I don’t think that it’s fair to exclude technology based on complexity of the algorithms. As long as the code of that algorithm is open source & audited by crypto experts, and scrutineers have access to the complete data, then scrutineers could actually run their own implementation of algorithm to confirm that the result matches.
If you are talking about using insanely advanced computations (like banks of ASICs and GPUs computing tonnes of data and using tonnes of energy like Bitcoin) I agree with you on that 100%, but that is not a requirement for Block Chains to work. It’s wouldn’t be a fully decentralised system - it’s under the control of the AEC. So instead of a huge computation being the price to enter a vote (of which bad actors would have the resources to inject their own computations anyway), another secure system would be needed to control the vote.
I was thinking of something along the lines of printing Polymer notes with similar security features as Banknotes (and produced in the same security as the Mint), with a random serial number/code which can’t be guessed. The notes are then sent in bundles to Polling Places. The Random Serial Number/Codes and the bundles they are in are recorded and open to scrutiny (but the actual serial numbers/codes are sealed until after the polls close). Polling Places record which note bundles have been opened, shuffle all the notes inside (like a Bingo cage) and then hand one out to each voter as they are marked off the roll. At close of rolls, all the codes in unopened bundles are invalidated and all the remaining notes are counted and scanned in to have their individual codes invalidated. If any notes are Stolen they can easily be traced and can’t be used.
I’d argue that it is the best tool for the job, under the right conditions and circumstance, but the points being raised in here are not on the lines of the technology actually being able to handle it, but rather the question of would Australians be able to accept the technology as legitimate?
The AEC has a huge amount of public confidence. It’s going to be hard to challenge the way they are running things because the public opinion of this organisation is so high some might think that they are incorruptable. The AEC can silently introduce proprietary OCR and nobody bats an eyelid, even though there is no way to tell that the OCR is processing those votes correctly. I’m not saying that they are corrupt, but as it stands where is the accountability?
How do we know what things will be like in 20 years? Already this current government is applying stretch definitions to legislation and destroyed the reputation of the once honourable ABS by making them put on a non-Anonymised Census and now making them do the work for their stupid Plebiscite. Anything can change and we should advocate for more and more robust systems which make it harder manipulate.
Public acceptance is a fair point, but many of the policies of the Pirate Party are very future thinking (like UBI) and Most Australians wouldn’t accept that either because it’s too radical.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again, the Pirate Party needs two categories of Policy: Short term and Long term. Long term is the Ideal version of the policy, the one that would happen if the Pirate Party actually got power or a sympathetic ear to actually listen to it and make it happen. Short term is the compromise solution given the realities of the current situation.
So in this example of Electoral Reform, the Short term side of technology is to make AEC’s use of OCR transparent, accountabl & more reliable. The Long term is to make use of technology (which could include, but doesn’t have to, and is not limited to, Block Chain technology) where it can be done in transparent and accountable ways, which has been proven.
We couldn’t back Block Chain right now simply because it hasn’t been proven yet - it has never been done, there are no implementations available yet - but that doesn’t mean that we don’t support future development of the technology which shows promise and see if it ticks all the boxes.
Let me make up another example implementation:
- Exactly the same as the current system for voters, the voter uses a voting machine as a “glorified pencil” in the following ways:
- Basic data validation to make sure the vote has been filled in correctly
- A bit of UI/UX improvement, instead of wrangling with an insanely huge piece of paper
- Ability to scan a QR code in case you want to follow someone’s else’s How to Vote Card verbatim.
- Prints it in a font which is easier to scan with OCR (rather than highly variable human handwriting).
- It’s still printed onto paper for the voter to check and cast in the usual way.
- The AEC MAY use OCR for these printed votes as long as these votes open to scrutineers using their own OCR machines to make sure the AEC got their OCR right.
- 100% Paper option is still available, but may not be OCR’ed
- Optionally, the voting machine could be testing new technologies at scale and collecting UX statistics under the hood.
Lets see if you can pick that example apart.