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Author Topic: Bitcoin technology adapted into the voting system?  (Read 2631 times)
Yankee (BitInstant)
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Charlie 'Van Bitcoin' Shrem


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November 07, 2011, 03:18:28 PM
 #1

Thoughts?

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Aaron Archer" <email removed for privacy, PM for the address>
Date: Nov 6, 2011 8:06 PM
Subject: Proposal For Bitcoin
To: <Bitcoin List>

Dear Bitcoin,
 I have a proposal for you. Could you create a similar algorithm for a voting process? I am creating a petition to change the electoral voting process in the US so that it will count each and every legal citizens vote individually, rather than counting their votes under the main votes of the governors, which is not fair, honest or accurate. My thought was that Bitcoins algorithm, which requires transaction signatures from the other coins and includes time stamps and the date, could be a way of conducting electronic votes accurately. I'm sure that we could compensation from the US government for you providing an airtight algorithm that cannot be cheated, miscounted or double counted. This is a big idea, and the petition will start soon on Change.org. Please let me know what you think. Thank you for your time and consideration. Have a great day!

Sincerely,

Aaron Archer <><

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More about me: http://CharlieShrem.com
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DeathAndTaxes
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Gerald Davis


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November 07, 2011, 03:28:21 PM
 #2

Well there is this question on stackexchange.

http://bitcoin.stackexchange.com/q/1517/307

Regarding the proposal
" I am creating a petition to change the electoral voting process in the US so that it will count each and every legal citizens vote individually, rather than counting their votes under the main votes of the governors, which is not fair, honest or accurate."

= UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

The phrase is worded so badly not sure what is being proposed but elections are powers reserved by the states.  If a state wanted to flip a coin to determine how they will cast their votes for President, well that is the perogotive of the state.  So unless the proposal is a Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution of these United States then it is a dead issue.
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November 07, 2011, 03:31:11 PM
 #3

Ultimately,  it came to politics. Government's Ticket counting  is not trust worthy.

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Charlie 'Van Bitcoin' Shrem


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November 07, 2011, 03:37:55 PM
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Well there is this question on stackexchange.

http://bitcoin.stackexchange.com/q/1517/307

Regarding the proposal
" I am creating a petition to change the electoral voting process in the US so that it will count each and every legal citizens vote individually, rather than counting their votes under the main votes of the governors, which is not fair, honest or accurate."

= UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

The phrase is worded so badly not sure what is being proposed but elections are powers reserved by the states.  If a state wanted to flip a coin to determine how they will cast their votes for President, well that is the perogotive of the state.  So unless the proposal is a Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution of these United States then it is a dead issue.

I know, was trying to understand what he truly meant by that. I think he wants to totally change the electoral process into a popular vote system, backed by the same 'proof of work' software that bitcoin uses.

Bitcoin pioneer. An apostle of Satoshi Nakamoto. A crusader for a new, better, tech-driven society. A dreamer.

More about me: http://CharlieShrem.com
imsaguy
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November 07, 2011, 03:41:30 PM
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Well there is this question on stackexchange.

http://bitcoin.stackexchange.com/q/1517/307

Regarding the proposal
" I am creating a petition to change the electoral voting process in the US so that it will count each and every legal citizens vote individually, rather than counting their votes under the main votes of the governors, which is not fair, honest or accurate."

= UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

The phrase is worded so badly not sure what is being proposed but elections are powers reserved by the states.  If a state wanted to flip a coin to determine how they will cast their votes for President, well that is the perogotive of the state.  So unless the proposal is a Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution of these United States then it is a dead issue.

OR You go to each state and get them to adopt the standards individually.

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Gerald Davis


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November 07, 2011, 03:47:30 PM
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OR You go to each state and get them to adopt the standards individually.

I think two ideas are being conflated.

1) Abolishing the Electoral College and going w/ proportional vote to "count each vote individually".  This has nothing to do w/ Bitcoin but is mixed in the quote by OP.  Only possible way to do this is via Amending the Constitution as the Electoral College system is specified explicitly in the Constitution (and as a historical note it is unlikely Constitution would have ever been ratified is it hadn't).

2) Using a Bitcoin like or alternative distributed network to count votes within a state.  This is certainly "possible (although improbable) however it wouldn't accomplish the goal of the OP to count each vote individually.  However a state decides to count its internal votes to select voters in the Electoral College, it would still be the Electoral college which elects the President.

Like I said the quote is confusing two totally different concept combined with inaccurate and vague language makes it difficult to understand what is being proposed.
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November 07, 2011, 03:54:07 PM
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Saw something related to e-voting and hashing just the other day out of Microsoft research that reminded me a bit of bitcoin:

http://threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/microsoft-research-proposes-e-voting-attack-mitigation-103111

Seems like the idea is to use a blockchain like hashing mechanism where each vote contains a hash of the vote and the previous vote to prevent tampering.
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November 07, 2011, 04:33:10 PM
 #8

pay one satoshi to each of your voters
set up a voting address for each option

hey, cool, bitcoin is a voting machine :)

... but: It is a bad idea to do free, general and secret voting with a computer as you should not allow to have voters vote under the influence of their tyrannous husband, well paying boss, etc. If the voters should be able to verify the outcome of the elections, they should also be able to verify, there are not more tokens than voters. Finally you should not need the trust of the voters in the one who distributed the tokens.

On the other hand, I would love to have non-anonymous general polls on political matters. In parliament, members do that so if they are my representatives and they do an open poll, why should I not be allowed to just raise my voice myself? Something along the lines: If 20% of the people participated in the poll, the people's vote counts 20% and the member of parliament's vote counts 80%?

All the concerns raised above do apply to our politicians. They can get paid by some lobbyist or be under the tyranny of their party leader. At least here in Germany this should not be the case but of course it is. So why not ask the lobbyist to hand out a few million money bags more than he has to hand out now? Why not give the power the people that a small group of a political elite can not control any more? Sure, the yellow press will rule, ... but really? I think politicians are more afraid of the yellow press and influenced by them than a majority of voters would be in such a system.

(sorry if I went a bit off topic ;)

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November 07, 2011, 05:27:49 PM
 #9

pay one satoshi to each of your voters
set up a voting address for each option

hey, cool, bitcoin is a voting machine Smiley


What prevents me from voting with any x number of more satoshi's of my own?
You give me 1 satoshi to vote with, i vote with 100 satoshis on my desired option.

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November 07, 2011, 05:34:05 PM
 #10

This has already been discussed, and there's no way to do it.  How could you possibly ensure that no one votes twice?  Or a thousand times?
casascius
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November 07, 2011, 05:44:44 PM
 #11

I think for a cryptographic voting system to be taken seriously, someone will first have to implement it and prove to the world that it works like it's supposed to for much smaller elections, like school boards and city council, and informal votes run by the media etc.

It is a tall bill to fill.  There are numerous requirements that the system must meet, such as being simple enough for everyone to understand how to vote regardless of demographic, and ensuring voters cannot prove to others how they voted (to prevent coercion).  For example, a scheme of scratch-off ballots has been proposed, where private keys associated with specific votes were revealed to the network.  If such were used, there would need to be a scheme to audit the integrity of the ballots (such as rolling two dice and randomly submitting one out of 36 ballots for complete cryptographic inspection).  And there would need to be a large community of people experienced with administering the system.

Look at an example of MIT blazing the trail: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/rivest-voting.html - this is the sort of place where such a thing needs to breed and be improved.

The technology underpinning the peer-to-peer nature of Bitcoin would be a novel way to aggregate and tally and tamper-proof the votes without depending on a central tabulator... but would also present interesting challenges since people are motivated to exclude some "transactions"... (e.g. if you're a conservative miner, you're incentivized to not include votes for liberal candidates in your blocks, and/or to build on somewhere other than the end of the chain if it's to your advantage...)

Companies claiming they got hacked and lost your coins sounds like fraud so perfect it could be called fashionable.  I never believe them.  If I ever experience the misfortune of a real intrusion, I declare I have been honest about the way I have managed the keys in Casascius Coins.  I maintain no ability to recover or reproduce the keys, not even under limitless duress or total intrusion.  Remember that trusting strangers with your coins without any recourse is, as a matter of principle, not a best practice.  Don't keep coins online. Use paper or hardware wallets instead.
Yankee (BitInstant)
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Charlie 'Van Bitcoin' Shrem


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November 07, 2011, 05:50:36 PM
 #12

This has already been discussed, and there's no way to do it.  How could you possibly ensure that no one votes twice?  Or a thousand times?

Somehow implement the proof of work into that. If everyone was assigned an 'voting address' similar to a btc address that could be either be hashed with the last 4 of a social security # or something. I dont think that would be the biggest problem

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Gerald Davis


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November 07, 2011, 06:13:47 PM
 #13

This has already been discussed, and there's no way to do it.  How could you possibly ensure that no one votes twice?  Or a thousand times?

Somehow implement the proof of work into that. If everyone was assigned an 'voting address' similar to a btc address that could be either be hashed with the last 4 of a social security # or something. I dont think that would be the biggest problem

Actually that is THE biggest problem.  Really the only non-trivial problem.

A POW doesn't prove the person doing it is suppose to be voting.  My company has millions of SSN.  So I could take them take the last 4 and vote as a million people.

Maintaining an accurate vote count, ensuring votes aren't tampered with, and allowing transparency once you solve the critical and difficult problem of ensuring only valid persons vote and they only vote once.  There is nothing in Bitcoin or block chains that help to solve that problem. 
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November 07, 2011, 06:25:16 PM
 #14

Electronic voting requires two steps.

1. Assign a unique cryptographic identity to every eligible voter.
2. Collect votes of all cryptographic identities with some protocol.

Cryptographic voting protocols for #2 with good properties already exist (example), and Bitcoin, which was designed to do something else entirely, brings very little, if anything, to the table. For #1, as long as voting eligibility relies on some meatspace attribute, you'll need a meatspace interaction to make the assignment, no sort of fancy technology can change that.

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Yankee (BitInstant)
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Charlie 'Van Bitcoin' Shrem


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November 07, 2011, 06:28:29 PM
 #15

This has already been discussed, and there's no way to do it.  How could you possibly ensure that no one votes twice?  Or a thousand times?

Somehow implement the proof of work into that. If everyone was assigned an 'voting address' similar to a btc address that could be either be hashed with the last 4 of a social security # or something. I dont think that would be the biggest problem

Actually that is THE biggest problem.  Really the only non-trivial problem.

A POW doesn't prove the person doing it is suppose to be voting.  My company has millions of SSN.  So I could take them take the last 4 and vote as a million people.

Maintaining an accurate vote count, ensuring votes aren't tampered with, and allowing transparency once you solve the critical and difficult problem of ensuring only valid persons vote and they only vote once.  There is nothing in Bitcoin or block chains that help to solve that problem.  

I see your point, people can actually 'sell their votes' in a way where they sell their address and the buyer gets another vote.

Hmm, there has to be a good theory at least on how to do it, development can come after.
What if the current system of going to a polling station is used, and you still need to show ID to vote. After the ID is shown and your a registered vote an on the spot program generates a random (and I say that lightly) key which acts as your receipt.
You then go into the booth, vote using your receipt key.
Before you leave, the receipt key is checked if its in the system so you can't walk out with it and sell it. At the same time, when you go home you can see your vote in the blockchain.

Thoughts?

Bitcoin pioneer. An apostle of Satoshi Nakamoto. A crusader for a new, better, tech-driven society. A dreamer.

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Gerald Davis


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November 07, 2011, 06:30:36 PM
 #16

Electronic voting requires two steps.

1. Assign a unique cryptographic identity to every eligible voter.
2. Collect votes of all cryptographic identities with some protocol.

Cryptographic voting protocols for #2 with good properties already exist (example), and Bitcoin, which was designed to do something else entirely, brings very little, if anything, to the table. For #1, as long as voting eligibility relies on some meatspace attribute, you'll need a meatspace interaction to make the assignment, no sort of fancy technology can change that.

Thanks you explained it better than me.

Current evoting is very flawed but there are robust solutions to solve problem #2 that do it much better, cheaper, and easier than a Bitcoin hacked together solution. 

Solving #1 is difficult. 
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Gerald Davis


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November 07, 2011, 06:37:13 PM
 #17

Hmm, there has to be a good theory at least on how to do it, development can come after.
What if the current system of going to a polling station is used, and you still need to show ID to vote. After the ID is shown and your a registered vote an on the spot program generates a random (and I say that lightly) key which acts as your receipt.
You then go into the booth, vote using your receipt key.
Before you leave, the receipt key is checked if its in the system so you can't walk out with it and sell it. At the same time, when you go home you can see your vote in the blockchain.

Exactly but once you solve the first problem of making sure only eligible voters vote, and only vote once, there is no need to have a block chain.  Using the block chain for the purpose of block chain is of no value.  Lets look at why Bitcoin has a block chain.  It is to prevent a double spend .... without a central trusted 3rd party.  Block chain isn't efficient it is simply a requirement if you want no central third party.

However in the case of voting as you indicated you STILL need a central trusted third party to do the meatspace verification. If they can be trusted to not cheat (or be cheated) doing that there is no reason to no trust them for the tallying.  The hashes of the entire voting record could be published publicly.  You could take your "result hash" from your vote and ensure it was recorded and added to your candidates totals.

Simply put the Bitcoin network isn't "perfect".  It is often more complicated, slower, and more prone to attack than other solutions it just happens to be the best solution if you want p2p transfers without need to trust a third party.
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November 07, 2011, 06:47:03 PM
 #18

Electronic voting requires two steps.

1. Assign a unique cryptographic identity to every eligible voter.
2. Collect votes of all cryptographic identities with some protocol.

Cryptographic voting protocols for #2 with good properties already exist (example), and Bitcoin, which was designed to do something else entirely, brings very little, if anything, to the table. For #1, as long as voting eligibility relies on some meatspace attribute, you'll need a meatspace interaction to make the assignment, no sort of fancy technology can change that.
Agree completely.  There is no point in trying to use bitcoin for voting.  It just doesn't work any better than any existing dedicated solution.

This has already been discussed, and there's no way to do it.  How could you possibly ensure that no one votes twice?  Or a thousand times?

Somehow implement the proof of work into that. If everyone was assigned an 'voting address' similar to a btc address that could be either be hashed with the last 4 of a social security # or something. I dont think that would be the biggest problem

Actually that is THE biggest problem.  Really the only non-trivial problem.

A POW doesn't prove the person doing it is suppose to be voting.  My company has millions of SSN.  So I could take them take the last 4 and vote as a million people.

Maintaining an accurate vote count, ensuring votes aren't tampered with, and allowing transparency once you solve the critical and difficult problem of ensuring only valid persons vote and they only vote once.  There is nothing in Bitcoin or block chains that help to solve that problem.  

I see your point, people can actually 'sell their votes' in a way where they sell their address and the buyer gets another vote.

Hmm, there has to be a good theory at least on how to do it, development can come after.
What if the current system of going to a polling station is used, and you still need to show ID to vote. After the ID is shown and your a registered vote an on the spot program generates a random (and I say that lightly) key which acts as your receipt.
You then go into the booth, vote using your receipt key.
Before you leave, the receipt key is checked if its in the system so you can't walk out with it and sell it. At the same time, when you go home you can see your vote in the blockchain.

Thoughts?

Why would you use this as opposed to any existing electronic voting method?  It offers no advantages.  The polling station could just as easily issue themselves a bunch of random keys, or issue a bunch of them to someone offering them a bunch of money, or the system could be hacked and give the hacker a bunch of random keys, etc.

Bitcoin introduces nothing new to such a system.
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Charlie 'Van Bitcoin' Shrem


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November 07, 2011, 07:00:24 PM
 #19

Hmm, there has to be a good theory at least on how to do it, development can come after.
What if the current system of going to a polling station is used, and you still need to show ID to vote. After the ID is shown and your a registered vote an on the spot program generates a random (and I say that lightly) key which acts as your receipt.
You then go into the booth, vote using your receipt key.
Before you leave, the receipt key is checked if its in the system so you can't walk out with it and sell it. At the same time, when you go home you can see your vote in the blockchain.

Exactly but once you solve the first problem of making sure only eligible voters vote, and only vote once, there is no need to have a block chain.  Using the block chain for the purpose of block chain is of no value.  Lets look at why Bitcoin has a block chain.  It is to prevent a double spend .... without a central trusted 3rd party.  Block chain isn't efficient it is simply a requirement if you want no central third party.

However in the case of voting as you indicated you STILL need a central trusted third party to do the meatspace verification. If they can be trusted to not cheat (or be cheated) doing that there is no reason to no trust them for the tallying.  The hashes of the entire voting record could be published publicly.  You could take your "result hash" from your vote and ensure it was recorded and added to your candidates totals.

Simply put the Bitcoin network isn't "perfect".  It is often more complicated, slower, and more prone to attack than other solutions it just happens to be the best solution if you want p2p transfers without need to trust a third party.

After re-reading my post, I got to the same conclusion.

I should respond to the email sender with this thread.

Bitcoin pioneer. An apostle of Satoshi Nakamoto. A crusader for a new, better, tech-driven society. A dreamer.

More about me: http://CharlieShrem.com
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November 07, 2011, 07:14:29 PM
 #20

Cryptography-supported voting mechanisms have already been proposed with solutions to all of the problems, even being forced to reveal your vote (so that you could never prove who you voted for to someone who paid you to vote for them). And *gasp* a block chain isn't necessary.

http://ethesis.nitrkl.ac.in/1683/1/Thesis_evoting.pdf for an example

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