[extropy-chat] Buying votes. [Was: ... Vote Early!]

Eric Messick exi at syzygy.com
Sat Oct 21 06:44:00 UTC 2006

>> spike wrote:
>> > ...  This would be cheap and easy, and
>> > would establish actual credibility of a paperless election...
>> The problem is that it then becomes possible to buy votes and verify
>> that people voted the way they said they would...
>>   Eliezer S. Yudkowsky 
>Hmmm, ja I did overlook that possibility.  In principle I would think the
>issue is get-aroundable however.

Yes, I think it is.  Here's my solution:

All votes get publicly reported with a random identification number.
This means anyone can add up all of the published votes, and they
better get the published totals.

The total number of votes cast is recorded at various granularities,
so multiple people are in a good position to verify that extra votes
are not being added into the system.

Each voter receives a printout of their vote, and the ID number
assigned to it, printed by the machine that they enter their vote on.
They can choose to keep or dispose of any parts of this record.  If
they keep at least the ID, they can look it up in the public database
and insure that their vote was counted.

This would, of course, allow a vote buyer to verify that the voter
delivered the promised vote.  So, how do we prevent this?

The system allows NEGATIVE votes.  A voter can cast as many pairs of
votes tallying to zero as they wish.  They receive a vote record for
each individual vote, and thus can verify that both the positive and
negative votes in a pair are being counted.  In addition to the (zero
or more) pairs of cancelling votes, the voter can enter exactly one
vote record which is not cancelled.

When a voter begins voting, they choose either a simple, single vote,
or a more complex multiple voting procedure.  Only people whose votes
are being bought or coerced would use the extra procedure.  After
entering the votes they wish to show to their buyer, they press a
special button to cancel the previous vote.  The machine automatically
generates the proper negative votes and prints both voting records.

This allows any voter to sell their vote as many times as they like,
to as many different parties as are willing to pay.  The voter can
deliver proof to each vote buyer that their vote was included in the
total.  No one, except the voter, knows which votes were cancelled.

Now, someone wishing to buy a vote needs to make sure that the voter
doesn't use the cancellation mechanism.  The buyer could try to insure
that the voter leaves the polling place with exactly one vote record,
which is the one they've bought.  To thwart this, the voter would need
to destroy all of the other records before leaving the polling place.
But then they couldn't verify their complete voting record.

So, at each machine we have a drop box and a bunch of envelopes.  The
voter can seal as many records as they desire into envelopes, and
affix addresses and stamps, and drop them in the drop box before
leaving the polling machine.

If a voter believes that mail to them may be intercepted and searched
by vote buyers, then they can choose friends to mail the vote records
to.  In the extreme case, they just have to trust that the system will
count their vote, and destroy the records at the polling place.

If the system works well enough, no vote buyer would waste their

Politicians would never accept such a system...


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