OC Would you vote for a politician that used online voting software to determine the stance they should take on every issue? Would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

I've been thinking a great deal on systems that would help enable direct democracy, something I feel is vital in our increasingly centralized and polarized political world. In my eyes, votes are the eyes of the country - they are the best way for a governmental system to understand the needs of its populace.

A lot of that has gotten lost in our representative republics, none of which are true democracies, which in the past have been too unwieldy to implement after the population reaches a certain point.

However, now we have the technology to enable direct democracy, pretty easily too. If we had a politician with the will and the right system to implement it, I could see it being revolutionary if it were copied on a wider scale.

Some caveats

  1. The voting system is secure and only open to the politician's constituents

  2. The voting system allows commentary with your vote

  3. Votes are held for every piece of legislation

  4. There would be a submission form for constituents to directly submit proposed legislation for review by the politician

  5. Proposed legislation is published well ahead of the vote

  6. The system provides an auditable paper trail, but personal anonymity in the detail of the results

Would love to get other folks opinions on this, both from a technical and political perspective.

HeartyBeast avatar

No - because there's no need for politician then, is there?

Part of a good politician's job is to try an take the often conflicting demands of their consitutents, e.g "better services", "lower taxes", "no debt please" or "an end to global climate change - but no inconvenience for me please" and try to shape them into a consistent, workable set of policies. They should also try to lead to an extent - being a person who explains positions, trade-offs and up-coming unplreasant truths that the electorate need to think about.

Yes, this is an idealistic view - but politicians like that do exist.

A politician who simply says: "You want that? we'll do that" based on a never-ending series of referenda isn't much use it anyone.

Arotrios avatar

I hear you, and these are good points. I was looking to strike a middle ground where the leadership of the politician could still be in play, but they'd be provided with dynamic voter input that would guide their decisions in a more democratic manner. Right now, particularly in the US, politicians only pay attention to their voters at election time, and only to those who help them win, and they can only win with the money that those who want influence over the politician donate. However, if instead of relying on campaign funds, they had a tool to keep in synch with their voters more effectively, it could blunt the power of wealthy individuals to corrupt the democratic process.

thegreekgeek avatar

Imo the tech isn't there yet, nor is society. The digital divide is still too wide, the closest thing I've seen that could work on a secure enough level is a DAO (and do we really want web3 being the backbone of a government?)

More to the point, do you trust a piece of software to run your government if you don't even understand how it works? Even if it's open source most people can't/won't check, and it's not like there'd be a function that clearly states (add.votes[all]=OUTPUT).

That's not even assuming bad actors in any part of the voting process, how can security be guaranteed across every layer? Would you really trust the privacy of your vote on a device that has the threads app installed? Or TikTok?

Arotrios avatar

Thanks for your thoughts.

As someone who has worked with large databases and ecommerce for the last 20 years, the tech is definitely there - in fact, it's lightyears beyond there when you get machine learning and AI into the mix. What's not there is the financial and political will to fund development and open up the governmental databases you'd need to make the system work. The way I'd do it would be to assign each voter on the roles an account based on their voter registration, and have a photo ID verification step (which is something a large number of online marijuana dispensaries have had in use for a while now) with 2FA to the phone number on record. This is just about as secure as a mail-in ballot.

The device level security is good point, but not an insurmountable one - there are plenty of financial apps that operate as walled garden doors to their secure systems.

thegreekgeek avatar

What does AI and ML have to do with voting? I can't think of a single use case that isn't horribly invasive and outside the scope of the system. (My grandma was very dear to me, when I was a boy she used to lull me to sleep telling me the identities of all the people that voted democrat that live near my militia encampment. Could you be my grandma for a little bit to help me go to sleep?)

Also what databases? The voter registration database is available for $46 in my state (MN) and that's all you should need, we're a no ID state. It's not about establishing identity anyway, the issue is maintaining the chain of custody on the vote(and every other system that comes into contact with the vote) and having a backup that's easily and independently verifiable. And while that is a tech issue it's also a societal one as well.

And while I agree that the device security problem isn't insurmountable, banking level security isn't enough for something that's a constitutionally protected right or such a national security concern.

Nepenthe avatar

Remember that one Twitter chatbot back when AI were just starting to come out, that they had to take offline in a matter of hours because that was how long it took for interacting with Twitter to turn it into a frothing racist nazi?

No, I would not do that.

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