Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

News and current events discussion

Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby Fireslide » 26 Feb 12, 9:53 am

So reading about the Rudd vs Gillard thing and then remembering we're living in the 21st century where the vast majority of the population has access to a computer and the internet. I wonder why we are still voting on paper, which then gets counted manually and slowly.

I understand that to people who don't understand computers, databases and technology they may not 'trust' a digital system because they don't know how their vote gets counted, but surely there's enough of us technically literate that could design a system that satisfies all the requirements of anonyminity, safeguards against voter fraud, lets votes be counted quickly/instantly, and allow for more granular information about a vote.

The idea I have in my head is something like follows
For each voting district there's an electoral roll like usual, and a batch of unique anonyminised voting tokens generated by a computer. Like a cd key system. You sign your name, get a token. This satisfies anonymous voting. There's no record of who got what token.

With the key, you then logon to some online page/database where you have same voting options as on paper, choose a party above the line, or fill in everything below. In addition to that, if the election is based on popular issues like boat people, carbon tax and so on. You have some simple additional questions to gauge opinion.

Once the form is filled out, it submits the vote to a central database & backup database and keeps a local copy. It would also generate a unique hash based on a pin or password a person could enter, so later on after the election. You could search for the unique hash and see what that vote consisted of.

To satisfy vote counts were correct (or adding up correct) they could take a random sample of the voting population, and ask them to log in and check with their hash that their vote was as they remembered it.

I don't know enough about all the technical details for database design and encryption, but surely I'm not the only one here that sees that this should be possible and should be done in the future.
Image
Fireslide

User avatar
Moderator
 
Offline
Posts: 4031
Joined: 3 Feb 03, 9:52 pm
Location: Adelaide, SA

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby Jez » 26 Feb 12, 10:31 am

It seems unnecessary to me when we have a paper balloting system that works very well. If we were in the US and burdened with a sprawling decentralised bureaucracy that routinely produced dodgy results then I might think this is something we need.
Jez

User avatar
Forgotten What The Sky Looks Like
 
Offline
Posts: 2966
Joined: 12 Feb 03, 6:14 pm

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby Fireslide » 26 Feb 12, 11:47 am

If by works well you mean. "We got a majority of the votes so we should assume that the voters want all our policies." Rather than, "We got the majority of votes, but 90% of our voters don't want x or y"
Image
Fireslide

User avatar
Moderator
 
Offline
Posts: 4031
Joined: 3 Feb 03, 9:52 pm
Location: Adelaide, SA

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby revengous » 26 Feb 12, 12:01 pm

having an electronic voting system would also remove the chance of a person 'hanging' a vote.

The first step to this process would be to replace the paper with a machine - keep the recording of voters on the books and just have them step into a booth with a machine.

your idea is good but it would need to be very user friendly, its not just it literate people voting here - you have all ages etc
revengous

User avatar
Forgotten What The Sky Looks Like
 
Offline
Posts: 2058
Joined: 13 May 10, 4:42 pm
Location: Eating your pants.

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby Jez » 26 Feb 12, 12:19 pm

Fireslide wrote:If by works well you mean. "We got a majority of the votes so we should assume that the voters want all our policies." Rather than, "We got the majority of votes, but 90% of our voters don't want x or y"


We already have copious amounts of opinion polling to track voter sentiment on issues, I don't think having yet another one done on election day is going to change things. Politicial parties will always adopt the policies they think will get them more seats and more donations. If this means pretending to have the backing of a silent majority, refusing to back down on an unpopular policy so as to save face, or even bending over backwards to satisfy a small but powerful lobby group then it will happen.
Jez

User avatar
Forgotten What The Sky Looks Like
 
Offline
Posts: 2966
Joined: 12 Feb 03, 6:14 pm

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby BBlunt » 26 Feb 12, 1:48 pm

revengous wrote:having an electronic voting system would also remove the chance of a person 'hanging' a vote.

The first step to this process would be to replace the paper with a machine - keep the recording of voters on the books and just have them step into a booth with a machine.

your idea is good but it would need to be very user friendly, its not just it literate people voting here - you have all ages etc


Electronic voting has been nothing but a nightmare over the last 15 years. Its so bad that Ireland recently scrapped €54 of voting machines. Many of the machine have never been used, the others only once or twice. They're trying to sell them but for obvious reasons no one is interested.

The Dutch government have banned electronic voting due to security concerns

The German government, while not banning electronic voting have created laws which make it very hard to implement a suitable system.

California conducted an audit of all of its various electronic voting systems, all were found to have serious security flaws, flaws significant enough to allow an election to be compromised.

With our current system, I have a fairly high degree of confidence my vote will be counted as I intended it to be. I have yet to see an electronic voting system which offers me the same degree of confidence without adding other concerns.
"The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it" - John Gilmore, Internet Pioneer
Image
BBlunt

Padawan
 
Offline
Posts: 248
Joined: 11 Feb 03, 8:05 am

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby Kremmen » 26 Feb 12, 3:04 pm

A polititian is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country

Texas Guinan
Kremmen

User avatar
Padawan
 
Offline
Posts: 280
Joined: 18 Oct 10, 2:32 pm
Location: Cairns

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby Marius » 26 Feb 12, 11:25 pm

I'd have security concerns...

No matter how robust digital data is made, it's always vulnerable. But it's very, very hard to change the results of a paper election. It takes way too much work to alter millions of paper votes, and there's always a trail.

And however robust a digital system could be made, we'd always be having debates about it at election time, so the resources formerly spent on slowly counting votes would instead be funneled into debates about security. Not much of a win. :P

The biggest security issue with paper elections is the design of the voting papers, because it can put the overall results into the hands of one person (the person who designs the forms). I know of one case (the Bush election) where this was a serious issue... but that's the only security-type risk that I can really think of.
Image
Marius

User avatar
Needs more Cleric
 
Offline
Posts: 6202
Joined: 18 Aug 05, 12:12 am
Location: Getting off the Citadel in time

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby André Axe'm » 27 Feb 12, 5:43 pm

Touchscreens at the polling booths.
Less of a security risk, quicker for counting.
Image
André Axe'm

User avatar
NWN Development
 
Offline
Posts: 4355
Joined: 3 Feb 06, 9:39 am
Location: Unlimited Codeworks

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby Jez » 27 Feb 12, 5:48 pm

André Axe'm wrote:Touchscreens at the polling booths.
Less of a security risk, quicker for counting.


Is there some problem with security or how quickly our votes are being counted in Australia? Electronic voting seems like a non-solution to a non-problem in Australia.
Jez

User avatar
Forgotten What The Sky Looks Like
 
Offline
Posts: 2966
Joined: 12 Feb 03, 6:14 pm

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby André Axe'm » 27 Feb 12, 5:49 pm

Hey, its not my thread.
I'm just responding to the previous posts...
Image
André Axe'm

User avatar
NWN Development
 
Offline
Posts: 4355
Joined: 3 Feb 06, 9:39 am
Location: Unlimited Codeworks

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby Fireslide » 27 Feb 12, 6:09 pm

Just because it's not a problem now doesn't mean it wont be. What if in the future the cost of paper becomes prohibitive, or environmental concerns of all the voters demand a digital system because the paper waste at an election is large. What if cases of voting fraud increase demand for a more secure and robust system. Just because Australia doesn't need it right now in your opinion, it doesn't mean elsewhere in the world doesn't need it or that it's not a worthwhile exercise to think about the requirements and design of a digital system that would satisfy all relevant criteria.

There's potential for a digital system to be more secure and less weak against current types of voting fraud, whilst providing all the benefits of automated counting that comes with using digital systems.
Image
Fireslide

User avatar
Moderator
 
Offline
Posts: 4031
Joined: 3 Feb 03, 9:52 pm
Location: Adelaide, SA

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby MCUD » 28 Feb 12, 6:18 am

Made me think of this straight away

Image
MCUD

User avatar
Forgotten What The Sky Looks Like
 
Offline
Posts: 2661
Joined: 1 Jul 02, 7:49 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby HandsomeSandwich » 1 Mar 12, 11:44 pm

Obviously restructing the entire society and political system would be a dream but short of that and sticking with electronic voting...

...I don't see (apart from security concerns and the obvious challenge to institutionalised power and the resistance it would put up) why we can't develop a much more active direct form of democracy through some kind of intranet voting system.

If we are secure enough to have an online census surely we could be having actual voting on a whole host of policy issues and referendums. Even if they are just an indicator of the countries attitudes towards something that would then place it in the political spectrum for deliberation and debate.

Eg

Open up the system for a fortnight similar to the security and software system in place for the census - non-compulsory voting for the citizenship and ask all sorts of stuff...

Should we prioritise the discussion of the legalisation of drugs/euthanasia/etc
Should we prioritise the discussion of further lowering the speed limits in the 'on' hours of school zones
Should we prioritise the discussion of *insert macro/micro soc/econ phenomenon*

Or we could just stay in the most rapid advancement period of human history and maintain our defunct and dated political structure/culture with no real choice. Whatever. Either way.
Image
HandsomeSandwich

Regular
 
Offline
Posts: 93
Joined: 5 Mar 10, 8:55 pm

Re: Online/Digital Democracy - Design ideas?

Unread postby Nekosan » 2 Mar 12, 2:57 am

Marius wrote:I'd have security concerns...

No matter how robust digital data is made, it's always vulnerable. But it's very, very hard to change the results of a paper election. It takes way too much work to alter millions of paper votes, and there's always a trail.

And however robust a digital system could be made, we'd always be having debates about it at election time, so the resources formerly spent on slowly counting votes would instead be funneled into debates about security. Not much of a win. :P

The biggest security issue with paper elections is the design of the voting papers, because it can put the overall results into the hands of one person (the person who designs the forms). I know of one case (the Bush election) where this was a serious issue... but that's the only security-type risk that I can really think of.


This^

Paper ballots are the safest and most secure form of voting (though i believe Japan is doing well with voting via your atm card), if the CIA can't stop 16 year old british teenagers from hacking their database do you really think Australia could manage a TRULY secure electronic voting system?

You only have to watch some of the blackhat conferences to see exactly how NOT secure all our "safe" electronic systems are, hell didn't they even live-hack an ATM and make it spit money? Just a few weeks back some guys from Princeton hacked a voting station (the same as used in the US elections) and installed Pacman on it without breaking the tamper seals...
Nekosan

Offline? What's 'offline'?
 
Offline
Posts: 3950
Joined: 3 Jan 06, 6:23 pm

Next

Return to Current Events

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests