the iCite net > news / blog > a permalink

news and thoughts on and around the development of the iCite net
by Jay Fienberg

iCites for voting

posted: May 12, 2003 4:16:36 PM

I really should be doing the "iCites for voting" part of this as an example, but I just wanted to whip this out and will have to come back to it later.

Dave Winer has been talking about the potential value of blogs in government elections. He posted today a rebuttal to Jon Bonne's response, Journalists and bloggers: NH Primary 2004, to Dave's original article in the Harvard Crimson, Citizen Bloggers in N.H.?.

In general, I think the more people personally ask questions and give opinions in a public forum, the better. And, I think the Internet, through things like blogs, is virtuous in providing unlimited space and time for voices that might not otherwise be heard in more-physical-world public forums.

One thing I feel adds to public discourse is the ability for people to define and use organizational structures. For example, sometimes a structured question and answer session between a large group of people and a candidate is useful. But, I think one of the limitations on public discourse is individuals and institutions using organizational structures to exclude alternative or dissenting views. For example, TV stations are basically organizational structures that determine, to a large degree, what people know about things and how much people can dig into knowing more (want to find out more, then SEE THE NEWS AT 11!!!).

So, with the Internet in general, and with blogs and discussion forums in particular, people have a medium in which they can express their opinions and ask questions without being obliged to the structures of traditional media. Forums have some structures--though there are lots of alternatives, but blogs are basically totally under personal control.

In some ways, right now, people really have the tools needed to conduct large scale, in-depth, open discussions. And, with regards to government, our representatives absolutely could be in and of such public forums.

the iCite net and elections
the iCite net doesn't assume that iCites are required to bring public discourse and governance back together. But, iCites are a medium of democratically defining or adding structures. Each iCite expresses a structure about information, and multiple people can create alternative iCites to the same information.

Additionally, people can create iCites that combine other iCites with alternative views on the same information--and one intention of this is to encourage diversity and cooperation. In other words, the structure, from the start, assumes that alternatives are allowed and can be seen side-by-side. So, this could encourage people to be less separative and trying to obscure the alternatives. It is perhaps like a debate where you know that each candidate has his 10 minutes, so one can't just assume the alternative will not be heard.

iCites can be used as a mechanism of voting in a couple obvious ways. For one example, I will use a ballot measure. And, for another example, I will use a vote for candidates. These mechanisms rely on iCite identities (i.e., uniquely identifying indiviudals online) which I will describe in another example.

1. A proposed ballot measure is set up as an iCite.
Each paragraph of the measure is represented as a link in the iCite. Besides each iCite being uniquely addressable through a URI, each of its links are as well. (This is like anchor tags in HTML, where a URL can be

Each person who is eligible to vote (which is determined by another "District iCite" linking to the identity iCite of each voter in a district) can link to any paragraph in the measure, and through that link's attributes can vote "approve" or "reject" on it, plus add a comment. The voter could also simply link to the whole ballot measure for an overal vote of "approve" or "reject". The ballot measure iCite can tally the votes and/or can aggregate the comments as annotations to the original ballot measure.

2. An iCite is set up for each candidate in a race for office.
Each voter can add one link back to themselves (i.e., to their identity iCite) under one or other candiate iCite, but not both. Adding a link to yourself consitutes a vote. Each candidate's iCite can show the total vote count, and/or the list of who voted for whom.

With iCites, there can be a lot of accountability because you are tied to your vote (or lack of one). This is not ideal for every circumstance, as there are many times where who or what you voted for should remain annonymous. With iCite permissions, your vote could be kept confidential though it would be internally track-able back to you (in other words, the iCite that tallys your vote could not display your name to anyone, but it would still be internally stored).

I can think of some ways to add third-parties to make things less trackable. But, with digital voting, it seems like protecting vote integrity means that there has to be some way to track a vote to its voter. What do you think? This seems to be a requirement even if it were being done with digital signatures and PKI.

permalink | comments {0} · trackbacks {0}

also available as: rss · rss2 · rdf · atom

Comments and Tracbacks

Note: All comments and trackbacks are moderated. Spam is deleted. Other comments are approved as promptly as possible.

Note: Older posts no longer accept new comments or trackbacks.

« prev post
Example: iCites and blogrolls

» next post
Blojsom hacks and updates to this blog

blog newsfeeds

brief content:

 XML  ·  RSS  ·  RDF  ·  Atom 

full content:

 XML  ·  RSS  ·  RDF  ·  Atom 

blog archive

jan · feb · mar · apr
may · jun · jul · aug 
sep · oct · nov · dec
jan · feb · mar · apr
may · jun · jul · aug
sep · oct · nov · dec

jan · feb · mar · apr
may · jun · jul · aug
sep · oct · nov · dec

may · jun · jul · aug
sep · oct · nov · dec

first post: 
April 30, 2003

highlight views:
Spammers' Choice

Jay elsewhere online
Jay Fienberg - the official home page

Wrong Notes - the music blog of the Ear Reverends

Fine & Full, aka, a fine and full burger

Sociomobilepoetextologia (moblog, currently inactive due to lack of proper mobile)

to enjoy roll
sites I like to read when I start from here

· Anastasia Fuller
· Andy Baio
· Biz Stone
· Boris Mann
· Bre Pettis
· Chris Dent
· Danny Ayers
· Dare Obasanjo
· David Czarnecki
· David Weinberger
· Don Park
· Evan Williams
· Greg Narain
· Jason Kottke
· Jim Benson
· Lucas Gonze
· Marc Canter
· Matt May
· Matt Mullenweg
· Michal Migurski
· Nancy White
· Rebecca Blood
· Reg Cheramy
· Richard MacManus
· Sam Ruby
· Shelley Powers
· Tim Bray
· danah boyd

powered by blojsom

Entries by blojsim