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Estonia votes to vote by phone

Estonian Parliament approved a measure Thursday that will allow citizens to vote by mobile phone in the tech-friendly nation's next election.

Citizens in Estonia can now vote with their cell phones.

Parliament in Estonia voted on Thursday in favor of a measure that would allow citizens to vote via mobile phone in the next Parliamentary election (in 2011), according to the Associated Press.

Estonia has a history of being tech-forward. In 2005, it became the first country to offer online voting for a national election--although only about 1 percent of the votes cast that year were made online. In that election, people were required to insert their nationally-mandated ID cards into readers attached to their computers so their identity could be verified.

In order to vote by phone, Estonians will have to get a special chip for their handsets from the SK Certification Centre, which issues ID certificates and provides the mobile payment and ticketing system used on publish transportation. The chip will verify the voter's identity and authorize them to vote.

I'm all for technology, especially technology that encourages people to vote and allows them to be spend less time in long lines waiting to do so. And certainly, some types of jobs, personal obligations, and physical limitations make it extremely difficult for voters to get to the polls on election day. So, for many people, this will be a big win. But given how long ballots tend to be here in California (and in San Francisco, in particular), I have to wonder if this convenience would be more trouble than it's worth for others. Personally, I'll think twice about subjecting my poor thumbs to voting by phone if this technology ever makes its way to the States.