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Part 2. Voting.utoronto (VU) vs. Simply Voting (SV)

Member Messaging System

Using the utorid system, SV can email every voter on the list. VU can't. Sadly, U of T admin doesn't allow UTSU to use this feature.

Results Availability

VU results are available for three weeks only, and (as far as I understand) give you totals and a pie chart. SV gives you much better data, though that hasn't ever been released, and can give an anonymized list of each ballot cast.

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SV is audited to comply withWCAG-2 accessibility requirements, and according to this test (Simply Voting Accessibility Test), has no serious problems. I did the same test on VU (Voting.Utoronto Accessibility Test), and the results we're less good.


Both systems have terrible mobile sites, though I guess only having one format makes it more easy to maintain security.

Paper Trail

SV gives voters a receipt which can be verified against the aforementioned list of anonymized ballots using the key provided to the voter. Whether UTSU releases this list is another matter, but you can still go on and get your receipt. VU does not do this.

Ballot Options

You can have pictures on SV, but not on VU. In all honesty, this isn't really an important feature, but I thought I'd list it anyway.

Introductory Text

SV can have a introductory text before the ballot. This could be used for things such as explaining how a preferential ballot works (if UTSU ever adopts it), or for saying things like "If someone is campaigning to you while you're reading this, report them to the CRO for breaking the rules" As far as I know, VU does not have this feature.

Ranked Ballot

VU can't do ranked ballots. SV can. In fact, it can doSingle Transferable Vote, Hare-Clark, Alternative Voting, Instant Runoff Voting counting, andCondorcet Ranked Pairs. So, if UTSU used VU, it wouldn't be able to switch to ranked ballots.


SV comes with 24/7 support, whereas VU only comes with support from U of T student life, and mostly just for technical issues.

But what about Trin's Voting system?

Trinity college does ranked-ballot voting with paper receipts automatically sent to voters through a system set up with Trin IT. Apparently this was much cheaper than SV, but with the pressure to not have the system crash and the range of features and support available by default on SV, I have no problem with spending more money for an election that has a higher chance of avoiding technical issues by virtue of being run by an established outfit.

Is the $10,000 price tag worth it?

The $10,000 pays for a year-long contract for the UTSU's fall and spring elections. With the features and reliability outlined above I believe the price tag is reasonable. $55,000 was budgeted for election operations in 2012-13, and $54,000 was budgeted this year, meaning that the cost hasn't really changed with the implementation of online voting. (Actual, i.e. non-budgeted costs vary due to recounts and reimbursements).

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Posted in Law Post Date 09/29/2017






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