Keys for streamlined and convenient elections
Most universities and colleges have an intranet system through which students, faculty, and staff can view information and complete certain processes. These intranets are typically accessed through secure credentials (user IDs and passwords) and with the help of single sign-on (SSO) and SAML (Secure Assertion Markup Language) protocols, which allow users to access various services with the same credentials. These same solutions can be applied to an online voting system, ensuring a streamlined and familiar authentication process for all voters.
Let’s take a look at how a voter in your university or college election might cast their ballot with the capabilities of your institution’s intranet:
Accessing the Platform
In order to access the online voting platform, which contains additional election information and the online ballot, the voter is directed to a specific page on your institution’s website or to a section of your intranet (such as a student portal or hub). From there, the voter can click on a link or button that will take them to the online voting log-in page. As the online voting system will be integrated with your institution’s SSO/SAML system, the voter will log on to the voting portal with the credentials they use for the rest of your institution’s intranet.
Customizations to the look and feel of the voting platform, including custom colors, text, and your institution’s logo, will also be applied to ensure that the voter feels comfortable and familiar with the system.
Casting a Ballot and Viewing Results
Once securely logged into the system, the voter can then proceed to the relevant election, make their choices, and review and cast their ballot. Once cast, the voter will be given a verification code that will allow them to verify that their vote has been correctly received by the voting server. This can be done through a variety of ways, but one of the easiest is again through your university intranet.
In a location accessible to the voter, like a student or faculty portal, an election administrator simply creates a page or uploads a file with all of the anonymous verification codes generated during the election. The voter can then view this list and look for the verification they received after casting their ballot. With the presence of their code on this list, they can be assured that the server received their ballot and included it in the final results.
Speaking of results, these can also be uploaded to or published directly within your institution’s intranet system, so voters know exactly where to find them. Of course, if needed, these results can also be published publicly both online and in print.
Integrating an online voting solution with your institution’s intranet and SAML protocols ensures a streamlined, convenient, and familiar election process for your voters. However, it may also require the online voting provider to be granted access to certain data, like the names, emails, and credentials of students, faculty, and staff. For this reason, you should always ensure that the online provider prioritizes security and privacy both in their solution and in their data handling procedures.