CIVS is a free Internet voting service that makes it easy to conduct polls. Each voter ranks a set of possible choices. Individual voter rankings are combined into an anonymous overall ranking of the choices. CIVS has been used for thousands of polls and elections, deciding, for example:

  • Officers of organizations
  • Meeting times
  • Members of committees
  • Project and domain names
  • Award recipients
  • Restaurants to eat at
  • Movies to watch
  • Party menus
  • Book club selections
  • Favorite music
  • Gifts
  • Logos
  • Project directions
  • Invited speakers
  • Organization bylaws

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.

Why is ranking choices better? Voters rank their choices, rather than just picking one favorite choice. Ranked-choice voting gives more accurate results because it collects more information from voters. It also helps avoid vote splitting and spoilers.

Ranked-choice voting is used in real elections. For example, Australia uses Single Transferable Vote (STV, also known as IRV). However, the Condorcet methods supported by CIVS are better than STV at identifying consensus candidates. STV can elect a candidate even though a majority of voters would prefer someone else, and it has in real elections. Unlike most other Condorcet systems, CIVS also has a proportional representation mode.

A highly secure version of CIVS called Civitas is under development. 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 2003 by Andrew Myers at the Cornell Computer Science Department. This is CIVS version 2.16. Feedback and help are 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.