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Telephone Voting

Apart from the innovative 'marble voting' used in Gambia, and the commonplace paper-based ballot, the next simple technology for voting is probably the telephone. As such it should be included in any mix of voting options.

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This concept summarises the features found in at least one successful implementation (New South Wales, Australia) and proposes making this method of voting available to all those eligible voters who can access a DTMF (tone based) telephone.
It addresses tier two (Majority voting) of part B (Optimising the mechanics of voting) of the framework concept "Build a Better Voting System".

The concept is predicated on first knowing who is eligible to vote (see concepts Building a Better Voting System and National Electoral Roll vs National Voting ID Card). Secondly on its availability to a majority of those eligible. It does not preclude more high-tech ways of voting but forms a solid base for supplementing or superceding paper-based voting for that majority.

Why DTMF (commonly referred to as Touch-tone)?
These phone systems were introduced about 50 years ago and are proven, convenient technology available in many places. They include cell phones and smartphones but importantly also include most landline and payphone connections too.

How it Works

The basic features of telephone voting are similar to telephone banking or telephone payment methods:

A voter requires a numeric ID that is recognised by the system and a complementary numeric pin. Such a system is already in place in most ATMs.

The numeric ID may be relatively public, that is it may be the voters numeric ID on the electoral roll or a voting identity card - or it may be generated specifically for the purpose of a single election.

The pin number is usually private and may be alterable by the voter.

Together they afford a reasonable level of privacy for access to the system.

The system itself provides an audible series of prompts allowing the voter to navigate the ballot and make the choices they wish.
(In Australia, and other compulsory voting jurisdictions, this includes an option to record a void vote - equivalent to not voting in optional voting jurisdictions.)


Advantages

Apart from a sound identification system it would require few additional design resources.
The technology including voice prompt/phone key response technology already exists and should therefore be cost effectively available to polling authorities

Having been designed specifically for vision impaired voters it is suitable for all voters who can respond to audible instructions using a DTMF telephone - this will include so-called able-bodied voters, many disabled voters including many (but not all) with physical and possibly intellectual disabilities.

The act of voting can be largely place independent (i.e. any DTMF phone anywhere) - thereby taking pressure off physical polling places

The system can be adapted to multiple language voting.

The system can be adapted to smartphone or internet.

Challenges

Clearly this will initially exclude deaf voters for whom an alternative system might be based on either smartphone or an ordinary (DTMF) phone with written instructions.
For those deaf voters with internet access either an adaptation of this concept or another concept can provide access to voting from a computer.

For the (hopefully) few remaining voters other concepts can provide enhanced access to conventional voting methods.

This concept summarises the features found in at least one successful implementation (New South Wales, Australia) and proposes making this method of voting available to all those eligible voters who can access a DTMF (tone based) telephone.
It addresses tier two (Majority voting) of part B (Optimising the mechanics of voting) of the framework concept "Build a Better Voting System".

The concept is predicated on first knowing who is eligible to vote (see concepts Building a Better Voting System and National Electoral Roll vs National Voting ID Card). Secondly on its availability to a majority of those eligible. It does not preclude more high-tech ways of voting but forms a solid base for supplementing or superceding paper-based voting for that majority.

Why DTMF (commonly referred to as Touch-tone)?
These phone systems were introduced about 50 years ago and are proven, convenient technology available in many places. They include cell phones and smartphones but importantly also include most landline and payphone connections too.

How it Works

The basic features of telephone voting are similar to telephone banking or telephone payment methods:

A voter requires a numeric ID that is recognised by the system and a complementary numeric pin. Such a system is already in place in most ATMs.

The numeric ID may be relatively public, that is it may be the voters numeric ID on the electoral roll or a voting identity card - or it may be generated specifically for the purpose of a single election.

The pin number is usually private and may be alterable by the voter.

Together they afford a reasonable level of privacy for access to the system.

The system itself provides an audible series of prompts allowing the voter to navigate the ballot and make the choices they wish.
(In Australia, and other compulsory voting jurisdictions, this includes an option to record a void vote - equivalent to not voting in optional voting jurisdictions.)


Advantages

Apart from a sound identification system it would require few additional design resources.
The technology including voice prompt/phone key response technology already exists and should therefore be cost effectively available to polling authorities

Having been designed specifically for vision impaired voters it is suitable for all voters who can respond to audible instructions using a DTMF telephone - this will include so-called able-bodied voters, many disabled voters including many (but not all) with physical and possibly intellectual disabilities.

The act of voting can be largely place independent (i.e. any DTMF phone: anywhere) - thereby taking pressure off physical polling places

The system can be adapted to multiple language voting.

The system can be adapted to smartphone or internet.

Challenges

Clearly this will initially exclude deaf voters for whom an alternative system might be based on either smartphone or an ordinary (DTMF) phone with written instructions.
For those deaf voters with internet access either an adaptation of this concept or another concept can provide access to voting from a computer. (see Online & Mobile Voting from Vincent Cheng)

For the (hopefully) few remaining voters other concepts can provide enhanced access to conventional voting methods.

This inspired (1)

DIY Absentee Ballots

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DeletedUser

Thanks Paul for developing up this concept and providing extra explanatory content.
I am providing a link here back to my Inspiration item and a link to the Telephone Voting Standard for reference. http://www.openideo.com/open/voting/inspiration/the-voice-of-decomcray-if-you-can-use-a-phone-you-can-vote/#c-ec41ef687e3f1e8093e81b7dd0243a2d
Regards
Tim

Spam
Photo of Paul Reader

Thanks Tim - I know that the basic premise of the challenge is mainly to look for new ideas but given the relatively recent development of the standard it seemed appropriate to me to build a case for extending it to new jurisdictions. Thanks for including the links I will incorporate them in the concept too.
Do you know if there is a way to prototype the basics for a fictitious or perhaps old (eg G.W Bush) US presidential ballot. For a prototype the issues of inflexion etc. could be ignored.
Perhaps even a written script in the form of a flow chart would help to further visualise the concept for those who can follow it.

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