With Engage, institutions can create elections that include an option for voters to write-in their desired candidate if they are not already on the ballot. For campuses leveraging both write-in candidates and ranked order voting, there are some special considerations to ensure a smooth election with easy to review results.

Unlike Check Box and Radio Button question types, which can easily support write-in candidates via the “Include Text Area” option in the Answer properties, it is recommended to use a combination of conditional logic and open text responses for the Ranking question type. This approach simplifies reviewing election results.

To use this approach, please do the following:

Step 1. Enter the candidates for the position in question and be sure to Include a write-in option, such as “Other” or “Write-In,” on the ranked question type. From this screen you can also indicate the maximum number of candidates a voter may rank. Click OK to add the question to your ballot.


Example: We are allowing voters to rank up to 4 candidates running for the Senator for Student Organizations position, including a write-in candidate, if desired.

Step 2. After your Ranking question has been added to the ballot, select “Add page after this page” to add an additional page to the ballot.

Step 3. Open the Page Properties on the new page you just created. Under Properties, name the page. We recommend naming the page to match the position being voted on, this is particularly helpful if there are multiple positions that will allow write-in candidates to be added. Click OK to return to the additional page.


Example: We’ve named the page after the position being ranked, Senator for Student Orgs.

Step 4. Add a Text Field question type to the page. Include a descriptive prompt for your voter. Click Apply and OK to add the question to your ballot.

Step 5. Once the question has been added, return to the Page Properties accessed in Step 3 and navigate to the Conditions tab. This is where we will define what conditions must be met in order for a voter to have access to this page and write-in a candidate.

Step 6. Refer to the maximum number of rankings allowed, which was defined in Step 1. We will add the same number of conditions here. Our goal is to direct the voter to this page if they have ranked our write-in response in any of the allowed positions.

Step 7. Select + Add Condition.

  • In the first drop-down titled Select Question, pick the number 1. This is the first ranked position of the Senator for Student Organizations question we created in Step 1.
  • In the second drop-down, titled Select Answer, select your write-in response.
  • In the third drop-down, Is Selected should be the default. This is the setting we will use.
  • In the fourth drop-down, be sure the OR statement is selected.
  • Repeat this process for each response that can be ranked. In our example, this is four.


Step 8. After each condition has been added, select each condition using the checkboxes to the left of each condition and select Group Selected.


Step 9. Once the conditions are grouped, the drop-down to the right will default to “Is True”. This is the setting we will use. Click OK.


Step 10. You have successfully levered conditional logic to allow voters to write-in a candidate in a ranked order question. You may repeat this process for each additional ranked order question on the ballot.

NOTE: Each ranked order voting question on the ballot that includes a write-in option should have its own additional page with conditional logic set. Do not include write-in responses from multiple ranked order questions on the same additional page.


Example: We had two ranked-order questions on our ballot, each with the ability to write-in a candidate. Each question has its own page for submitting a write-in candidate. 

Reviewing Results

For ranked order election question, results will populate based on ranking order first, then by count of votes within each ranking. In our example, we can see that 61.53% of voters ranked Juliana number one in the race for Senator for Student Organizations. Only one voter ranked Other/Write-In as their number one choice. In this scenario, we may not need to look deeper at who had the most write-in votes.

However, if 61.53% of the votes for the first rank had been for write-in candidates, we would need to determine if there was enough consensus among the voters who opted to rank a write-in candidate to exceed the number of votes received by the second highest ranked candidate. To do this, we would click the “Export Ballot Votes” button.

Because we leveraged conditional logic and created a dedicated page and question for the write-in candidates, our export is formatted so that we can easily sort by write-in candidates for this position (column F in the image below).



Have more questions? Submit a request