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General elections ballot to use qualtrics software

By Andrew Ta     2/26/14 9:52am

This round of the Student Association general elections elections will forego Owlections and instead use the online survey software Qualtrics for which Rice has an institution license, SA secretary Nathan Andrus said.

This round of the Student Association general elections elections will forego Owlections and instead use the online survey software Qualtrics for which Rice has an institution license, SA secretary Nathan Andrus said.

“Qualtrics makes it easy to work with the undergraduate database,” Andrus, a Hanszen College junior, said. “Qualtrics will help [in many ways.] It has more formatting options. We can link to parts of the SA website that gives more information on ballot items instead of having a wall of text. There are just a lot more options. We also wouldn’t have to ask [Owlections creator] Waseem Ahmad to change stuff quickly and on short notice. Qualtrics is simply more versatile.”



According to Andrus, the general elections were run using the Owlections software but turned out to be insufficient to ensure security and accuracy. (see past article)

“Going in, we thought Owlections would be a good way to not have issues,” Andrus said. “The residential colleges used it and we thought it would be a sufficient program, but that turned out not be the case. [Ahmad and the other Owlections developers] were very cooperative and responsible and we don’t blame them at all; no one could have foreseen the issues that happened.”

Andrus said the Election Committee would internally test the new software before using it for the elections.

“We want to make sure you can abstain on different ballot items and that alumni won’t be able to vote,” Andrus said. “We’ll also be adding specific instructions in the ballot itself. For example, we’ll be explaining preferential voting. The email that sends the voting link out will have a blurb. We’ll have explained enough times though the ballot, email and other mediums that, hopefully, we’ll clear up any confusion from the first round of voting and the ruling from the University court.”

SA Director of Elections Vera Song said she wanted to clarify that Qualtrics will essentially function like a paper ballot.

“With the new software, alumni won’t be able to vote,” Song, a Sid Richardson College junior, said. “It prevents alumni from voting the same amount a paper ballot would. You can only vote once per NetID.”

SA Director of Technology Xilin Liu said it is inherently impossible to prevent those besides undergraduates from voting in an online system. He said Qualtrics will email each undergraduate student a unique key that can submit one ballot, but what they do with that key is up to them.



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