Chapter II
-eVote for Voters-

The Email List Voting Facility

Everyone on an eVote email list is sent instructions on how to vote whenever a vote is initialized. There are three important things to keep in mind when voting:

  1. The subject line of your vote message must match the subject line of the poll. The easy and error-free way to do this is to "Reply-To".

  2. Send your vote message directly to the list address. Trust eVote to snatch it up and process it. Your vote message will not go to the entire group. Again, using Reply-To when you see the instructions, or when you see any discussion of the poll, is the easy way.

  3. Be sure that the first word in your vote message is "eVote". If you forget that, then eVote will not snatch it from the mail stream and the message will *definitely* go to the whole list (unless it is a moderated list).

Forgetting to put "eVote" as the first word in the message is a common beginner's mistake. If it is a secret poll, your vote is revealed to the group. It is not counted until you try again. In any case, this mistake brings a moment of embarrassment to you and to eVote, but that is all.

The voting instructions for any particular poll are customized according to the vote question. If you make a mistake, the software will politely help you and encourage you to try again. If you decide you voted incorrectly, you can send another vote message and your old vote will be replaced by the new vote -- as long as the poll is open.

Querying The Vote Data

Sometimes polls are "public", meaning that you, and everyone on your email list, can send the command "eVote who" to the list address and, if the subject line represents a poll, you'll receive a list of everyone's votes.

Sometimes polls are "private", meaning that you, the list owner, and the administrator of the poll can never see the individual votes. Even the site administrator would have to be clever and work hard to see it. There is one exception, you can always see your own vote.

Sometimes polls are "if-voted", meaning that you, and everyone on your email list, can retrieve a list of who has voted on the subject, but no one can see how they voted. Again, there is the exception that you can ask to see your own vote.

Non-Public Poll Risks

There are security risks when using the non-public poll types: private and if-voted polls.

Warnings: Although eVote will not reveal your vote to the other members of the voting community, the system administrator of the computer that stores your vote can quite easily see the voting records of individuals. Also, there is the possibility that your ballot can be seen by a "snooper", someone who intercepts your ballot in transit.

The integrity of the poll, i.e., the accuracy of the count, is susceptible to being tampered with by the system administrator of the computer running the eVote(R)/Clerk software.

Both the privacy of your vote and the integrity of the poll are susceptible to attack at your own computer.

Getting More Information

General instructions for voters can always be summoned by sending the command "eVote help" to your list's address. In fact, all eVote commands must be sent to the list address and "eVote" must be the first word of your command.

The file that is sent in response to "eVote help" will instruct you on how to get more information about the polling and voting. The complete list of helping commands is:

The subject doesn't matter for these commands:

eVote help

Sends general information about eVote.
The subject line is irrelevant for this command.

eVote list

Sends a list of all the subjects in the email list with polls attached. The subject line of your "eVote list" command is irrelevant.

Note: "eVote list sort=alpha" produces a sorted list.

eVote help poll

Sends instructions for setting up a poll. Again, the subject line is irrelevant.

For the next commands to work, the subject line must match the subject line of an active poll:

eVote info

Sends information about the specific poll attached to the subject line you specify in your email. Included are instructions for participating in the poll, your vote if you have voted, and the current tally if it is available.

eVote stats

Sends your vote if you have voted, and the current tally if it is available.

eVote help who

Sends instructions for querying eVote for all the people who have voted "Yes" or "<5", etc., on the specific poll attached to the subject you specify for your email message.

This feature is only available for public polls.

eVote help how

Sends instructions for querying eVote for how a particular subscriber voted on the poll attached to the subject you specify for your email message.

This feature is only available for public polls.

Going On Vacation

eVote keeps a ballot, an electronic record of all your votes. When you unsubscribe, that ballot is deleted.

If you go on vacation, or have any reason to want to stop the flow of messages from the list, but you plan on returning, don't unsubscribe, put yourself "on vacation". Then, your ballot will remain in the vote data and will be waiting for your return.

If your listserver is Mailman, to go on vacation, use your personal web page to set "nomail" on.

If your listserver is Majordomo:

  1. Write to the list address.

  2. The subject doesn't matter.

  3. The message should say:

    eVote vacation

You will then receive instructions to use when you come back.

The Petition Facility

Anyone with an email address can sign a petition; it is not necessary to be a member of any list There is one signing address for all petitions at the eVoted site and commands sent to that address do not start with "eVote".

The instructions for signing a petition vary from petition to petition. Always, six things are true:

  1. To sign, you send a message to:

  2. The subject line is the key into the petition. Your message must have a subject line that matches the petition.

    If eVote does not recognize your subject line, it will send you a list of all the active petitions at the site so you can try again.

  3. If you send the message:


    you'll get full instructions for signing the petition that matches the subject line.

  4. You can always add a comment to your signature.

  5. You get a receipt for your signature.

  6. If you change your mind, you can unsign the petition as long as the petition is still open for signatures. The receipt gives instructions for removing your signature.

Sometimes petitions require an additional "confirmation" signature for security. eVote will tell you if that is necessary when you sign the petition.

Sometimes petitions require certain fields to be named and filled in.

 name:  Mary Smith
 country: USA

Sometimes petitions require your vote on some questions:

 1. Yes
 2. No

If your signature message doesn't fill the requirements, a polite message is returned, explaining your error, and inviting you to please try again.

Back to the Table of Contents To Chapter III

Last modified: Tue Mar 4 04:23:19 EST 2003