How We Track Votes

February 6, 2012 -- Voting is a very important to you, and to us.

We want the best possible experience for everyone, while at the same time insuring that no one gets an unfair advantage due to holes in the voting system. With this in mind, we decided to use IP addresses to distinguish one voter from another, because it's the best option available to us.

Now, let me explain what that means. The IP address that you have for your computer is probably different from the IP address that the world sees. Internet Service Providers, such as cable and DSL providers, usually provide only one IP address for your entire home or office. Your router makes it so that multiple computers are able to use that one IP address. So in a typical home or office, a laptop may have one hardware IP address and another person's desktop may have another IP address -- but to the world, those two computers display the same IP address. Why? Because your Internet Service Provider superimposes a single IP address to allow all your devices to communicate with the world.

You can test this yourself. We've set up a "what's your IP address" page here on the Small Business Book Awards site:

Go to that page and note the IP address it tells you. Then go to that page using another device through the same Internet connection on the same day, and it will most likely show the same IP address. (It's that way here in our offices.)

We realize the IP method has limitations. But other alternatives have even worse limitations. In the absence of IP address, we'd have to use cookies, but those are easily gamed. Or we'd have to require some kind of registration process, and we've found that registration drastically deters voters.

Counting votes through IP address is the best solution available to us under the circumstances, but certainly not a perfect solution. We haven't yet found the "perfect" solution.

Also, keep in mind that a vote from any IP address can be registered only once a day. We determine a day as "24 hours." Please make sure that 24 hours have gone by.

Good luck to all in the voting!


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