Frequently Asked Questions (Residents)
- Does FlashVote prohibit ballot stuffing (voting multiple times)? Yes. FlashVote allows each user to vote only once per survey question.
- Can governments (or other users) see my personal information? No. Governments and other users may see your screen name and that’s all. By default, your screen name will be set to your real name (first name + last name), but you can change it to anything you want (up to 24 characters).
Government officials and other users cannot see any other personal information besides your screen name. However, one exception is when you send emails through FlashVote (for example, if you invite a friend, share a survey, or share survey results). Emails sent by FlashVote on your behalf will disclose your name and email unless sent anonymously, which is an option.
- How can I change my screen name? Once signed-in, from the user menu (find your name at the top-right of the page), click or tap on Account Settings. On the Account Settings page, click on the Identity tab (or click here). In the section of the Identity form under “Your screen name”, select the option toCustomize a screen name. Enter your new screen name and click or tap “Submit”.
- Is it possible to take surveys by phone? Yes. To enable participation by phone, you simply need to add a phone number for FlashVote to call.
Once signed-in, from the user menu (find your name at the top-right of the page), click or tap on Account Settings. On the Account Settings page, click on the Contact Info tab (or click here). In the “Phone number” field (next to the phone icon), enter your phone number and click “Save”. Be sure the off/on switch is toggled to “On”. You can optionally also change the hours during which you would like to receive phone calls.
- Is it possible to receive survey notification by text message? Yes. To enable text message (SMS) notifications, just add a mobile phone number.
Once signed-in, from the user menu (find your name at the top-right of the page), click or tap on Account Settings. On the Account Settings page, click on the Contact Info tab (or click here). In the “Mobile phone number” field (next to the text message icon), enter a SMS-enabled phone number and click “Save”. You can optionally also change the hours during which you would like to receive text messages.
- I have signed up, but need to edit my address information or other profile information. How do I do that? Once signed-in, open the user menu by hovering the mouse over your name at the top-right of the page. Mobile/tablet users will need to tap on their name instead. After the user menu opens, click or tap on Account Settings. On the Account Settings page, click on the desired tab on the left.
- What are Civic Points? For some people, civic participation is its own reward – we feel good fulfilling our civic duty and helping our local governments make better data-driven decisions. But others enjoy a little extra incentive – whether it’s the friendly competition in seeing their name rise on a leader board, or just knowing that their participation is being recognized (and counted). Civic Points are a way to help encourage participation for these community members.
- Why does FlashVote want my birth year? In order to sign up with FlashVote (or any website) you must meet certain age requirements. To learn more about online child safety, visit this Wikipedia article or the Federal Trade Commission’s website. Your age may also be used for anonymous demographic analysis of survey results.
- I assume all residents can use this, whether they are eligible to vote or not. Could you please confirm? Yes, all residents can participate in FlashVote, regardless of whether they are eligible or registered to vote. Our local governments are legally required to serve everyone in “the public as a whole”, so everyone is welcome.
- I don’t know how this information is being tabulated–whenever I see FaceBook, Twitter, and Google signins, I usually run away. I am not reassured about privacy. Can we get some assurances about who, how this voting will happen? On the signup page we provide the Facebook, Twitter and Google signin options for your convenience only and we don’t share any data we collect back to those services. As we state on the signup page: “Full privacy, no spam. We will not share your personal information with anyone.” And we mean it. Similarly, when your input is collected for a survey it is always fully anonymized before it is aggregated with all the other input and reported publicly.
- Why do you need my age? Or gender? We collect a few core demographic variables like age and gender and location so that we can group and filter results into subcategories based on these variables. These categories are the most generally useful to governments and often provide actionable data for decision support. Age is also needed to ensure that we (and you) are complying with age restrictions under Federal law.
- Why don’t you ask a general age range instead of my birth year? If we asked for an age range, we would have to ask you to update it every year. Fortunately your birth year doesn’t change so we ask it once and you only have to answer it once..
- Can a Spanish speaker (for example) use it in her native language? Different language options are available at the request of the local government. For Spanish and (other languages) we offer an end-to-end professionally human translated experience from signup through surveys. But we also target 8th grade English in our survey writing. That makes it easy for anyone to participate, whether English is their first or second language. Participants can also use the same auto-translation tools with FlashVote that they already use for other websites.
- How about racial categories, as difficult as they are–wouldn’t that give very good information to decision-makers? Racial categories are indeed somewhat difficult or arbitrary compared to other categories like age, gender, part of town or even income that can be more meaningful and helpful. But depending on the specific decision at hand and the information needed for it, we can collect additional demographic information like Race/Ethnicity, either within surveys or in supplemental demographic questions. But, as a demographic, there is a tradeoff worth mentioning. Demographic categories are designed to have large and roughly equal size subgroups so that the subsamples can be meaningfully sized samples on their own. With unequal subgroups some subcategories might have samples too small to provide useful data. And if a subgroup is small enough, those results are automatically hidden to protect participant anonymity – the same reason some election result categories are hidden for categories with less than 5 to 10 people. This means that some Race/Ethnicity categories may lead to results being hidden for people in those subgroups in survey results when the Race/Ethnicity filter is applied. For all the other filters the input from those participants is shown as usual.
- What about non binary boxes for non binary citizens who are willing to say so? A third gender option is available at the request of the local government. But, as a demographic, there is a tradeoff worth mentioning. Demographic categories are designed to have large and roughly equal size subgroups so that the subsamples can be meaningfully sized samples on their own. With unequal subgroups some subcategories might have samples too small to provide useful data. And if a subgroup is small enough, those results are automatically hidden to protect participant anonymity – the same reason some election result categories are hidden for categories with less than 5 to 10 people. This means that having a third “Other/Non-binary” option during signup may lead to results being hidden for people in that subgroup in survey results when the Gender filter is applied. For all the other filters the input from those participants is shown as usual.
- Is FlashVote accessible for people using screen readers like JAWS? Yes, we have tried to build FlashVote with features like alt text tags and results tables that make our website friendly to various screen readers. We also offer a voice only option where people can participate by phone call if they want. But no matter how you access FlashVote, if you ever discover that something is not working properly for you, please let us know so we can address it promptly. We appreciate any and all bug reports so that we can continue to make improvements to user experiences.
- I didn’t find my question on this FAQ page. Where can I find an answer to my question? Please email your questions to email@example.com.