Idea of SMS Based Electoral System (A Proposal)

This is a guest post by Jabran Rafique, who is student of MSC Web Development at Staffordshire University, UK and one of the top mapping contributors and Pakistan’s ambassador at Google Map Maker.

Information technology has played a vital role throughout the world and so in our country. Pakistan is proud to have the world’s largest biometric database (NADRA) of its citizens.

It is secure, reliable, centrally organized, well managed and advances with the passage of time resulting in emergence of products like Machine Readable Passports (MRP), Birth/Death Certificates and Vehicles Identification & Monitoring System (VIMS) etc from a single source based on Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC).

Let’s remind ourselves the Spiderman’s dialogue, that great power comes with great responsibilities; so should I say that it also comes with vast field of opportunities! In this case, opportunities like centralizing the personalized data for each citizen in such manners that they can benefit it when and where they need.

An imperative use of centralized data is the registration of mobile SIM card with CNIC using an activation service by NADRA and then using the facility to keep track that you only have certain registered SIM card(s). It’s one great achievement and there is not any example in the world of making a use of such kind of methodology in this manners.

Importantly, number of people who own or even use mobile phones in Pakistan is indeed very high. This brings our information technology to a level where we can go further to make the best use of it – thanks to its ability of being mobile and remote.

The idea is to combine the usage of most popular gadget with NADRA to bring them to best interests of public. The idea is to use the power of vote through SMS. It may seem not a very serious or very quickly implementable option but it could be indeed a seriously time saving, secure, fast, corruption-less and most cost cutting national campaigning idea ever.

Since our electoral authorities had never been very successful in defining a model which could work best with any illegal human interference, this working model is quite simple as compared to what we use today.

Working Model

An electoral registered citizen cast their vote through SMS to a short number along with their CNIC. It is received by Election Commission of Pakistan and the data is confirmed with in NADRA database and after verification, vote is saved for that CNIC. A confirmation SMS is sent back to sender.

By defining a limit and check over increase of rate of posted votes per mobile SIM card sets the vote spam risk at lower level. Since each individual has an exclusively issued CNIC and restricted to one vote while instead of spending billions on setting up polling stations and security concerns for days, use only few millions or maybe even less to give public this facility as free of charge short number for vote.

Implementation of this idea could take ages or even may never be considered at all but if it is taken to some extents then it will bring our IT based governance to another level of achievements and it works more efficiently than current corrupted structure.