ElectionsOnline’s online voting software has long supported the ability for clients to configure a ballot that displays in up to three different languages. When conducting an election fully hosted on the ElectionsOnline website, as opposed to integrated into your own, the ballot displays to all voters in the languages chosen by the election administrator. However, when fully integrating the ballot into your own website, there is the option to pass a language parameter to the Evote system that tells it which language, or languages, to use for a specific voter. In other words, different voters could see the ballot in different languages.
Because this is only possible using the fully integrated model, let’s be clear about how it varies from the other models which are:
- Fully hosted where the election is conducted entirely on the ElectionsOnline website and the voter must visit the ElectionsOnline website to login and cast a ballot.
- Passed authentication where the voter logs in at your own website, then is passed over to ElectionsOnline to cast the ballot.
- Fully integrated where the voter logs in and casts the ballot without ever leaving your website.
Displaying ballots that use a voter’s preferred language is only possible with the fully integrated option, and even then only if you are able to determine a given voter’s language preference. For example, a non-profit might store a member’s preferred language in its Association Management System (AMS). In such a case, that language code could be retrieved and passed to Evote’s web services and the system responds accordingly by serving a ballot in that language. Allowable codes are:
- “en” for English
- “es” for Spanish
- “fr” for French
- “br” for Portuguese
- “de” for German
- “it” for Italian
- “ch” for Chinese
If a member’s preferred language is not stored in a member database, it may be adequate to use the country of residence instead. For an association conducting an election with members around the world, it would be possible to read the country of residence; translate that to one of the allowable language codes; and pass that code to the voting software. Voters in Brazil would see the ballot in Portuguese, while voters in Germany see it in German. It would even be possible to display the ballot in French for any voter in Quebec, while all other Canadian voters see it in English. As a failsafe, always default to English in the event a code can not be determined, or consider always including English as a second language so the ballot displays in two languages for each voter. The primary language being what you determine it should be based on country, the secondary language being English just in case the country of residence isn’t so accurate a means by which to determine a person’s preferred language.