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[liberationtech] Looking for collaborators for free-range voting project

Ruben Bloemgarten ruben at
Thu Feb 28 05:19:11 PST 2013

It seems I might have jumped the gun, assuming the discussion was about
voting systems for use in political elections. Disclosing all voter
data, including voter identity would solve much if not all issues
regarding verifiability, however would that not also restrict the use of
such a system to topics that have no political or social consequences ?
Otherwise it seems that the removal of secrecy/anonymity would be
extremely problematic if not out-right dangerous. The reverse,
strengthening secrecy at the cost of verifiability (as described by
Edwin Chu ) sounds like an interesting approach, especially in places
like HK, but would of course (as Edwin mentions) not do to elect

- Ruben

On 02/28/2013 04:56 AM, Michael Allan wrote:
> Replying to Rich, Rubin and Edwin:
> Rich Kulawiec said:
>> It won't work.  Until the bot/zombie is solved, online voting is a
>> non-starter, since any election worthy of being stolen can be.  It
>> doesn't matter what you do on the server side: you can construct as
>> elaborate and clever and secure an infrastructure as you
>> wish...because on the client side, there is no way to ensure that
>> what the user sees is what's actually happening. ...
> The solution I would offer isn't fully elaborated in the proposal,
> but it's indicated here:
>>> ... We'll begin with voting forms that are fully public; those are
>>> the simplest to handle and they allow for unrestricted technical
>>> freedom among providers. ...
> What I mean is full disclosure of all voting data, including voter
> identity and credentials. This would make verification of the results
> relatively easy vs. private forms of voting, such as secret ballot. I
> guess zombies in particular would be detected when people wondered why
> friends and such were voting uncharacteristically, or seemed unaware
> of their own vote placements, and so forth.
> Also (not mentioned in the proposal) we're mostly concerned here with
> continuous voting media that allow for unrestricted vote shifting.
> These are not for decision purposes, but rather continuous primaries
> and consensus making efforts (like the "mock poll" that Edwin relates)
> that run long in advance of any decision. So the victim of the zombie
> can correct her votes once she gets to a secure client. Any damage
> that was done is likely to be short lived.
> Ruben Bloemgarten said:
>> Apart from a child-like enthusiasm for anything with buttons and
>> shiny lights, can anyone here explain to me what the intended
>> benefits of electronic voting over paper voting would be ?
> One benefit is the facility of continuous voting (mentioned above),
> which would be relatively difficult to implement with paper votes. A
> possible application of this is described in the second proposal I
> posted. There it's used to structure public discourses that guide
> decisions toward legitimacy and validity.
> The larger benefit is public autonomy. I don't know of any means of
> attaining that goal aside from proposals such as these, which depend
> on electronic voting. (If you see any faults in the 2nd proposal, or
> have questions, please reply to the other thread.)
> Edwin Chu said:
>> The goal of this "civic referendum" is never to officially elect the
>> governor. By providing an unofficial election result which has
>> higher creditability and legitimacy than the official result from
>> the Election Committee, we hope to discredit the elected CE and the
>> Election Committee, demonstrating the demand for a truth universal
>> suffrage, and to push the democratic development forward.
> That's fascinating, because I've been designing software for much the
> same purpose for years now. In some ways, the problem is even worse
> here in North America, because we don't even realize (it seems to me)
> how little freedom we have in political matters. It's perhaps too
> embarrassing for us to admit.
>> Because the mock poll is funded by the community, we have no way to
>> set up enough physical voting stations and voter registry comparable
>> to the election organized by the government. Indeed, it is difficult
>> to prevent double voting in such "poor man's election". Some
>> supporters of the CCP criticized the mock poll for lack of
>> creditability with these reasons.
>> Due to the lack of resource, internet voting might be one of the
>> only means to allow most Hong Kong citizen to participate in a mock
>> poll.  What we need is a deployable solution to allow people to vote
>> anonymously, either online or offline, at the same time provides
>> enough creditability and verifiability. A perfect solution is not
>> necessary because the goal isn't to replace the official paper
>> votes.
> One possible way forward (again) is full disclosure of all voting and
> registration data through which public opinion is expressed. Whatever
> else we might say about this strategy, it's hard to imagine a feasible
> counter strategy aside from the suspension of civil liberties. If
> that's not possible in Hong Kong (I believe it's not), and if your
> polls are structured to allow complete freedom of expression (not
> technically feasible today, but soon I think), then the executive
> would eventually be chosen on the basis of public opinion. I doubt any
> changes to the electoral rules would even be required, at least in the
> first instance. Unable to suspend civil liberties and silence the
> public, the committee and executive would have to bow to that public.
> Because no executive can rule effectively when everyone is openly
> saying that he/she has no legitimate authority to do so.
> What gives the public the capacity to legitimate the institutions of
> government - namely full, unfettered disclosure - also gives it the
> capacity to authenticate the mock poll as its own, true voice.

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