[LETTERS to the editor]Here come the ‘thumb people’
The term “thumb people” refers to people who frequently send text messages, and those involved in the new phrase, “mobile voting.” The United New Democratic Party has adopted mobile voting for its presidential primary.
The in-person voting rate [in the primary] was only about 20 percent, which means only 20 percent of registered voters turned out and voted. In comparison, the mobile voting rate was three times higher. Among the tech voters, 60 percent were in their 20s and 30s.
It may be a little bit early, but indeed the UNDP’s initiative can show the possibilities of mobile digital democracy. Following netizens, the thumb people are also becoming a new political force. If the claim is true that the younger generation, which is familiar with technology, has turned more conservative since 2002, they will be a major factor that will decide the result of the coming presidential election. In 2002, the Roh wind blew in from the Internet; wind blowing in from mobile and user-created content enthusiasts will be a major factor in this election.
Unlike the Internet, mobile devices can become a great alternative for making direct democracy possible, not only during the primary but also in the actual presidential election.
The UNDP primary does not reflect the sentiment of the entire Korean population, but through it we can assume that the reason people are not interested in politics, especially those in their 20s and 30s, is the primitive system of voting. Mobile voting can be an alternative to the current high-cost, low-efficiency system.
However, the weakest part of mobile voting is the difficulty in providing for the basic requirements of voting, such as keeping the identity of the voters secret. It is indeed “mobile,” but it is vulnerable to loss, power outage and use by persons other than the registered voter. Most of all, it may be limited to those familiar with the technology. The telephone survey, which is basically voting by phone, should be combined with mobile voting. They can complement each other. Another problem with mobile voting is verifying the identity of the person voting. A user’s personal identification number can be used by anyone who knows it.
To prevent this, a voting system using voice identification to verify the identity of the voter must be applied.
In a broader view, this could become a cornerstone for the expansion of the Internet from text to voice.
Chin Yong-ok, professor of information and communication, Kyung Hee University
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