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Create Your First Ballot File

Note: This article is for users who already have an understanding of the Ballot basics and navigation. If you need more information on Ballot basics, see Getting Started with Ballot.

The fastest and easiest way to make your first Ballot file is to use the Guide feature on the right side of the screen. Following the buttons in the Guide from the top to the bottom will build a simple Ballot file, Vote, and Heat map.

Here are a breakdown of each of the items in the Guide:

  • Enter Items: The content that you will be evaluating (e.g. risks if you're using this for risk management).

  • Enter Criteria: The questions you will use to assess the items (e.g. Impact and Likelihood for risk management).

  • Setup: Where you configure your voting session. The first tab is for keypad voting and the second tab is for web voting.

  • Count Voters: Where you specify the number of voters that will be taking part in the workshop.

  • Vote: Where you vote to get results.

  • Heat Map: The most common report that provides an X Y scatter plot of results.

Enter Items

  • Item Text: Enter the text to appear on the voting screen for participants to see. This text is limited to 250 characters.

  • Item Label: Enter abbreviated description of item that will be seen on some screens, reports, graphs, etc. A label is limited to 24 characters and, by default, the first 24 characters of the Item Text automatically appears here.

  • Bulk adding Items: If you have a lot of items you want to put into the file you can copy paste them in as a group. Select a list of items (lines in a Word processor or rows in Excel), then, in Ballot, navigate to Design > Items, then click Paste Items. A dialog box will confirm the number of items and ask you to confirm the paste. New items will be added to the end of your existing Item list.

Enter Criteria

The most common criteria, and a good one for your first Ballot file, is the Rating Scale. If you want to learn more about the other types of criteria check out the help file. The link is in the top right hand corner of Ballot and is marked with a blue question mark.

Rating Scale Criteria

  • Criteria Text: This is the question you are asking your participants to respond to.

  • Criteria Label: A short form for reports, graphs etc.

  • Scale Selection: Adjust the size of the scale here.

  • Scale: 1-n: Enter the options you want voters to be able to pick from.

Most risk assessments use IMPACT and LIKELIHOOD, so here are samples of both of those.


In order to be able to vote, you'll need to setup your voting mechanism. There are three ways to vote: with keypads, over the web using smart phones, tablets and computers, or through simulated voting.

Setup Keypad Voting aka Com Setup (The first tab)

  1. If you have voting hardware that works with Ballot, make sure it's plugged into your computer and the drivers are installed.

  2. Choose the version you have from the dropdown list.

  3. Click Scan for Receivers. You'll get a pop-up that wants you to set the range for the keypads.

  4. Leave it at the default of 250, then click OK.

If you see a line with a green check mark, your setup was successful.

Setup Web Voting (The second tab)

  1. Enter a Session Name. For example, "Company ABC Risk Assessment."

  2. Click Start New Session. It will automatically send an email invite to you with a link that will let you participate in the session via web browser on any computer, smart phone, or tablet.

  3. Click Close.

Simulate Voting

If you're just testing Ballot, you can simulate voting. Simulate Voting with keypads allows you to type numbers on your keyboard to get specific votes. To do this:

  1. Close the Communication Setup window.

  2. Click the Vote menu.

  3. Click Communication Setup, then select Simulate Voting.

Count Voters

Ballot needs to know how many voters will be part of the workshop. After you click Start, the number of voters present will be counted. Local voters will need to press 7 on their keypad. Web voters do not need to do anything; if they are logged in, they will be counted. Ballot will automatically adjust for new voters who arrive after the count.


The easiest part of all. Click Vote Now in the toolbar.

Quick Facts about Voting

  • Participants vote by picking the option that best reflects their opinion.

  • Voting is completely anonymous.

  • There is a number associated with each voter. This helps you, the operator, know who has and has not voted, but does not tell you what they voted.

  • Participants can change their vote as many times as they want as long as the vote remains open. When the votes haves have closed, the last vote entered will be counted.

  • Voting will end automatically when all votes are in or you can click Stop Now to manually stop the vote.

  • Click the arrows to advance to the next vote.

  • You can use the keyboard to vote.

The Heat Map

The most common way to look at a prioritized list is on an XY scatter plot, known as the Heat Map in Risk Management. Ballot has a very powerful and flexible Scatter Chart tool that will enable you to see the results of your voting session across two or more criteria. Here's how to use it:

From the Vote & Report screen, click Charts > Scatter Chart.

The heat map will take the first two criteria in your file and display them on the chart. There are many display and data options that allow you to make different heat maps, show change over time, modify colors and more. Here are the two basics:

  • To modify which criteria are in the heat map, use the menu to access Data > Chart Data.

  • To modify the way the heat map looks use the menu to access View > Format Settings.

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