electionz.com gets the vote

electionz.com provides election management services for local governments, power trusts, cooperatives, schools and Maori Iwis. Its clients come to them for its expertise, to avoid the disruptive influence associated with an election and to provide independence.

For example, a local government election might only be held every three years and new staff would need to be hired by the Council, accommodated and trained for the work. All the regulations would need to be reviewed, documentation revised, printed and distributed. Teams would need to be formed, processes re-invented, rehearsed and then executed. Hiring electionz.com avoids all that.

Finally, the issues being resolved in an election can be highly sensitive. electionz.com is often brought in to add independence and credibility to the process.

During the treaty settlement process between the Crown and an Iwi, a series of elections must be run in order first to ratify the settlement and then to elect a Board of Trustees with whom the Crown will settle.

“Understandably all the stakeholders, the Government, the Trustees, the People of New Zealand and members of the Iwi want the election process to be independent and credible,” said Steve Kilpatrick, the managing director.

In 2014 alone electionz.com had 130 elections booked in.

A voting platform to build on

At one stage, the company was a subsidiary of an American firm operating out of Long Island, New York. Back in 2001, the parent company developed software to accommodate the custom requirements for each client.

A couple of years later, Steve Kilpatrick acquired the New Zealand business and set out to build a voting platform that could be configured to accommodate any election client without writing code each time.

“We chose to outsource the development of the online voting platform because we didn’t have the expertise in-house. I didn’t think that kind of expertise would be needed all the time and I felt that it was important to get someone in that lived and breathed the stuff.

“It’s the very same reason why people hire us.”

Stratos gets electionz.com’ vote

Kilpatrick hired Stratos to build the new online voting platform.

The platform supports both First Past the Post (FPP) and Single Transferable Vote (STV) voting systems.

In addition to implementing how these voting systems work, a suite of business rules are also coded in to handle exceptions such as partially completed forms.

“They did a great job. They keep up to speed with the latest technologies, and so far I haven’t been able to stump them.”
– Steve Kilpatrick, electionz.com Ltd

Independent auditors don’t faze Stratos

“Stratos also handle our networking requirements. I thought that what we needed would be quite challenging to setup because it involved 140 PCs, six servers and a number of back up servers too. Stratos amazed me by liaising directly with our suppliers to ensure we got what we required and that everything worked as expected.

“We voluntarily put ourselves through an audit so that our clients can have confidence in our systems. We pay a large audit firm to ask tough questions. Sometimes Stratos tells them what questions they should be asking. They are so on top of their game.”

“It’s very reassuring to see someone we’re paying to ask tough questions, receiving answers from Stratos that exceed what they wanted. It gives me even more confidence in my relationship with Stratos.”
– Steve Kilpatrick, electionz.com Ltd

Fast response wins confidence

“Sometimes our clients come to us with unusual requests for customisation. They are usually unanticipated and even though we ask for plenty of warning, often this isn’t possible.

“Consequently this puts on a lot of pressure to ensure that the new feature can be available in time. Stratos have been able to give us the responsiveness we need. It doesn’t seem to matter where they are in the world either. Sometimes one of the team members working on our project was temporarily based in the UK.

“Success is measured by whether or not the work Stratos does for us, works; and if it works within the tight timeframes involved. With past suppliers, software can be full of bugs and you wonder if it’s ever been tested. That’s never the case with Stratos.

“What we would say if someone asked us whether or not we would recommend Stratos would depend on what they are looking for. If it’s just getting something designed and built, then that will be easy. They are good at it. But they are capable of so much more.”

No need to ask

“For example, when local government elections roll around, we need to hire 140 PCs. Without needing to be asked, Stratos will contact PC suppliers and brief them on our requirements or they will contact the auditors without waiting for the phone to ring.

“On another occasion, Stratos contacted me to let me know that the heartbeat monitor had detected that our email server had locked up and that they had contacted our data centre to have the server rebooted.

“This demonstrated their understanding of our business and their high standard of commitment to us.”