Open Active Voting is an open-source, secure voting tool targeted towards citizen input during participatory budgeting processes.
Generally, the process begins with citizen submission of ideas to improve their neighbourhood. The cost of implementing these ideas is then evaluated by the city. After city officials communicate the costs and budget limitations, citizens vote on their favourite ideas. The city then implements the best ideas and citizens are informed of the results. The voting system is electronic, binding, and secure.
Since 2011, the tool has been used for Reykjavik’s annual participatory budgeting project “My Neighbourhood” (formerly, Better Neighbourhoods). This project best illustrates the voting process:
Citizens submit ideas for projects to improve their neighbourhoods. Anyone can submit an idea. This takes place for one month. Authentication is easier for this phase of the process, through Facebook Connect or with email/password, allowing for richer participation.
The City of Reykjavík’s Construction Board then evaluates the cost of ideas and feasibility of each project. For this step, transparency is key.
Citizens then vote on the ideas through an electronic, secure and binding vote. One vote per person is ensured through strict authentication. Reykjavík City’s Internal Audit monitors the election, with external experts conducting a security audit every year, before, during and after the vote.
After authentication, the voter chooses a neighbourhood to vote within, then the projects they want to vote for. The voting age is 16 (whereas in national and local elections it is 18).
When you choose a project, you see your budget being spent, so you become familiar with the use of a budget. When you have chosen a project, the ones you do not have budget for get grayed out. Most voters utilize as much of their budget as they can.
You can vote as often as you like, with the last vote counting.
A tool demo can be found here.
The voting tool is being developed by the Citizens Foundation, based in Reykjavik, Iceland. The Citizens Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 2008, is also responsible for e-democracy initiatives like Your Priorities, the crowdsourcing web app, and Better Reykjavik.