This is less of a tip and more of an instruction. More precisely, an instruction to follow the instructions detailed in Section Two of the User Manual about how to conduct testing prior to the start of an election. Of course this wouldn’t be included here at all, but for those occasions where clients started an election without testing it first only to have issues arise.
If a moment of immodesty may be permitted, ElectionsOnline’s software is exceptional at not permitting the election administrator to commit technical errors during setup. In other words, it’s virtually impossible to do something that will cause the system to not work from a technical perspective. But there are non-technical aspects of setup that can still cause issues with an election.
For example, suppose you’re conducting an election that contains two groups of voters where each group should be permitted to vote on separate things. You do this by creating two voter groups and assigning various positions to each of those groups. It’s not difficult at all, but there is some human awareness that must be maintained during this type of setup to ensure the proper positions are being associated with each group. The potential for human fallibility to enter into the equation while doing this is the reason testing must always be performed on every election prior to the start. But that’s not to say that testing should only be done for complex ballots that utilize voter groups, special interest groups or anything of that nature. Even the most simple ballots, and even if you’re a client who’s done it a hundred times before, should not go live without a few test ballots being cast.
As stated above, step-by-step instructions on how to conduct thorough testing are provided in the user manual. Just always remember to recalibrate prior to an election start to ensure all traces of testing are removed and also to close an election to guarantee there can be no early voting. Lastly, taking advantage of saved ballot templates, particularly for complex ballots using voter groups, special interest groups or both, it’s not only a huge time saver, but also an added measure of reducing the possibility of a ballot containing configuration errors.