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The 2010 CSTA Elections

By Steve Cooper

For the first time, CSTA used on-line voting for determining its representatives to the Board of Directors. I'd first like to start by congratulating the winners of the contested elections:

Duncan Buell: University Representative
Myra Deister: At-large Representative
Deborah Seehorn: State Department Representative

But the main point of this blog post is to discuss my experiences with the process of on-line voting.

The process used was to send the membership a SurveyMonkey URL where they could go to vote. The URL was "public" in that anyone could go to that URL to vote. The voting occurred over a specified period of time, and at the end of that time, the survey was closed. To vote, an individual was asked for their name and e-mail address. The ballot form contained a significant amount of information provided by each candidate and radio buttons which the voter could use to cast her or his vote for the candidate in each position.

At the end of the election, the list of voters was reviewed. The database of all of the ballots (stripped of voting information) was checked to identify duplicates by name, email address, and ip address. Each ballot was then individually checked again against the CSTA membership database (by both name and email address) to make sure that the ballot was cast by a member in good standing. For individuals who had voted more than once, their last (in terms of a time stamp) non-blank ballot was counted. Non-members' votes were discarded. (We did identify several cases where a member attempted to vote twice. And, there were several votes from non-members.) We then sent each member who voted an email asking them to let us know if they did not actually vote. A few members emailed us to indicate that they had not voted but when they were given the ip address and timestamp for their vote, they realized they were mistaken and that they had, in fact submitted the ballot. Only one member indicated that he/she had not cast a ballot and that ballot was removed.

There were a lot of positive aspects about the on-line elections. CSTA saved money by not needing to mail out position statements and ballots. We could ask the candidates to respond to several questions, and could make those responses available to the membership. It was also much easier to tally the votes.

In all, I believe that the voting process was fair. (I welcome criticism from those who believe the process we followed was not fair.) I was not 100% happy with the process, as a lot of work was required to check the ballots and contact all of the members who had voted to confirm that they did, in fact, vote. The filtering out of the invalid ballots turned out to be reasonably straightforward to accomplish, but a simpler solution would be desirable. Next year, we may try an alternate solution (ideally one that is free or nearly free). I welcome suggestions about alternative solutions to try. But do keep in mind that any solution must ensure the anonymity of votes. As elections chair, I do not want to know how any particular member voted.

Steve Cooper
Elections Chair


St. Stephen's Episcopal School uses LimeSurvey (LimeSurvey.org) to do elections (and many, many other surveys and data collection tasks). It's open source, xAMP, and well-supported.

Each eligible voter gets a customized email with a link to the survey/election, including a unique "token". Each token can be used only once. The email and the survey screens can contain info about candidates, or a link to a web page with that info.

When you select the anonymous mode, there is no connection between the person and the response in the database.

Results are available instantly from the reporting module.

In my opinion this is the perfect way to elect some one for the board of directors as this will show that every one selected on their voting basis and not on the favoritism. Thanks for sharing this news.

I appreciate your idea here. There were a lot of positive features about the on-line elections, Hopefull this process will be Highly secure, accurate and no risk of repeat voting.

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