BOE Introduces a New Voting System and Updated Website

The BOE has updated their website and has introduced a new type of voting in time for the upcoming Freshman Caucus election.

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The Board of Elections (BOE) has introduced changes to the way students vote for Student Union (SU) leaders in time for the Freshman Caucus election. Students will have the opportunity to vote online again at, which was introduced last June. Since then, the site has received multiple upgrades.

Instead of using OSIS numbers, students will be asked to sign in using their e-mails before voting. “On the previous voting website, voting used OSIS numbers, which is not the best method because [...] someone on the SU could get access to OSIS numbers if they needed them for another project,” Sophomore Caucus IT Director Abir Taheer said.

Voting is now more secure, as it is harder for someone to commit voter fraud if they have to enter an e-mail instead of an OSIS number. “If someone on the BOE tried, they could get OSIS numbers and feed them into the previous website. They would be able to rig the votes. Here, that’s not really possible because of the sign-in to Google,” Taheer said.

Despite requiring e-mails, votes are anonymous through a process called hashing and salting. “A hash is basically a one-way function where it converts a giving input into a summary of that input. [...] The main thing about hashing is that it is impossible for you to go back. You can’t go backwards from the output to the input,” Taheer said. A salt, a small string of numbers and letters, is also added to the e-mail before hashing to further scramble the data.

The website includes other features as well, such as platform summaries, management portals for the candidates and BOE officials, and a place for students to leave feedback.

The system of voting is also different. Students will now rank all of the candidates in order of preference in a single round of voting, eliminating the need for a second round of voting, which often sees a drop in the number of ballots cast.

“First, it takes a look at everyone’s first choice. It tallies up the votes, and whatever candidate has the least number of people putting them as first choice is eliminated. It looks through those votes again, and for the people that voted for the eliminated candidate as their first choice, it moves onto their second choice. It keeps doing that until one of the candidates has a majority, 50 percent or greater, of the votes,” Taheer said.

Ultimately, the BOE is optimistic that both the improved website and the new system of voting will increase the number of people who vote in SU elections. “I just hope that people being able to see all of the candidates and all of their platforms on the site, and also being able to see that an election ends in x amount of time, [...] will decrease voter apathy,” Taheer said.