Launched in 2012, Decision Desk HQ was founded as an alternative to mainstream publication reporting and posting on election results. The company was founded as an alternative to what was deemed slow election calls by the Associated Press and many others posting election results. Drew McCoy, President of DDHQ, says “We found everyone had an increased interest in elections and data involved in tracking and posting of official results. There was a huge change to how people voted in the past four years and you can see the differences in the data we collect and disperse to the public.” DDHQ offers an API for customers to retrieve election results as state and local governments publish them in real-time. McCoy details that in today’s environment, people track breaking election news on social media platforms and independent media sites. DDHQ collects the data from state and local government websites and posts it on their websites so that journalists, media groups, researchers, and others can frame and contextualize the data.
The goal for DDHQ to provide transparency. McCoy believes that it is good for democracy to make this information accessible and cheaper for everyone. “We are giving you a window into the election process so people can be informed. The information is verified and seamlessly delivered, which is a huge part of building trust in the electoral process.”
DDHQ requires security protocols that can offer standout protection against DDoS attacks. They also need exceptional performance solutions that allow them to reach their global audience and handle the massive traffic spikes so that their partners and the public have access to election results in real-time.
The company has been using Cloudflare since 2018 but reached out to the Project Galileo team for extra assistance due to the uncertainty of events on election night as they were a key player in calling the 2020 U.S. election. “ When DDHQ was named by Twitter one of the seven outlets in the world as an authoritative figure in declaring election results, we had to increase our ongoing efforts to ensure that our site was safe and available for those looking for accurate election results,” McCoy explains. During this time, the company had mixed feelings about going into election week as it was difficult to plan for the unexpected but says that it is crucial to have trust in the security tools. DDHQ called the 2020 elections 24 hours earlier than others, which drew much attention to their site making them highly aware of the security and performance of their website.“We were the first news site to officially call the 2020 U.S. election, almost a day before many others made the official announcement.”
With Cloudflare’s security solution in place, DDHQ has never suffered the effects of a targeted DDoS attack. “DDHQ achieved 100% uptime across all of our services, and processed more than 3 billion requests and 500 terabytes of data during election week,” says McCoy. “During general election week, we served approximately 20x more traffic than at any point in the primaries when we again were first to make major calls, such as Bernie Sanders winning the New Hampshire primary and Joe Biden's wins in places like Massachusetts and Texas on Super Tuesday.”
To ensure that their election results posted on their site are resilient and high performing globally, DDHQ uses Cloudflare’s Load Balancing. “We had the option of using AWS for load balancing, but not the ability to diversity our security tools and use other providers as well. With Cloudflare, we had the ability to stand up a load balancer in front of our infrastructure providers which was a powerful tool to help keep our services fast and secure.” Cloudflare’s Load Balancing actively monitors DDHQs’ origin servers and when an origin server goes down, traffic is rapidly rerouted to healthy servers so their customers don’t notice a difference.
After establishing a strong defense against DDoS attacks and improving site performance, they focused their efforts on expansion to cover election updates around the world. After covering elections in the UK, US, South America, Israeli, they look to expand their coverage to cover smaller local elections as well as international. “We have the ability to disperse information using technology in a cost-effective manner. We see DDHQ as a modern approach on how to collect and relay pertinent election information to help inform those looking for authoritative information. We have confidence that Cloudflare is helping us provide more transparency in the electoral process by making the information safe, accurate, and reliable for those looking to participate in their democracy. Based on our success this cycle, we’ll be expanding into covering more races for a wider variety of clients including newspaper and TV groups. We look forward to working with Cloudfare to continue to provide our clients with fast, secure, and reliable election results for years to come.”