Time To Rethink Democracy In A Digital Age

from the how-might-it-work dept

True democracy is not just about casting a vote every five years. It means citizens being fully involved in the proposal, development and creation of laws. The Commission on Digital Democracy currently being established will consider what part technology can play in helping people to take an active part in the way the country is run.

The commission is setting its sights on "Parliament 2.0", a vision of the future in which citizens participate in online elections, electronic referendums and richer relationships with their political representatives.

In recent years, we've seen technology help people become more involved in debate about all aspects of society. So it is clear that it can play a much greater role in political participation too. As the Commission gets started, it's a good time to think about what we want our digital democracy to look like. There is inspiration to be found all over the web.

Wikipolitics

Technology can enable direct participation in the democratic process, without relying on representatives and without the citizen even needing to leave the comfort of their home.

One particularly useful tool in the quest for a digitally engaged electorate will be online forums. These can be built to manage discussions about proposed legislation in a structured way, making it easy for citizens to participate meaningfully.

Politicians and policymakers can use online forums to crowd-source expertise and the views of citizens on their plans – and to refine their proposals based on what they get back. This "direct democracy" would allow for laws to be based on genuine citizen deliberation rather than merely aggregating the preferences of citizens into a single vote at the beginning of each electoral cycle.

Wikipedia is an example of how this system might work, but it also shows some of the problems that can arise when technology and democracy mix.

Wikipedia has relatively little mechanism for coordinating edits, instead allowing editors to work on their own. Despite this decentralized approach, the quality of articles is generally very high. On the down side, edit wars and sock puppetry – when individuals use multiple user identities to create the impression that their views are shared by others – are an enduring concern.

To help make Wikipedia a trustworthy source, editors can build their reputation by establishing a track record of constructive behavior. Wikipedia has a hierarchy of users for administrative purposes, based on community approval, but all users are considered to have equally valid opinions regarding Wikipedia content. The emphasis is on building consensus; an arbitration committee deals with disputes that remain unresolved.

Reddit, rate it, vote it

More formal mechanisms are to be found elsewhere online that could help provide the kind of format and structure that might be needed to produce good legislation. In Yahoo! Answers, for example, readers can vote up and vote down contributions made by others. Writers who are voted up gain points that indicate their good reputation. Other question-and-answer forums, such as Reddit and Stack Overflow, use similar mechanisms. This kind of collaboration can be further improved using the kind of real-time, simultaneous editing provided by Google docs.

But again, there are perils. Time wasters, product pushers and disruptive trolls are bad news in online forums and can disrupt the way they operate. In the context of digital democracy, the potential for damage is even higher.

We will need to develop mechanisms that would make it possible for everyone to get involved in Parliament 2.0 in a fair and transparent way. This includes preventing abuse by lobbyists, special-interest groups, and extremists, who may try to thwart the mechanisms for non-democratic purposes. Unlike in traditional voting, which provides each person with one vote, we can't assume that everyone will participate in digital democracy equally. That makes it quite difficult to define fairness. It is also difficult to balance accountability (needed to prevent trolling) and privacy (needed to allow free expression).

Online voting

Computer scientists have made great progress in figuring out how online elections could be made secure. One important idea is to design systems that enable outcome verifiability. This would allow citizens to check that the outcome of an election really does match the votes cast.

To ensure free and fair elections, we also need a property called incoercibility. This means voters cannot sell their vote, or be forced to vote in a particular way. Online voting systems with these features are being developed by researchers around the world and this will soon change the way we participate in elections.

The hope is that, if well-designed and implemented, mechanisms for digital democracy could be built that would greatly increase societal inclusiveness and cohesion, as well as lowering the costs of making democracy work.

Mark Ryan is a Professor of Computer Security at University of Birmingham. Gurchetan Grewal is a PhD student in Computer Security at the University of Birmingham. Both receive funding from EPSRC for computer security research, including the security of online voting mechanisms. Grewal works on the project "Trustworthy voting systems" funded by EPSRC.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.



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  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 12:07am

    'digital age been around for awile now'

    just the last 20 or 50 years !!!, you are just starting to notice now ? Geeezzzz..

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 12:19am

    Computer voting in person with electronic air gaps is already enough of a problem. Adding the online component would be a disaster. A number of jurisdictions have been toying with this idea without seriously considering the drawbacks. if you want to research this topic I'm all for it but to suggest at this point it is anything but undesirable in production is horribly naive.

    Online verifiability, on the other hand, if applied to physical voting, is a great thing. I have high hopes that a person voting will receive a key that they can compare to a total's key to verify that their vote is indeed included in the total.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 12:26am

    Not convinced

    People are stupid and self-centred. That's why the representative system works, because while they are elected to have our best interests at heart (haha), they can see beyond individual needs to that of the country.

    If everyone voted on every law, it would be ochlocracy.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 1:03am

    Nice idea but implementation won't be something you'll pull out of the hat.

    There's no way to check if someone off line paid someone else to vote a certain way. We aren't at mindreader stage yet. So there's not a realistic way to do this.

    For the last 20 or so years, finding how to deal with trolls has failed to emerge as a standardized method. Again, not realistic. Look at the military, these various government branches sensitive to public opinion, and various groups trying to polish on line reputations, and you have your hands full on that one.

    On line voting would be great... provided we learn how to deal with hackers and actually design stuff where human intervention is left out of the deal, beyond the voter himself. Don't see that one happening anytime soon either. There's been a lot of stuff in the past brought up about Diebold voting machines, missing memory sticks, and accessing voting machine innards after they were sealed. Until these type issues become non-issues, again not possible to impliment at this time.

     

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    Douglas Smith, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 1:21am

    True democracy

    True democracy HAS NEVER been about just casting a vote.
    It has always been about organizing in order to implement a better and more equitable version.
    And we're rapidly losing the battle.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 2:04am

    Online voting

    The potential traps of online voting are:

    1. Traceability of votes can make it impossible to hide who you vote for. Sale of votes and pressured voting would be far easier to do effectively. Both are rather undesirable! In most cases it has to be measured up against conveniences like changing a vote and the trust in the system. Incoercibility has beeen on the wishlist for democracies around the world for centuries. Forgive me for being a bit skeptical about a sudden breakthrough...

    2. The trust in the system has to come from trust in the program code used. In Norway they considered scrapping votes as a result of a flaw in the code that made it vulnerable. This problem is already significant with digital election machines.
    The big problem here is that the kind of trust in the system you get is usually "by proxy". You can have open source, personal testing by people etc. and by far the majority would still have to take an experts word for its safety or trust that the program they are testing against is the same they use for the actual vote!

    I am not saying that online voting doesn't have a place, but using it in the most important elections in a representative democracy is a huge concern at the moment.

    As much as research in it and statements of the brave new future is welcome, so are results. And real results from these kinds of research have been lacking for a very long time!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 2:30am

    something that should be able to happen to politicians is when they use certain topics to gain votes, promise to do certain things to get elected and then do nothing or the exact opposite when/if they are. i know, i know. all politicians lie. it's the one thing they are all extremely good at! but when they out and out lie about changes they will implement then do nothing, they should be held to account and dismissed if necessary/possible!
    there should be an end to lobbying! no friggin' about, stop it! dead! ordinary people do not have the financial ability to get certain laws put in place etc, so why should industries? considering the laws that are paid for almost always do great harm to ordinary people in some way or other, it should be banned completely, with severe penalties for those who are caught still doing it!

     

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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 2:35am

    Re: True democracy

    I think we already had a discussion about this

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 3:07am

    Re: Not convinced

    because while they are elected to have our best interests at heart (haha), they can see beyond individual needs to that of the country. (emphasis mine)
    Seriously? I'm sure such politicians exist, plus a number egotistical enough to think they are saviours of the country, but the outcomes strongly suggest that on average career politicians understand little beyond their own prejudices, personal interests or where their next large block of (corporate) funding is coming from.

    If you think about how "democracies" actually work and the sorts of people that setup is most likely to attract, this is unsurprising...

    As for online voting vs "in person" voting, it seems to me that it could be little worse. Physical voting systems have been corrupted from time immemorial and can hardly be held up as a model of incorruptibility. Florida in the 2000 US presidential election to name but one famous example...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 3:30am

    Don't know why most people concentrate on the voting part, that is the end result of a lot of things that come before that are equally if not more important.

    Imagining, drafting and spreading of new legislation for once.

    About problems, well here are some other places to look for answers:

    Filesharing P2P networks are abused daily is fair to say that if any network should be brought to its knees that would be a prime one, there are serious efforts to try and disrupt it but instead it flourishes? how?
    When the threat of bogus files was becoming a problem, filesharers found a solution in the same way that Reddit in the comments, a experienced filesharer has to look at how popular the file is(seeds and leeches), then he looks at the comments to see how many go there to call it fake, bogus or whatever, he also looks at the release name to see if it is from somebody consistent, then he looks where he got that information(the website), many may even do this unconsciously but there is no single authentication factor is a cascade that in general guarantee a high percentage of accuracy.

    Bitcoins found a solution for identity, transactions auditability to be compatible with anonymity.

    Opensource found a solution for survivibility in harsh enviroments for source code, their problem was how to make something available to everyone, that everyone could see, download and edit?.

    Those systems work in some of the most hazards places online and work amazingly well.

    in Democracy 2.0 people will need.

    - Places to gather and debate.
    - Repositories for data(e.g. draft legislation, why and how those laws came to be and why they are necessary, cons and pro, graphs and so forth) so everyone can get up to speed as quickly as possible and start being part of the process.
    - A way to coordinate all those efforts in the elections.


    Is not like people are not thinking about it, many realized that they can do more, not just vote.

    GitLaw: GitHub for Laws and Legal Documents - a Tourniquet for American Liberty by Abe Voelker (2012)

    This lead to a debate and a lot of links to old attempts at producing legislation standards to be distributed.
    Ycombinator: GitLaw: GitHub For Laws And Legal Documents - A Tourniquet For American Liberty

    All around the world as Wired noticed in their article German Federal Law Now on GitHub (2012)

    Even some parts of the big government are experimenting with it, like the City of San Francisco initiative.
    SF Open Law

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 3:34am

    Re: Online voting

    Traceability of votes can make it impossible to hide who you vote for.
    That's a logistics problem, I can think of several ways to make it at least harder to trace, which would make it as good as the current system, which is hardly incorruptible in this respect. Granted if you're thinking in terms of simply tacking e-voting on to the current systems I'd agree it's much much harder, but if you're starting from democratic principles and designing from the ground up I think you could do better than currently.
    Incoercibility has beeen on the wishlist for democracies around the world for centuries.
    Indeed, which makes me wonder why the bar seems to be being set at "perfect, no less" for e-voting instead of "at least as good as we have now".
    but using it in the most important elections in a representative democracy is a huge concern at the moment.
    Perhaps, though I still maintain that it could be made "at least as good". Ideally, though, it should be as the article says a part of a fundamental change to citizen participation in democratic process. In that case, any single vote would inevitably become less important, removing some of the motivation for tampering with, say, a "general election" as well as well as making it harder to cover up long-term tampering with many more votes being scrutinised.
    And real results from these kinds of research have been lacking for a very long time!
    Indeed, and again I am given to wonder why? The cynic in me suggests this is likely because career politicians and those with the money and wide influence to direct effective research have exactly zero interest in reducing their hold on power. Major electoral reform in any of the big democracies seems likely only at the point of a very large "gun" (whether literally or in the form of a true grass-roots demand that carries a significant portion of the population all screaming for it in unison)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 4:00am

    Other questions that may be worth finding some answers:

    Why voting is so important, what make it so important that it can't have any level of failure in it?

    I worked in elections before I saw people dragging ballots out to be burned and replaced by new ones, this wouldn't happen today in the US were I believe they use more subtle kinds of electoral fraud, but it did back in the day and I am certain there are people doing trying hard to game the game.

    HOW TO CHEAT IN POLLS: NAMFREL LISTS 11 WAYS

    Those people doing are also not coy.
    But, you know, the endless number of hysterical hipsters throughout social media kind of “legitimized” my election fraud! I was checking the TV and websites and I realized that there is total lawlessness in the whole country. I realized nothing could stop me from stealing votes. We cheated as much as possible.

    Source: Vice: How I Rigged the Russian Elections

    What are the levels of failure acceptable for a voting system?

    Can those problems with the voting system be addressed quickly after?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 4:05am

    After the huge success of the Obamacare website, I can see why we would want to embrace such technology...???

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 4:39am

    Sock puppetry

    I can think of at least one thing better for my sock.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 4:41am

    Re: Not convinced

    they can see beyond individual needs to that of the country.

    Spelling correction, you misspelled companies. :-)

     

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    Harald K, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 4:55am

    Yet another post on Democracy that fails to realise what it is. It isn't enough that you theoretically have an opportunity to influence decisions, if in practice there are people who wield influence a thousand times yours.

    So Wikipedia, for instance, is extremely undemocratic. It has colossal unacknowledged power hierarchies. Some people are high up in that system, others know how to game it, they have more power in the collective decisions of Wikipedia than you ever will.

    Similarly, any system that relies on the mass mobilization of more or less disinterested participants, is going to be undemocratic. Some people are immensely much better than others on mobilization, from being talented PR people, or having the means to employ them.

    This is why systems based on mass voting, whether in elections or referenda, are undemocratic.

    To make a truly democratic system, you need random sampling. This was obvious to the classical Athenians, who staffed all juries and almost all important positions by lottery. When a small randomly selected group makes decisions, the people in that group are much, much more equal in power. It's not a fight of who are best at mobilising the disinterested, because when you get picked in the lottery you have a much stronger incentive to get interested, to independently investigate the issues.

    Slashdot almost had the right idea, by distributing mod points randomly. They had another part of the right idea in metamod, in that the comments you would see there would be randomly chosen for you. But in practice it failed pretty hard, as splitting it up like that made no sense, and they didn't even sort the comments by score.

    Get forums right, then we can start talking about improving politics. Not because the latter isn't important, but because this is a great area to examine the problems. Believe me, randomization is needed. Threaded discussion is also needed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 4:56am

    Re: Re: Online voting

    If an election doesn't require anonymity of the voter or that much anti-coercion, there are excellent solutions out there already. So I assume that anonymity and anti-coercion are the specific requirement they are attempting to solve.

    Voting machines and E-voting research are getting a lot of money thrown at it since it has such a high potential value if you can lock it down in IPR. I therefore do not believe the people in power is the main problem. Also, it saves them from waiting for results of elections if the manual election procedure can be avoided entirely.

    As for the "at least as good" part, I think that is the goal and I disagree that the measures are there yet or even that close on especially uncoercion mechanisms.

    In terms of coercion, social engineering is a far more serious problem in online voting. You do not know if a person is alone when a vote is cast and that makes small scale manipulation relatively easy (the classic gun to the head vote, even though reality is far less dramatic). There is a reason why you put your vote on paper in a solitary booth at a manual election! Also, remember the few backwards people who do not have internet access...

    By holding more elections, some elections will become less important, but some will still be massively lobbied. For the less important votes, the relative value of small scale manipulation will likely be far more significant given how few people would care enough to vote...

    In terms of traceability it is absolutely possible to solve, but many of the current solutions are in conflict with other safety-requirements or uncoercion measures. If anything it has good prospects of being solved satisfactorily in most cases.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:05am

    Re:

    For the same reason we don't stop trying to get up when we fall.

    The Obamacare website was an implementation fiasco not a tech one.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Online voting

    Here is the thing, the only way this will get solved is if we test it and see how it will be abused.

    So where to test those ideas?

     

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    Никто, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:45am

    Re: Re: Not convinced

    Politicians are, at least, smart, capable, and motivated to ensure the system feeding them remains functional, regardless of whether or not it satisfies their "constituents".

    Individuals, at large, haven't even that going for them; they would happily vote the country into a smoking crater while blaming everyone else.

    The democratic ideal is that people are stupid enough to require governing, while being intelligent and capable enough to govern themselves. Once you realise that contradiction, outcome of any such system becomes a systemic inevitability.

     

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    Никто, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:47am

    Re:

    This is the closest to an intelligent treatment of democracy I've ever seen on the Internet. Congratulations.

     

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    Haywood (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:59am

    Re: Not convinced

    "If everyone voted on every law, it would be ochlocracy."

    I'm inclined to think an Idiocracy

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Not convinced

    Politicians are, at least, smart, capable, and motivated to ensure the system feeding them remains functional, regardless of whether or not it satisfies their "constituents".
    Which is pretty much what I said. "Democracies" as we have them today seem set up to attract the more power hungry, opportunistic and self-centred instead of any kind of altruism. If the "good of the country" happens it usually turns out there was an ulterior motive for it.
    The democratic ideal is that people are stupid enough to require governing, while being intelligent and capable enough to govern themselves
    That's not the democratic ideal, merely a cynical version of the quote, "Democracy is absolutely the worst form of government - except for all the others." I'd agree that the most likely reason for democracies being as they are is because those who grasped the power want to keep and expand it, but perhaps a more optimistic viewpoint might be found. Until relatively recently, societies had no tools capable of involving any significant portion of society in decision making that wouldn't hopelessly stall any decision.
    We can hope, at least, that now generations are growing up intimitely familiar with tools that are capable of this, a way may be found to use them... that is closer to the "democratic ideal"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Not convinced

    The democratic ideal is that people are stupid enough to require governing, while being intelligent and capable enough to govern themselves. Once you realise that contradiction

    It is more a case that the systems were built in an age where longer range, that is further than a persons voice could carry, communications were person to person, along with the associated problem that communications took days to months to exchange. Under those limitations, elected representatives, and management bureaucracies are needed to make decisions, and carry out the necessary co-ordination.
    Now that the Internet allows rapid communication to all interested parties, people are capable of getting the information they need, and co-ordinating their efforts without the massive management overhead that is modern politics. The younger generation is growing up with an attitude that that is the way the world should work, and thinking that politicians are largely irrelevant. Unless the politicians and their cronies manage to completely destroy the Internet, it will remove their power by making them irrelevant.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:35am

    Security certificate pops up. -- WHY?

    I'm getting those frequently the last several months, including from The Cheezburger site. WHY FOR LOLCATS? Those have nothing to do with the site's security, only with their ability to invade my browser.

    And now one from "theconversation" here at Techdirt. Not the first, but I've been lazy and haven't looked into this.

    My bet, as working premise, is that not only do those "security certificates" allow sites to plant more cookies and javascript, but are a way around Noscript, and possibly even around a hosts file to snag IP addresses. -- After all who doesn't want "security", right?

    So -- I haven't read the above -- because problem is that democracy in the digital age is being commercialized all over; the internets are being taken over with surreptitious code run on your own computer. This trend is not good, and way to deal with it is to suppress the highly visible, huge, and inordinately profitably internet corporations, because their only goal is to monetize our privacy, and they're not going to stop.

    Worse than being censored on the net is being advertised. You can escape censorship with your ideas intact; advertising uses lures and tricks to re-shape your very mind.

    02:34:56[c-157-2]

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re: Not convinced

    If a big crowd can't do it, what makes you believe a smaller crowd would fare any better?

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:38am

    Okay, I skimmed: the usual weenie idealist "tech uber alles" baloney.

    Read this from Robert Reich instead:

    http://robertreich.org/post/70492038666

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Not convinced

    Politicians are, at least, smart, capable, and motivated to ensure the system feeding them remains functional, regardless of whether or not it satisfies their "constituents".


    a) Politicians are not always smart, nor capable and only God knows their motivation for the most part, if you ever had to deal with any of them you would know.

    b) What makes you believe a small crowd is better than a bigger crowd that have more smart people in it? is the crowd suicidal? would they not like to keep the system working for them?

     

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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Online voting

    In terms of traceability it is absolutely possible to solve, but many of the current solutions are in conflict with other safety-requirements or uncoercion measures
    I suspect this is because the thinking starts from the constraint "This is how elections are done, make it electronic now." It's like saying "Tables are only made out of wood, make me a table that doesn't burn". It's a lot harder unless you start further back with "what properties does it have to have to be a table and what can we change?"
    In terms of coercion, social engineering is a far more serious problem in online voting.
    And again a far less serious one if the stakes aren't so high and the window of tampering so narrow. Imagine if the average citizen voted on something once a week, or once a month as part of overall decision making. Think of how much harder it would be to effect a significant shift in overall direction by coercion of tens of thousands or more on a regular basis than it is if the decision is to select the one decision maker you can then influance subsequently. Think also how much harder it would be to continually hide evidence of that tampering from analysis.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:50am

    Democracy is not possible!!!

    Imagine if you will, that the majority still liked slavery. In a "Democracy" we can still have slaves.

    Imagine if you will, that the majority of God believing people decided that non-believers be checked from the neck up.

    For a Democracy to work, the majority of people must be able to understand how to function without being retarded... an impossibly tall order for humanity.

     

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    Ac, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 7:45am

    True Democracy?

    Ya if you want to have reps, then your never going to have a true democracy, you will still have a representitive democracy, the only way for a true democracy is one person one vote on everything.

    What you have in the USA is not true democracy, if it was the TPP would not be such a joke, Snowden would not have had to run oh and ya the NSA would most likely not exist.

    Why not run the story on how Donald Rumsfeld was talking about the trillions the pentagon misplaced the day before the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon, oh and how unlikely it was the spot the pentagon got hit had the records of the misplaced trillions of dollars.

     

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    The Real Michael, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    The US is a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy.

     

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    Arthur (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 8:18am

    On-line voting?

    I'm sorry but, with today's voters being lied to, PR'd, manipulated and most politicians promising one thing and then doing whatever money has dictated they do, I don't think our problems are going to be solved by making voting faster and more prone to manipulation.

    What we really need is better informed voters, and more transparency in government.

    We don't need a mechanism to enable more ignorant people to vote on spur-of-the-moment-I-just-read-about-this-on-the-Internet whims.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 8:54am

    Re: On-line voting?

    Better informed voters only comes with voters actually having to work for it.

    If you draft, have to argue and defend your position the end result is you being more informed about the issues.

    If the people can agree and they will agree on a small subset of things that universal then they can put the people in place to make it happen, if you don't do it, smaller interests will do it for you.

    There is no buts here, either the people start doing it or others will do for them.

    Either people start participating or others will walk all over them.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 8:55am

    Remove the Money

    One item that I have not seen mentioned yet would be to remove money from the game of politics (no one may buy political advertising except the government; who will distribute available funds equally amongst all candidates). Fund all elections by the government. Expensive? Maybe to set up, but we all know that once things get set up they cost less to run, not free, but less. In the long run, it will be cheap. Oh, and media big and small could just 'donate' certain amounts of 'space/time' as part of their taxes.

    Removing money from the political game will get elected officials more prone to listen to their constituents and less prone to listen to lobbyists as they will be less important to the re-election cycle.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 8:59am

    Re: Democracy is not possible!!!

    The other option is to have the minority doing it to you exactly the same things.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 9:00am

    Online voting will change nothing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 9:28am

    Re:

    Then there is no reason for not doing it is there?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 9:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Online voting

    I think you are overestimating how many people would want to vote that often.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Gurchetan (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 9:59am

    Re: Not convinced

    People don't need to vote on every law. Technology could be probably used to understand what people really want..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Gurchetan (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    Researchers in the last few years have invented techniques (known as coercion resistance and coercion evidence) to overcome the problem of vote buying and coercion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    Andrew Norton (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 10:48am

    The UK Pirate Party used Reddit to formulate their 2012 Manifesto. It has also used online voting for internal elections, including all the executive positions (which ended this past weekend http://www.pirateparty.org.uk/press/releases/2013/dec/16/new-pirate-leadership-team-takes-aim-2014/)

     

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  43.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Online voting

    I think you are overestimating how many people would want to vote that often.
    And, pessimist that I usually am, I think you're underestimating the number of people that would engage if there was a feeling of actually being part of a real democratic process instead of just getting to pick the lesser of who-gives-a-f*ck every few years.

    However, even if you're right and a significant number rarely vote at all and others vote only regarding things of real interest to them that doesn't make what I said any less true and in fact may well make any statistical anomalies even more glaring.

     

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  44.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re: True Democracy?

    the only way for a true democracy is one person one vote on everything.
    Very true and theoretically the technology now exists to enable this and in many respects could be considered desirable. However, as someone else pointed out, at least equally important to how voting is done is how to decide what is voted on. That bit, I think, while it desperately needs changing too, also definitely shouldn't be "every opinion carries equal weight" - that way madness lies...

     

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  45.  
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    Craig, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Not convinced

    Since modern voting started in 1856 amid lots of electoral crimes and social inequity people are still people. However now with so much more education I am optimistic they all want more social outcomes than cake and circuses. Politicians are now at an all time low in public trust and confidence. When we really start getting resource deprived I hope the solution is deliberative not violent.

     

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  46.  
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    Nick Taylor, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Not convinced

    People tend to be stupid and self-centred if they're talked to as though they're stupid and self-centred.

    If they're talked to the way American television talks to them.

    If you treat people as intelligent human beings, and give them the facts... free from partisanship, or emotiveness, you tend to get smart people back.

    Even as it is, if people are given the chance to vote for policies, without knowing which candidates have them... they strongly vote for the most compassionate and equality-conscious candidates... what the MSM are pleased to call "left wing". It's not "left wing", it's just normal human compassion and intelligence.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 7:42pm

    Online voting is a bad idea

    Are you aware that Washington DC already tried out online voting years ago? It showed exactly why it shouldn't be done.

    They set up a fake election, online voting only, and asked people to test the site and try to break it.

    A college professor and 4 or 5 of his students in another state hacked into the site pretty easily. They changed the vote totals, and to make their hacking REALLY obvious they changed the website so that whenever someone cast a vote it would play their college's theme song they play at sports games. They also took control of the video cameras in the data center around where the site was hosted, so they could keep an eye on if they were caught or not yet.

    It took 3 days for Washington DC to realize that they had been hacked. And they only realized they had been hacked when some people reported hearing the college theme song after they cast a vote.

    As a professional software developer, I would not trust any online voting system to be hacking proof.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 2:32am

    Re: Online voting is a bad idea

    You know that the first time that anyone tried to fly it ended in tragedy too right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 2:40am

    Re: Remove the Money

    Well, if removing money is what you believe will work you are in luck, because making easy to make laws and putting the people to do it in place gets rid of most of those incentives that make it so profitable.

    If you believe that fewer laws are the proper course this too will help since the bar for passing laws would be in the millions against todays thousands making that decision.

    If you believe more transparency is better that too can be accomplished with a very public forum where all laws will be scrutinized to the end of times, the number of eyeballs would increase dramatically.

    Old congress tricks wouldn't work since most people would gravitate to the easier ones to follow.

    Making easier for everyone to be part of it may have problems but they don't seem to be any worse than what we got today.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 2:43am

    Re: Online voting is a bad idea

    How and why did they failed?
    How can we make it more robust?

    Only answer if you have concerns about the current system and want change, real change else just ignore it and don't try to do anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 2:59am

    Re: Not convinced

    We are supposed to live in an ochiocracy, the rule of the majority, is that what the demos in democracy is there for.

    The great mob is mostly centred they don't go to the extremes unless something happens some event like a war and those are rare, aside from that the great mob can't agree on much there are a few things that all of us agree and that should be the basic laws we should have, so the great mob probably means less laws.

    Making easier to produce laws in a transparent form also greatly increases the cost to buy legislation.

    We are all egoistical, we all have our own interests and that is why even the most narcissistic of us will try and help others, because it is in his own best interests to do so if he want the help of others, this is exactly why people are so desperate to get money, because money represents work, for money others will work with you, for money others will produce things for you.

    Are you afraid of the "ignorant masses", well you just have to work harder to educate those masses.

    Democracy should be an intellectual exercise of the entire society within not only a few privileged representatives.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 9:14am

    Not Equal

    "...but all users are considered to have equally valid opinions regarding Wikipedia content."

    Bull. That's why I laugh when I see their banners at the tops of pages asking people for money. I say let them go ask the corporations they seem to favor instead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 22nd, 2013 @ 6:37am

    Re: Online voting is a bad idea

    As a professional software developer, I would not trust any online voting system to be hacking proof.
    Indeed. That doesn't mean, however, that it's can't be better than a paper system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 7:58pm

    Re: Okay, I skimmed: the usual weenie idealist "tech uber alles" baloney.

    No. Fuck off.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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