You should be voting by phone!

Statue of Liberty
 with telephone

"What I want is to get done what the People would have me do. The problem for me is to find out what that is exactly." - Abe Lincoln

No Problem! Voting by Phone makes "government of the people, by the people and for the people" practical!



"There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that electronic voting would be as safe as electronic banking and at least as safe as the voting system we now use. Phone voting could aid thousands who are now disenfranchised to vote and bring Colorado national recognition." - Joe Pelton, Director of Interdisciplinary Telecommunications, University of Colorado; faculty, International Space University; author, Future Talk and Global Talk.

"I don't see any problem with trying it. I think it's worth looking into." - Roy Saltman, National institute of Standards and Technology election systems expert.

"I think they're on the right track. One of these days we'll all be voting by telephone." - Donetta Davidson, State of Colorado elections officer

"On most major issues we've dealt with in the past 50 years, the public was more likely to be right - based on the judgment of history - than the legislatures or Congress." - George Gallup Sr., America's leading pollster

"The voters should have a direct say on some issues." - 76% of Americans in a 1987 Gallup Poll


"I support Voting by Phone." - Eugene McCarthy, former Minnesota Senator and Presidential candidate (Democrat)

It is exciting - and important - to contemplate how new technology might revitalize democracy by permitting convenient, fraud - proof voting by telephone." - Terry Considine, former Colorado State Senator (Republican)

"If we believe in Democracy, this [phone voting, used in Liberal Party primaries in '92 and '93] is the only way we can go." - Guy Brown, Nova Scotia Legislative Assemblyman (Liberal)


"We can all begin to despair at the lack of citizen involvement in crucial public policy issues. Voting by phone may well be one of those stimulating and innovative concepts that helps restore vitality and substance to our political life." - Kay Howe, Western State College President

"It's embarrassing that one of the showcase democracies in the world has so little voter turnout...Phone voting would scare the hell out of politicians. - Tom Cronin, Colorado College political science professor and author

"I am for your effort." - Walter Orr Roberts, Founder, National Center for Atmospheric Research


"I like this." - Naomi Tutu, director of the Tutu Foundation and daughter of Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu

"Voting by Phone is brilliant." - Jack Groverland, minister, Unity of Boulder

"I love this idea. With it we can finally have real democracy." - Judith Mohling, Psychotherapist and Colorado (Nuclear) Freeze Voter Lobby Coordinator.

"I by telephone on all prominent questions before Congress. That was back in 1940. It allows for continuous correction of the course...without political scapegoating. Today democracy is not working...Particularly among the young there is a feeling of absolute futility." - Buckminster Fuller, to the U.S. Senate, 1975


"The punishment suffered by the wise who refuse to take part in the government is to live under the government of bad men" - Plato

"What government is the best? That which teaches us to govern ourselves." - Goethe

"I know no safe depository for the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves: and if we think them not enlightened enough...the remedy is to inform [them]...We must put it out of the power of the few to riot on the labors of the many." - Thomas Jefferson

"Freedom exists only where people take care of the government." - George Bernard Shaw

"If there is a problem with democracy, the solution is more democracy." - Alexander Hamilton


Boulder Chapter of the ACLU Boulder Green Alliance Center for People with Disabilities Colorado Common Cause Colorado Freeze Voter Colorado Green Alliance Colorado Public Interest Research Group (COPIRG) Committee for persons with Disabilities of the City Human Relations Commission Sierra Club Indian Peaks Group United Government of Graduate Students, University of Colorado UCSU Environmental Center Board Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Boulder Chapter, and CU Regents Guy Kelley and Jim Martin.


"Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many." - Eric Hoffer
Power corrupts our representatives. Even Colorado Congresswoman Pat Schroeder admitted: "We have seen Washington DC become a coin - operated legislative machine instead of the representative government we once knew."

Weakness corrupts American Citizens. Voting dropped to 50% in the '88 election - Bush was elected by 53% of that, or 26.5% of the citizenry. 36% voted in the '90 election, and an all - time low of 18.3% voted in the '89 Boulder City Council race.

The weakest majority in the world: the American party of non-voters.


Share the power of the few with the many. With representative democracy on the decline, let's dust off the other kind - participatory. We vote on important issues as they come up. Taking more of the making of law (and spending of taxes) into our own hands will break the government monopoly on power. The competition might even bring better behavior from all levels of government!

24 states already allow Citizen Initiative. Here people petition to put their own propositions on the ballot. But the large number of signatures required keeps the average citizen or group from trying:

Only 3 of 20 who tried in Colorado in '90 made it to the ballot. All those that do resort to paying petitioners. Money talks, just like at the Capitol!

It's still half baked: In some states initiative has become another political business, costing hundreds of thousands to get one issue to the ballot. Voters faced forty issues in California in '90 and a 142-page booklet explaining them!

Let's reduce petition requirements to get citizen initiatives on the ballot and put these initiatives to monthly votes to make the process more timely. (This also solves California's problem.) Voting by Phone makes it easy and economic, even ecological:


Voting by Phone. What easier way is there? Telephone service bureaus, which have thousands of lines to answer toll-free (800) numbers, are ready. They charge 10 cents per user per minute for local calls, plenty of time to key in the choices you've already worked out on a ballot worksheet. This compares to $2.00 apiece for Boulder elections now, not counting gasoline and time wasted. We can afford to vote more often.

These service bureaus are everywhere, having exploded from a handful 5 years ago to about 300 today. Some have enough lines for millions to vote in a day, perhaps enough total capacity for the 91.6 million voters of '88!

Counties can easily implement their own phone voting with 1 "486" personal computer for each 100,000 voters (200,000 population). We sell systems and service.

After all, most polls are taken by phone, and most votes (more than 55%) are now counted by computer. Let's put the two together.


There are no technical obstacles, only political. Politicians want only their supporters to vote and don't want lots more voters. Nearly all are against giving citizens more power to legislate.

Bill Kimberling, deputy director of the Federal Election Commission, said: "We looked into it and concluded that, even if it were technologically feasible, the cost of the technology would far exceed whatever benefit might accrue." We asked him how he determined that and he said he called a few County Clerks. We asked if any were trained in telecommunications or computers. No. Was he? No. What was he trained in? Political Science! The NSF's Televote trials and MT&T's Canadian primaries prove him wrong!

Congress rejected proposals for a National initiative or referendum in 1907, m???]1917, 1937 and 1977. The increasing times between attempts shows Americans are getting tired of begging their representatives to share the power. Politicians should remember the words of President Kennedy:

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make a violent revolution inevitable." Fortunately, in sates with initiative we can implement this ourselves. Other states and the nation will need constitutional amendments.


Registration: If you want to vote by phone:

Voting on election day:

Votes are requested like: (full explanation): "for President and Vice-President, to vote for Bush and Quayle, Republicans, press 1, for Dukakis and Bensen, Democrats, press 2, for other 'write-in' candidates, press 3, to skip this race, press 0." (For write-ins, you are asked to speak and spell the names.)

(with prepared ballot): "Please enter your choices from the bottom of your ballot worksheet."

Votes are confirmed like: "you voted for [candidate names]. Press 1 if correct, 2 to change your vote."

When you are finished, the computer says, for example, "You were the 5,280th to vote. Please write 5,280 down and confirm your votes on line 5,280 in the morning newspaper."

Publishing results:

Everyone's votes can be printed in the morning paper in all but the largest cities. Better yet to have the results available at voter registration sites, libraries, by phone or Internet, or on diskette. This way you can also check that the votes add up correctly to the announced totals.

There are other ways the system could work. This is the simplest.



What about "hackers"violating security?

This system accepts only touch-tones, pulses, or dialing, not computer language. The 12 tones can't be used to break into the system, any more than the 12 buttons on a ATM can breach a bank system. With a 15-digit ID the odds of a person (or computer) gue ssing one would be about 1 in 100,000. After a caller tries 3 times the system hangs up and won't accept a call from the same phone for an hour, say, to avoid tying up the system. Police could even be automatically dispatched.

Won't people try to buy ID numbers and thus votes?

It's illegal and government should offer a large reward for turning in people who try.

Won't people voting outside polling places be subject to pressure?

This is now the situation with absentee and all-mail balloting and has not been a problem.

What about privacy? Even though the ID numbers are anonymous, a wiretapper using Caller ID could tell whose phone was calling.

True - the immediate solution is to use any other phone. In a few years, new phones can be sold for $10 or so extra with a computer chip to encode the votes so that only the individually matched decoding program in the voting computer could interpret the votes. A survey by AT&T shows that 61% of people don't care if others know how they vote.

This will also prevent a devious government from 'voting' for those who don't vote, a scam made famous in Chicago. Reassigning the ID numbers of dead voters and publishing all phone votes (see Publishing Results, above) will make this less of a problem than now, even with present phones. Not perfect, but better than the current system.

If people lose their ID numbers how will they get them back if no record is kept on who has which?

A record is needed for this and to reassign an ID number when its owner dies. It should be kept in a separate computer under lock and key, with access restricted to such circumstances.

What about people without phones?

They can vote from any phone, and the number will be a free call from pay phones, like 911 or 411. Dial, pulse or touch-tone phones can be used.

Won't this just encourage the ignorant to vote?

If you want children to mature, you give them responsibility. Same with the nation. Jefferson said: "if we think them not enlightened enough...the remedy is to inform them."


Join us! Please use the membership form. Buy a T-shirt!

600 people tried our demonstration during the November '90 election. Using a Boulder voter registration database to identify callers, nobody voted twice.


Board of Directors: John Collins, President of Boulder Grey Panthers; Earl Hauserman, President, Sunshine Systems, Howard Higman, Founder and Chairman of the University of Colorado World Affairs Conference; Don Koplen, President, Sax Publishing; Maggie Markey, former Boulder County Commissioner and Roger Olson, former Boulder City Councilman.

Founder and Director: Evan Ravitz

Technical Advisor: Joseph Pelton, Director of Telecommunications, University of Colorado

Legal Advisor: Barry Satlow

And hundreds more!

Voting by Phone Foundation
1130 11th St. #3
Boulder CO 80302 tel/fax: (303)440-6838

Web adress:

I want to participate, not just spectate. Sign me up! 
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