Top 3 tips on citizen validation


Making sure only people allowed can vote and that they only account for the votes you as organizer gave them. Either it’s one, two, four or any other number.

Different countries and situations also imply different participants’ validation methods.

In Portugal it is common to use a national identification number and the birthdate. However, if it is a youth PB you can use for example the school number.

Other countries can use driver’s license, voters ID, etc.

Some regulations only allow for resident voters, others allow voters over 14 and others allow workers or any person who likes the region.

So what are my advices?

  1. Clearly define who can vote

It’s important to be crystal clear on who can vote. Is it only registered voters? It’s 16 up? It’s 16 at what date? Only residents or also workers and citizens with other kind of link to the region?

Avoid misunderstandings because they will lead to those kinds of problems where you are right but nonetheless someone will be banging on your head.

  1. Clearly define authentication

Do you know those people who simply show up for a party without invitation?

Yes, you guessed it! They will show up to vote without proper identification.

In countries like the US where people can register with basically any kind of document that proves residency this can be an amplified problem.

Use the allowed authentication methods in your flyers and other communication material. When doing press releases remember always to refer the necessary documentation.

  1. Introduce double validation

Having legal 100% assurance that the person using online methods – either web or SMS – is who they say they are, is only possible using digital certificates. This is an expensive and unfriendly technology. Some countries like Portugal have implemented it in the national identification cards, this cut the costs but the usage problems still remain.

On the other hand having personal data and creating fake email accounts is very easy.

Also it’s easy to show up in different in-person ballot spots and show different documentations.

Use a single platform to verify and register both offline and online participants.

That’s why in Participare we integrated all registrations in a single platform and implemented anti-fraud mechanisms that help detect these situations. They only help because it’s impossible to avoid it 100%, but then again, even in the government elections there’s sometimes fraud.

In the municipality of Guimarães, where Portugal was born, we have implemented double validation with SMS codes. So, to register one has to submit not only personal data but also to insert a code generated and sent using SMS by the platform. Obviously we didn’t accept a duplicated mobile phone and we also didn’t allowed people to change it after the registration.

In participatory budgeting we have the advantage that personal motivations are more constructive.

Writen by César Silva @ ChangeTomorrow

You can reach me at

This blog is a place of experience and thoughts sharing around democracy, participatory initiatives and citizen engagement.

This blog reflects the thoughts of ChangeTomorrow team, its guest bloggers or interviewers.

ChangeTomorrow is a provider of Participatory Budgeting solution called Participare and a spinoff of portuguese market leader WireMaze.

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