why blur the text if it’s being replaced with Lorem Ipsum? Because it would simply look silly for the results page to display what appears to be an entire ballot of candidates named Lorem Ipsum even if only while the election’s in progress. Blurring is easy to do and makes the results look a little more sensible.


Don’t think there’s anything wrong with the system, or your own eyesight, the next time you check your election results and notice this change. In fact, the page displays a notice that candidate names will become readable after the election concludes as a reminder.