Using a polling or secure voting system in your virtual meeting
Sometimes the agenda of a meeting requires that attendees vote formally on a topic, or multiple topics. This may be particularly true of meetings such as board meetings and general assemblies, where attendees may be asked to participate in electoral voting, or formal voting on important strategic decisions. Whilst this is easy in face-to-face environments, ensuring a secure, anonymous and reliable voting process in a virtual meeting may seem challenging. Luckily, there are a number of online voting systems available that can facilitate this process.
If you require a voting function in your meeting but this is not formal, there are a number of options available to you that would support you in your virtual meeting environment. These are outlined below.
It should be noted, however, that these options do not offer control of the voting system, particularly around manipulation of votes (there is no way to totally safeguard against multiple voting) and according to the system selected, it may be that there is no way to ensure total anonymity of votes.
- Doodle offers a great, free online polling function where you can create a basic poll and users can vote in a tickbox format selecting one or multiple options. There is also the option to add comments, and user information can be made private (participants cannot see each others details, but the organizer can see details of all participants). Invitation to a poll can be done through link-sharing or emailing expected participants directly.
- Google Forms can also be used for voting in the same way, where you can create a survey with options for members to complete. This can also be done anonymously, and offers the opportunity to change colour scheme, and add images / branding at a basic level. Google Forms also offers analytics.
You may share the link to the Doodle or Google Form in the Chat window of the virtual meeting.
Secure online voting
For example for elections of board members or the approval of specific documents or reports during a General Assembly, you may require to use a secure voting system that prevents duplicate votes or manipulation.
A particularly good option is Polys, a secure, anonymous (and free for small users) online voting system which is easy to set up, and simple for voters to access and use. Polys has been used e.g. in the votes Virtual AGM 2020 of Myeloma Patients Europe.
Polys is built on block-chain technology which allows for a transparent, confidential voting process which is easy to monitor, and provides real-time calculation and display of results during your meeting, to facilitate a smooth decision-making process, and easy recording of voting results.
Features of the Polys voting system
- Can support a traditional (majority) or cumulative voting process. Cumulative voting systems are especially helping in election processes, where majority voting is typically used in formal decision-making such as those required of a Board (formal approval of minutes, budget decisions, etc.)
- Clear, user-friendly organizer panel which enables you to easily set up one or multiple votes, select your preferences, and monitor the voting process in real time, presenting the results in a format that is easy to understand, share and capture for formal minutes if required
- Control of the voting system and avoidance of manipulation of votes (such as double-voting) through the option of providing voters with secure one-time-use codes (additional codes can be provided to proxy voters) or by only allowing validated users access to the vote (through registration of email address). You can also specify the number of voters where this is known, in order to further secure the voting process.
- The option to specify a desired duration of a voting process. You can add a defined start and end date / time to your vote or election, or you can select to manually end the process when required (this is particularly useful where voting will be done during the meeting as it enables the results to be collected in real-time to support formal recording of decisions in minutes).
- Live monitoring of the voting process whilst the vote is underway. Where you know how many votes are expected, this can have the additional advantage of understanding where voters may have difficulties preventing them from voting (browser issues, unfamiliarity with the technology) and provide guidance to the voters (as a group, remember the voting process is anonymous!) as required in order to facilitate a smooth voting process.
- A clear dashboard for the vote organizer which provides useful information such as live tracking of results, ability to easily set up multiple votes, setup of voting options (email registration, code generation), and
To find out more about the features of Polys and assess whether this is a good option for your virtual meetings:
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Written by Julia Tolley, 11/6/2020, V1.0. If you have any suggestions for changes or amendments, we would appreciate your email to email@example.com.