When you create the ballot papers for your online election, you have a choice of the following types:
- Electing candidates and voting
- List elections
- Other forms of voting
Each type of ballot paper has optional settings that help to reflect the election rules. This includes the settings for the number of votes, for spoiled votes, or for the format of the ballot paper. In this guideline we explain candidate elections and voting.
Rules for electing candidates and voting
In your online voting, click on the “Ballot paper” tab under the “Election rules” tab and select “Electing candidates and voting”.
Below this you will see information on “Total votes”. Here you enter the total number of votes that may be cast on the ballot. If you enter a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 3, eligible voters can cast 1, 2 or 3 votes. If they decide not to cast any votes, the ballot will be counted as invalid.
Below this you see the “Advanced options” as follows:
- Allow invalid ballot = Voters are shown a checkbox on the ballot paper that they can use to mark their ballot paper as spoiled.
- Allow too many votes to be cast = With this option enabled, it would be possible to assign four votes in our example above. However, the ballot would be deemed invalid. If you disable this option, it is no longer possible to cast too many votes. In this case, voters will be advised that they have cast too many votes and will be asked to correct their selection.
- Allow too few votes to be cast = With this feature enabled, too few votes can be cast. In terms of our example above, it would be possible not to cast any votes at all and thus make the ballot paper invalid. If you disable this option, it is no longer possible to cast too few votes. In this case, voters will be advised that they have cast too few votes and will be asked to correct their selection.
- Allow / Do not allow abstention = If you activate this setting, a checkbox appears on the ballot paper that allows voters to explicitly abstain from voting.
- Do not show available votes = By activating this option, a counter appears on the ballot paper that shows voters how many votes they still have to cast.
Once you have made your selection, go to the detailed settings. You can find these in two places in the POLYAS Online Voting Manager:
- In the “Ballot paper” tab, click on the gear-wheel icon in the top left-hand corner of your list and select “Settings”.
- Go to the “List overview” tab and click the gear-wheel icon next to the list name.
Note: If you have multiple ballot papers, note which one you selected in the overview on the left.
The detailed settings are used to set the format of the ballot paper:
- Number of rows
- Number of columns
- Show header
- Show column headings
Several columns are useful if you want to provide more information about the candidate – surname, first name and personnel number, for example.
Below this you will find the election rules. You can determine how many votes can be cast per row. This refers to the number of votes that can be cast per candidate or answer option.
An example: Eligible voters have the choice between Elena Miller and Oscar Mayer and the election rules state that they are allowed to cast a minimum of 0 votes per line and a maximum of 1. This means that you can cast a vote or no vote for Elena Miller and a vote or no vote for Oscar Mayer. If the total number of votes from section 1 is limited to just one vote, you can only vote for one of the two candidates because you have only one vote on the entire list.
If you set the election rules with 5 as the maximum number of votes per row, five checkboxes will appear next to each candidate, as you can theoretically cast five votes per row if the total votes allow this.
Caution: If you set the minimum to a value greater than 0, for example 1, this means that at least one vote must be cast in each row. Consequently a vote is invalid until a vote is cast for one of the options.
If you are happy with your settings, click on “Save”.
Instead of a vote on candidates, you can also use this type of ballot to create a poll with yes-no answer options. This is set up in the same way as a candidate election.
POLYAS tip: You can add further columns and rows to your candidate election using the gear-wheel icon in the list header, or via the carrot menu that is accessed using the down arrow at the end of each line.