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[Comment-Mac] Re: Secret ballots

On Wed, May 19, 1999 at 01:43:09AM -0500, Eric Weisberg wrote:

> Nothing else associated with this effort has been or will be cheap. 

Online elections can be extremely cheap.  

One of the recurring criticisms of ICANN is that it is a rich man's
game (Roberto Gaetano hypothesizes that ICANN is really a conspiracy
hatched by the Airline Industry).  The undeniable fact is that full 
participation in ICANN is an expensive proposition, and that expense 
leaves many interested parties (such as myself) at a significant 
disadvantage.  The only way that such people can effectively 
participate is through online activity; and therefore, I consider it 
a high priority for ICANN to conduct as many of its activities on 
the net as possible.

Hence I much prefer online voting, and I don't want a voting system 
that is incompatible with online operation.

Online operation of a roll-call voting protocol is simple, cheap,
straightforward, and doesn't require any trusted third parties
(TTPs).  Online operation of a secret ballot is somewhat more
complicated, and requires the use of trusted third parties.  A TTP is
by definition an entity that all the participants trust.  (I should
point out that A TTP is required for all secret ballots, not just
online ones -- we have precisely the same problem if the vote is 
conducted by regular mail.)

Coming up with the TTP is the real difficult part.  Eric suggests
something called the "American Arbitration Council" or something like
that.  Joop innocently suggests his votebot.  I don't trust either of
these, and I suspect that there are many other people who won't trust
them.  Of course, we could always just let the ICANN board count the
votes...or let them pick a TTP they like, right?

I'm not saying that a TTP couldn't eventually be found.  The problem
is that trust is intrinsically something that requires time to
develop.  The vast majority of the at-large members of ICANN, as well
as the Board and many other players, have to be comfortable with the
choice.  As far as non-USA participants, the "American Arbitration 
Board" is maybe a little more real than the ICIIU, but how do you 

On the other hand, online roll-call voting works, out of the box, and
does not require a TTP.  Verification is instant and essentially
perfect.  No auditing is required.

> Why
> start skimping with the integrity of the process?

I argue that starting with secret ballots *is* skimping on the 
integrity of the process.

> The privacy of one's vote
> is a prime value.  It is not something I am interested in losing.  I doubt
> there are many who feel otherwise.

You should control your jerking knees and sloganeering, and try to
think outside your box.  "Privacy" is not an absolute, it's not a
mantra, a religious matter, or a "prime value".  It's not even
well-defined: it exists in many shades of gray, and has to be
evaluated along with everything else.  

In fact, my prime concern is precisely the "integrity of the
process".  However, one can't simply paper over the difficulties with
secret ballots in the name of "privacy". 

Kent Crispin                               "Do good, and you'll be
kent@songbird.com                           lonesome." -- Mark Twain