The following scenario happens too frequently. An organization creates an account at ElectionsOnline; the point of contact for that account leaves; that person’s replacement comes on board and is assigned the responsibility of managing an election and creates a new account instead of using that organization’s existing account. The system does not permit two accounts with the same organization name, so there is that safeguard in place to discourage this from happening, but it’s possible to modify the name of an organization by just one character (perhaps by using an abbreviation) to create what is essentially a duplicate account. There are several reasons why this careless approach is bad for an organization, such as:
- ElectionsOnline archives your election results. These results are found by logging into your account and clicking the select list under the Election Results Archive heading. When a client creates duplicate accounts, they have no central place to retrieve results from all previous elections.
- Elections may be created from saved template used in a past election. This can be a huge time saver especially for more complex ballot configurations, but saved templates are saved with the account under which they’re created. It’s not possible to create an entirely new account and use a saved ballot template that was created under another account.
- ElectionsOnline offers some very generous ways to save. One such offering is the Refer-a-Friend program where you earn a line of credit equal to the total cost of the first election conducted by any organization you refer to ElectionsOnline. But when a line of credit is associated with one account, and a duplicate account is created, there’s no way the duplicate account can benefit from the credit line on the original. The same is true for the repeat usage and group account discounts, both of which are discussed at the How to Save page.
- It’s not possible for two accounts to share the same organization name. This means that in order to create duplicate accounts, the organization name has to somehow be altered. There are only so many modifications that can be made to an organization’s name before it’s no longer recognizable, so it’s much easier to maintain a single account with the true character-for-character name of the organization.
Clients are encouraged to document internal procedures for administering elections so that this documentation may be transferred from one employee to the next and avoid any confusion that may otherwise arise during that transition. This documentation should include at least the following:
- Where to initiate election setup. That of course being www.electionsonline.com.
- How to login. This includes the username and password for your organization’s account. As that username and password changes over the years (as it should), your documentation needs to also be updated to make sure it’s current at all times.
- How to create the voter roster. Submitting a voter roster into the ElectionsOnline website means formatting it as a semi-colon delimited list (only applicable when a client is having ElectionsOnline host the ballot and not integrating the Evote software into their own web site and voter database). How this is done can vary from one client to the next, so it’s important that clients document the process that is specific to their organization. This is not only beneficial for any new employee who takes over election administration duties, but also for a repeat user who perhaps only manages an election once a year and forgets from year to year how the process flows internally.
- The close time of the election. The ability to set the minute at which voting closes is supported by the system, but remember that the system runs in eastern (Washington DC) time. This means you may need to account for time differences for different time zones around the world, and including this in your documentation can simplify accounting for that.
The system itself is very easy to use as evidenced by the fact that the phone simply never rings from someone requesting technical assistance with the election setup process. The questions that do come up often pertain more to procedural matters about election and account administration—something that can be made as simple as the system itself with just a few minutes of time devoted to documenting internal procedures.