What do you want to vote on?

Posing the right question to your voters is more important than you might think. "Which restaurant should we go to tonight?" is very different from "Which restaurant should we boycott?", though the two may have identical candidates. Your description will provide the context your election takes place within.

You need at least two candidates to proceed.

Your description and candidates may contain more than just plain text. Try using Markdown syntax to…

  • **bold** or *italicize* text
  • [create links](//example.com)
  • ![or include an external image](//example.com/x.png)

What type of ballots do you want to use?

Online ballots provide a quick and easy way of interacting with your voters, but are subject to potentially untenable limitations. Your voters' computers may be compromised making their votes vulnerable to eavesdropping or manipulation. Further, ballots reside on a server that you neither control nor have direct access to.

Alternatively, paper ballots can be used in more traditional voting contexts and be subjected to more transparent oversight. This rigor comes at the cost of convenience; ballots must be printed, distributed, guarded and manually counted. In casual contexts, the potential gains paper ballots provide aren't typically necessary.

Can anyone vote?

Public elections allow any visitor to vote. This mode may be most useful when you don't know in advance who is going to participate in your elections. Consequently, anyone can vote any number of times, which may encourage vote flooding.

Private elections restrict access to a finite set of invitations, each of which may be used vote once and may be used to view the results indefinitely.

Public elections will also appear in the sitemap, which means they will be indexed by search engines like Google. Further, they will appear in the RSS feed of public elections.

Can anyone view the results?

Public elections allow any visitor to view the results.

Private elections restrict access to a finite set of invitations.

Public elections will also appear in the sitemap, which means they will be indexed by search engines like Google. Further, they will appear in the RSS feed of public elections.

When should voting close?

If purpose of an election is to make a collective decision and a conclusion is never reached, what function does the election serve? Keep your election open as necessary, but no longer. After the election closes, no further ballots will be admitted. The results will remain available until you delete the election.

Elections with no activity (no new ballots, comments or views for several months on end) may be periodically pruned from the database.

Should preliminary results be displayed?

Revealing the preliminary results of an election before all ballots are in provides a predicted winner and may foster interest in the results as they develop. However, this knowledge may encourage strategic voting on subsequent ballots.

How many winners do you need?

If you only need one winner for one election, you're already set. However, if you need more than one winner we'll need to know a little more about what kind of multiple-winner scenario you're in to best pick your winners.

Proportional set
The winners are chosen to best match the clusters of preferences expressed by the voters. This option is only available in elections with 21 or fewer candidates.
Proportional ordering
Consider the scenario where you have one representative, but might need a second, or a third. Since the first representative is fixed, you choose your second proportional to the electorate and the current winners. We’re looking at generating an ordered list of candidates. This option is only available in elections with 21 or fewer candidates.
Non-proportional ordering
Consider the scenario where you only need one winner, but you need a runner up in case the first winner is unavailable. Unlike proportional ordering, the previous winners aren't taken into account when determining the remaining ordering.

If you're not sure which option best matches your election scenario, this page has examples might help you to better understand your options.

Should candidate order be random?

Studies consistently show that candidate order affects voter preferences. Disable this option only when your candidates have an inherent order (e.g. days of the week).

Can voters provide additional candidates?

The purpose of an election is to make a collective decision that best reflects the preferences of its voters. When a ballot's candidates are fixed, a voter's expression of their preferences is restricted. When write-ins are allowed, voters can provide additional candidates.

Do you need more granularity than 5 stars?

By default, voters rate candidates out of 5 stars. People are exposed daily to this type of rating in reviews of restaurants and movies, hotels and phone apps. The familiarity helps voters understand how the ballot works without verbose explanation.

Unfortunately, elections with 6 or more candidates force the expression of indifference between 2 or more candidates; There simply aren't enough unique options to go around. In cases where your election has a large number of candidates, an unambiguous dropdown may be preferrable.

Be aware that voting out of 5 stars provides the benefit of familiarity. Your voters may well be confused if presented with more options.