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Validating Voters For Open Source Governance, In Person 214

Posted by timothy
from the knock-knock-it's-the-neighbors dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As we (very gradually) move away from feudal, leader-based forms of governance to collaborative and open source governance, some interesting new issues arise. The biggest is usually user authentication: how can we avoid sock-puppets and spammers from overtaking the voting process? Enter the concept of the streetwiki, an ingenious system for having humans validate their physical neighbors. Bleeding-edge social organization meets ancient validation protocol."
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Validating Voters For Open Source Governance, In Person

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 11, 2012 @08:21PM (#40960939)

    But I do my best to avoid them, they're terrible people!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 11, 2012 @08:23PM (#40960947)

    At least in California, there's no requirement for ID (nor should there be).. however, you do have to announce your name and address out loud to the election official at the poll before they let you sign in. (some people find this weird.. you're working the polls, and people come in and just show you their sample ballot or ID, and you tell them.. gotta say it out loud)..

    The idea is that a poll watcher (a neighbor, for instance) could, at that time, say, "hey, that isn't John Smith who lives on Cherry Lane", triggering a provisional vote for that person. The provisional ballot has a signature on it and gets comared against the signature on file at the county.

    • by wulfmans (794904) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @09:14PM (#40961177)

      Sorry, everybody should show ID to vote. You need ID to open a bank account, get insurance. buy booze. hell you even need ID to go to an Obama rally. Gimme a break.
      getting an ID should be FREE. So everybody can have one.
      Oh...... unless your an illegal person here who CANNOT legally vote anyway.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And when the IDs are free and don't require any time to get them, then you can require photo IDs. At the moment there's no evidence that voter fraud, as in people pretending to be other people, is common enough to justify disenfranchising other voters. The GOP trots that out whenever they lose a close race, but the fact is that they have yet to show that there's any greater likelihood for one candidate or another to win based upon voter fraud or for it to of substantial volume.

        It's quite simply a way of dis

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by aardvarkjoe (156801)

          At the moment there's no evidence that voter fraud, as in people pretending to be other people, is common enough to justify disenfranchising other voters. The GOP trots that out whenever they lose a close race, but the fact is that they have yet to show that there's any greater likelihood for one candidate or another to win based upon voter fraud or for it to of substantial volume.

          The flip side of this is that, given the current laws that actively prevent any sort of voting security, it would be virtually impossible to prove voter fraud if it was occurring.

        • by elewton (1743958)

          Posting to undo accidental mod.

        • by jon3k (691256)
          There were 11 million illegal immigrants in the US in 2008 [wikipedia.org]. Try again.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by arth1 (260657)

          At the moment there's no evidence that voter fraud, as in people pretending to be other people, is common enough to justify disenfranchising other voters.

          Correct. It's a much bigger problem that people don't get to vote, for various reasons. Including the WTF requirement of having to "register to vote" - a measure that's only designed to reduce the amount of voters, and the disenfranchisement of prisoners[*], neither of which you will find in most western democracies.

          Let's face it - the goal here isn't to catch the one or two people who might be voting without a right, the goal is to intimidate people into not voting, and using this excuse as a veneer of p

          • by cayenne8 (626475)

            Correct. It's a much bigger problem that people don't get to vote, for various reasons. Including the WTF requirement of having to "register to vote" - a measure that's only designed to reduce the amount of voters, and the disenfranchisement of prisoners[*], neither of which you will find in most western democracies.

            Wait..you now, no longer want people to even have to register to vote?!!? I mean, how hard is it? Most people drive, they can register same time as they go for drivers license.

            I'm sorry...but

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Far simpler to do electronic voter role checking. Person turns up gives their name and address and quick video clip is taken of them as they do so, they name and address is checked off and if nobody else tried to do so, they are allowed to vote. If somebody else has already done so, you now have a video record to aid in prosecution. Restrictive access IDs is all about blocking people from voting, just as is weekday polling or false claims about state citizen ship to block people from once resident in other

        • Restrictive access IDs is all about blocking people from voting, just as is weekday polling

          Weekday polling is better than Sunday polling for people who rely on public transit (like myself) and who live in cities whose bus system does not operate on Sundays (like that of my city).

          • by cellocgw (617879)

            I'm sorry -- it would be exactly how hard to run the public transit on a weekday schedule on Voting Day? At least here in Boston MA, they regularly run augmented transit schedules when there's some major event going on during a weekend.

    • So....

      How many people live in a country? How many poll watchers do you need to ensure that nobody gets in fraudulently?

      Also, even if caught, the worst that the trickster gets is that his vote does not get counted.

      Really, as a way of ensuring the legality of votes that method is just a joke. If you want to rig it with foreigners, just give as a direction an unpopulated, remote area and trust in probabilities.

    • What you wrote about poll watchers sounds good, but that's not how it works, at least, not in California. I know, because I helped run various polls in Los Angeles for over a decade. The only people who may challenge a person's right to vote are the people running the poll. A poll watcher (or somebody waiting their turn to vote) has the right to object to somebody who they don't think should be allowed to vote, but only a part of the precinct's staff can make a formal challenge.

      Once, I remember allowin
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>there's no requirement for ID (nor should there be)..

      I agree 100%! I want to be able to vote for Mitt Romney at least 5 times, and these damn voter-ID laws are making that difficult. Curses. Foiled again.

    • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Sunday August 12, 2012 @02:22AM (#40962519) Homepage

      At least in California, there's no requirement for ID (nor should there be)..

      Uh...
      Why? For the love of all that's ... why? In Canada it's a requirement to have ID to vote. And it's to stop flagrant voter fraud that runs amok like you have in the US now. Here's how it works here: At tax time you are given the option to give your personal information to elections canada via your taxes. This information is passed to the provincial branch of elections canada. If you weren't of age at the time, you can be enrolled when the next election comes along(very rare but it happens). When you show up at the polling station, you show government issued ID. Or two current bills(last 30 days), showing that you live in that district. Everyone has ID of some form up here. There are also a few other things you can use. Once that happens, your name is stricken from the voter register and the ballot is used up.

      No wonder voting in the US is a mess.

      Hey, someone earlier up wanted a source on that 3 million dead? Here, well it's 1.8 million, give or take a bit. [npr.org] Though it might be more, with 24 million more listed as inaccurate, and several million more registered illegally. Including non-americans.

      Voter ID works. GET IT.

      • You're mistaken if you think photo ID is required in Canada. According to the actual Canadian government you can get buy with non-photo ID and a bill, or even skip ID completely as long as your buddy with ID will vouch for you:
        http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=vot&dir=ids&document=index&lang=e [elections.ca]

        As for the US Election system, remember that a) it's basically unchanged since anonymous voting was invented the early 19th century, partly because b) the only people who actually pay attention t

  • Inform on your neighbors and family! Er, I mean edit their wiki pages to provide evidence of their political affiliation - for the good of the voting process.
  • by mister2au (1707664) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @08:29PM (#40960977)

    This is a joke, right?

    Representative governments work because people has better things to do than ALL be involved with EVERYTHING.

    That is a sure way destroy an economy and then destroy a social by being controlled by vocal minority wackos - in fact, I'd suggest that some people would view current governments as already being too driven by vocal minorities.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Actually the biggest reason we don't all vote on every last issue is that we can't all live in one city and meet in one place. The Internet fixes that problem. Yes there are other problems, but don't discount the ability to have your say in things that matter! Look at the US presidency, it is a sham bought by corporate money, rarely is either candidate any good, but you have no choice in the matter. Wouldn't it be nicer to have your say in things that matter to you, issue by issue.

      Just to open your m
      • by iluvcapra (782887)

        How do you prevent people from selling their voting rights? I assume this information would have to be public, since it's required to validate electors; since it's public, it can be transacted. You can say that you'd make it "illegal," but enforcement of such things is extremely difficult, particularly when some people, like party bosses, ward heelers, employers, religious leaders, etc. are in a position to put considerable duress on voters. That's why voting is secret, simply making it illegal to discri

    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @11:11PM (#40961683)

      What is it with this idea that everyone has an obligation to vote and that making voting as easy as possible is automatically a good thing? I think it is immoral to vote when you don't understand the first thing about the candidates or the issues involved, and if you don't have time to get educated about it, then you should sit it out. At least picking a representative has the advantage that any candidate who gets as far as a major election has by then been at least somewhat vetted by the party organization, media etc and should in theory have more of a clue than the 'average' voter. Having EVERYBODY vote on whether the "2011 US bilateral investment treaty with Uruguay" should be signed or not, what percentage of the mortgage insurance premiums should be deductible from the tax return, and every other one of the million issues that come up to the legislators every year, would make great comedy but horrible governance.

      • It's important that EVERYBODY votes, even if they don't know what they're voting for. Why? Because if we let a small elite (^H^H^H informed people only) have the privilege of voting, then these people will control the world. However, in that direction lies empire and slavery.

        It's much better if anyone who wants to push an agenda has to convince millions of other people, of which most aren't listening or don't care. It makes it less certain that they'll be able to push through everything or anything that t

        • It's much better if anyone who wants to push an agenda has to convince millions of other people, of which most aren't listening or don't care. It makes it less certain that they'll be able to push through everything or anything that they want.

          Agreed.

          Imagine if Rush Limbaugh and Fox News existed for real!

      • They keep making BS laws about Copyright, Patents, Data Security, etc. By your logic, the legislators really shouldn't, because the don't know fuck all about technology. Actually, they don't know shit about anything except what a lobbyist tells them...

        The founding father of the USA were smart, but the overestimated us. A Democratic-Republic only works if the majority of the senate isn't corrupt, and if the majority of the citizens voting aren't ignorant gits voting along party lines... In short, we'r

      • by bcrowell (177657)

        Having EVERYBODY vote on whether the "2011 US bilateral investment treaty with Uruguay" should be signed or not, what percentage of the mortgage insurance premiums should be deductible from the tax return, and every other one of the million issues that come up to the legislators every year, would make great comedy but horrible governance.

        If you click through from TFA to the site's home page [metagovernment.org], there's a reasonably coherent statement of the fundamental principles they have in mind. They want a system where one

    • Representative governments work because people has better things to do than ALL be involved with EVERYTHING.

      It doesn't have to be all or nothing. We could have a blend of direct and representitive democracy: you could vote directly on issues you care about, and leave other issues to your elected representitive. Your rep's vote would be diminished by the fraction of her constituents that voted directly.

      • The best suggestion I've seen is a form of hierarchical delegated voting. Each individual can delegate his or her vote to someone else, either on every issue, or on issues within a broad category (e.g. everything related to defence, foreign policy, science, whatever). People can also delegate votes that have been delegate to them and you can withdraw your delegation with no notice, but you then can't delegate to someone else for a week. This means that people with a lot of votes delegate to them can work
  • The biggest problem? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WarSpiteX (98591) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @08:29PM (#40960981) Homepage

    Is the biggest problem truly voter identification, rather than voter education?

    On another note, once people don't have leaders to blame, will we see increased societal polarization? Right now, hippie liberal wiener in Boston isn't blamed for abortion laws, just as frothing at the mouth nutjob conservative in New Mexico isn't blamed for gun laws. What sort of societal conflict would we see if neighbours, or at least neighbouring states, disagree on divisive issues?

    • It could definitely be a problem if everyone voting or discussing laws had their real name to them as opposed to an anonymous ID#. Even more so, the problem gets deeper than that though: What if a minority find itself in a position where it is oppressed by the majority? Would that minority get violent? The original idea behind US democracy was that the guy in charge changes every 4 years as to not need violent regime change.

      The key is, that making a direct democracy has many problems. You don't ju
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        The original idea behind US democracy was that the guy in charge changes every 4 years as to not need violent regime change.

        You need to brush up on your history.
        There were no term limits when the government was founded.
        Further, the people writing the Constitution knew the dangers of unlimited terms and chose not to set limits.

        George Washington gracefully resigned and set the precedent for two terms as the limit...
        but for 164 years this precedent was not binding until the 22nd Amendment was ratified in 1951.
        The 22nd Amendment was conveniently ratified years after FDR died at the beginning of his 4th term as President.

    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot AT hackish DOT org> on Saturday August 11, 2012 @09:58PM (#40961349)

      I strongly agree with that view. There is a lot of emphasis on getting vote counts correct, when there is substantial evidence that various misunderstandings or divergence in information can have a much bigger effect on elections than the quite small amount of voter fraud. It's not at all unusual on a given issue for 20-40% of the population (sometimes more!) to have factually incorrect views of an issue: not just disagreeing on policy, or being wrong on a politically-charged or subjective question, but just having the wrong information to start with. With those kinds of error rates, hand-wringing over "hanging chads" and such is like trying to get your measurement error down to +/-0.001% in a scientific experiment where your methodology is suspect and you're not quite sure what the material involved actually is. Yeah, you'll get a precise measurement, but of what?

      • by WarSpiteX (98591)

        Great point.

        I was thinking something along the lines of the disaster that is the California proposition system (yay, no more tax hikes! that worked out great...), but I think you hit the spot better.

      • Except that if you don't do the hand-wringing over 0.001%, then why should you bother doing it over 1% or even 30%? If one believes that 40% of voters have factually incorrect views, how much does an error of 30% really matter to one anyway?

        There's nothing wrong with getting the best possible measurement error in a scientific experiment. It means you've removed one additional source of error, and that's always a good thing even if sometimes it is not enough.

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @08:37PM (#40961009)
    I eventually want to write a piece of software which allows for direct democracy. Everyone who has a computer or goes to the library can vote on bills, and tell their figure head officials how to act. You still need people as acting officials because sticking a robot in the UN is kinda silly for example. This isn't to change the US government, but if you have a piece of software that acts as direct democracy with customizable features for a constitution, any time some people overthrow their oppressive government, they could just go,"Hey, lets install direct democracy."

    Anyway the problems I've run across is:
    You need to authenticate users manually, so maybe the authenticator cards are good for people so stolen passwords can't stop you.

    But the bigger problem will be people doing MTM attacks and changing votes, or maybe hacking the system from out of the country, or buying citizen's voting rights.

    The main solution for some problems is:
    You need your own closed Internet in your country, a secure web, where people from outside the Internet can't log in.

    Sure sometimes someone will tap into the line on the telephone pole for MTM, but if you stop it, they get prison time.

    You gotta limit what a standard citizen's client can get to also, or people could just route from the internet to client to into the system.

    There are a WHOLE HOST of problems though... more than I can even imagine. There is just about no greater honeypot to a hacker than to become a leader of a country. The way I'm going to go about it involves not working on the security issues at first, but just working on the direct democracy system, so when the security issues can be addressed, the system could be altered or rewritten when it happens. Just having something as proof of concept is better than nothing at all.

    The street based community wiki seems pretty smart. It was better than my plan to start locally and get people to sign up in person, and for us to hand them a password.

    Probs is I have a few projects on my plate before I go back to this system again. If someone wants to start an open source form of government, I'm sure some country down the line will have a revolution and might be interested. So any work done here will be of benefit in the future.
    • by medcalf (68293) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @08:51PM (#40961077) Homepage
      The software problems aren't the problems. Direct democracies fail because they inevitably result in mob rule. That and attacking Syracuse.
      • Exactly like I said, there are many problems in it. My friend and I are going to be starting one in 2 years. We tried back in 2008, but I told him we should just give up because we'll never compete with Digg.com. ^^

        There are many versions of direct democracy that don't all involve people voting directly on laws.

        For instance there is a direct democracy that merely influences a representative democracy in place. This is where I'm going with my friend in the future. It will be a discussion group bas
      • Quite right. If the stupid mob didn't waste their time ruling, they could get on with invading the whole Mediterranean!
      • There are still towns run by direct democracy, and they are more characterized by extreme budget restraint than by chaotic looting. In fact to the extent that our "representatives" are anything more than agents of "mobs"--that is to say corporate gangsters --they are demagogues, encouraging and enabling the worst impulses of the people.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 11, 2012 @08:59PM (#40961125)

      The problem may be 'pure' democracy. If like minded people gain the reins of power, our current US Constitution, and the tradition of Western Democracy, so far has put constraints and restraints on the winners such that they do not get to act in a 'winner takes all' fashion.

      Between conservatives and liberals, I don't know what scares me most: the possibility of the side I identify with gaining total control of the 3 US Banches of government, or the side I don't identify with.

      Which leads me to basis of my real fear: the masses. Masses often act like mobs, or the lowest common denominator. (Other than being low and common, I have no issue with the LCD).

      A general rule of thumb, is that in order to appeal to large numbers of people, the idea or at least the image needs to be simple and lacking sophistication.

      The proper response to my assertion would be for someone to whack me upside the head as they scoot buy on a skateboard, and one of their buds hollers "Awesome!"

      • Which leads me to basis of my real fear: the masses.

        Then you're a democrat. That is the current irrational fear democrats are falling to.
        Republicans are falling to a different fear, that Obama is the anti-christ and will lead America into servitude to the UN or something.

        Why people insist on finding something irrational to fear, I have no idea.

    • If your solution depends on keeping a 200 million people LAN closed from the outside, I can tell you right now that it won't work.

      But how is MITM a problem? Issue everyone a smartcard (many countries already did it) and a $20 card reader with PIN, then use the card to sign the vote, and encrypt it before sending it. There, MITM avoided.

      Unfortunately, there are much bigger problems with online voting.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>You still need people as acting officials because sticking a robot in the UN is kinda silly for example.

      The Animatrix tells me this is a very, very bad idea.

      And for more-direct democracy, I'd favor modifying the House of Representatives so that, rather than taking a count of the ayes & nays, the Speaker looks at the result of an internet weekly vote by the People. That way stupid shit like the TARP bill won't pass (80% of Americans were against it according to Gallup polling). The Senate

      • by iluvcapra (782887)

        That way stupid shit like the TARP bill won't pass (80% of Americans were against it according to Gallup polling).

        If we don't trust voters to pick the right people to rep them, why would we trust them to make the right decision on individual bills? It's the same system with the same problems, you're just changing the kind of questions you're posing to it. Why is polling on bills better than polling on representatives? Are people better at judging bills than judging people? That's pretty much a complete

  • I haven't RTFA (yet), but one problem sprang into my mind: assume that a group of people make the false claim of them being neighbours. Assume someone will contest the fact...

    The question is: without "real world checks" (e.g. one is too far away to actually do it), who are to be trusted: the contesters or the claimants?

  • by Cornwallis (1188489) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @08:40PM (#40961029)

    It is nothing more than a digital version of a Tammany Hall machine.

    Jezum H. Crow, paper ballots work fine. You're a solution in search of a problem.

  • not sure (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @08:41PM (#40961031) Journal
    The way this works (as I understand it, simplified), is people eventually notice sock-puppets, un-trust them, and then the sock-puppets live off in their own un-trusted world that no one trusts.

    That might work on a fairly neutral topic, but imagine you notice there are sock-puppets who agree with your opinion on abortion, are you going to un-trust them, or are you going to create more yourself? After all, it's a matter of life-or-death, what are a few bogus accounts when such an important principle (insert any principle you believe strongly) is on the line??

    This plan doesn't seem to account that people would be willing to accept sock-puppets that agree with them. Also doesn't seem to realize that I have better things to do with my time than constantly update my 'trusted' list.
  • Please. If something like this were to catch on (it won't), we'd still have leaders. Only instead of politicians with known checks on their powers, they'd be the Rush Limbaughs and Glen Becks of the world, convincing hordes of useful idiots to do as they say. At least with a Republic, we have a few layers of insulation between the "ditto-heads" and the government.

  • by fm6 (162816) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @08:59PM (#40961121) Homepage Journal

    Leaderless government! Yeah right.

    Not a new idea. That's precisely how the U.S. Presidency was supposed to work: Congress would define policies (by consensus, political parties were considered uncool) and implemented by a chief executive (also chosen by consensus, hence our weird, unwieldy electoral college) who was not seen as a leader. That's why he's called a "president", because in 1789 the word didn't have connotations of leadership — it just meant "presiding officer". No longer true, of course.

    Government by consensus isn't going to happen as long as people are contentious and combative in defending their own views and attacking those they disagree with. A good government takes the ongoing nonviolent civil war that is social discourse in a free society (particularly on Slashdot) and uses it to synthesize a laws and policies the governed can mostly live with.

  • I've only seen three of my neighbors often enough to identify them in a lineup, and they all live in the same house.
  • When the obvious answer in the era of NO PRIVACY AT ALL is actually, to use it in our benefits, and just avoid any privacy when we are voting!!! Then, ah then, there will be no false vote, and no need of complicated authentication system, and encryption, and race with the bad guys.....
    So i wonder, why no one wants this pretty simple and easy to implement system?
  • you can barely keep actual legislators focused on the task

    and there is something like only 2-3% of the population who is interested in the issues and voting on them. 10% of that 2-3% is actually educated on the issues too. think about it

    there are a lot of problem with representative democracy. but when compared to direct democracy, it's actually better. the people are fine with the idea of picking someone to represent their interests. of course, those representatives can be corrupted and frequently are. so

  • It's been years that inside Debian, we vote using our PGP keys, which are in the "web of trust" (eg: signed by our peers). People got to learn about signing each other keys, then voting isn't a problem at all.

    By the way, I just realize that the login form in Slashdot tells me that my password should be from 6 to 20 chars long. 6 chars at least, ok, but why is there a limit on the length? Shouldn't Slashdot use password hashing, and then don't care about the length of my password?
    • People got to learn about signing each other keys

      And there's the problem. Relying on key signing parties organized by amateurs can easily create a strongly connected web of trust within a city but a weak national or international web, except for those few people who routinely fly to international developer conferences. I imagine that such frequent flyers might be overrepresented among maintainers of high-profile packages in Debian, who would act as bottlenecks in the web of trust.

  • "As we (very gradually) move away from feudal, leader-based forms of governance to collaborative and open source governance..."

    Gradually indeed. Have you seen any indication of this move? Perhaps it refers to the Supreme Court allowing corporations to collaborate with our elected leaders for the benefit of you and me, or the open source journalism that squeaks in the background of our political consciousness.

    Sorry- I think this post is probably written by the same anonymous person who made up the Wiki artic

  • open source governance

    Shoot me. Shoot me now.

    If you don't have a gun or enough bitcoins to buy one, I'm sure you can make one with a 3D printer that was developed by NASA.

  • ... are used is key to determining what government is to do in representing the people they are supposed to represent.

  • As we (very gradually) move away from feudal, leader-based forms of governance to collaborative and open source governance...

    Is this actually happening? Because I don't see it.

  • Like many intellectuals on the internet this guy does not understand that the greatest threat to freedom is not the government. It's your neighbors.

    What happens in this system if 40% decides to screw 60%? Then anybody in that 60% who verifies anyone else will get beaten to death, and juries won't be able to convict the perpetrators because 40% think it's justifiable homicide. Higher levels of the government may intervene, but appealing to a technocrat in DC to implement Martial Law is pretty much the opposi

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