Mobile Voter: unequalled on a global scale
Technological implementation was the responsibility of Rostelecom, with the participation of RTLabs
On 18 March 2018, the day of presidential elections in Russia, any voter could vote at their physical location. To do so, they had to use service Choose a Polling Station for Presidential Elections on the Unified Public Services Portal between 31 January and 12 March 2018 to submit an e-application and be added to the list of voters at their actual location.
Technological implementation of this project, unequalled on a global scale, was the responsibility of Rostelecom, with the participation of lead system integrator RTLabs, who started project works last December. Rostelecom had to engage internal resources such as professionals in analytics, development, interface design, testing and operation. The service was put in place in cooperation with the Federal Informatisation Centre of the Central Electoral Commission and the Russian Telecom Ministry.
In addition, Rostelecom had to analyse the legal framework of the Mobile Voter project, develop an architecture for implementation, design mechanisms for the Central Electoral Commission, territorial electoral commissions, district polling station commissions, multifunction centres and the Unified Public Services Portal (EPGU) to interact with one another and to put in place integration between the Portal’s adjacent systems and external information systems.
To ensure that users could seamlessly confirm their EPGU accounts, Sberbank Online information systems were integrated with the Unified Identification and Authentication System (ESIA) in less than a week, enabling bank customers to remotely apply for alternative voting locations.
To let voters know about the service and to explain how they should proceed with their applications, a service card, a map of polling stations, Mobile Voter information banners, a video and a number of notifications were developed to support voters throughout the process. Information materials were made available at EPGU and at partner zones, including Sberbank Online, Post Bank Online (Internet banking and mobile bank), Tinkoff Bank, Aeroflot, the Federal Tax Service, etc. Information was distributed in a number of ways, including by texts, e-mails and push notifications from the EPGU mobile app (over 50 million notifications in total).
Rostelecom put in place software to support searching for alternative polling stations and submitting applications at multifunction centres, district and territorial electoral commissions. Throughout the period when the service was available, user activity was monitored and a call centre was operational to offer advice to employees from territorial electoral commissions.
A special focus was placed on information security and anti-fraud. Additional user authentication factors were used every time an application was submitted; passport data was checked across Internal Ministry’s information systems and additional controls were put in place to monitor how requests were routed across SMEV channels to CEC.
‘In addition to showing how voting was taking place across the country, this year we enabled the Russians to vote where it was convenient for them. For the first time gosuslugi.ru offered absentee ballots, a service that has been used by more than 1.5 million of our fellow-countrymen across all Russia and beyond. I thank everyone in our big team for carrying out a project on such a large scale,’ said Mikhail Oseyevsky, President of Rostelecom, in a statement to his team.
‘We put interaction on a level that could be envied by world-class companies. We addressed complicated, urgent tasks without delay, solving all related issues with lightning speed and cutting the time required for putting new adjustments in place to just a few hours,’ added Mikhail Bondarenko, General Director of RTLabs.
The Mobile Voter service was used by Russian citizens in Russia and beyond. Applications were submitted from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Germany, Ukraine and other places. More than 32% of them came from Moscow and the region of Moscow; about 12% from St Petersburg and the region of St Petersburg. The Krasnodar Territory, the regions of Samara, Sverdlovsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk and Chelyabinsk and the Republic of Tatarstan were on the list of the most active regions in this regard. According to the Telecom Ministry, the number of applications filed via EPGU over the entire period of the service reached 1.64 million.