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March towards m-Democracy - Estonia becomes the first mover

We have been advocating for a long time regarding the unexplored transformative potential of mobile devices. The recent decision by parliament of Estonia vindicates our stand.

Citizens in Estonia can now vote with their cell phones.

Parliament in Estonia voted recently in favor of a measure that would allow citizens to vote via mobile phone in the next Parliamentary election (in 2011), according to the Associated Press. Estonia  has been among the leading countries to have initiated mobile government initiative for delivering public services to the citizens through mobile devices.  Estonia was also the the first country to offer online voting for a national election In that election, people were required to insert their nationally-mandated ID cards into readers attached to their computers so their identity could be verified.

In order to vote by phone, Estonians will have to get a special chip for their handsets from the SK Certification Centre, which issues ID certificates and provides the mobile payment and ticketing system used on publc transportation. The chip will verify the voter's identity and authorize them to vote.This voting system will have  advantages for people who live in remote areas or are unable to physically vote on election day.  The new system of voting through  mobile phone will also allow  the voters to revote right up until the polls close and only the last cated vote will be counted.

The technology may take some time to mature and become acceptable, but the decision of the Estonian parliament should encourage the development practitioners and ICT professionals of the world to look at the device more seriously for the tremendous potential for innovation this device offers not only for enhancing democracy but also for mainstraeaming the people on the wrong side of the digital divide. I would like to request readers to cvommunicate their feedback on the potential of mobile and wireless technologies for the next generation public services!

Editor mGovWorld

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