GM Week 2020

Elections Commission announces online voting platform

Elections for grand marshal, president of the Union, undergraduate president, and positions on the Student Senate will be held online from April 29 to May 1 using the platform Simply Voting. This platform was chosen by the Elections Commission due to its similarity to the Rensselaer Union Voting Suite, as well as its security and accessibility.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic scattering students across various time zones, voting will occur across a span of three days to allow students to vote at their own convenience. Ballots will likely be sent out via email through links in emails from class deans, and will be accessible through the elections website, Elections Commission Chairperson Keenan Adams ’21 explained in an email to The Polytechnic.

Simply Voting allows a website to be created where a ballot can be set up. This website will act as a neutral third party to calculate votes. Adams elaborated that the platform “has AES 256 Bit encryption on their databases, insurance in case of a privacy breach, measures to ensure that an individual can only vote once, and multiple measures to make sure that only authenticated voters can vote.”

According to Adams, Simply Voting also allows for free write-in voting, class-specific ballots, randomized candidate ordering, and multiple winners for individual categories, which mimic the features offered by RUVS voting platform.

Simply Voting also fulfills the Institute’s standards of accessibility and will allow students with disabilities or those who use assistive technologies to vote easily. The platform is browser-compatible, so students can vote as long as they have some device that is connected to the internet. In order for the election to be valid, at least 20 percent of the student body needs to vote.

Voters can also review their ballot before submission, and will receive a receipt by email once the ballot has been submitted. The receipt function does not track whom a student votes for but keeps a record of the students who vote. This ensures that once students return to campus, those who have voted will receive a GM Week mug, as per RPI tradition. The number of votes each candidate received will be made public by the Elections Commission after the election is concluded until the vote count is verified. It then will be made private, but can be viewed later upon making a request to the Elections Commission.