Secret ballot for POA governance model


#1

Let’s weight our thoughts on having the secret vote mechanism on POA blockchain. I strongly believe the secret ballot concept is crucial for a democracy and achieving the goal of political privacy. The right to hold elections by secret ballot is included in numerous treaties and international agreements. Article 21.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “The will of the people…shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which…shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.” What are pros and cons of implementing this concept for POA governance model?


#2

Hi Henry! I think this is good idea and great place for a discussion. Might I suggest the title of this thread be changed to “Secret Ballot for POA governance model”? Secret Ballot vs. Secret Vote is perhaps easier to understand that we are talking about the ongoing participation method and not just a single event.

I agree, this is what keeps free participation free. Elections in the United States from local to State and Federal guarantee the secret ballot, and, after the ballot has closed, also allow election results to show total voter participation and who has voted, without showing for whom they have voted. This allows future elections to understand where the message of the election has not been heard so people can be better informed, and reduces the ability for factions to target voters and possibly intimidate them to chose a different candidate or not participate at all.

I understand that the POA Network DevTeam is working to make this method available in an audit-able fashion, and encourage this. I am glad to lend a hand if this can be helpful. I know this has been discussed and supported by Validators in the past. Thank you for bringing this topic up again on the forum Henry!


#3

@henryvishnevsky and @1proof,

What problem are we trying to solve with the secret ballots that is not already solved by the decentralized governance structure we have in place? We need a clear answer to that question. Otherwise, changes to the governance model is essentially transferring the risk that we, the validators of POA Network, bare to the POA Network community as a whole without any guarantee of benefit. It is one thing to say that we have a right to secret ballots. It is entirely different to say we have a need for them.

Henry,

Article 21.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in full, states the following:

  1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
  2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.
  3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Notes: Universal and equal suffrage refers to the right to vote of all adults, subject only to minor exceptions.

I have highlighted the parts from said article that essentially tell us that our current governance model violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Either we have to admit that the document does not directly apply to our governance model or we are morally obligated to resolve these violations and give everyone in the community a right to vote on governance.


#4

Hi Rocco. In response to your question, “What problem are we trying to solve with the secret ballots …” please see my second paragraph above. Here it is again:

I agree, this is what keeps free participation free. Elections in the United States from local to State and Federal guarantee the secret ballot, and, after the ballot has closed, also allow election results to show total voter participation and who has voted, without showing for whom they have voted. This allows future elections to understand where the message of the election has not been heard so people can be better informed, and reduces the ability for factions to target voters and possibly intimidate them to chose a different candidate or not participate at all.


#5

My position is that a Validator’s voting record should be public.

First, POA Network is an Open Public Network, so in my mind, can’t reconcile "secret’ with “open and public”.

Being an open public network, I believe one’s vote is a public action that represents one’s thoughts and considerations regarding a ballot.

These thoughts and considerations are part of one’s person/identity which one has agreed to stake in the exchange for a reward, i.e. the act of voting is part of Identity at Stake.

Finally, I think it good to look to current centralized policy/law for perspective and guidance only with respect to what aspirations the document is trying to achieve. POA Network is attempting to create something new and “transcend” all that has come before. Trying to use existing laws as a constraint or raison d’etre for a policy/functional point of POA Network is misplaced as then we are stuck in the “centralized” paradigm.


#6

Jim,

Your response did not answer my question, which is why I originally posed it. Copying my question again below for reference:

What problem are we trying to solve with the secret ballots that is not already solved by the decentralized governance structure we have in place?

Here are my thoughts to further clarify:

This allows future elections to understand where the message of the election has not been heard so people can be better informed,

A core tenant of our governance model is that voting is mandatory for validators. If the message of the ballot is not heard, it is often times the fault of the ballot producer rather than the voter, which is why we notify each other of ballots on as many channels as possible, including this forum.

and reduces the ability for factions to target voters and possibly intimidate them to chose a different candidate or not participate at all.

Another core tenant of our governance model is that we are all independent and unaffiliated. Our decentralized governance model actively discourages factions and the influence of factions.

Our governance model already accomplishes those exact same benefits while offering radical transparency. Why switch to radical privacy unless it produced additional benefits? In my opinion, the POA Network community benefits more from radical transparency of validator activity rather than radical privacy of validator activity. It’s why we moved this conversation to a public forum.

So to ask my question again, what is the net benefit of switching to radical privacy?


#7

Rocco, I hope you realize that all validators votes are already public on the blockchain. This is what this topic was created to discuss. There is a reason I referred to only Article 21.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. POA Network is not a state and certainly not a country and, therefore, article 21.1 and 21.2 do not apply. Blockchains are stateless. Addresses on POA network as long as transactions between them can be made by not only humans but also by completely autonomous and anonymous software entities and therefore human rights might not apply to them. Validators on POA Network, on the other hand, are humans and therefore Article 21.3 might apply to them. Validators on POA Network are the people and the authority of government on POA Network.

What we are trying to discuss here is political privacy of validators. Validators are responsible for the network security in the first place. Having their vote recorded publicly on the blockchain increases the risk of targeting validators and possibly intimidating them in order to manipulate the ballot results and, therefore, poses a risk to the network security. Finally, we don’t have a conclusive study of public opinions on different topics and therefore we should not represent ourselves as elected public representatives of a broad group of undefined users.


#8

John, this is a topic for another discussion. We did not agree if we should stake our thoughts and considerations as part of our identity on the blockchain in the exchange for a reward.


#9

POA Network is a public blockchain. This implies that anyone or anything can participate in transactions on the network. POA Network is also a permissioned blockchain. This implies that candidates can become validators as long as they meet the requirements and are voted in by existing validators.


#10

Henry,

Rocco, I hope you realize that all validators votes are already public on the blockchain.

Henry, I do not appreciate the ad hominem attack on me. It’s fine if you have strong political beliefs, but you do not need to imply that I do not know what I am talking about to discredit my message. Especially considering that my last message discusses underlying concepts (radical privacy versus radical transparency) that relies on this knowledge.

There is a reason I referred to only Article 21.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. POA Network is not a state and certainly not a country and, therefore, article 21.1 and 21.2 do not apply.

Article 21.3 in full states “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.” Two things to note:

  1. The intent of article 21 is not to solely give a right to a secret vote. Narrowing it down until it fits a specific purpose is political propaganda.

  2. We have a free voting procedure in place already (our voting DApp), so we meet the requirements of article 21.3.

Blockchains are stateless. Addresses on POA network as long as transactions between them can be made by not only humans but also by completely autonomous and anonymous software entities and therefore human rights might not apply to them. Validators on POA Network, on the other hand, are humans and therefore Article 21.3 might apply to them. Validators on POA Network are the people and the authority of government on POA Network.

By this logic, secret ballots would disqualify us from Article 21.3, because there would be no way to prove that our voting is not being done by completely autonomous and anonymous software entities, which would in turn disqualify us from the human definition.

What we are trying to discuss here is political privacy of validators. Validators are responsible for the network security in the first place. Having their vote recorded publicly on the blockchain increases the risk of targeting validators and possibly intimidating them in order to manipulate the ballot results and, therefore, poses a risk to the network security. Finally, we don’t have a conclusive study of public opinions on different topics and therefore we should not represent ourselves as elected public representatives of a broad group of undefined users.

I already refuted this point above. I still need a response to my question.

Since we will likely have to agree to disagree, here is my proposal. I would be glad to vote in favor of radical privacy if the validators are also willing to vote to halve their validator rewards to reflect their reduced risk exposures. I believe that validator rewards are much too high for our current risk levels as is, so I believe this would be an acceptable compromise.


#11

I think John’s comment needs to be included in this discussion. A jury of our peers may disagree with you, especially considering how high validator rewards currently are. They have a tendency to do this unfortunately. Just look towards most court cases where a lottery winner received even a modest payout.


#12

Rocco, I apologize if my comments looked like a personal attack on you. I didn’t mean to attack you. All I wanted to know if you understand that all our votes are currently public and what risks it poses to the network security. This is why I tried to explain what problem we are trying to solve with the secret ballots since you asked this question twice.

This is not a topic of Radical transparency vs Radical privacy. We are not trying to switch to radical privacy here. Validators identities should remain public and available for everyone to review. What this topic is trying to discuss is having a secret ballot for POA governance model because our current governance model does not have it. I believe having our votes recorded publicly actually increases a risk to form factions and increases the risk of having unknown forces targeting validators and possibly intimidating them in order to manipulate the ballot results and, therefore, poses a risk to the network security.

I don’t understand this logic. Validators have their identity publicly available for a review. Validators are humans and therefore Article 21.3 might apply to them. Validators on POA Network are the people and the authority of government on POA Network.


#13

I strongly encourage everyone to participate in the discussion. All I suggested is that we might want to start a different topic and discuss if we should stake our thoughts and considerations as part of our identity on the blockchain in the exchange for a reward as it seamed a little bit out of topic for this discussion to me.

Could you please elaborate a little more on the lottery payout comment? I’m afraid I don’t understand the reference.


#14

Lottery winners tend to be the target of fraudulent lawsuits, and juries tend to treat lottery winners rather unfavorably. It’s the reason why lottery winners are often advised to take very significant legal planning. I worry that a jury would treat validators similarly considering the financial reward we receive.


#15

So how does having validators voting records available publicly on the blockchain helps to reduce the risk to be the target of fraudulent lawsuits?


#16

Tamper-proof and completely auditable records make for an extremely strong legal defense. Also, excuse my ignorance, but how do we ensure that secret ballots are tamper proof?


#17

Like I said, I think we will need to agree to disagree, so I will quote my proposal again:

Would this be acceptable? My background is risk management, and, from that perspective, I feel this accurately reflects the price of shifting risk exposures onto the POA Network community.


#18

I wonder what risks you are trying to manage here? Are validators legal public representatives and are obligated to vote how general public thinks they should vote?


#19
  1. Currently, it takes 3 validators to pass a ballot. Only 3 out of 16. With secret ballots, 3 people can make a decision while all 16 face the liability.

  2. We are not officials elected by the POA Network community. We are technically officials that are elected by other validators. We have an incentive to vote in the best interests of the validators rather than the public. The only checks and balances that the POA Network community has are public ballots. If we were elected by the public and had a set term as a validator, I could understand the value of secret ballots.

Ultimately, I feel like our governance model already addresses the risks that secret ballots would address. In my opinion, adding secret ballots would not make the network more secure. It would eliminate an important check and balance at the expense of the POA Network community.


#20

The biggest criticism of anonymous voting is the election fraud possibilities. However, the beauty of the blockchain is in removing the need of the centralized authority that validates, controls and announces the transaction results. There are many benefits of anonymous voting, therefore I clearly see the problem we can solve – fixing the validation flaws of the well tested voting mechanisms.

On a contrary I don’t see much benefits of the open voting. We are not bounded by the obligation to explain our voting choices. Each of us has the right to our own opinion and decision making, so what difference does it make if one knows how I voted?

On the specific comments:

Great point on the topic. I very much agree with that.

I share your same thoughts on applying the old laws on the new technologies. However as I mentioned in my first paragraph, some well established laws (practices, mechanisms) could be fixed/reinforced with the help of the new technologies and no need to necessarily go with the radical approach.

I am sorry, Rocco, but it’s very difficult to follow your point on the topic. You jump from accusing people, to sharing unrelated references that only spark off-topic arguments, to using your background as some sort of proof of opinion authority? Last time I checked “ad hominem attack” meant very similar to that.