When most people think of "voting," polling stations and voting machines come to mind. But many voting technologies are available today, from paper ballots to online apps, to fit every situation.
This article will dive into some of the best tools out there. We'll also look at how each technology works and what it's best suited to do.
What Is Voting Technology?
"Voting technology" just means the tools voters use to register their choice. Voting technology can even be as simple as a raised hand.
Common forms of voting technology include:
- Paper ballots
- Voting machines
- Online apps for registering and tabulating votes
In-person vs. Digital Voting
Voting helps make sure that every voice in a group gets heard. It's a great way for organizations to reach decisions and meet their members' needs.
Both in-person and digital voting can be highly effective, but each has advantages and disadvantages.
Simply put, any format which allows voters to signal their preference can be a form of in-person voting. Paper ballots are a common way to vote in person, and so are voting machines.
Decision makers may also cast votes by raising their hands or responding to questions with "yea" or "nay." In-person groups sometimes use digital tools, like apps and online surveys, to cast votes.
What Are the Benefits and the Drawbacks of In-person Voting?
In-person voting creates a sense of formality and ceremony appropriate for certain occasions and can convey a sense of seriousness. In-person voting can be appropriate for major elections, for example, or momentous decisions. By being in person, candidates or sponsors can campaign directly with voting delegates.
Organizing in-person votes can help get reluctant voters to the polls. But it tends to be expensive, time-consuming, and difficult to organize. It needs to be planned well in advance. Every aspect must be arranged carefully, from polling stations to ballot design. Depending on the type of vote, in-person voting can also be time-consuming to tabulate.
If your organization wants to organize a spontaneous poll, there are better choices than in-person voting. This is also the case if you'd like to get input from people who are physically far apart from each other.
Digital voting has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Faith-based organizations, homeowners associations, shareholders, and student groups all use digital voting technology. It's a useful way to conduct votes, learn about people's concerns, and make key decisions that impact the group. You can even use digital voting technology to conduct quizzes! The possibilities are endless.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Voting?
Digital voting allows participants to express their views from wherever they may be. There's no need to find specially designated polling places or organize a meeting. You won't need to spend a lot of time organizing and ensuring everyone has time to vote on a particular day.
Digital voting is quick, easy, accurate, and in many cases, very low-cost. When you use the right app, digital voting technology can also tabulate votes instantly, eliminating the need to wait around for votes to be counted. Everyone knows the results right away.
The downside? Digital voting doesn't feel as formal as in-person voting. If you're trying to set up a ceremonial event around a vote, digital voting may not be the way to go.
For most occasions, though, what really matters is getting answers from your members. And that's where digital voting shines.
What Are the Different Kinds of Digital Voting?
There is a wide range of voting hardware (voting machines, keypads, computers, mobile phones) and software (electronic, web-based) available today. No matter what your situation, you can probably find the technology to meet your needs.
Web-based voting platforms and apps like VPOLL use everyday computers and mobile phones to conduct voting, and aren't just for staging formal votes, either. Groups can also use an online voting app or voting software to gather information and assess the overall mood of a group. Here are some different ways groups use digital voting technology today.
Survey and Polling Tools
Surveys and polls are simple ways to learn more about the interests and preferences of your group. They are usually not as time-sensitive or urgent as a formal vote and can even be fun for users to fill out.
Surveys typically present users with a list of questions about related topics. Groups might use surveys to collect feedback about how the group is functioning. For example, a survey might ask users to rate the food in a new cafeteria or to weigh in on the group's new meeting hall.
Surveys are also a useful way to break the ice in an orientation or at the start of a class. Teachers can ask the group to fill out a survey about their interests, and the whole group can view the results as a word cloud.
Surveys can be formatted as multiple-choice or short-answer questions, and it's easy to make them anonymous.
Polls are similar to surveys; except when asking a question, everyone responds at the same time and results are provided instantly. A survey is open for a period of time and participants respond to the survey questions within that time frame. Results are available to the client and can be shared at their discretion..
There are many free survey tools available online. However, remember that many of these survey tools are unsecured, and users might feel nervous about using them. Some free survey tools may also seem too informal. It's a good idea to use an online system that group members already know and trust.
Online Voting Platforms
Online voting is a great way to make key decisions that impact the whole group. Student groups, for example, often use online voting to choose class presidents. Shareholders use it to select board members, and faith-based groups use it to choose their leadership or to make other important decisions.
Online voting is secure, private, and easy to use, even for people who are not particularly tech-savvy. Simply log in to the online platform or app and then pick from choices on a ballot. Results are tabulated automatically so that the outcome of the vote is available as soon as the voting period ends.
VPOLL is an online platform that makes voting easy. You can use it to conduct elections, surveys, and polls and even create fun quizzes. It's intuitive to use, even for people who don't have a lot of technical expertise.
Digital Voting Machines
Digital voting machines can also be a valuable tool in some cases. They can lend a sense of ceremony to an election like paper ballots, but with the bonus of tabulating votes electronically instead of manually.
However, digital voting machines tend to be more expensive than online voting tools.
Most of the time, it's easier to conduct votes using an online tool. Ideally, look for an app that can handle multiple functions for your organization at once: voting, elections, polling, and sending out surveys; but ensure that it does so securely, like VPOLL.
What Is Hybrid Voting?
Hybrid voting allows people to choose whether to vote in person or online. Hybrid voting is a great way to ensure that everyone can vote in a way that makes them comfortable.
Voting With VPOLL
VPOLL is an audience response system that allows users to connect from anywhere in the world on their smartphones, tablets, or laptops. Whether meeting in person or polling a widespread set of members, you can use VPOLL's tools to hold votes and elections, conduct surveys, or gather feedback. Ready to get started? Request a free VPOLL demo to learn more about us and our capabilities.
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