Diocese Of Lexington On Introducing E-Voting To Diocesan Conventions
In the wake of the pandemic, the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington transitioned to e-voting after years of relying on paper ballot voting. For the first time in church history, deputies of the 124th Annual Diocesan Convention would be convening to pass important resolutions, elect new officers, and agree to budgets—virtually.
The convention was to be held using ZOOM Webinar and Facebook Live. It was essential that their chosen e-voting system be simple to navigate, with little-to-no learning curve for both voters and convention organizers. According to Canon to the Ordinary, Elise Johnstone, the switch to VPOLL e-voting came down to affordability, security, and accessibility.
Being a small diocese with an average of 200 convention deputies, price was a principal decision making factor. While other dioceses had already switched to Scantron, the Diocese of Lexington still relied on its volunteers to conduct paper ballots.
“We did an early test of VPOLL in the summer when it was first released, and later ruled out other options that were more affordable on a price point but costly in other ways.”
With no prior experience with voting technologies, the diocese needed additional assistance despite the simple nature of VPOLL’s e-voting platform.
“We felt asking volunteers to run any elections software on our behalf would’ve been too much of an ask, no matter which one we chose. Having an impartial technician, who is not a qualified voter or staff member, handling the ballots added integrity to the vote.”
The diocese needed to be able to see how many clergy voted on each ballot separate to lay deputies. VPOLL made voter verification and vote tallying by demographic a very simple and easy process, requiring little to no effort on the part of convention organizers. Running polls through ZOOM was simply not an option given how many deputies use shared devices.
“We used VPOLL to help us to certify voters. We created a list of qualified voters indicating which were clergy and lay deputies along with their registration details. Each person was sent a unique personal login and that served as their voter certification.
VPOLL was chosen for the software’s ability to instantly establish:
- Quorum with Results by Cross-Tab
- Min/Max Votes both with an equal value for submission validity
- Required Majority with a simple majority calculation to immediately determine whether a motion or election passed. Checkmarks next to elected candidates and answers for a motion displayed in real time as the required majority threshold was met. Number of Votes Cast and Number of Votes To Be Elected were also displayed in real time.
- Participant Authentication as desired such that only deputies with voice and vote could successfully log in to VPOLL using a unique set of credentials.
The Episcopal Diocese Convention Committee needed to ensure that a necessary amount of deputies voted each round. For a sizable minority of deputies using e-voting for the first time was going to be very far from their comfort zone.
“While our technician wasn’t in on every conversation with deputies leading up to the convention, he was patient, kind and affirming when demoing the VPOLL system.”
deputies who were less confident with technology required additional assurances to ensure strong participation. For this reason, the diocese decided to have VPOLL staff prepare the elections, lead system demos, and hold the ballots on the day.
“We had no one who could not vote at all. We had a few people who we were able to see from the vote tallying had internet connectivity problems, but every voter was able to complete at least one vote. The majority participated in all votes.”
In past conventions, paper voting could add 20 minutes to 1 hour per ballot depending on the complexity of the vote. This time around, there was no need to wait around while volunteers tallied votes by hand. Voters and diocese convention leaders were able to immediately see how many people voted during each session and view the results in real time. A whopping 92% of deputies gave VPOLL a ‘very satisfied’ rating along with rave reviews:
“VPOLL was very easy to use and understand”
“VPOLL was terrific. Quick and accurate results”
“Voting and tabulating was so much easier and faster.”
“Let’s continue to use it when we can return to normal conventions.”
How can VPOLL e-voting help you?
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