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Phone In Your Vote

Eliminate The Need For Polling Places in Volatile Areas Of The World
  (+3, -4)
(+3, -4)
  [vote for,

This scheme can be used everywhere but may be of special value in dangerous areas of the world.

As the elections approach in Iraq, for instance, one need only imagine the security that would be required in polling places. And can one considered to be voting fairly with a detachment of Marines standing outside?

Use a touch tone voting system. Dial a toll free free number, and use a citizenship ID (passport#, social, etc) to pass an initial phase. This phase may or may not be fully automated and must have sufficient identity tests.

To prevent the recording of how you voted, at this point you would be transfered to a separate line. The safety of such a transfer and your data would be certified by the UN. As anyone who's called into a call center knows, the odds of them actually knowing who you are after a transfer are not high anyway. But it can certainly be done safely with no data transfered.

On the second system, the voting choices would be presented to you in RANDOM order. This would eliminate the threat of someone standing with a gun to your head and saying -- now press 2 for Ayatollah.

Once you have voted, the system will audio-confirm your vote, as well as providing you with a unique ID to be used on a separate line to confirm your vote if you wish (your receipt). This unique ID would be untraceable back to your identity or phone#.

Those not possessing a phone could simply use a public phone.

theircompetitor, Mar 08 2004

phone infrastructure rebuilding project. http://www.c114.net....asp?articleid=3055
"240,000 of the 540,000 telephone lines are still out of service."
Population of Iraq: 22,675,617 as of July 2000. [ato_de, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Iraq Census data http://www.peoplean...net/doc.php?id=1933
[theircompetitor, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

(?) Voting by Phone http://www.vote.org/brochure.htm
Been around for decades. [waugsqueke, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Googled Satellite Phone Provider http://www.globalcomsatphone.com
[theircompetitor, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

CellPhone Democracy Article http://www.cnn.com/...emocracy/index.html
[theircompetitor, Aug 26 2008]

Estonians can voteby cellphone http://www.mobilecr...with-mobile-voting/
[theircompetitor, Dec 12 2008]


       I like this. I was thinking something in the line of a voter van that runs around the neighborhood but this is already in place and much less the cost and man power.
bkornele, Mar 08 2004

       How can the identity of someone on a telephone be confirmed? Not that such a thing would seem to really matter to some state legislators who seem to think having to show ID's at a poll is discriminatory (against whom?)
supercat, Mar 08 2004

       supercat -- your identity is confirmed over the phone all the time (by bank, cable company, etc).   

       I'm not suggesting such a procedure would be fool proof, but neither is voting in a polling place, where they glance at my license which does not have a picture on it.
theircompetitor, Mar 08 2004

       Please elaborate on "sufficient identity tests."
yabba do yabba dabba, Mar 08 2004

       yabba -- those you currently trust with your money. Verification (beyond id#) of pin, maiden name, etc. Potential use of caller id (you're calling from your own phone). Secret question, etc.
theircompetitor, Mar 08 2004

       I am not sure how it is in other states but MD does not require much ID at all. A voter reg card and that is all. No driver lic or other type of id is required. At least that has been my experience for the last 6 years I have lived here.
bkornele, Mar 08 2004

       How many homes in Iraq have phones?   

       Of those, how many have phone service?   

       We, who have access to the internet, 24 hour pharmacies and 300 channels of shit on the TV, take too much for granted.
ato_de, Mar 08 2004

       Like [ UnaBubba]said sufficient phone service in Iraq is a problem. What about in the U.S. would this system have a chance in the U.S.?
bkornele, Mar 08 2004

       ato_de: I don't think I take too much for granted here -- otherwise I would have suggested web based voting. Phone service, including cellular, does exist. I assume public phones exist.   

       BTW [borknele,et.al], Iraq may have triggered the thought, but it's not the only place I was suggesting this for.   

       UnaBubba -- can you imagine the amount that will be invested in attempting (key word) to keep various election areas safe? I think you could build an infrastructure for that price -- and btw, you're building it anyway.   

       Even if this was a partial solution for those otherwise afraid, it may be helpful.
theircompetitor, Mar 08 2004

       (aims Massive AOL CD Solar Collector Array (of Doom!) at satellite)
Worldgineer, Mar 08 2004

       Blowing up telephone exchanges is a lot harder then driving a suicide truck through a polling station. To the extent they're centrally located they are easier to guard, especially given that it's not an issue of guarding a line of several hundred people attempting to vote. Phone services also typically have some level of redundancy.   

       You cannot achieve absolute safety -- I think this could be an improvement over the current situation.   

       Worldgineer -- put that away before you burn someone :)
theircompetitor, Mar 08 2004

       Nothing wrong with this idea. If a demonic terrorist organization (or power station operator who sets off the fire suppressor) manages to start a cascade that becomes as serious as last year's northeast US blackout, just reschedule the voting for the next day.   

       As a matter of fact, rollover voting might be anticipated.
dpsyplc, Mar 08 2004

       dpsyplc -- I like the idea of voting over several days everywhere. I don't see why it has to be one day.
theircompetitor, Mar 08 2004

       Can it be made to produce a paper trail or equivalent, that is, something recountable?
Fussass, Mar 08 2004

       theircompetitor: Bank-by-phone transactions are not anonymous and untraceable in the same way as votes are. If someone attempts to forge or alter banking transactions, odds are pretty good someone else will notice and set things right. By contrast, if someone forges someone else's vote, there's unlikely to be any way of detecting it, and even less likely to be any remedy.   

       Another major problem with this concept is that it makes impartial election monitoring impossible. With paper ballots, an ordinary person can be reasonably certain that if he saw voters put 107 ballots into a box by voters, and the box is found to contain 50 ballots for candidate X and 57 for candidate Y, that those tallies in fact match the votes cast. A brief inspection to ensure the box doesn't have any secret compartments would be in order, but if the box is found to be just a box one can be pretty certain that it contains what voters put into it.   

       With electronic voting systems in general, and this one in particular, how can anybody be sure of anything? Let King Richard of Chicago be involved in running the operation and the Democrats will always win. Put Ross Perot in charge and the Reform Party will win. Since there's no record of who voted how, there would be no way for anyone to know whether any or all of the votes were faked.
supercat, Mar 08 2004

       Fussass: I don't see any meaningful paper-trail possibility, since the person phoning in his vote has no way of seeing that any paper record that's produced on the other end matches the way he actually voted.
supercat, Mar 08 2004

       Sort of like those new voting machines then.
Fussass, Mar 08 2004

       //Sort of like those new voting machines then.//   

       The new ones which people are starting to realize may not be so wonderful and trustworthy as they'd been led to believe? Yup.   

       BTW, this brings up another more general point: there seems to be a protocol that software companies for this sort of system allow inspectors to examine the code, but not actually have the full code available to the inspectors to compile. Perhaps someone can tell me what the point of such "inspections" is. If I'm given some code to inspect, but I'm not allowed to compile it, what reason would I have to believe that the code I'm inspecting bears any relation whatsoever to the code that's being deployed?
supercat, Mar 08 2004

       supercat -- they can be as anonymous as you need to be -- it's a matter of designing the system and certifying it as such.   

       Paper receipts are something that may be nice, but I don't get them when I vote now using a regular machine
theircompetitor, Mar 09 2004

       theircompetitor: You fail to understand my point. In a bank-by-phone system, if I phone in a request to transfer $500 from account 12357 to account 39211, the transfer will be recorded in the records for those two accounts; I can look at those records and confirm that the transfer took place as requested.   

       By contrast, in a vote-by-phone system, once I punch buttons to vote for my preferred candidates, I have no way of knowing that my vote was actually counted as a vote for my candidate. For all I know, the system could tell me it registered by vote for Harry Browne while actually incrementing Ralph Nader's vote total and I'd have no way of knowing that. And because votes are anonymous, there'd be no way for me to look and see that my personal vote was recorded correctly.   

       As for "regular machine"--there are three types of "machine" I'm familiar with: the optical scan ballot readers, which do indeed create a paper trail; the 1940's mechanical things which can be made fraud resistant if one has a mind to do so, and the newfangled electronic things which are open to all sorts of mischief. To which type of machine are you referring?
supercat, Mar 09 2004

       A bit of trivia from the profile page of the late no12pass:   

       "More than 50% of the people in the world have never made or received a telephone call."
thumbwax, Mar 09 2004

       supercat -- I think I do understand your point, I'm just not sure how it's relevant. The machine I've voted on shows "x" for candidates I choose. I then turn the lever. Everything is reset. I walk out of the booth.   

       That's it. I cannot know how I voted.   

       The phone system can trivially repeat back (you voted for Ayatollah. On proposition 45 you voted against longer deployment of US troops, etc), before hanging up.
theircompetitor, Mar 09 2004

       I think you are missing two key points...   

       1) Population of Iraq- 22,675,617
2) Phone lines in Iraq- 540,000

       That isn't the number pf private homes with phones, that is the total number of phone lines in the country. This is typical in countries that would benefit from your idea. (//...dangerous areas of the world.// Which I read as "third world countries under threat of dictators, military, theocratic or whatever.) Use public phones? Well, you'll still have those long, easily targeted lines. No improvement.   

       Let it go.
ato_de, Mar 09 2004


       Population of US: approx 293 Mil   

       Number of polling places in US? A recent article says Nebraska has 1600 and cutting down. Assuming each state had 10,000 polling places, that would be a total of 500,000.   

       Across the Arab world, a substantial portion of the population is young. According to an article I linked, half of the population is under the age of 19.   

       Feel free to continue to disagree.   

       Supercat: The system can also return to you (audio wise) a unique key where you can double check your vote. This unique key would be set up such that it cannot be traced back to your identity. Idea amended above.
theircompetitor, Mar 09 2004

       //Supercat: The system can also return to you (audio wise) a unique key where you can double check your vote. This unique key would be set up such that it cannot be traced back to your identity. Idea amended above.//   

       Can't be traced back to you until someone points a gun to your head and demands that you prove you voted for the "right" candidate, you mean?
supercat, Mar 09 2004

       //supercat -- I think I do understand your point, I'm just not sure how it's relevant. The machine I've voted on shows "x" for candidates I choose. I then turn the lever. Everything is reset. I walk out of the booth//   

       In honest poling areas, representatives from both parties can physically inspect the machines to ensure that they're working correctly and honestly. None of the electronic voting systems to date have allowed anything near the level of inspection necessary to provide such assurances.   

       Sure "impartial inspectors" will be shown printouts of the source code, but they're not allowed to compile and keep code images to compare with what's actually being put in the machine, so there's no way of knowing that someone isn't installing software in the machines that's different from what the inspectors examined.
supercat, Mar 09 2004

       supercat -- as opposed to the receipt that you got which you managed to swallow?   

       Look, dead people vote all the time. Holding guns to each voter's head is not a scalable election fraud system.   

       This is not a system to prevent all possible voting fraud. It's a system to increase voter safety.   

       The phone record database can be examined, probably better then voting machines. They can be matched to other industry systems (i.e. regular call records that are used for billing). Unless we use quantum computing, there are no hanging chads in voting records -- the bit is either on or off.   

       Can you combine your annotations, btw?
theircompetitor, Mar 09 2004

       //Holding guns to each voter's head is not a scalable election fraud system.//   

       Sure it is. You address a group of people and let them know that some of them will be receiving a 'visitor' who will be very unhappy if they can't prove that they voted for the right guy.   

       Such things have occurred in the past, which is part of why today's elections are designed so that no voter could prove how he voted even if he wanted to.   

       //The phone record database can be examined, probably better then voting machines. They can be matched to other industry systems (i.e. regular call records that are used for billing). Unless we use quantum computing, there are no hanging chads in voting records -- the bit is either on or off.//   

       You fail to understand the point: a proper voting system should be constructed so that it's impossible to determine who voted what way, but it's still possible to be certain that the votes recorded are the same as the votes cast.   

       Consider the good old-fashioned ballot box. Before an election, it's inspected by representatives of all parties to ensure there are no secret compartments. During and after the election, representatives from both parties keep an eye on the box to ensure that nobody except voters puts anything into it, and nobody takes anything out of it. When it comes time to count ballots, everyone in the room is searched to ensure they don't have any ballots on their person, and then the count proceeds. After the count, people are checked again.   

       If I trust the representative of my party who's watching the process, I don't have to trust the ballot box manufacturer or anyone else; the box is only going to have inside what was put into it. I don't have to be able to match up any ballot with any particular voter to come to that conclusion; if the box is devoid of secret compartments or trapdoors, the conclusion is self-apparent.   

       //Can you combine your annotations, btw?//   

       I like to leave annos in order so it's apparent to what I'm responding.
supercat, Mar 09 2004

       The receipt was added based upon a comment you made, and it is still anonymous.   

       Without it, there would be no way to know how you voted in the system as suggested. A unique key can both guarantee that this is a valid cast vote and the vote's value, using a hash. These types of transactions are recorded all the time for a variety of critical reasons.   

       I guess we just have to disagree
theircompetitor, Mar 09 2004

       UnaBubba: actually, I take that point completely the opposite way.   

       Like it or not, voting has become almost completely statistical. It has become enough of an issue that the US TV networks were told to stop calling elections before polls are closed!   

       When votes are extremely close, as they were in Florida, you can call the aggregate vote "an accident" in many different ways. 500 votes decided it -- perhaps 500 Democrats were too busy to vote that day, or discouraged by strong arm tactics, or confused by the Butterfly ballot.   

       Whatever, the statistical model broke down in favor of the uncertainty principle -- and that's with all the safeguards you list.   

       While new systems are open to new abuses, I doubt they would be subject to anything like the old abuses. The tradeoff may be worth it or not -- the jury is certainly still out.   

       But I'd be shocked if we're mostly not voting electronically within a decade or so.
theircompetitor, Mar 09 2004

       How is voting by phone a new concept? It's been used by delegates of some Canadian political parties to vote in several conventions. I'm sure there are many other high profile cases.
waugsqueke, Mar 09 2004

       voting by phone in it of itself is not a new concept -- you can vote stock proxies by phone.   

       The system as described above is arguably robust enough to support non-repudiation and scale to national election levels.   

       It is also being advocated not for strict convenience but for crowd aggregation avoidance due to security and stability concerns.
theircompetitor, Mar 09 2004

       How about blowing up a bridge so you can't get to the voting place? All the difficulties you mention always existed -- you've just grown comfortable with them. Preventing votes is just as effective at changing the outcome -- and there are myriads of ways to do that -- as we know it still happens in the west.   

       Every political post I make is not a way to disenfranchise the masses. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.   

       [newser] checking to see if Lucifer is taken
theircompetitor, Mar 09 2004

       //How about blowing up a bridge so you can't get to the voting place?//   

       The ease and severity is quite different though. Think about the last time you saw a bridge collapse, and compare it to the last time your phone service was cut off for whatver reason.
Detly, Mar 10 2004

       Detly -- in a situation such as in Iraq, the sabotage of voting places is just as likely, if not more so, then the sabotage of phone network. Keep in mind that the current opposition in Iraq is not fighting for a place on the ballot -- they're fighting for elections to be impossible.
theircompetitor, Mar 10 2004

       AlQueda elements are not the same as the original Sunni rulers -- both are involved.   

       But I don't think that this is the right forum for that discussion.
theircompetitor, Mar 10 2004

       Listen up youse... After dis here electorial ting, Me an Vito will be commin aroun to see youse all. We will be expectin youse to have a chit showin that you have taken participation in the votin, an that chit will show us how youse have been good listeners. If your chit doan match our choosing or it gets lost, it would not go well with youse.
ato_de, Mar 10 2004

       I added the Satellite Phone Provider link. Looks like you could equip the entire voting population of Iraq approx 5Bil without any volume discount.   

       I'm going to call and see what it would be with discount :)
theircompetitor, Mar 10 2004

       UnaBubba -- I'm leaving that to the President, but yes, that's the agenda (except for the appease Iran part)
theircompetitor, Mar 11 2004

       I can't figure out how this is fundamentally different than absentee voting.
zigness, Mar 12 2004

       zigness, talking on the phone is the same thing like talking when standing next to each other, only you are further away.   

       Not putting myself in the same category as Mr. Bell, just pointing out that I'm proposing a mechanism by which a phone system could be used. As I'm sure you see, many disagree. But fundamentally, it is the same as mailing a vote in, as you point out.
theircompetitor, Mar 12 2004

       And, it' finally happening, see link
theircompetitor, Dec 12 2008


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