Mobile Voting or mVoting, as the name suggest means the facility to vote via mobile electronic devices like a mobile handset without the requirement of being physically present at booth.
People use the terms eVoting, iVoting, mVoting interchangeable, however all are different generations of voting. Similarly, rVoting and online voting should not be interchangeably used with eVoting, iVoting and mVoting. We have tried to explain each of these terms below for your easy reference and understanding.
Paper voting or paper ballot is the traditional method of voting and still one of the most common form of voting. Before paper voting there were few other methods of voting like show of hands or dropping of coins in a vessel, however Paper voting can be considered the generation 1 of voting.
In paper ballot, the voter is provided with a paper with all the candidates names printed on the paper. The voter just needs to mark his choice of candidate and put the paper in the ballot box. After the voting process is over, all the ballot papers are taken out of the box and votes are counted. The person who gets the maximum number of votes is declared the winner.
For example, in a country like India with 90 crore eligible voters, there would be requirement of more than 10 lakh booths across the country. In such case each booth and each ballot box are a risk in itself. There are lakhs of ballot boxes floating across the country in hands of lakhs of people. Anybody anywhere can replace one ballot box with another with false votes. There is no way to track or later audit if such change has been done. Other common security problem with paper voting is:
Low quality manual authentication: Voters are generally authenticated before voting by visual recognition. Election officers try to match picture on identity card with voter face. This kind of authentication is very low quality due to picture quality. Also, it is very easy to create false identity cards.
Even in paper ballot there can be different kinds of voting including postal ballot, open ballot, secret ballot, proxy voting etc. These are explained later.
As the name suggest eVoting or Electronic Voting is voting method where instead of paper, electronic machine is used for voting.
In eVoting, like paper voting a booth is created and people are supposed to visit the booth to vote. The only difference is that instead of marking their vote on a paper, they press a button to mark their choice. Voting machines are generally preferred over paper voting because of 2 major reasons:
Commonly used method of electronic voting is Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) as used in Indian political elections. Even EVMs have evolved over period of time and authorities mark them as generation 1, 2, 3 etc. Recently Indian government has added VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail) to EVMs to provide extra comfort to the voters that their voters are being recorded properly.
Many people confuse eVoting with other advanced methods of internet enabled voting. Generally speaking, internet enabled voting is not eVoting as eVoting is basically voting via an electronic machine. However, it’s a common practice to club internet-based voting methods also under eVoting. This is more rampant when people want to club everything other than paper voting in one basket.
iVoting or internet-based voting is generation 3 of voting system. In this method all electronic voting machines are connected via internet and all voting data is stored at a central server instead of the voting machine.
In this method, like paper voting and eVoting, booths are created where voter is supposed to visit to vote. The voter votes on machines like in case of eVoting, and hence his experience is similar to eVoting but unlike eVoting in this case vote is stored in central server. These voting machines can be push button machines or touch screens. Generally, these machines are fixed at one place in the booth.
The authentication of voter generally is still manual in this system as he is physically present at booth. However, some systems also have internet based automated authentication system.
Biggest advantage of this method over generation 2 eVoting system are:
The biggest concern people have with internet-based voting is that people worry that internet-based systems can be hacked, and results can be changed. However, these concerns are misplaced and many equally or more critical human activity has completely internet based today. These include banking system, stock exchanges, aviation control, traffic control, power grids, nuclear plants etc. Technology has advanced enough to ensure secure internet based voting.
Mobile voting or mVoting as the name suggest means voting via machines that are mobile. Mobile phones are good example of mobile voting. In mobile voting, voter is not expected to be physically present at booth to vote. A voter can vote from anywhere.
There are different varieties of mobile voting, and in certain varieties, the voter is still expected to visit any of the designated booths to vote. This ensure secrecy and avoids coercion. However, the voter can go to any booth and as the screens are generally internet enabled touch screens, customized ballot paper can be presented to voter which is not the case in case of eVoting machines.
In this method, voter authentication is automated. The voter is authenticated by methods like:
Automated authentication is very important in this method as voter has the option to vote from multiple location. If automated authentication system is not provided, there is a risk that voter might vote multiple times from different locations. The automated authentication system not only ensures that right person is voting but also ensure that same voter is not voting twice as it also stores data of who has voted and who has not voted along with vote data.
The biggest advantage of this method over previous generation voting methods are:
The biggest concern people have with mVoting is possibility of coercion as voter is voting remotely via their own mobile handsets. To avoid this few organizations creates safe enclosures like booths where voter can come and vote using their own handsets. Voter is restricted to vote outside the booth via IP address, secret key or some other method. However, such mobile voting is not true 4th generation mobile voting and leads to high cost and low voter turnout.
Coercion is a genuine concern however its implication is over exaggerated. Firstly, the percentage of population which is venerable to coercion is limited. The percentage of people who lose their right to vote due to booth-based voting is much higher than percentage of voter who are venerable to coercion. Hence benefit outweighs the risk.
Secondly, there are technologies to avoid coercion which include facility to voters to change their vote, picture and sound recording while voting, vote concentration alarm based on IP address.
Remote Voting or rVoting, as the name suggest means the facility to voter to vote remotely without vising the booth. The voter has facility to vote from anywhere. Many people confuse rVoting or Remote Voting to be next generation of mobile voting. However, mobile voting is also a remote voting method and methods where mobile voting is restricted to booths are not really true 4th generation method.
Infact, many remote voting methods exists across generations. In generation 1 (paper ballot) postal ballot method of remote voting is very common. In generation 3, email based eVoting is example of remote voting.
In today’s world where all activities have moved online and people do banking, shopping etc online, it’s important that remote voting facility is made available to everybody so that nobody is denied their right to vote.
Proxy voting means when a voter is himself not able to vote, he appoint somebody in his place to vote.
Proxy voting was created due to limitation of booth-based voting systems (Generation 1, 2 and 3 – paper voting, eVoting, iVoting). Proxy voting is not an efficient system as it compromises on secret ballot and also the procedure for proxy voting is so cumbersome that it rarely used by voters in real elections. However, the biggest issue with proxy voting is that proxy might vote against the wishes of the voter.
In India, voting by proxy is allowed for service voters like armed forces personnel. Indian government is looking to provide proxy voting to non-residents also. However, proxy voting is not a desirable method and mobile voting is far superior method to solve same problem of providing right to vote to voters who are not present at the place of registration.
Right2Vote – If you are looking for best voting technology / best voting software / best voting website then visit www.right2vote.in. Right2Vote is the world’s best mobile voting platform which is not only 100% secure but also very user friendly and cost effective. Right2Vote is also certified by government of India for both security and quality.