ImageLiving and working around the globe has been an interesting, often challenging situation.  For me at least its been the constant awareness that the world has more problems than it has a fountain of solutions to correct the situation.

Here in Southeast Asia like many developing areas around the globe elections are always a highly contested event.  Its common place to see advance benevolences as a way to get a person to vote in a particular way, getting surrogates to vote (without rights) and to stuff the election with fraudulent votes.   All with the single purpose of affirming control and whatever agenda that is common place to the country.

The two most recent elections in Malaysia and the Philippines has been fraught with controversy.  Yet as I see it, if you need to sway an election to gain/maintain control, then you will face an ongoing challenge to affirm a following and the completion of an agenda to advance your cause.  But enough pontificating about the why lets look at how we can potentially reduce voting fraud.  The ability to do so has to be more than a solution, it must require that those in the political electorate must be willing to give up voting control.  Now I guess this might be a bit difficult given that if you are one of the groups that manipulate results why would you want your best devious endeavors to be resolved, right?  But lets assume that a nation really wants to add purity to electoral process there are solution opportunities.

It would start with voter registration and establishing proprietary access controls.  Countries, like Estonia, have already gone in that direction by providing the ability of its citizens to register and cast votes.  Other countries like the US and UK have done similarly for local referendums but have not embraced this for major candidate elections.  The time will come when this will make entry and you will be able to cast a vote as easily from your home computer as you can from your smart phone.  The obvious advantage is two fold, machine control (single registered voter, single registered vote).  Countries can either deliver their own point of registration or allow consumers to do so by providing key qualifying information in order to obtain voter identification.  But where the real potential exists is in the subsequent administration of the voting process.  This is not something that is a simple walk in the park.  A government would have to relinquish control to a third party that would maintain a highly secure, redundant system and insure the complete and unquestionable integrity of the votes.  Most governments, despite their not so great integrity in this regard are not always willing to give things up (especially if the controls get tighter or they feel that they in someway have compromised the sanctity of their sovereign rights over a key process).  But let’s assume for a moment that the third party was able to deliver a tight and nearly infallible solution, it would not mean that the national representatives would not have an obligation to watch the gate keeping third party provider in the discharge of their services.  On the contrary the blend of provider and benefactor further adds to the strengthening of controls.  If compromise was to occur then it would be through collusion.

ImageThe cloud offers a single solution to be reached on a global basis.  This would eradicate the need for absentee ballots, the unsettling handling of votes (whether in manual or electronic file form).  Even for those who did not have smart phone or computer access their manual votes or electronic votes at a polling location could be brought into the cloud.  Could be processed and the results be kept in an instantaneous fashion.  No more days of delay in announcing results, cut-offs could be firmly established, and significant Big Data Analysis reports could be produced to not only signify outcomes but also produce voting statistical behavior that would further support voting legitimacy.

I thought about these ideas as I thought back to similar high risk (big gain) ventures.  The one that came to mind was parimutuel wagering on horse races.  The racing odds are provided through a highly secure but widely reaching totalizer company.  As bets are placed, like votes, the odds are adjusted to determine final pay out numbers.  If odds and bets were compromised then great financial gain would be the outcome, for that reason secure but instantaneous management of big data is essential.  I liken this to the high risk voting venture and the potential value to be achieved from results.  The tracks often used their own team of accountants and statisticians to tabulate odds manually and realized that it was not only error prone but it took inordinate amounts of time to complete.  Thus the willingness to abdicate control to a reliable source made perfect sense, especially when this wasn’t their core business competency.  The same can be said for governments and the electoral processes.

The business value is significant if a large number of nations, especially those in the developing/emerging world that have always had the aire of questionable integrity, were to engage a cloud/big data solution.  The provider would have to view and take precautions beyond the norm… you are talking about outcomes that can shape the future of nations, affect its citizens and reshape world policy.  The solution is here, the ability to implement the solution is possible and now is the time to see whether the world is ready to abdicate the task without giving up the responsibility for voting integrity.

I hope that within my lifetime I see this come to be.  No more blue or purple fingers used to indicate that you voted, a simple electronic footprint would secure the integrity of the vote.  Let us hope and let us reaffirm the need for voting integrity.