Implementing Community Decision Making via Voting, Polling and Governance

I wrote this article a year ago:

In it, I said:

FOR EVERY TECHNOLOGY WE USE TODAY, THERE WAS A TIME IT WAS LAUGHABLY INADEQUATE AS A REPLACEMENT FOR WHAT CAME BEFORE.

Eventually, as a society the our voting will be done on decentralized networks and the results will be usable by trustless programs. Since then, we have implemented what we spoke about. You can see the open source code on GitHub and a deeper explanation here.

I wanted to start this topic to see if we can discuss the implications of on-chain voting and decision making for communities. Lowering the cost of running a poll or election can empower people to make all kinds of decisions, about values that can be used on-chain. Take a look at the last three slides of this presentation about community currencies, and maybe we can make something similar about governance:

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Having secure elections are a must. I am not sure why we are still using outdated technology. Probably government bureaucracies are holding us back.

For people that want to learn more on what technology can be implemented in order to have more secure elections and voting, they should look at what the votingcontract and other blockchain smart contracts can do to help.

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Two things come to mind about the idea of using blockchain for identities or voting the first is wallet security, how can we guarantee people’s wallets are safe that they vote with. People lose wallets to scammers everyday, and therefore they would lose their identity, people would even be able to vote on their behalf.
And secondly, privacy, if my public wallet is now being used for voting that means every vote I have ever made would be public as well. This might cause people to vote differently or less often. I agree blockchain voting solves a lot of problems that our current system has, but I think technology needs to come a long way before our wallets are ready to be responsible for all of that.

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I see your point here. It is true and it won’t be easy but no big changes have been easy to implement including the internet. It will be one step at a time on the right direction.

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To be honest, I do not trust paper ballots, I think they aren’t safe enough and they are also very easy to manipulate. We have seen many times that they fail, I think we really need a safer choice than paper ballots.

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Before we try to implement any solution I think it’s important to take a step back and diagnose the problem correctly first. We need to figure out where the sources of error come from in an election first. Paper ballots can be a source of error in 2 ways — the people filling out the ballot can make a mistake, or the people tallying the ballot can make a mistake. Nowadays we feed ballots into machines, and the machine counts it – seems to remove human tallying error sufficiently to me. Even in contentious elections like the 2020, we saw the resilience of our institutions – every big third party organization agreed there was no fraud. So it seems in the US, our problems are not so big. Leaked voter records is a data privacy issue – I don’t see how it has any effect on the result of the election And as to the merkle trees – the small targets in swing counties are VERY juicy targets to subvert, and exactly where the meat of the problem is. We have problems with small swing counties influencing huge political outcomes. In your own example of 2000 election, the florida margin was barely 500 votes for instance. So I think we have to do more research and better understand the problems first

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I think that with technology seemingly evolving at the speed of light, it’s beneficial for member organizations to utilize the latest election tech

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I totally agree with you! Over the years we have seen how votes are manipulated and stolen by politicians thus having unfair elections

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Norman, you make a good point. I don’t think it’s just about errors, though. It’s about confidence in having your result counted.

Merkle Trees have a very good way of checking whether your vote was included: just check the Merkle branch. You can be sure that it was included in the final result.

The remaining questions are whether:

  1. People were disenfranchised (weren’t able to vote)
  2. People had multiple accounts
  3. The user interface lied to the users, and didn’t record their vote faithfully

If we can address 1-3, then what worries remain?

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Well, we know that blockchain scammers are everywhere and for that reason people lose their wallets. So that’s why having secure elections are very important!!

Also, I think that we’re not ready to use public wallets for voting. It’s a lack of privacy. So for sure technology needs to be improved before the wallets can be used for voting.

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Well what were doing now is not working. I’m aware that blockchain is the answer. Building a trusted solution that allows accessibility, transparency, and privacy will empower and change our world.

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The answer is we need to look at the places where elections are really insecure and constantly have problems. That’s not in the US. Where it does happen, the problems in elections tend to come from voter intimidation, poll violence, and disenfranchisement. Basically, I think the big problems with elections come from the steps leading up to the ballot box – once the ballot is in the box, the problems are small (at least in the US). But before the ballot is in the box, we have problems such as: gerrymandering, abusive voter ID laws, inconvenience of voting, and sometimes voter intimidation. I think having digital elections can solve a lot of these problems – if you can vote on your phone, then nobody can intimidate you into not voting. And I think you also solve voter ID problems/arguments too. So perhaps that’s where blockchain can come in.

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