Election Protection Tools: Voter Lists – Mobile app

WHEN: Several months before the election;  HOW: To improve the list of who can vote, create and publicize a mobile phone app to let everyone easily check the accuracy of voter registration information. This election protection tool was used successfully in Pakistan, by activating an SMS mobile phone text-messaging system available to everyone with access to a mobile phone. It helped correct voter list errors and guide voters on where to vote. Out of 85 million registered voters, the mobile app got 55 million hits; voter turnout increased, and marginalized groups like persons with disabilities measurably increased election engagement. This method also blocked election fraud attempts. The mobile phone application proved to be more convenient and appealing to voters than trying to navigate government Web sites.


In addition to the mobile phone app, public voter list display at over 50,000 neighborhood locations helped resolve problems on the spot and aided in detection of systemically disenfranchised groups. Voter list display engaged everyone in list scrutiny and caught a voter list stuffing incident.

Available to everyone anywhere in Pakistan, this very heavily publicized text messaging system involved simply dialing “8300” and identifying oneself. After noticing an error, Pakistanis could correct it by going to neighborhood voter list display centers. Pakistan put voter lists on display for 21 days at more than 50,000 display centers across the country, posting corrected lists shortly before the election. Voters could use neighborhood display centers to resolve problems discovered either with the SMS system or at the display area.

Involving the public with a mobile phone app and neighborhood display centers yielded remarkable election protection results. Among them:

1. Vote suppression identified: Voting rights groups discovered over 10 million women missing from the rolls.

2. Vote suppression identified: A minority group was found to be sidelined into a supplemental list.

3. Vote suppression identified: Over 100,000 residents of one city were discovered to have been displaced into the wrong voting district.

4. Vote stuffing attempt caught: Evidence of voter roll stuffing in at least four districts was detected after display of preliminary voter lists, triggering a formal investigation, which found that five persons fraudulently altered thousands of voter records.

Because any person at all could analyze full voter lists, most problem were resolved before the election.

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More Black Box Voting stories related to election protection tools  – http://blackboxvoting.org/category/election-protection-tools/

Advocacy: Sample letter to California legislators about SMS to improve voter lists:  http://blackboxvoting.org/how-to-increase-voter-list-accuracy-and-transparency/


Election transparency: Election transparency is the public ability to see and verify each essential step in elections, the essential steps being: (1) who can vote (voter list), (2) who did vote (poll list, or participating voter list), (3) counting of the vote, and (4) chain of custody. Reasons for transparency with sources: http://blackboxvoting.org/transparency/
All Black Box Voting stories related to election transparency: http://blackboxvoting.org/category/election-transparency/

Voter list: The voters list is a fundamental component in any voting system. The primary purpose of the voters list is to confirm the eligibility of voters to participate in the election. Each voter should appear on the list only once and the residence of the voter must be correct in order to determine local ballot questions on which he/she is eligible to vote. More Black Box Voting stories related to  voter lists: http://blackboxvoting.org/category/voter-list/

Vote suppression: a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by obstructing people from exercising the right to vote. It attempts to reduce the number of voters who might vote against the candidate or proposition advocated by the suppressors. Tactics can range from strategic “human error” to tricks that make voting inconvenient, up to removing names from eligible voter lists and/or intimidation of voters to prevent them from casting ballots. Black Box Voting stories related to vote suppression: http://blackboxvoting.org/tag/vote-suppression/ ;  Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_suppression

Vote stuffing: When extra, illegitimate votes are inserted into an election. Detecting ballot-stuffing depends a great deal on how good the record-keeping is. The number of persons on the participating voter list should match the number of ballots cast. One method to stuff ballots is to also stuff the voter list with false names, and arrange to insert votes under those names, either by absentee voting or through a poll worker. A more elegant strategy for ballot stuffing is to examine voter history lists and select legitimate voters who seldom vote, casting ballots under names unlikely to vote. Black Box Voting stories related to vote stuffing: http://blackboxvoting.org/tag/vote-stuffing/ ; Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_fraud (Ballot stuffing section)

Short Message Service (SMS): a text messaging service component of phone, Web, or mobile communication systems. It uses standardized communications protocols to allow fixed line or mobile phone devices to exchange short text messages. SMS was the most widely used data application, with an estimated 3.5 billion active users, or about 80% of all mobile phone subscribers at the end of 2010. Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_Message_Service





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