Host your election with Skypunch Technology and:
- There’s minimal setup involved.
- The site is hosted in a cloud environment and enjoys all the system redundancy inherent to cloud hosting.
- Professional design work ensures the ballot presents in a very voter-friendly and ADA compliant format.
These are all very good reasons to host your election on the Skypunch, but this post examines some very good reasons to integrate the service into your own web site using the API (Application Programming Interface).
For those who aren’t aware, it is possible to set up an election at the Skypunch website, then through some wizardry, have that election ballot consumed into your own site. This is done using something called “web services,” which is a terribly unimaginative name for the ability of two computing systems to pass information back and forth in a way that makes the information understandable to each system even though they may have very different underlying technologies. For example, the two computing systems could be the Skypunch election technology and your organization’s own website. The information being passed back and forth would be the ballot along with some authentication information to make sure you’re able to access your ballot, and only your ballot, from Skypunch. And the underlying technologies are the ColdFusion-powered server hosting the Skypunch website and the whatever-powered server driving yours. That could also be ColdFusion, but might be PHP, ASP.NET or something totally different.
There is additional work involved as the consuming website (that is your website since it would “consume” the web services published by Skypunch) needs a place where voting occurs and the necessary authentication to protect this area of your site from unauthorized users. So why would a client want to do this?
- The voter database stays fresh in real time. Consider this scenario. You’re hosting an election at Skypunch, and two weeks prior to the start of the election, you load the voter roster into the system and the election lasts for another two weeks. Towards the end of the election, the voter roster would be nearly four weeks old and could have become stale since it was first loaded into the system. “Stale” in this context means some voters could have become eligible who weren’t included originally. Or just the opposite, a voter who was loaded into the system at the outset could no longer be eligible. You of course have the ability to add voters and toggle the eligibility of any voter in the system. But if you’re a large organization, the number of voters that need this sort of manual attention could become overly burdensome. Integrating the ballot into your own site where voters are authenticated against your master database in real time results in the most up-to-date voter eligibility status associated with their record without having to take additional measures in a separate system to keep their eligibility current.
- Single sign-on. Voters do not need to go through any authentication process other than whay they already use on your own website to access the ballot.
- Branding. You may wish for the ballot to have a look and feel consistent with your organization without any Skypunch branding visible on the ballot. Then again you may not. This may be the number one reason so many clients host their election on the Skypunch website rather than to utilize the API—they want it to be visually evident that the election is being conducted through a trusted election specialist. By using the API, you get complete control over the look and feel of the ballot’s “skin” and can really style the ballot to your own custom specifications.
- Use the voter’s preferred language. Skypunch supports multiple languages and the API supports the ability to pass a language code to the system. This means you may pass a code representing a specific voter’s preferred language to the API so they see the ballot in one language while another voter sees the ballot in a totally different language. You may even pass a comma-delimited string of language codes to display the ballot in multiple language in case you wish to have a voter’s preferred language as the primary language and use some other language as a secondary language.
- Post election reporting. Once the election concludes, you may wish to use your own system's reporting tools to create custom reports that show for example, peak voting periods, perhaps in response to some call for action your organization took to drive higher voter participation.
- Member engagement scoring. By integrating into your own systems, an Association Membership System (AMS) in the case of associations, you will be able to factor the activity of voting into a member engagement score.
While setting up the election framework to consume the Skypunch functionality into your own website is a job for a bona fide web developer, it’s also a one-time job and not something that would need to be redone in subsequent years. Be aware that usage of the API is only available for Enterprise edition elections. It’s not appropriate for every client, but the larger ones in particular should at least know that it’s an option and give it serious consideration.