Government Explains Election Website Crash

December 19, 2012

The Parliamentary Registry Office [PRO] has explained the circumstances surrounding the situation which saw their website repeatedly crash under load on election night.

The PRO said they had tested it with a target of 500,000 ‘hits’, and the site performed well with this load. However on election night, the ‘hits’ exceeded 2 million which caused the site to crash.

A statement from Government said: “A team was monitoring the situation and activated a duplicate website that was on standby to service the media with real time results.

“Immediate actions were also taken to increase the resources to compensate for the traffic, and ticker information and similar functionality were deactivated to simplify the site and allow the core functionality more bandwidth.

“This action meant the results could be out in real time through the media and towards the end of the night, service was largely unaffected.”

The term ‘hits’ is often confused with pageviews, but they are different. A pageview is when a website page is looked at, and a single pageview can generate dozens of hits at one time, depending on how much information is being called up [graphics etc] on the page.

The election site had been coded so that the page was automatically refreshing, meaning when a single computer was on the site it would continuously refresh generating multiple ‘hits’, a system which creates a very heavy server load.

The full statement is below:

In the run up to the national election, the Parliamentary Registry Office (PRO) took a number of steps to ensure voters had the information they needed to place their votes and for the results to be made available in the most efficient manner.

For reporting results, an online system was developed to allow the PRO to upload results as the counts came in. These were then posted to a website for people to track in real time.

Anticipated levels of interest were set with high targets of 500,000 hits and significant planning and stress testing of the site was undertaken. The site performed well with this load and comfortably managed the transactions.

On the night of the election we were delighted to see we had generated huge interest and the results of the Bermuda election were being sought globally, with people from 99 nations outside of Bermuda logging in.

The site received an unprecedented volume of 2.2 million hits and as the election results unfolded, significant interest via social media was also redirecting this community en masse, resulting in unusually high surges of activity. This caused the unexpected issues with service on the night.

A team was monitoring the situation and activated a duplicate website that was on standby to service the media with real time results. Immediate actions were also taken to increase the resources to compensate for the traffic, and ticker information and similar functionality were deactivated to simplify the site and allow the core functionality more bandwidth.

This action meant the results could be out in real time through the media and towards the end of the night, service was largely unaffected.

While disappointed that the service did not hold up the entire night, it’s encouraging to see the high levels of interest in Bermuda politics both here and around the world.

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Category: All, News, Politics, technology

Comments (45)

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  1. HeyBye says:

    It goes to show you with the Internet, Bermuda is no longer a closed society and what ever is said or done by our politicians and community positive or negative; is broadcasted around the world instantly.
    Bermuda must now send out positive news from this point on,to attract investments back to the island.

    • Curious says:

      The problem was that when it was overloaded it was returning the code and fields that you could have used to hack the database!

  2. BDAHermit says:

    Only thing that was a bigger fail was ZBM’s coverage.

    • sooooo says:

      Vsb wasn’t much better.. All they were worried about were the sandwiches waiting for them…

    • pebblebeach says:

      I agree 100%…it was so pitiful, unprofessionally presented and without digital visuals depicting the candidates, constituencies, number of votes and percentages etc….just dribble from people who quite frankly were redundant.

      They were behind on counts, aside from the OBA winning, the biggest story of the night was the Premier losing her seat and it was well known on twitter, Facebook and on the government site long before ZBM was even reporting on it…

      Such failing in this digital age of technology by a TV station… they did not even have access to the standby site as some in the public domain did…

      Mr Richardson, you need to hang it up, your time has passed….Renee, was probably thinking, darn I am going to loose my cushy consulting government contract…

    • SMDH says:

      Yep, pitiful. That station needs some serious investment to drag it into the 21st century.

      Thank you to Bernews/Facebook for keeping us informed in real time!

  3. Family Man says:

    “Toward the end of the night the service was largely unaffected”

    Only because most people had long since given up.

  4. swing voter says:

    I’m not IT but I wudda overbuilt that server to handle 1M hits. I think to expect only 500 hits is being a little niave

  5. Pitts Bay says:

    Even towards the end of the night when the PRO site was apparently up, the “official” updates coming through other mediums were way ahead of the PRO site. It may have be viewable, but it was not being updated efficiently or in a timely manner.

  6. Chart says:

    I think the webpage was actually poorly designed. It’s obvious that the site would have a concentrated wave of visitors – and should have been built to accomodate it.

    • Math is Hard says:

      So true. The people behind this cannot seriously try to claim “How could you predict that a lot of people would LOOK AT THE ELECTION RESULTS SITE ON ELECTION NIGHT?!”

    • Bdabdabdabda says:

      Have no fear-we probably spent less than $1 million developing this site, with the help of “consultants”

  7. US Observer in Pink Sand says:

    I’m sure we can call agree that BERNEWS had the best online coverage. I enjoyed waiting for the automatic updates by the sound of a click.

    Great work!!

  8. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Hopefully whoever was maintaining this site has resigned because an IT technician he/she is not!

    • princess_26 says:

      What a horrible thing to say!!! Have you ever made a mistake at a job? cause if you have, maybe you should have resigned from that job. Websites are incredibly hard to build and take a lot of time and effort, and on top of that the internet is still unpredictable!

      What happened is not one persons fault… it wasn’t something anyone could have expected to happen.

      • Autumn Fire says:

        Oh please, the USA election media provided instant data analysis covering over 1 million voters spread over 50 States with charts, graphs, maps, touch screen etc…get it together Bermuda – especially the boring TV coverage, how 1980′s was that! Instant, interactive, informative is the new normal.

      • SMDH says:

        Princess my 8 yr designed a website last weekend. Admittedly he is not expecting 1 million + hits but they are really not that hard to build with the appropriate training.

  9. The Kid says:

    Too lame ….

    Guys you blew it, you were an embarrassment to our Country

    Hang your heads in shame

    • princess_26 says:

      I think you should hang you head in same. This is no ones fault. You can’t help what the internet does.

  10. princess_26 says:

    I love how they say how much of an epic fail it was…. but don’t even mention that ALL of the results they reported throughout the night came from the back-up site… if they didn’t have a back-up plan NONE of the reports would have had any into… Give the IT people some credit, they did a great job in a hard situation.

    • Bernews says:

      Just clarifying your statement that our “reports would have had no info” if not for the back up site [which was mentioned above].

      The site was invaluable & needed for formal confirmation as they are the official body, but the media did have reports of our own as well.

      Between all the media, there were numerous people working at polling stations frantically feeding results, footage, interviews etc. The media was working flat trying to cover the election as best we all could.

      This is no offense to the IT people/site as we know how much effort it takes to run a website. Plus until we had our system sorted out we used to crash under load too…so we know how it feels! Server issues aside, the actual design we found impressive.

      • hmmmm says:

        Thanks Bernews… I was not actually involved in this implementation but have some knowledge. As the PRO has stated, no-one could have expected the kind of traffic that was experienced on election night. This site was built and tested to support 500,000 hits, for a population of 63,000 this should be more than enough, obviously it wasn’t. 2.2 Million from over 99 countries just shows how important what happens in Bermuda is.

        @princess_26 As bernews says there was a backup site, this was exclusively for the press, and officials.

        @Truth is killin’ me… Love to see your try!!!!

        Once it was found that the demand surpassed what was expected the public site was adjusted to accommodate. They will have leared some valuible lessons for next time.

        • Math is Hard says:

          The government were IDIOTS to not anticipate that level of traffic. The most trivial estimates show that their tested load was way too low.

          There are about 42,500 registered voters in Bermuda. Suppose that JUST 10% of those voters went to the PRO site. That would be 4,250 users. The site was coded to update every 30 seconds so 4,250 users would generate 141 hits PER SECOND. That is over 500K hits PER HOUR.

          It would be FAR MORE REALISTIC to anticipate 10,000 users, which would be 333 hits/sec or 1.2 MILLION HITS PER HOUR.

          The PRO site was wildly undersized from the start. It is little surprise that the server promptly pooped its pants and crashed as soon as it went live.


        • Not really says:

          “No-one could have expected the kind of traffic that was experienced on election night.” Ridiculous. 500,000 hits barely allows for 5,000 people to visit the site. The PRO didn’t think that more than 5,000 people would visit it? This is like when we half the buses were off the road when they ran out of tires and no one seemed to think the buses would need tires.

  11. Blurt says:

    How is that arbitration regarding the dock workers going, when did they meet, what is the deadline for a decision?
    Minors said it had started, but I have heard nothing since.

  12. Ayisha says:

    I thought this was to be expected.. Has the government ever broadcasted the election on the web like this? If not, then the only way to learn is through experience. How is anyone supposed to know the amount of hits if it has never been tested before? Remember when Bernews first started up, they had downtime because their server wasn’t big enough if I remember correctly. At least in the next election we can learn from this and apprehend 4,000,000 + views.

  13. Family Man says:

    I guess this is why they don’t allow online voting in Bermuda.

  14. Watching On says:

    I simply can’t understand this excuse because the Open Source Platform that they used to create this website is also used by a lot of major websites as well who handled the USA Elections results well over 2 million hits and never crashed. So as someone who also uses this specific OS for websites, I am baffled. I’m thinking the problem is one of hosting where they paid for the cheapest service.

    • hmmmm says:

      I believe your on the right track,,,

    • .am says:

      Well over two million hits? Huffington Post alone had 46m unique visitors.

      I think your numbers are a little off.

      • Soooooo says:

        @ .am. You have to remember we are taliking about hits as opposed to unique visitors, huge difference. The Huffington Post (aol) get millions of hits a day just on redirects from news feeds on social networking sites such as Facebook.

        Huffington through their parent company have massive data centers with server farms hosting their content, so you really can’t compair the two

        • .am says:

          Right – and the hits will obviously greatly exceed the number of unique views. The OP stated 2 million hits – So if there are 5 hits for every unique visitor, you’re at 200 million.

          My point was, HP had election coverage – and I doubt it was even the most popular. The OP claimed that this ‘open source platform’ was also used by ‘major websites’ that ‘handled over 2 million hits and never crashed.’

          ..simply pointing out they’re talking a load of crap.

          And web OS? Really?

          • Not really says:

            One unique viewer would never generate only 5 hits

            • .am says:


              Which bit of everything I said are you not getting? The OP said “..a lot of major websites as well who handled the USA Elections results well over 2 million hits and never crashed”. Hits will ALWAYS exceed unique views – so if the UNIQUE VIEWS of one of the more popular websites was in at 41 million, then the HITS would have been astronomically higher. I used 5h/uv for dead simple math – 40m*5=200m. OBVIOUSLY the hit count is higher but that is completely irrelevant because even at such a low h/uv it is NO WHERE NEAR 2m hits.


              • why do you even speak says:

                i dislike you greatly

              • Watching On says:

                Thank you for breaking it down. I did say “well over 2M hits” to just use a figure. Apprteciate the correction, calculations et all. Have a Happy Holiday

    • rockbird says:

      Remember: the choise of os+platform don’t guarantee perf (either good or bad) and no hosting service can keep and overloaded server online

  15. Reality Check says:

    I’m just astonished that the website received some 2 million “hits”. I guess anyone with any connection to Bermuda realized just how important this election was to the future well being of the Island. Thank goodness the electorate felt the same way.

    • Not really says:

      That number would only impress people who don’t have a clue about IT. It’s like Marketplace saying they offer “millions” of goods for purchase which they do if you count each item individually. 700 apples, 6272 tins of peas, 7823 cans of pepsi etc. They should have prepared for at least 30,000 people to read the site, which would be 5 million or more hits.

  16. Cranberry says:

    They also contracted to a local company called NOVA… Get it..!!??

  17. Maybe we should have a CNN takeover! I was very disappointed in the ZBM election coverage, not one person there was professional.

    Renee sunk lower and lower as she could see her consultancy train pulling out from the station, Rick is another story but he needs to give it up, Jerome was bright and up beat, Wendell seemed to be a bit disappointed in the results and of course,Cory was almost giggling his head off And there you have it – ZBM at its best.

    Come on ZBM, Bermuda deserves better than what we are getting from you. Walt Staskow must be turning over in his grave!