[ExI] Immaculate Election

Stuart LaForge 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  
nobody trusts.

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."

Stuart LaForge

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