Here you can find all the information you need to run elections, polls, and counts with OpaVote. Please read these instructions carefully and run a test election or two before you run a real election. Although we have tried to simplify the process, there are many important details, and making a mistake (e.g., forgetting a candidate) can require you to restart the election and be a bad experience for your voters.
OpaVote allows you to (i) run elections, (ii) run polls, and (iii) count ballots that you have collected in other ways.
A poll is similar to an election, except that anyone can vote, and the manager does not provide a list of voters. The manager must publicize the poll using a website, emails, or social media.
Elections and polls include the following features:
A count allows you to obtain election results for ballots you have obtained in other ways (e.g., paper ballots or another electronic voting system). You can choose a variety of counting methods, such as instant runoff voting, the single transferable vote, and Condorcet voting.
Elections and polls have three stages: EDITING, VOTING, and END. Counts have two stages: EDITING and END. Each of these stages is described in further detail in our pages specifically for elections, polls, and counts. Note that once you progress from one stage to the next you cannot go back. Please double check that everything is correct before you go on to the next stage.
Elections, polls, and counts have an expiration date. After the expiration date, voters cannot vote, and you cannot access any information. You can extend the expiration date by transferring a payment. Two weeks after the expiration date, all information will be permanently deleted.
Before using OpaVote, you need to login, and you can login with a Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn account. We need your name and email address from your account, but we do not use any other information and we do not make any posts on your behalf.
If the acccount you login with does not have an email address or has an email address that is bouncing, then you will need to change your email address before using OpaVote (a working email address is required) and this requires a payment of $5. Alternatively, you can login with a different account that provides a working email address.
OpaVote also allows you to share your OpaVote login with other people if you would like more than one person to be able to manage your items. From your account page, you can access a link that you can share with others to let them login to OpaVote as yourself. Only share this link with people you trust because anyone with this link has complete control over all of your OpaVote items.
The management console is the starting point for managing all your items. Here, you will find buttons to manage all of your existing items, to create new items, and to make payments.
From this page, you also set the manager name, manager email address, and time zone that are used for all of your items.
OpaVote pricing is available on the pricing page. If your item goes beyond the free limits, then you need to make a payment to increase the limits.
Payments may be made from the payments page. These payments are available to be used with any of your items. Before you move beyond the EDITING stage of an item, you must transfer payments needed for that item. Transfer of a payment to an item cannot be undone so please double check before transferring a payment.
After starting an item, you may later need to add an additional payment. For example, if you need to add voters or would like to extend the expiration date. From the management console of an item, there is a button to transfer $5 from your available balance to that item. If your balance is $0, then you need to make a payment first as described above. If you need to transfer more than $5, then use the transfer $5 button more than once.
The payments page shows a log of payment activity. All payments are non-refundable.
Elections, Polls, and Counts, all provide results as a web page, as text, in the CSV format, and in JSON format. You can share a link to the web page to share results with voters or copy and paste the text results into an email. The CSV and JSON format results allow you to do further processing of your results (e.g., to present them on your own web site).
In presenting the results, the counting options used to generate the results are shown (the counting options can affect the outcome). Note that for Elections and Polls, default counting options are used and you cannot use other counting options. For Counts, you can specify counting options. If you run an Election or Poll and need counting options that are different from the default options, then you need to download the ballots and create a Count using those ballots (and this may require an additional payment).
OpaVote uses the BLT format for storing ballots. At the end of an election or poll, you can download the ballots into a file in the BLT format. For counts, you can upload a file in the BLT format and then count the votes with OpaVote.
A ballot file contains the following information:
The BLT file format has some other features that may be useful for some users:
An annotated example of a BLT file is shown below:
4 2 # Four candidates are competing for two seats -2 # Bob has withdrawn 1 4 1 3 2 0 # First ballot 1 3 4 1 2 0 # Chuck first, Amy second, Diane third, Bob fourth 1 2 4 1 0 # Bob first, Amy second, Diane third 1 4 3 0 # Amy first, Chuck second 6 4 3 0 # Amy first, Chuck second with a weight of 6 1 0 # An empty ballot 1 2 - 3 0 # Bob first, no one second, Chuck third 1 2=3 1 0 # Bob and Chuck first, Diane second 1 2 3 4 1 0 # Last ballot 0 # End of ballots marker "Diane" # Candidate 1 "Bob" # Candidate 2 "Chuck" # Candidate 3 "Amy" # Candidate 4 "Gardening Club Election" # Title