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Schneier On Self-Enforcing Protocols 207

Posted by timothy
from the visibility-rocks dept.
Hollow Being writes "In an essay posted to Threatpost, Bruce Schneier makes the argument that self-enforcing protocols are better suited to security and problem-solving. From the article: 'Self-enforcing protocols are safer than other types because participants don't gain an advantage from cheating. Modern voting systems are rife with the potential for cheating, but an open show of hands in a room — one that everyone in the room can count for himself — is self-enforcing. On the other hand, there's no secret ballot, late voters are potentially subjected to coercion, and it doesn't scale well to large elections. But there are mathematical election protocols that have self-enforcing properties, and some cryptographers have suggested their use in elections.'"
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Schneier On Self-Enforcing Protocols

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  • You need trust (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @10:38AM (#29023451) Journal

    Like everything else, both self-enforcing 'protocols' and someone in between, say paypal, rely on trust from people. It also relies on the fact that businesses will take a major hit when someone says something bad about them or if they fraud. This is exactly the same with laws. You cant enforce it, but you can make consequences for breaking laws bad enough so people dont want to break them.

    In high school I was teached that every happy customer tells about their good experience to 3-4 people, but every unhappy customer tells about it to 20 people. It's a great advice. Once the bad word gets out, your sales are going to suck and you lose customers. This is also why you need the trust and good name with self-enforcing protocols if not using middle man like paypal.

    This can also be seen on webmasters forums and the like. People have certain amount of trust points according to their past and who they've done business with. You can instantly see who is reliable and who you can do business with.

    Problem without using third party is that you cannot get to that trust level as newcomer and that it takes time to work it. When there's someone trusted in the middle of the transaction, you have some guarantee that you wont be cheated (or lose your personal details etc to whatever kind of fraud). In this case the trustful middlehand is good.

    So it only works if the other party is big enough. When voting, you rely on trusting the goverment (now this sentence is so gonna get some paranoid persons replying :). If not, you need a middle party that is big enough that you can trust them instead.

    As a side note, this is why we still rely on banks and even on our cash - We trust that our money on our bank accounts will still be available to us, and that our $10 bills wont just suddenly become worthless.

    • Re:You need trust (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ann Coulter (614889) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:07AM (#29023825) Journal
      Self-enforcing protocol participants do not require the level of trust that are required of impartial middle-men. One way of looking at self-enforcing protocols is to think of the protocol itself as serving the role of a middle-man. The protocol can be scrutinized more thoroughly than any self-serving middle-man and a higher level of trust can be placed on the protocol.
    • Not English, obviously...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by cellurl (906920) *
      We use AARP (essentially) as our Big-middle-party. They do a reasonable job. Kick out the machines and expand the role of these wonderful honorable people. Expand their role throughout voting, not just at the voting-desk, but in transferring the votes and publishing the results. I want to see an old couple announcing the winner to CNN.
    • "This is exactly the same with *music downloading* laws. You can't enforce it, but you can make consequences for breaking laws bad enough so people (delteted) *want* to break them."

      Fixed that for Slashdot.

    • by Ironica (124657)

      Like everything else, both self-enforcing 'protocols' and someone in between, say paypal, rely on trust from people.

      No, they don't... that's the whole point.

      A self-enforcing protocol is one which arranges the decision-making in such a way as to make the "fair" choice also the one that suits the individual decision-maker's self-interest. You don't even have to "trust" that they won't act AGAINST their interest, since if they do, you come out ahead. A properly-constructed self-enforcing protocol removes the trust issue entirely.

      It's sort of like the inverse of the Prisoner's Dilemma. Quite elegant.

    • by harl (84412)

      This is exactly the same with laws. You cant enforce it, but you can make consequences for breaking laws bad enough so people dont want to break them.

      So places that have the death penalty for murder have no murder?

      That's just not true. Laws don't prevent they only punish.

    • by harl (84412)

      Problem without using third party is that you cannot get to that trust level as newcomer and that it takes time to work it. When there's someone trusted in the middle of the transaction, you have some guarantee that you wont be cheated (or lose your personal details etc to whatever kind of fraud). In this case the trustful middlehand is good.

      Wow you missed the whole point of the article.

      In the cut and choose example does it fail because it has no trusted middle man?

      What about the problem of middle men going rogue or being compromised? The whole idea is centered around making the middle man obsolete for exactly this reason.

  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mets501 (1269100) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @10:50AM (#29023601)
    After reading that, I was left with the feeling that I had no idea what I had read it for. Was it a call to arms? Was it a rant about our whole world? It seemed to offer more problems than solutions...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by radtea (464814)

      It seemed to offer more problems than solutions...

      The "problem" is that the system of American government is fundamentally broken due to partisan capture: the government represents the Party, not the people.

      Unfortunately, the solution is not to be found in messing with the voting system, and certainly not my messing with it in ways that make it more complex. Most developed nations have very relatively simple, robust voting systems that have very plain, simple, paper ballots that may--but are not always--

      • I believe that you are overstating the degree of uniformity between the "Democratic" and "Republican" parties. However, I think there is significant merit in your idea of eliminating the involvement of political parties in voter registration.
        I had never before noticed the connection between party politics and what I consider to be the largest flaw in current U.S. politics: the overemphasis on addressing problems at the highest level of government rather than at the lowest possible level of government. Par
        • by tepples (727027)

          I had never before noticed the connection between party politics and what I consider to be the largest flaw in current U.S. politics: the overemphasis on addressing problems at the highest level of government rather than at the lowest possible level of government.

          That's because the constitution explicitly specifies several things as within the Congress's domain. These include authors' exclusive rights, inventors' exclusive rights, highways (aka "post roads"), and bankruptcy.

          • So, healthcare falls where in there? How about education?
            • by tepples (727027)

              So, healthcare falls where in there? How about education?

              Federal authority comes from support of interstate commerce, or taxation for general welfare.

              Federal incentive comes from the fact that states compete to be the headquarters of businesses by lowering tax rates. In order to do this, they cut corners on programs that invest in their residents' welfare, such as healthcare and education, compared to neighboring states. Feds notice this and Congress enacts a program to ensure a baseline level of coverage across all states.

      • Ah, so that siren I heard earlier was from the waaambulance.

        Everyone agrees that partisan politics in America is too strong, but your conclusion is so tinfoil-hat-worthy that it scarcely requires rebuttal.

        Furthermore, your signature is asinine for several reasons, not the least of which is because you put the inequality going in the wrong direction.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by mets501 (1269100)

          Furthermore, your signature is asinine for several reasons, not the least of which is because you put the inequality going in the wrong direction.

          Check out p-values [wikipedia.org]. "p" in this case is not a regular probability. The equality is in the correct direction.

      • by cs668 (89484) <cservin@cromagnon.com> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:51AM (#29024465)

        in the federalist papers:

        http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm [constitution.org]

        They thought about it, but free speech trumped the elimination of political parties. Always floors me how much foresight they had.

        • by c0d3g33k (102699)
          Was it really foresight, or were they just dealing with the same issues mankind has been grappling with since we became sentient? I'll go out on a limb here, since I don't have hard evidence, but these writings were probably informed by *hindsight* more than prescience. Or to put it another way, the brilliant men and women we lump together with the term "founding fathers" were presenting solutions to problems that affected the society they were living in at the time, or societies from their past that happ
        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          One of the major massive flaw in Federalist #10 is that Madison didn't (and couldn't have) envisioned instantaneous communication across the country, so his entire argument that a majority faction couldn't succeed in organizing itself fell apart with the invention of the telegraph. Damn you, Samuel Morse!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TerranFury (726743)

        The voting system determines the rules of the game. And it turns out that the game is structured such that large parties play it best. How can you destroy parties without changing the game? Theirs is evidently the equilibrium strategy.

      • > the government represents the Party, not the people.

        Thing is, in the 2008 US Presidential election, more than 98.5% of the voters who bothered to vote, voted for candidates of one of the Two Parties. In the 2004 election, that figure was 99%.

        And if the other voters that could have voted but didn't, actually voted for some other particular candidate that candidate would have won, instead of either of the Two Party candidates.

        So unless the US elections have been diebolded, I'd say the Two Parties are rep
        • There are many issues that affect voter turnout. Anything from weather to health to coercion can keep people from casting their vote. The problem isn't that people don't want to vote, it's that the bar is still too high to encourage 100% participation. I know people who didn't register because they thought they had to sign up for "Selective Service" (ie, the Draft). I know of people who didn't vote because they thought their candidate was already a shoe-in and it didn't matter. I know of people who did

        • by HiThere (15173)

          Your argument is fallacious. Most people don't think either of the two candidates that have a chance fairly represent their views, but they are also aware that only those two candidates have a chance. So either they don't vote, or they vote for someone who isn't their preferred choice. Either instant runoff or Condorcet voting would be fairer, with Condorcet having an edge in fairness, and instant runoff being more understandable.

          Note that this is a separate problem from the one that was addressed in thi

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by dk90406 (797452) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:13AM (#29023893)
      It was merely an analysis and introduction to self enforcing protocols - protocols that make cheating difficult. Bruce often writes such pieces on security related matters. As a security expert, he covers all aspects: IT, civil, banking, etc. of security and the psychological mechanisms behind the perception of security and risk.
      He publishes the newsletter CRYPTO-GRAM once a month, that contain some good pieces. You can subscribe [schneier.com] if you wish.
      And he is one of the few who, IMO, has the right take on the "security" upgrades done in the US / word after 9/11.

      Yes, I admit it: I respect him, and have subscribed to the newsletter for years.

      • by Orgasmatron (8103)

        I stopped reading CRYPTO-GRAM a few years back when he changed it from a newsletter to a list of links to his blog. It was not a good change, in my opinion, since his newsletter was a lot better written before the blog showed up.

    • by Ironica (124657)

      After reading that, I was left with the feeling that I had no idea what I had read it for. Was it a call to arms? Was it a rant about our whole world? It seemed to offer more problems than solutions...

      I found it very interesting as a discussion of economics in the broader sense, where economics is the science of decision-making. Understanding what guides decisions in the aggregate is essential to creating systems (of government, commerce, transportation, whatever) that work.

  • by Spazmania (174582) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @10:55AM (#29023669) Homepage

    The show of hands is not self-enforcing precisely because a non-secret ballot is subject to coercion. People vote their peers instead of their conscience.

    Selecting a security protocol that adversely alters the results is a common mistake among information security personnel.

    • by UnHolier than ever (803328) <unholy_ AT hotmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:06AM (#29023813)
      No, a show of hands *is* self-enforcing *but* not secret, and therefore subject to coercion, which is why it is rarely used. The article alluded to the fact that there may be a self-enforcing, secret protocol, without going into details of what it could be. If it exists, it would be a good idea to use it. It would also have been a good idea to include it in the article....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NickFortune (613926)

      The show of hands is not self-enforcing precisely because a non-secret ballot is subject to coercion. People vote their peers instead of their conscience.

      Right. But if there is a true self enforcing protocol we can use, then we'd be fools not to use it. That's the interesting thing here. Can't comment further than that because TFA is ever so slightly slashdotted at the moment.

      Still, at the risk of covering the same ground as in TFA, maybe it's time to consider the secret ballot in terms of a security tr

      • by u38cg (607297)
        The article is also available at his blog. [schneier.com]
      • Maybe we need to look past "secret ballots are good" and focus on why we consider them to be good, and on whether that good is being preserved under current systems.

        They are considered good because they prevent bribery and coercion. In other words, if someone says, "Vote for X or I'll break your legs!", all you have to do is say you voted for X when you come out of the booth. You can still vote for whoever you want, and they have no way of following up. It also prevents bribes, because if you bribe someone

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by the phantom (107624)

          You can't check for fraud by groups like ACORN (ACORN falsely registered the entire starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys in Nevada and has been indicted in 14+ states)

          Please, stop spreading misinformation. ACORN itself has not even been charged with any wrongdoing, let alone convicted. Rather, contractors hired by ACORN to get voter registrations have been charged. Rather than a conspiracy to fraudulently register voters, it appears that several lazy contractors filled out forms in order to get paid wit

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      A secret ballot is more subject to coercion, since you only have to coerce the people that count or report the result.

      This, by the way, is why smart employees volunteer to take meeting minutes.

      • That is why Schneier is suggesting a self-enforcing protocol for counting votes. The secret ballot protects against coercion of the voters, but we currently have to rely on a trusted third party (the election officials) to count the votes, and they sometimes are not trustworthy. Self-enforcing protocols would eliminate the need for a trusted third party by making it self-defeating to cheat. I'd like to see some concrete implementations of how this would work, but I like the general idea.
    • "open show of hands in a room one that everyone in the room can count for himself is self-enforcing"

      Everyone can see the result! Coercion aside, the result is unfakable. Unless you have a Mao Zedong/Big Brother-type reality distortion where what the big man says, goes. Sort of the opposite of King Canute.

    • Hmm... it's nice to be a natural leader. It means that people buy into your reality, and then vote/decide accordingly.
      The point it, to yourself be the leader.

      How to do it? Simple: Expect it (to be true).
      Say it. Believe it.
      Then a healthy human being usually tries everything to keep up that belief.
      Which usually gives it a huge chance to then become true.
      In psychology this is called the self-fulfilling prophecy. And it works on everything where you mainly have to change yourself.

    • He wasn't referring to how people vote, but the fact that the # of votes is verifiable without the use of a 3rd party.

      e.g. I just saw 14 hands go in the air for Proposition #15. It doesn't matter whether that was 14 people who actually want Prop #15 to pass, or whether it was 7 people who wanted it to pass who were holding a gun to the other 7, just that Prop #15 got 14 verifiable votes.

      • by Spazmania (174582)

        If the process corrupts the result before it's verified then it isn't self-enforcing it's self-defeating.

        In the half-cutting protocol the desired result is a fair division. It doesn't matter if I cut the cake 50/50 or 75/25 because either way I get the slice that's fair. I might intentionally cut one slice a little smaller because it has more icing.

        That isn't true in show-of-hands because the desired result of a vote is the majority opinion, not necessarily the popular opinion.

    • by CaptainOfSpray (1229754) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:03PM (#29024643)
      Here's some experience of "show of hands" votng.

      It was widely used in trade unions in England in the 50's and 60's, typically in public meetings of all the members in a workplace. I heard of it both from a carpenter in the ship-building industry, a family friend; and from other insider reports on meetings in the car-making industry in Oxford, where I lived for a while. According to my sources, these meetings were often used to pass strike decisions of considerable financial importance to the members, but (a) you attended these meetings with your workmates, who saw how you voted, and made life hell if you didn't vote the Right Way (b) the committee appointed tallymen to count the hands - they reported whatever counts the committee had told them to report.

      The result was the destruction of British industrial firms by self-centered self-appointed little dictatorial union leaders who werealways interested in making trouble, regardless of their member's interests. Vote them out? How? The elections were by "show of hands".

      So "show of hands" voting is wide open to abuse if there are more people present than can be viewed and instantly counted by those present, or where those present are unable to challenge the count effectively.
  • by drdrgivemethenews (1525877) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @10:59AM (#29023725)
    What is the proposed self-enforcing voting protocol? With no suggestion made, what is the interest of this article to the slashdot community?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lord Ender (156273)

      Regular readers of his blog would be aware of such methods. He regularly discusses papers and theories regarding security systems, including the security of voting machines.

    • by hey (83763)

      Maybe each voter could check the voters of three other people. That would scale.

    • by goodmanj (234846) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:40AM (#29024287)

      It's more of a a teaching article, not a specific new proposal. Its goal is to describe an idea to people who're not familiar to it. Maybe you're an expert already, but I found it interesting.

    • by Otto (17870) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:29PM (#29025003) Homepage Journal

      What is the proposed self-enforcing voting protocol?

      Everybody in the same room makes a mark on a ballot, folds it, puts it in a box with an open top, so all can see it is not subject to being rigged, but still not see the actual votes. At the end, the votes are upended on the floor and everybody looks at them, and can count them themselves.

      Less subject to coercion than a show of hands, still not perfect. However, it is self-enforcing, since all can see the results.

      There's other ways as well, but the point is that everybody needs to know how the system works and to be able to follow all the votes all the way through the system to the final count for it to be self-enforcing.

      • by goodmanj (234846)

        At the end, the votes are upended on the floor and everybody looks at them, and can count them themselves.

        ...whereupon I stealthily pocket ballots that support my opponents, and mix in some extra pre-marked ballots for my candidate into the pile. If it still looks like I'm not going to win, I take a quick trip to the restroom to flush the evidence, and then accuse my opponent's supporters of ballot tampering. The whole operation dissolves into an inconclusive bloody fistfight, which serves my purpose jus

  • Doesn't the constitution allow the President to be impeached? Couldn't that be a form of self-enforcement? If you think the election has been coerced then protest to get the president removed. Unfortunately I don't think its ever clear cut who should win so you don't know when you have been cheated. Plus if there are totaling errors in a polling station aren't those votes considered tainted?
    • No, it is not self-enforcing. The Constitution is the 3rd party enforcement the agreement between the President and the people by providing a means for the people to get rid of him/her.

  • by krappie (172561) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @11:37AM (#29024257)

    Here is the solution to all voting problems.

    Goals:
    1. Confirm your vote is collected correctly.
    2. Try to assure the people that no votes were added.
    3. Don't hide results.
    4. Keep votes anonymous.

    Solution:
    1. Keep a large public vote database.
    2. Be able to Look up votes by voter id, county, polling location and time.
    3. Keep large visible clock and voter count at each polling station. Every time a person goes into the voting room, the count goes up. Voter counts can be confirmed online. Maybe even in a graph over time.

    The voter should be able to go online and see his own vote. Since every voter can see every vote counted up in every polling location in the country and know that everyone else can, they'll be assured of the results. If they're paranoid, they can watch their local polling station's voter count and confirm the published results don't have added votes.

    Note: Maybe instead of voter id's, it should be a random confirmation code thats generated on the spot. That should be even more anonymous.

    Problems: Some people actually vote for the wrong person on accident. That's unfortunate, but the solution isn't to hide it from them.
    If vote online doesn't match your vote, have a dispute process. Keep track of dispute counts over time, for the public to see.

    • i don't mind people knowing where my vote went. If there is a document that says Alan voted for Bob, when we do the recount Alan can say "I voted for Bob, NOT DAN! Here's my receipt and here's your record showing me voting for Bob." But i'm not as afraid of Dan as most people seem to be. i'm more worried about my vote COUNTING than being private.

      • by rjstanford (69735) on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:09PM (#29024721) Homepage Journal

        And when your boss says, "By the way, if you vote for Dan, you get to keep your job - and I want to see your voting receipt to prove it, or out you go!"? That's one of the main reasons that we have private polling in the first place.

        How about going back to the old ways - electronically generating, at the polling place, an anonymous, very clear, human-readable piece of paper describing your vote. Use machines to create as many as you want, one at a time, on special pieces of paper that are handed out either as you walk in the door and get IDd or upon the insertion of your previous one into a shredder. Once you're happy with it, it goes into the voting box which a) saves it, and b) scans it and records the data, unofficially (ie: the piece of paper wins in a recount).

        Dead simple, totally private, and fully auditable. Plus, with an open standard, there could be different types of paper-generating-machines for people with different needs, no problem. No hanging chads, no huge expense, quick access to unofficial results and about as easy a recount procedure as you could ask for.

        Finally, at the end of the day, do it the CA way and have the boxes opened up and tallied by hand for the major issue and a random selection of minor ones at each station. Anyone can watch, and any discrepancy over .1% of the total is assumed to be computer-tampering and triggers a full manual count for all issues at that station, and a more thorough audit to determine the source of the discrepancy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dkleinsc (563838)

          Actually, the voting method you describe is more-or-less what optical-scan ballots are all about. While they aren't exactly "the old ways", they work extremely well, and give you an auditable vote in case of recount.

          For instance, in the Franken-Coleman senatorial race, we had pieces of paper that could be gone through and understood. Yes, it took a really long time, yes, it produced votes for Lizard People, but the end result was something that independent observers could see as a correct reflection of the

          • by goodmanj (234846)

            Yes, it took a really long time, yes, it produced votes for Lizard People

            Sir, I protest! A democracy that forbids people from voting for Lizard People is no democracy at all!

            • by dkleinsc (563838)

              I wholeheartedly agree that votes for Lizard People should be legal. But some folks were saying that the recount process was too ridiculous and therefor must have been flawed because Lizard People and Flying Spaghetti Monster got votes. It was a silly argument, but it's definitely put out there (mostly by Coleman supporters).

    • Biggest problem with that is, it now becomes possible to sell votes. And this doesn't help:

      Maybe instead of voter id's, it should be a random confirmation code thats generated on the spot.

      And yet, that confirmation code could still be used for that purpose. About the only way to solve that would be to also generate a fake confirmation code, but then the transparency would be lost, because if the system can fool you into thinking your fake code was counted when it wasn't, couldn't it do the same with your real vote?

    • by Orgasmatron (8103)

      The goal of anonymous voting is to make it pointless for people to buy votes. Getting a "confirmation code" and being able to check it later defeats that goal.

    • by Asic Eng (193332)
      1. Keep a large public vote database.

      Apart from the fact that you are restricting the goals to match the solution, I think this is another major flaw. You need to have a large accurate public vote database. There is no way for any citizen in any polling district to know all voters, so you can't be sure that a voter going in the polling station has a right to be there. Provided you can add entries in the database, you can have the same person voting multiple times in different locations using different nam

    • The voter should be able to go online and see his own vote.

      and

      Maybe instead of voter id's, it should be a random confirmation code thats generated on the spot. That should be even more anonymous.

      The problem with an individually verifiable vote is that you enable people to (be forced to) sell their vote. Any person with authority over voters (boss?) could make them demonstrate their choice. This is already happening in lots of places.

      If vote online doesn't match your vote, have a dispute process.

      Any po

  • Yes, self-enforcing protocals are the best.

    If you don't want players to attack other players in an online game, you don't yell at them for doing it, you have them damage themselves, not the players.

    Similarly, if you want voting to be fair, you need to set up ways where it is OBVIOUS that the election is real.

    But note, that the method mentioned her, raising your hand, allows people to know who you voted for. This allows for voter intimidation. You are just exchanging one form of fraud for another.

  • related pet peeve (Score:5, Informative)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 11, 2009 @12:15PM (#29024793) Homepage Journal

    voting systems should better reflect the people's actual will, by being a little more complex

    you're never going to get the nuance of the people's will 100%, but you can do a lot better. for example: borda voting

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borda_count [wikipedia.org]

    just rank candidates in the order you like them. then, in a divisive election is an opportunity for everyone's second best choice to become the winner rather than partisan first choices, that one half of the population hates, barely edging out the other

    now take as an example the disgusting 2000 presidential election: if people were allowed to merely rank candidates rather than be forced to pick one, who would have won? john mccain. however you think of him as a choice in the 2008 election, mccain was certainly a better choice than gore or bush in 2000, and the nation actually thought so. if the people were allowed to rank a list of candidates, his name would have come out as the number 2 choice of everyone, and he would have won. but the system worked against mccain. instead, various undemocratic closed door machinations led the republican party to choose monkey boy bush over the more deserving mccain, and so the democrats who would have ranked mccain second best never would have been able to register their approval of mccain over bush. borda voting does away with the whole party primary nonsense: democrats field 4 or 5 presidential candidates, republicans field 4 or 5 presidential candidates. and the voters merely rank them. then the voting system better reflects the nuances of public opinion, and allows for the candidate whom people really like to emerge. who should really lead the nation? by better reflecting the people's affinity or dislike. no more divisive partisan bullshit

    another good system: approval voting

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Approval_voting [wikipedia.org]

    easier to understand than borda voting with similar results: checkbox next to anyone you like. voting for no one and voting for everyone has the same effect. in between, are abilities to express approval and disapproval, and the winner is a simple tally of whomever gets the most votes

    • by istartedi (132515)

      If McCain won, we wouldn't have to read your post. His "campaign finance reform" would have made casual blogging subject to the same restrictions as professional campaigning. You probably wouldn't have filled out the paperwork and/or paid fees just to retain your right to mention candidates on the Internet.

      I like to think SCOTUS would have tossed it out; but I'm glad we didn't have to go through that.

      • in 2000, if it meant that the far far greater list of bush failures would never have happened

        • by istartedi (132515)

          Really, we shouldn't have to make that kind of choice. The real flaw in the system, IMHO, is the way the candidates move up through the ranks and get nominated.

          Most Americans aren't a part of that process. That seems to be handled by party insiders. Who decides, for example, the keynote speaker at conventions? That's just one feature of this insider process that happens.

          Don't tell me to get involved with the party either. That solution doesn't scale. I'd just end up being one of the insiders. Great for

    • by dasunt (249686)

      just rank candidates in the order you like them. then, in a divisive election is an opportunity for everyone's second best choice to become the winner rather than partisan first choices, that one half of the population hates, barely edging out the other

      Does the population as a whole benefit from a borda or approval voting system?

      Under the current system, we are forced to compromise with our candidates quite early. It may result in a more mainstream choice in politicians.

      That may or may not be a good t

      • result in a more mainstream choice? i am flabbergasted how such a conclusion could enter your mind

        the 2000 election is an indisputable example of how the current system wound up choosing a president that was not mainstream. we got instead a cleavage of the country into left and right, with resentment and hatred festering

        mccain was a better mainstream choice: his secondary appeal to democrats was much larger than his primary appeal to the right wing, which is what cost him the party's nomination. so if mccai

      • by joib (70841)

        Voting methods can be ranked in order of how well the chosen candidate matches the preferences of the electorate; in such rankings most voting systems, including the above mentioned Borda and Approval methods, outperform the current system.

        Whether that benefits the population as a whole or not is more difficult to say. Presumably voting systems that give more weight to centrist candidates fare could be better because they would be less likely to cause violent reactions or in the worst case revolutions.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by the phantom (107624)

        The system described above does tend to reflect the will of the people better. As an analogy, consider the GPA of a student. The current system is like only counting the As, i.e. you get credit for a class only if you get an A in that class. This is great for the students that always get As, but pretty much sucks for everyone else, and doesn't accurately reflect one's ability. The Borda system is more similar to the way that grades are actually averaged. You can be ranked on a scale from 0 to 4 (or 0 t

  • To the tune of the Mormon song in that episode of Southpark....

    First the guy starts off with a reference to Potheads. Danger sign right there.

    Then he goes off about how fair VAT is. Second danger sign.

    Then he opines about how he can come up with all these ways that people can't cheat, like one guy rolls two joints and the other guy picks which one he wants to smoke, and pretends like this idea can scale.

    Want to bet there isn't a way to cheat at cut and choose? Let's try it to elect a politician and see i

  • See Mailclad [mailclad.com] where I already laid this out.

  • "But there are mathematical election protocols that have self-enforcing properties, and some cryptographers have suggested their use in elections.'"

    people already fuck up elections as they are now. put extra layers of complication and mathematical abstraction on top of it, and kiss fair voting goodbye.

    anything other than "the vote goes on the paper, the paper goes in the box, the papers from the box are counted in public view" is to complex for joe sixpack to audit and complain by himself, thus inadequate t

  • The article is interesting, but Schneier is not the first person to consider such questions. Last year (I think?), Ron Rivest gave a couple talks at my school on the subject of voting. One of them was about auditing, and the other was about using crypto to achieve safer e-voting. You can see something similar to what he said here: http://people.csail.mit.edu/rivest/RivestSmith-ThreeVotingProtocolsThreeBallotVAVAndTwin.pdf [mit.edu] Some of the comments here have been arguing over the relative merits of verifiability

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