Open And Decentralized Online Voting

3 minute read

I’ve been thinking about online voting for over a decade, first from doing security audits on them, and realizing how deficient they are in structure and security, to Elections Act compliance – such as anonymous voting with the ability to do a recount.

Back in 2016-2017 while running DecisionTree, I realized an even greater potential, which is the ability to uncover why someone votes on anything, which turns out we discovered are your values and goals, even as they dynamically evolve, but I’ll save for another article.

In 2018-2019 I led a team that built ID VPN which is the best privacy centric identity management and verified credential platform I’ve seen, even 3 years later. It’s still closed source and centralized, and I’d like to change both of those things. If you follow my blog, you know that nostr is one of the two technologies I’m very bullish on for 2023, and the most exciting thing to me is the final technology piece for my vision towards online voting.

Here’s a high level overview of how it works: has government issued ids in it, where only the identity owner has access to their private key which governs their id – which they can choose when and where to use authorize a vote. As a vote creator, you specify who can vote on the voting topics you create. For example, “Only people in my apartment building” “Only people with these postal codes” “Only women in this city”. basically, anything that can be found on a government issued id. As a voter, to enter a vote, you will be prompted with a claim “Do you agree to let us confirm your age and province or state?” as an example to be able to vote on cannabis legalization, where voters should be age of majority. Assuming you say yes, with your private key, IDVPN looks at your ID, verifies if you meet the claim or not. Obviously if you don’t meet the claim requirements you can’t enter the vote, but if you do, we generate a unique userid (UUID) for you to enter that vote, so you can vote anonymously. ID VPN does not send your name, age or location to the voting app, it only sends a UUID to them which means you met the claim requirements, they have no idea who you are, just that you’re authorized to vote on that topic. You can now safely and anonymously vote on any vote, as you will have a completely new UUID per vote. The votes can even be made public, allowing for recounts etc, as no one will ever know which one was you.

I’m looking for investment, as well as advice, to bridge these pieces together. The latter being the business model / organizational structure as a non-profit or for-profit.

Here are a few examples of where it can be used:

  • In your building, you can choose to vote if your building should allow pets or not, or you could create a vote if people should be able to hang flags in their windows. Forget waiting for your building strata or HOA to do this, anyone can create the vote in less than a minute and start sharing it. You can use your building address or neighbourhood as the claim requirement for this vote.
  • You can start a vote petition asking if firearms should be banned in your country. You can use your country name as the claim requirement for this vote, and perhaps an age, like those over 16.
  • You can create a vote in your company, if a new product pivot should be the new priority. You can use a white list of names as a claim requirement for this vote.
  • This could even be used in municipal, provincial/state, or even federal elections, or perhaps even more powerfully, you could use this to replace government bureaucracy as this could be used for direct democracy – voting on specific policy issues.

Again, I’m looking for investment on piecing together these existing tools to create a decentralized, open source, democratic voting system that allows for recounts, and elections act compliance that can be used at the hyper local micro, as well as macro levels. I’ll also be looking to hire developers with experience in privacy, security, and decentralized protocols such as nostr.

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