CIVS is a free Internet voting service that makes it easy to conduct polls on the Web. Each voter ranks a set of possible choices. Combined, these rankings are used to construct an overall ranking that anonymously summarizes the opinions of all voters. CIVS has been used for many polls and elections, for deciding:

  • Officers of organizations
  • Meeting times
  • Members of committees
  • Project names, logos, domain names
  • Award recipients
  • Restaurants to eat at
  • Movies to watch
  • Party menus
  • Book club selections
  • Favorite music

How it works: Anyone may create a new CIVS poll, but only authorized voters will know about it. Voters and the poll supervisor must have e-mail and web access. When a poll is created, voters are e-mailed with a URL where they can vote. Public polls may be created that do not require voters to have e-mail addresses; in this case, one vote is allowed per IP address.

Ranked choice voting: Voters rank their choices, rather than picking one choice. Compared to other election methods, this collects and uses more information from voters. Ranked choice (a.k.a. preferential) voting helps avoid vote splitting and spoilers. CIVS supports proportional representation, unlike other Condorcet systems.

Preferential voting systems are used now in real elections. For example, Australia uses Single Transferable Vote (STV). However, Condorcet voting methods are better at identifying consensus candidates. STV (and IRV) can elect a candidate even when a majority of voters would prefer someone else, and has in real elections.

A highly secure version of CIVS called Civitas is under development, described in a peer-reviewed paper. Civitas uses much more sophisticated cryptographic protocols to provide strong anonymity, universal verifiability, and coercion resistance.

The Condorcet Internet Voting Service has been run since 2005 by Andrew Myers at the Cornell Computer Science Department. Feedback is welcome.

Fine print: This voting service is available for free, public use. No guarantees can be made that this service will be correct or available and under no conditions will the authors or service providers, including Cornell University, be liable for any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of this service.