The history of elections
For a long period of time elections have been held to enable decision-making processes among groups of people. The first types of elections date back to ancient Greece and Rome in which direct votes were carried out in order to select new political leaders. This was achieved by writing down votes on pieces of broken pot. All the pieces were then collected and evaluated to form a decision.
Over time, especially since the 17th century, and up until today, the conventional way of holding elections on democratic political decision processes has been to show up at local poll sites in person and take a vote on a specific matter by selecting a choice on a piece of paper and dropping it into a ballot box.
Ever since technology and digitisation have produced a worldwide domination of New Media that has subsequently lead to an increase in international interconnectedness due to social networks and big data accumulation, new ways of running elections online have inevitably been trending. The advantages are clear: worldwide potential target audiences, 24/7 voting possible, no need for physical encounters or polling setups, convenient and fast election evaluations.
Contrary to widespread conception, LimeSurvey is not just an online survey software, but rather a data-driven tool that can be used for numerous different purposes such as training sessions, quizzes, appointment management and naturally for elections.
The essentials for your election
Elections need to meet certain structural and legal requirements, but no worries, LimeSurvey has you covered.
- Participant management: before running an election, it is necessary to define the general suffrage, i.e. who gets to participate in the election, as most elections - unless at state level – do not include the participation of an entire population. By using the participant management feature, you can invite a specific group of people to participate in the election by creating a token table. Said tokens grant exclusive access to the online election and furthermore avoid unauthorized voting or multiple participation.
- Email invitations: the aforementioned participant management feature comes with an integrated email invitation function which is a comfortable method of distributing the path to your election. Depending on the LimeSurvey hosting you use, you can either send email invitations from your own mail server or rely on our LimeSurvey mail server, the choice is yours.
- Data security: in line with the choice between different mail server hosting possibilities is the storage of your election data either on one our five secure, GDPR-compliant servers (in Germany, the UK, the US, Canada and Australia) or on your own server. We provide our tool for both options to grant you full flexibility and maximum data security when conducting elections.
- Anonymized voting: in order to comply with legal conditions of classified voting, responses can be fully anonymized in LimeSurvey with a single click.
- Quota management: if your election requires only a certain ratio of voters based on specific criteria, e.g. gender, age or origin, you can easily set up a quota in LimeSurvey that defines the exact compilation of voters you need and dismisses any additional respondents that exceed this quota.
- Scheduling: "The nature of democracy is that elected officials are accountable to the people, and they must return to the voters at prescribed intervals to seek their mandate to continue in office. For that reason most democratic constitutions provide that elections are held at fixed regular intervals." (Wikipedia: "Election"). In LimeSurvey, you may reuse a created election by simply copying it. Furthermore, there is no limitation on how many surveys or elections you create and conduct. The best part: your election can be scheduled to run at a certain start and end time and therefore automate the validity period.
- Statistics: in order to transform electoral votes into actionable decisions, it is necessary to process your data with the help of statistical evaluations. Whether you need fast ready-built charts and/or result tables or whether you require even more advanced statistics by making use of our various export options, nobody will be left high and dry.
- Offline elections: if you do however need to run your election offline and want to add some convenience to your setup, you can simply go hybrid with LimeSurvey. Firstly, set up the election electronically on your computer. Then, print the election structure on paper to run it offline. Finally, type the results in to your computer and evaluate the data. Less error-prone and cleaner overall process.
The future of elections
Elections always have been and increasingly will be exciting endeavours in a more digitized future. Take the recent referendum in the United Kingdom to bring about an exit from the European Union as an example to realize the sheer power that elections can bundle.
Thanks to seemingly infinite and immediate access to knowledge on the internet anywhere in the world, election systems need to adapt to this highly dynamic environment. Therefore, it makes sense to assume that elections will be conducted electronically more and more in the future to enable group-decision-making.
Thus, software is required that can deliver on two main dimensions throughout setup, conduct and evaluation of elections: convenience and power. LimeSurvey offers you both, test it for free!