A Provincial Elections Website Scales to 33 Thousand Page Views on Election Day

THE CHALLENGE

In this province, it is the responsibility of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer to maintain a state of provincial election readiness. The Office appoints and trains constituency returning officers and election officials to ensure electoral preparedness.

In preparation for the Provincial election, a staff of approximately 10,000 officials were hired. Hiring this number of staff for typically very short periods of time required a fast, efficient staffing model. Assistance must also be provided to registered political parties, candidates, chief official agents and business managers as well as constituents, making the effective communication of election information key for the Office.

The Office was faced with a dated, hard to use, and maintain web site and database. In particular:

  • Voters could not easily find their polling stations and other relevant voting information
  • Election results were input manually and web published every 15 minutes - not live
  • There was only a limited use of social media tools and no mobile-ready site available
  • A slow, manual application process made hiring election officers and officials inefficient
  • And, the infrastructure was inflexible and time-consuming to maintain.

THE SOLUTION

Working with a Communications firm, we were able to provide Elections Saskatchewan with a new, leading edge web site that was seamlessly integrated with Microsoft Dynamics® CRM Online. On the Office’s wish list - a system they could cost effectively implement on-time, provided improved communications to all stakeholders, helped streamline operations and was easy to use.

Implemented in September 2011 the new system delivered on this wish list. Voters found Polling Stations in Two Easy Clicks. Voters no longer had to click several pages deep before they could find any information on where their polling station was or had already left the site in frustration.

“One of our goals was to make polling information easier to find to help encourage our constituents to get out there and vote,” said Office of the Chief Electoral Officer. “By using Bing maps and its pinning feature, voters could easily see where their polling stations were along with all other relevant polling information.”

Using Adxstudio Portals web form and content management capabilities along with Bing maps, Voters were presented with easy to use buttons and dedicated areas directly on the home page that allowed them to self-serve all the information needed to answer any questions they had around the voting process.

In two clicks, residents easily located their voting location through the use of the constituency locator and Bing maps which showed a pin on the polling station location. With this interactive feature, residents provided their civic address or rural location and based on the poll location information stored within Microsoft Dynamics® CRM, the system displayed the visitor’s voting location on an integrated Bing Map interface along with other relevant constituency details. This interface was designed to provide voters with all the information they needed to vote on election day.

Automated Job Application Process Saved Time and Money.

Staffing up to support an election is no small feat when you’re charged with hiring up to 10,000 officers and officials for an election. The new online job application process triggered notifications to each returning officer so that they could initiate the hiring process for each of their constituencies well ahead of time, helping streamline the overall staffing process for an election.

Cost Effective.

The Constituency Locator was not only used by Voters but also Call Centers who as a result could answer any queries from Voters quickly saving time and money while providing Voters with the service they needed. Site and Database Maintenance is No Longer an Issue. What used to take days, now takes minutes for the Office. “We knew that the old data base could no longer support the changes we wanted to make for this election. It was difficult and time consuming to maintain,” said Daniel. “With the implementation of Adxstudio Portals and Windows Azure, ongoing maintenance and growth of the platform to meet our needs is no longer an issue.”

When preparing for an election, being able to quickly and easily update the data base becomes even more critical so that updates provided by Returning Officers are accurately loaded and ready for use. The Adxstudio Portals and Microsoft Azure cloud-based solution, proved the new web platform could scale easily to support election events in the province as well as scaling back the infrastructure when there isn’t an election going on. For the election, web site visits fluctuated significantly from 3,000 visitors the day the upcoming election was announced, to 33,000 visitors on election day and then down to 9,000 visitors the day after the election. Adxstudio Portals flexible design no longer hinders the implementation of new capabilities that need to be added to the solution.

Real Time Results.

Voters, media and other stakeholders we’re kept up to date on election results either by visiting the website or could access them through their mobile devices using a mobile-friendly site. “If something goes wrong during an election you need to have a solid plan in place to quickly resolve any issues that arise. Having a cloud-based solution allowed us to be prepared for any technical issues that arose as well as gave us the capability to easily scale our processing power during the election.” We developed a cloud-based service using Windows Azure, Microsoft SQL Azure, and Adxstudio Portals that proved to be a solution that scaled to handle the traffic to the site and provided fail-safe redundant sites so that the Office could address any issues quickly and reliably.

Improved Communications. Information Technology, in particular the Internet can change significantly between elections. By implementing Adxstudio Portals, the office was able to provide a comprehensive web site that took full advantage of Adxstudio Portals features:

  • Used RSS, Twitter and Facebook to broaden overall communications with all stakeholders
  • An easy to navigate and intuitive web site
  • Web forms for use in the Careers application
  • Constituency Locator integrated with Bing Maps
  • Real time results on election night.
ABOUT THE PROVINCIAL ELECTIONS OFFICE

This Office is the province’s impartial, independent, election management body. Given a mandate from the Legislative Assembly of the Province, it organizes, manages and oversees provincial electoral events.

 


“With Adxstudio Portals, we were able to replace our dated web platform with a cloud-based, cost effective and easy to use solution.”

-Office of the Chief Electoral Officer