Case Studies

The five case studies below illustrate three association elections, a shareholder weighted style vote and a 360 survey. More case studies will be added soon.

Case study 1

Brandeis University Student Union – illustrating election with remote sign-in method 1

Brandeis University Student Union (BUSU) used BigPulse for its 2007 Spring and Fall 2007 elections and also for a student vote on which cable TV network channels were preferred on campus.

For the Spring and Fall elections BUSU used the BigPulse email list manager to send students an invitation to vote. Each email included an auto sign-in link to the high security polls. Only authorized people could access the online ballots. The vote override was set to zero so people could vote only once. BUSU managers could see the votes counted live and who voted but voting was anonymous.

For these elections BUSU implemented the BigPulse remote sign-in technology. This enabled students to sign-in at the university website using their usual sign-in details with a seamless link to the BigPulse ballots. Personal voting accounts had been created and uploaded to BigPulse ahead of time. On clicking the e-mailed poll link voters were redirected to Brandeis's Cosign single sign-on page. After authenticating at that page, their credentials were handed over to BigPulse, where they were verified as being members of the poll cluster, and then they were ready to vote in the first ballot. The experience was seamless and transparent to the voter. The BigPulse remote sign-in technology ensured the highest vote security. Also hosting the online ballots and web-based poll manager on the BigPulse server ensured independence in the management of the vote harvesting and vote counting technology.

The election was open for 24 hours. A reminder email was sent halfway through voting and sent only to those who had not yet voted – achieved as simply as checking a box in the BigPulse email manager. The spring election received over 40 per cent voter turnout.

Case study 2

Pocono Mountain Association of Realtors – illustrating election with remote sign-in method 2

Pocono Mountain Association of Realtors (PMAR) ran its annual elections for office holders online for the first time in 2007. The election had ten ballots. The voting method used was first-past-the-post and anonymous1. The polls were hosted on the BigPulse server. This ensured independence in the management of the vote harvesting and vote counting technology.

PMAR used the BigPulse remote sign-in technology which enabled members to sign-in directly at the ballot hosted on the BigPulse server yet members signed in with their usual sign-in details normally used to access the association's own website. The BigPulse remote sign-in technology enabled the sign-in details of each member to be authenticated automatically by the PMAR server. In the process a unique member ID was passed to the BigPulse server and voting accounts on the BigPulse server were created automatically and seamlessly as each member signed in to vote. The method ensured that the member ID came only from the PMAR server. No personal data was transferred to the BigPulse server before or during the voting process.

The poll was secure – only authorized people could vote and each person could vote only once in each ballot.

Following each vote people were taken to the next ballot automatically and presented with a vote confirmation which included a randomly generated vote receipt number. People were able to interrupt the process without completing all ballots and resume at a later time to complete the remaining ballots. There were no informal votes because BigPulse prevents informal votes and alerts any users attempting to submit an informal vote. The polls closed automatically at the scheduled time and the results were available immediately.

The vote was open for 24 hours and ran without a glitch. Many members voted from their home or office. One member commented how easy it was to vote whilst they were on a business trip to Europe. Members could also vote online at the AGM with several laptops provided in the meeting area.

Case study 3

Monash University Gippsland Student Union – secure vote with no personal data transfered

Monash University Gippsland Student Union (MUGSU) ran its 2007 General Election online. The election had five ballots. MUGSU used the BigPulse remote sign-in technology which enabled students to sign-in at the university website using their usual sign-in details. Optional preferential voting was used in all ballots and voting used the totally anonymous setting1.

The online ballots and web-based poll manager were hosted on the BigPulse server. This ensured independence in the management of the vote harvesting and vote counting technology. No personal data was transfered to the BigPulse server before or during the voting process yet the poll was secure – only authorized people could vote and each person could vote only once in each ballot. The personal voting accounts were created automatically and seamlessly as each student clicked the poll link in the my.monash portal (the University intranet) to access to access the first ballot. In the process the student ID was passed to the BigPulse server. This method ensured that the student ID came only from the my.monash server.

The election ran smoothly for five days without a glitch, as usual with BigPulse. Following each vote people were taken to the next ballot automatically and presented with a vote confirmation which included a randomly generated vote receipt number. People were able to interrupt the process without completing all ballots and resume at a later time to complete the remaining ballots. The polls closed automatically at the scheduled time and the results were available immediately. See example of a preferential vote report .

In one poll the difference separating the winner was only one vote. The result was not challenged as might be expected with a paper vote. In any case, a recount takes only one second! Note 1. BigPulse polls have many transparency options ranging from absolute anonymity through to a "show of hands". Absolute anonymity means there is no link in the BigPulse data base between the vote and the voting account.

Case study 4

Parco Merged Media Corp – a shareholder vote, weighted voting

Parco Merged Media Corp (PMMC) a Maine-based provider of healthcare tracking technology used BigPulse to run its 2007 board of director elections online. This was a shareholder style vote so all votes were weighted according to the number of shares held. The voting accounts with names, weightings and emails were uploaded from a spreadsheet in a matter of minutes.

The online ballots and web-based poll manager were hosted on the BigPulse server. This ensured independence in the management of the vote harvesting and vote counting technology.

The BigPulse email list manager was used to send PMMC members an email inviting members to vote in the online ballots. The email appeared exactly as if it came directly from the desk of CEO Scott Cohen. Each email was personalized automatically with the member's name and included an auto sign-in link to the high security poll. Only authorized people could vote. Scott could see the live vote counts, who voted but voting was anonymous.

The poll was open for a month ensuring everyone had a chance to vote. Members were also allowed to change their vote up to three times before the vote close. A reminder email was sent before vote close and went only to those who had not yet voted.

On clicking the poll link members were signed in automatically ready to vote at the first poll. See ballot illustration. Voters clicked the candidate names in the ballot to see bios and in a convenient popdown window, see illustration of bio page.

Voters were presented with a vote receipt after each vote and a copy was sent by email. A finishing page appeared after the last ballot which also invited voters to make a comment.

The results were available the second the poll closed.

CEO Scott Cohen said, "This was the easiest and most highly attended vote the corporation has run in its six year history. The ease of use and recordable documentation makes this method of voting valuable."

Case study 5

Jackson, Wong & Associates – 360 survey application

Ken Jackson from Kenneth E. Jackson, Ph.D., Jackson, Wong & Associates, Inc., Georgia, USA discovered BigPulse when he needed a sophisticated 360 online survey solution for a large corporate client in a hurry.

Ken describe his requirement as, "I have two people who would like to get feedback from 18 raters on about 57 performance related items. Since the two people have different jobs, the questions asked of raters will be different for the two surveys. I would like to be able to code the raters as either "Self" for the ratings the managers give themselves or "Other" for the other 18 raters. In addition, I would like to be able to set up the report from the survey so that it will give not only the distribution of ratings across the rating categories for each item, but also the distribution of ratings for several dimensions when four or five items are combined into a cluster. I would like to get the distribution for the Self rating, the combined Other rating and an All Raters summary. I would like to be able to do this for both surveys".

Ken used the web-based BigPulse Poll Manager to create the tailored online surveys in four separate voter groupings. He then used the BigPulse email list manager to send recipients an invitation to vote. Each email was personalized automatically with the recipient's name and included an auto sign-in link to the high security polls. Only authorized people could vote. People could vote only once. Voting was anonymous. Ken could see the live vote counts and who voted. A few days later he sent a reminder email. The reminder email was sent only to those who had not yet completed the survey, which was achieved as simply as checking a "have not yet voted" box in the BigPulse email manager.

The online survey menu enabled voters to access any question directly and to see which questions they had already completed. A finishing page appeared after the last question. People were able to interrupt the process without completing the survey and resume at a later time to complete the remaining questions. The response to each question was saved as it was completed so there was no risk of people completing 50 out of 57 questions only to lose the lot before submitting.

The survey closed automatically at the scheduled time and the consolidated results and raw data were available for Ken to download immediately.

Ken Jackson, commented, "The customer support I received in setting up and monitoring the survey and the technical support that 'customized' the survey process to meet my client's needs were amazing. I have never received such competent, friendly and professional assistance. I completed the project on time and within budget."

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