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During an election current example, the sidebar reads (in part):

The vote tallies are private until the election is complete.

After 8 days, the final voting results will be freely downloadable from this page forever, and we will calculate the winners using OpenSTV with the Meek STV method.

The first line means that even though you can see your votes throughout the election (and even change them) other people can't. The second line means that when the election is completed, the ballot file that feeds into OpenSTV will be made available for as long as the site exists. Putting those two together makes it seem like your votes will be revealed for the world to see once the winners are announced. That's an unsettling prospect.

Of course, that's a mistaken impression. Your vote is aggregated with everyone else's and published only to allow the election to be audited. My suggested copy change is:

Your votes are always private; only the aggregated tally will be made public.

When the election is complete, the ballot file will be freely downloadable from this page for the life of the site. We calculate the winners using OpenSTV with the Meek STV method.

  • People don't know what a tally is? It's probably more confusing because it never explains that along with the voting results, the aggregate statistics will be displayed at the end. ...And I think the first line was only added because moderators kept not realising that no one else could see those numbers during the election, but I might be making that up. – Tim Stone Jan 20 '14 at 22:28
  • @TimStone: I think you are correct about the first line, but I don't have a reference or anything. I'm open to suggestions on improving the first line (or the second for that matter). – Jon Ericson Jan 20 '14 at 22:36
  • Yeah, I suppose I was mostly just thinking aloud. I don't have any problem with making it clearer (and find your suggestion fine), but I don't find it that confusing now either. I do have the advantage of knowing what it's talking about though, which may be the deciding factor there. – Tim Stone Jan 20 '14 at 22:40
  • There is nothing "aggregated" in the downloadable ballot file, those are individual users' votes. "Your votes are always private; the publicly available ballot file does not link votes to users" would be a correct description. – user315433 Nov 19 '16 at 22:50
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The copy has been changed to clarify that only the aggregate voting information is publicized.

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