How do you run a poll this big?

When the United Launch Alliance decided to let America name its next rocket, they started where anyone else would start– with a Google search for text-to-vote polling platforms. Eventually, it led them to Poll Everywhere.

That solved the platform problem, but ULA’s IT Business Partner Cynthia O’Hara says there were still some tough questions to answer. “Since ULA had not conducted a poll before, we really didn’t know how big this was going to be, or even what requirements there would be.”

So ULA hopped on a call with the Poll Everywhere sales team. Together they decided to launch the rocket poll with capacity for 100,000 votes and a custom ULA polling page.

Adapting to the crowd

CEO Tory Bruno told ULA’s social media followers to “vote early and often” for their favorite name, and they did. It was clear from the first day (at 25,000 votes) that a poll size of 100,000 votes wouldn’t last long. After another phone call, the poll was safely running at a capacity of 250,000 votes. That didn’t last long either. All told, the winning capacity came out to more than 1 million votes.

Cynthia says quick answers from the Poll Everywhere team kept her informed. “The responsiveness was awesome, because we were changing quite frequently! It was nice to know it’s okay– I don’t have to stress about the servers and what’s it going to look and feel like.”

The vote count wasn’t the only thing changing. At first, there were only three names for voters to choose from: Eagle, Freedom, and Galaxy One. By the end, there were five names on the poll: Eagle, Freedom, Galaxy One, Zeus, and Vulcan.

The last two names to appear on the list were chosen by ULA employees from a pool of the top ten suggestions on social media.

Cynthia used her own Poll Everywhere account to give employees a chance to decide. “It was so easy to do. One day I was playing with my account at home, and I thought, I can do this at work. It made the employees feel empowered, because we got a say in it.”

Launching in 2019: Vulcan

In a clear victory, voters chose to call the new rocket Vulcan, in spite of the fact that it arrived on the roster late in the game.

Looking back on all the ups and downs of a two-week-long, million-vote poll, Cynthia said the best part was the people she met at Poll Everywhere. “The whole process was really fun,” she said.

How can you do this?

Step 1

Talk to the Poll Everywhere sales team. You probably don’t want to run a million-vote poll on your own, anyway.

Step 2

Let your audience know early that you’ll be asking for their opinion via a poll. ULA started buzzing about the vote weeks in advance, which led to high participation rates.

Step 3

Gauge how many responses you expect to receive. It’s okay to aim low at first, but keep an eye on the early voting to decide if you’ll need to upgrade. And don’t forget to account for that last-minute voting surge.

Step 4

Start polling! Talk it up on social media, and make sure everyone knows who’s in the lead at the end of the day.

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