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Credit Card Voting using Mobile Phones

Use Credit Cards to Vote Securely using any Mobile Phone.

Photo of Avi Solomon
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Credit Cards can be used to vote securely using any mobile phone. Jack Dorsey's payment system Square can be adapted for this purpose.


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Photo of Steve

I guess you've never had your credit card number stolen. (Not that I have, either, although I did receive a letter and a new card from my credit card company saying that, for security purposes, they were changing my number.)

Photo of Avi

Steve, there is a physical signature associated with the credit card transaction.

Photo of Steve

And when does that get checked? What do I do when I pull out my phone to vote ten minutes before the polls close, swipe my card, and get back a message back saying "It seems you've already voted."?

You have an interesting idea, but the devil is in the details.

A physical signature on a credit card transaction (which, BTW, doesn't exist for telephone or internet transactions) allows me, when a fraudulent charge appears on my bill, to successfully challenge that charge and have it reversed (with the merchant and/or the credit card company absorbing the loss). You need to work out the analogy for reversing (or preventing) a fraudulent vote.

One possibility: All mobile phone votes become provisional votes, not counted until after the signature has been checked. They get timestamped, and if more than one comes in from the same voter, they all get flagged for special attention. Perhaps the voter gets contacted and asked to come in to verify which signature is really theirs, in case staff can't tell from comparison with the signature on file. If there's more than one with a truly valid signature, the one with the earliest timestamp is the one that's counted.

Of course, when a credit card number is stolen by a store employee, they also have access to your signature, as it's on the slip that the merchant retains. I could imagine someone being paid to capture an image with their cell phone, and the buyer having access to an expert forger. Or not even an expert forger; just print out the image of the signature, place it on top of the screen of the voting phone, and trace it.

(There's also the lack of an auditable paper record, the same defect that affects proposals for internet voting.)

Photo of Avi

Hey Steve,
Thanks for your suggestions - Part of the inspiration phase is throwing out uncritical wild ideas while working out the "crinks" in the concept phase.

I'm a fan of paper myself and am well aware of the possibility of credit card fraud (having been a victim once). Of course there would be some supervisory mechanism and some blending of physical paper in the process.

BTW both paper and electronic ballots are subject to fraud:

Photo of Paul

It's an interesting technology Avi, that no doubt could be adapted to read a range of 'encoded plastic' including the Indian National ID card described elsewhere.

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