Inventions Wanted #5 – Cell Phone Voting

    The news is full of reports on the failures of electronic voting machines. After the 2000 election everyone expected inventors would jump on the problem and produce a full proof voting machine. That hasn’t happened. I’m wondering if there isn’t a simpler solution. Why not use the cell phone for voting.

    Imagine on voting day just picking up your cell phone and dialing the number and voting. Could it get any easier? Nearly everyone has a cell phone. And if it was easier to vote maybe more Americans would participate in democracy.

    One of the major concerns of voting machines is whether or not they can keep accurate tallies. Cell phone companies seem to be quite good at keep call records. Another concern with voting machines is to make them fraud proof. Now here’s the problem with cell phone voting – big brother will know how you voted because accurate registration and verification tied to a system with perfect tracking means they could look up how you voted. However, there are solutions to that too.

    Cell phones have unique numbers. They are registered to you. Your phone could be registered with the voting registration system. It would be possible to invent a voting system that would take only one call from every registered number. It would also be possible to separate identity from voting at some point, maybe with an encrypted key in case of recounts. That means there would be two systems. First would be the voting system via the cell phone and second a database system collecting votes. At some point they could separate identity or make a complicated mathematical system that could reconstruct the voting if necessary.

    One thing I hate about presidential elections is we have to pick one guy who wants to solve all problems in the same way we do. In other words, if there are twenty issues, we want elect the candidate that closely matches the way we think about twenty subjects. I’d much rather that have referendums and just let us vote directly. That would change things so we vote for a manager of problems rather than a decider. In the debates we always hear each candidate talk about their solution to a problem. I’m much rather that politicians research all the good options and then put them through a series of public votes until we come up with a solution that the majority wants.

    Easier voting would allow for more referendums. So why invent a complicate system that is usually set up once a year and few people participate in when an easier system may already exist that would get more people voting?


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