‘Mobile Voting App’ : m-Voting

Date 2017-03-17 Category E-Government Updater hyelyn
Marc Holzer, Minsung Kang
Last Update

Policy Background and Goals

Before the implementation of mVoting Policy, public officers of the SMG had no choice but to conduct surveys, offline, and at town hall meetings, to assess the sentiments of the citizens. However, those traditional ways of listening to residents’ comments are too costly and require too much time and human resources.

Figure 2-17. mVoting App Menu

In order to solve this endemic problem of modern democracy, the SMG has tried to involve citizens in the policy decision-making process. With this objective, the SMG introduced the mobile app voting policy based on the 44 million Smartphone users (88% of entire population) in Korea. “mVoting” is a compound word which combined Mobile and Voting together. The policy goals of the mVoting are as follows:
1. Sharing the Policy Decision-making Process with Citizens
Transparent Disclosure of Information and facilitating citizen Participation and Engagement on Specific Policy Issues 

2. Promoting Citizens’ Participation on Policy Determination
Seoul Citizens as Policy “Prosumers”
Improving Public Performance through Public-Private collaboration

3. Increasing the Public Policy Quality of SMG 
An Interactive Policy Communication Process (G2C and C2G)
Resident-centered Policy Debate and Determination 
In addition, this participatory policy allows citizens to vote not only on policy issues, but also on any ordinary city life issues. It is very user friendly, and the App can be reached both on a smartphone and a personal computer.

Figure 2-17. illustrates the main page and the menu of the mVoting mobile App. To differentiate it from the general governments’ mobile app, the mVoting App provides an intuitive interface based on voting-related policy contents.

The main objectives of the mVoting App are to reduce the cost of citizen participation and draw citizens into the SMG’s Policy Formation Process by expanding and providing more convenient channels. Traditional opinion collection methods, such as face-to-face discussions, letters, telephones and faxes, are still the main modes for assessing the sentiments of the citizens.

However, mVoting can be integrated with traditional modes to provide multichannel service delivery. In addition, mVoting is able to satisfy citizens’ expectations during government’s policy formation process and enhance public sector quality improvement by providing promptness, responsiveness and citizen participation within limited resources.

Figure 2-18.  mVoting: Before and After of the Policy Introduction

Source. Seoul Metropolitan Government. (2014). Digital Seoul e-Government.


※ mVoting smartphone app, PC mVoting and Vote Management System

mVoting smartphone app

The smartphone app can be downloaded onto Android or iPhone, and citizens can use the app to participate and register their votes. Only a single phone number authentication and password registration is required.

PC mVoting

PC mVoting is a website developed for those who don’t have a smartphone, and enables them to vote through their PCs. PC mVoting supports Excel file registration, and is available for mass voting or specific DB targeted voting.

Performance and Outcome


Figure 2-19. mVoting: Policy Performance and Expectation

Source. Seoul Metropolitan Government. (2014). Digital Seoul e-Government

The most important features of this policy are trying to gather opinions about specific policies through two-way communication between government and citizens (C2G and G2C). The Policy characteristics of the mVoting are as follows:       
1. A New Type of Communication Platform: High Use and Download Rate (as of June 2016)
App downloads: 280,000 downloads
Vote participants: 1,100,000 participants

2.  An Actual Space for Policy Discourses
Vote Proposals: 4,404 cases
→ 3,889 proposals from the citizen (88.3%), 515 proposals from the officials (11.7%)
 Reflected to the Policy Process: 181 cases are accepted as Seoul’s Policy

3. Improving the Quality of Two-way Communication between Citizens and Government
Citizen-driven Communication Platform
Active Use in Policy Formation and Implementation Process (Policy Agenda – Policy Decision Making – Policy Implementation – Policy Evaluation)
Reduced Cost for e-Vote: Temporal, Economic and Electronic costs can be reduced


Major Expectations

• In this mobile age, citizens will participate directly through the provision of a mobile platform
• Use of mobile device will significantly alleviate the cost of electronic voting

+ Time and economic costs incurred when holding meetings ranging from various small committee, board member, department meetings to large scale policy meetings, can be solved.
+ Eliminate the risk of equipment failure or frequency interference when using electronic terminals for voting at citizen meetings

• Used as a tool for implementing the philosophy of citizens as administration owner, and for civic collaboration and conflict adjustment

+ Citizens can participate in major administrative policy meetings > Realization of participatory and consensus democracy.
+ Reflect directly public opinion in large policy meetings
+ City administration related voting agendas that are suggested by citizens, are noted and reflected to the policy
+ Agendas close to citizens’ life requires collection of citizens’ opinion and are used as collaboration tool

 • Spreading participatory democracy to other municipalities is also possible.

+ In the case of Seoul City, 25 districts will be given authority. (Community-based voting, second half of 2014) 

• Can be spread to civic life and private sector

+ For example, communication about an alpine club meeting and / or other similar private agendas can be applied easily and quickly.
+ This can be applied particularly to private elections, or decision making for private organizations.

Application Example and Operation Outcome

• High number of downloads and vote participants

+ App installations : citizens (89%, 10,700 people), internal staff (11%, 1,300 people)
+ Voting participants : 70,000 people (Including duplicates)
+ Voting agendas : 813 (742 citizens, 71 city)
+ Voting responses : 6,077 (4,424 citizens, 1,653 city)
+ Maximum participants in voting : 3,290 (vote for sticking guides for polling place on election day inside city bus windows, 91% agreement)

• Major cases reflected to policy

+ Democratic decision making within organization

- Which is your preferred family day? → Currently kept on Wednesday

- Build separate sections in a leased office building? Yes / no? → Department moving approval

+ Citizen chosen lifestyle policy

- Amongst the eco-mileage incentive options, which do you prefer? → Transport card confirmed

- Subway transfer tones? → Keep current sound

+ Slogan 100% reflective of citizen opinion

- Seoul City integrity Ring Back Tone (RBT) → ‘Seoul integrity! Unchanged promise of Seoul’ selected
- Seoul City energy policy name, slogan → ‘Energy saved by citizen, energy saves citizen’ selected


Policy Details

Through the mVoting App and Web page, citizens of Seoul can ask about and participate directly not only in policy votes, but also in votes related to all types of real life issues. Images and the GPS tag can be attached to questions or voting items, which allow others to understand the detailed situation more specifically.

User-targeted voting is possible thorough the mobile web as well; thus, regional and private-centered groups and citizens can proceed to examine citizens’ opinions more conveniently within a specified time. In other words, when the SMG needs to find out people’s perceptions and opinions in a short time, it can obtain real data through mVoting without expensive surveys.

Figure 2-20. mVoting: Open Vote Process

Source. Seoul Metropolitan Government. (2014). Digital Seoul e-Government


Main Functions 


Open Vote for Everyone (G2C)

Regardless of which department in SMG is involved, the SMG officers can request a vote when Seoul citizens’ opinions are required. Thus, SMG officers would be able to understand what the citizens’ preferences are and how they differ depending on the modes (e.g., emergency message channel vs. traditional notice, web site notice, and social media posts) and opinions from citizen.

Targeted Vote in Specific Context (G2C)

Based on the existing Seoul database, mVoting offers the SMG officers the option of opening a targeted vote to specific citizens depending on age, municipality, job, and gender. Specifically, targeted votes enable the SMG to generate specific policies and to store the data on the specified.

Making a Poll by Citizens (C2G)

Just as Seoul officers can use the voting function of mVoting to ask citizens’ opinions, Seoul citizens can also suggest a voting poll on specific policy and other issues of interest.

Location Based Vote with GPS, register and QR (G2C)

In many cases, policies are related to a location’s unique context such, as traffic signs and city hall events. In order to inform those kinds of policy problems, mVoting can provide a GPS-based vote (e.g. to citizen who are within a radius of 2 miles).

Figure 2-21. mVoting: Targeted Vote Process

Source. Seoul Metropolitan Government. (2014). Digital Seoul e-Government


Composition and Details 

Figure 2-22. shows the mVoting Application as of Aug. 2016. The “Only One-Touch” function provides citizens with recent issues of the SMG and Seoul citizens. In addition, rather than the one-sided informative function of traditional communication, citizens can express their opinions directly without having to go through a “hassle.”

mVoting Mobile App Composition

Figure 2-22. mVoting: App Composition and Details


mVoting Vote Examples

Table 2-2. mVoting: Vote Process and Specified Functions

Source. Seoul Metropolitan Government. (2014). Digital Seoul e-Government


mVoting Targeted Voting Category

Table 2-3. mVoting: Vote Process and Specified Functions

Voting Target Voting Category Subject
All Targeting all who have the app installed Seoul City & Citizens
Specific (targeted) Citizens Separate registers
Database extraction (gender, age, area, Social Media) Seoul
Emloyee phone numbers database connection (internal vote)
Administrative district (Gu and Dong) *fixed concept
Current locations (GPS-based) * variable concept
Policy field vote (register / GPS / QR)
Private group vote (phone number unknow)
To register for private vote, specific room number and password are required in the ‘Poll / Vote Search’ area.

Source. Seoul Metropolitan Government. (2014). Digital Seoul e-Government


Seoul City Special Operations Strategy

• ‘Unhealthy (political, commercial, obscene) content’ prevention measures

+ Controlling prohibited words - prevent use of specific words
+ Self-monitoring group - Measures in place that allow staff and monitoring agents to delete posts that violate relevant laws and terms of use
+ Citizen-monitoring group - Plan to involve 30 genuine citizens in self-maintenance of mVoting to ensure its sound operation (Citizen notification > Citizen monitoring group push notification > Decision to delete voting agenda)

• ‘Multiple vote’ prevention measures

By default, mVoting only allows installation of one app per phone number. For this, mVoting for both phone and PC require mobile phone number authentication

• ‘Disproportionate participation’ prevention measures

In order to avoid any disproportionate participation that may arise due to some citizens not having smartphones, in keeping with Seoul City’s major policy, the PC mVoting platform has been built. Additionally, when voting through PC mVoting, phone number authentication is required to avoid duplicate votes.

• ‘Biased opinion’ prevention measures

+ Closed intermediate voting results - Voting results cannot be seen before participating to prevent biased influence by particular groups based on intermediate results.
+ Closed intermediate voting results 2 - Regardless of participation, voting results can be set to remain closed until all results are calculated.
+ SNS sharing function inactivated - Setting SNS sharing function off is available to avoid conflict between groups on votes for sensitive matters. By default, closed votes do not allow SNS sharing function.

• Protection of personal information’ measures provided

+ To minimize the collection of personal information, only phone number, user name and password are collected after users’ agreement
+ Passwords are encrypted and stored as set forth in the Privacy Act regulations.
+ Phone numbers are not stored in the information system. This means that Seoul City cannot know which specific person’s phone number, and hence person, is associated with an item choice when voting.

Law Provisions

• Personal Information Protection Act
• Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Information Protection, etc.