How to Provide Voter Assistance

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Support AgentEven with all that is done to ensure the voting experience is as simple as possible, there will inevitably be the occasional request for assistance from a voter. Sometimes these requests come to ElectionsOnline, sometimes the voter will choose to directly contact the organization conducting the election. If a voter directly contacts you, the client, it is most preferable to them to receive resolution to their question right then and there without you having to in turn contact ElectionsOnline or instruct the voter to do so. What follows are examples of how I might personally handle a phone call for voter support so that you as a client conducting your own election will know where to at least begin in providing the same type of service.

Voter: Hello, I have an email instructing me to vote, but it’s not accepting my login data.

Me: I’ll be happy to help. Who sent you the email? (I would ask this because if it came from ElectionsOnline I can be certain the recipient is an eligible voter and the email contains a valid link to the ballot. If the email originated from the client, the client may have gotten the URL wrong and the problem can be resolved by correcting the address. If the email came from a fellow voter, there could be any number of issues. There may be no link to the ballot. There may be a bad link to the ballot. There may be a good link to the ballot, but the recipient isn’t eligible to vote in this particular election. The proper response depends on the issue.)

Response One

Voter: It came from ElectionsOnline.

Me: And did this email contain a username and password? (I ask this because emails originating from ElectionsOnline can be configured by the election administrator to either include the login data or not. If the email includes the login data and the voter’s typing that login data into the login page, then the voter’s simply making a typo and the problem’s resolved by having them try again, or better yet, simply copy and paste the login data to completely eliminate the possibility of making a typo.)

Response Two

Voter: It came from the ____________________ (name of organization conducting the election).

Me: And did it contain a link to the ballot? (I would ask this because if it contains a link, I want to verify that the link is correct.)

Voter: Yes.

Me: And can you read to me what that link is please?

Voter: (If the voter gives an incorrect address, simply provide the correct address and the issue’s resolved. If the voter gives the correct address, continue on.)

Me: That’s correct. Let’s be certain then that you’re attempting to log in to the ballot using the username and password that’s on record for you in the voting system. At that address you just read to me, you have the ability to submit your email address and retrieve unknown login data. Go ahead and do that even if you think you’re certain of the username and password.

Voter: OK, I did that. It said a match was found for the email and that login data is being sent to that address. (If a match isn’t found, it means the voter’s not included in the voter database. Or at least not included with that email address. Perhaps because the client inadvertently left the voter off, or perhaps because the voter’s not actually eligible to vote in this election. Either way my response would be that the voter needs to contact the organization conducting the election about being added to the voter roster.)

Me: When that email arrives, copy and paste the login data into the login page and all will be fine.

Response Three

Voter: The email was sent to me by one of my colleagues who apparently just voted in this election. (Remember that the ElectionsOnline system utilizes social media to encourage voters to encourage other voters to vote, so receiving an email from a fellow voter is a possibility.)

Me: (I’d follow the same course of action as for Response Two above from this point on.)


A contrived script like this obviously can’t be followed word-for-word in every situation. Its intent is simply to demonstrate that what you want to get at is:

  1. What is the address where you’re attempting to log in?
  2. What’s the login data you’re attempting to log in with?

The root cause of any issue will be revealed during the process of drilling into the two questions above. I have enough years in IT to know when a user reports a problem, what they say they’re doing and what they’re actually doing are usually two different things and the only way to diagnose the real problem is to stand over his shoulder and monitor his actions. Obviously that’s not possible over the phone, so try to ask questions that put you virtually over the shoulder of the voter so you can envision what’s really happening on his end rather than what’s being described.

The best service of course is one so user-friendly that no support is needed. Happily the number of support calls from voters using ElectionsOnline’s software is minimal, but in a system that encourages voters to encourage other voters to also vote, it’s inevitable that a few isolated cases of someone getting confused will arise. It’s a small price to pay for the benefit of peer-to-peer voter encouragement and hopefully the example scenario above will help bring quick and satisfactory resolution to any incidents that do arise.