Who’s using phone voting?

Voting is one of the most fundamental activities of a representative democracy, yet the issue of Internet voting continues to be a contentious one for governments in the USA and Europe. The issue of phone-based voting is not new , although its consideration by and large predates the development of VoiceXML. Most current discussions of phone-based voting involve the use of cell phones with WAP technologies or text messaging.

Telephone voting is currently used in England (as is voting by text message). Some interesting information on the use of phone voting in England can be found here. I have read in some places that Oregon is testing telephone voting for absentee voters, but I’ve found no hard information on this.

An argument could be made that phone-based voting – using VoiceXML and related technologies – could go a long way towards addressing the issues raised in the current Internet voting debate.

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2 thoughts on “Who’s using phone voting?

  1. A report by The Electoral Commission evaluating the use of electronic remote voting (including phone voting) in the Swindon Borough Council elections of 2002 can be found here.

    Among the findings:

    “A total of 76% of those who voted by telephone completed the questionnaire they were sent. Given that older aged groups predominated amongst those using this method of voting, it is not surprising that 40% of respondents said they were retired. More than 90% said they voted in all or most local and general elections, from which it would appear that the vast majority would have been likely to vote in a polling station if the telephone option had not been available.

    Ninety nine per cent of respondents said they found the arrangements for telephone voting straightforward and the instructions clear and understandable. But the respondents were obviously those who had successfully completed the process of telephone voting, not those who had perhaps tried and failed. Confidence in the security of their vote was high: 78% rated their confidence at levels 1 or 2 on a scale of 1-5.”

    This suggests that most users of the phone channel for voting in this election might have voted anyway were the option not provided. However, simply providing the choice of different voting options may lead to a more equitable distribution of resources to assist voters on Election Day.

    Who wouldn’t want shorter lines at polling places, or more time from a poll worker (if needed)?. Providing different options for voters might lead to this kind of an outcome.

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