[ExI] Immaculate Election
avant at sollegro.com
Tue Jan 12 02:29:11 UTC 2021
This last U.S. election has been extraordinarily stressful for me. In
large part because a sizable percentage of people keep insisting,
based on an anecdotal evidence and a bunch of hearsay, that the
election was fraudulent and stolen. While I agree with the U.S.
Justice Department and state and local governments that there was no
evidence of WIDESPREAD fraud, there was clearly one video that could
be construed as evidence of small-scale fraud although it is entirely
uncertain which candidate the fraud benefited.
As such, the only clear remedy to prevent this sort of debacle in the
future, is to design our elections to be so secure as to be above
reproach. The problem is the black-box nature and security flaws
inherent in voting machines makes it so that every election that has
ever used them has engendered at least some people crying foul. I have
read and heard many software engineers warning of the ease of hacking
voting machines and voting software in general.
Of course, the rise of cryptocurrency has held out hope to me that
blockchain technology could be used to ensure security of elections
and I have been thus far been an enthusiastic proponent of such.
Unfortunately this article by some eggheads at MIT have thrown a wet
blanket on the proposal to use blockchain cyphertechnology and
zero-knowledge proof to guarantee honest and auditable election results:
If one does not want to read the whole article, it is quite nicely
summarized by this installment of xkcd:
The authors of the paper contend that no electronic voting system is
as trustworthy as paper ballots. One of their biggest objections to
blockchain is that being able to offer proof of ones vote will lead to
coercion and the buying and selling of votes which the secret ballot
was meant to prevent. That being said, one must wonder whether, with
the billions spent on influencing voters currently through propaganda
and such, if the possibility of voluntarily selling ones vote is such
a horrible development especially considering the attempted
insurrection in the Capitol last week.
Which brings up another point. If voting machines are universally
distrusted and despised, then why do we still use them? Why do
companies still make them? If distrust of voting machines are causing
massive protests that lead to injury, loss of life, and destruction of
property and historic artifacts, then should not the manufacturers of
voting machines be held liable for the damages? Putting these
companies on the hook for the damage done seems a great deterrent to
keep companies from trying to sell governments voting machines that
It would make it so that any kind of voting software would have to be
developed open source since no company would be willing to take on the
liability. Which actually makes a lot of sense to me because the
entire notion of representative democracy is on the line and so the
stakes could hardly be higher. I don't see how the Republic can
continue to survive if we can't restore people's trust in our elections.
Because as noted by James Madison in the Federalist Papers, without
trust in one another and our institutions, despotism is the only way
to prevent violence:
"As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain
degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in
human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence.
Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in
a higher degree than any other form.
Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of
some among us faithful likenesses of the human character, the
inference would be, that there is not sufficient virtue among men for
self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism
can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another."
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