Online Student Voting System Initiated

Posted: June 8, 2001 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

University Computing and Information Systems (UCIS) has developed an online student voting system (OSV) to replace the Scantron ballot system used in past student elections. The OSV was successfully implemented for the first time in the April election.

OSV was developed as a result of a request by the chair of the Student Elections Commission to UCIS earlier this year. Bekim Shala, applications analyst in UCIS, wrote the web-based application using several open source tools and programs available free for noncommercial or academic purposes. According to John Creuziger, manager of Internet technology and applications for UCIS, the program is dynamic. “We took the long view to make sure that it could be used year after year,” he says. “Even when student government officers change, they have all the power to make the changes themselves.”

Student Tariq Williams, who made the request to UCIS, says OSV saved about $650 in paper ballot costs and saved hours of time tabulating ballots. “It was a big budget change and a big convenience change.”

OSV users are required to enter their social security number and George Mason PIN. The system assures anonymity since ID numbers are not stored with voters’ ballots. The ballot is customized–if the voter is affiliated with the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), only CAS candidates are displayed. OSV also prompts the user to verify all election choices before saving the ballot to the database. The system provides ballot tracking for recounts, and a snapshot of each ballot is stored in a separate table for future analysis.

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