Headlines: May 23rd, 2005

There is a new call for a faster move to telephone voting in order to make voting more easily accessible to the wider electorate. It has come from Damovo UK, a leading communications solutions and services provider for the public sector in its response to Electoral Commission proposals for voting reforms.The Commission looked into reforms following concerns over postal voting fraud. Its report “Securing the vote,” outlines suggestions for improving registration processes and guarding against fraud. It also says multi-channel voting, including the use of the telephone and the Internet may, in time, replace traditional paper-based voting. This, it says, will follow improvements in the security and reliability of the current system.

But Paul Renucci, managing director of Damovo, wants to see faster implementation of telephone voting. He says the Commission’s commitment to consider multi-channel voting methods is encouraging but believes it needs to ensure that the methods of voting offered to the electorate are available to the widest possible audience.

“Tele-voting is the most obvious alternative to postal ballots. It is a class-agnostic communication tool widely used by all UK citizens, regardless of socio-economic status. Most crucially, people are already comfortable using the telephone for secure financial and local government-related transactions,” he said.

Mr. Renucci believed tele-voting could allow electors to use existing touch tone ‘phones as millions of people do already for telephone banking and charity appeals. He said the security would lie in a method of combining fragments of personal information that would distinguish genuine from false voters and still hide the identity of the caller from the election organisers.

He said the system could use a PIN already known to the voter, perhaps their National Insurance number and their electoral register number. According to research by Nottingham Trent University this would provide odds of 6 billion to 1 against fraud.