In Germany, there is a saying that represents the futility of many modern startups. It takes its name from an app that really existed (Tinder for dogs: if you don't believe it, there is google ) and it identifies a certain type of startup quite well. And I say this referring to what made the "electronic vote" system of the elections of the American Democrats.
Imagine for a moment to vote in the following way: go to your home banking system, your bank's app, and make a one euro transfer to one of the accounts that the party has opened for the candidate. In short, each candidate has a current account associated with him, but opened by the party. Each voter receives a string to be included in the reason.
The party then has to do is count the one-euro wire transfers received, check the unique users by checking the reason, and from here we would have the number of votes.
It would be a fairly simple algorithm: for all the transfers received on a given day, extract those from a dollar, create a hash table with the reasons and check them on a database, verify that there are no identical hashes on two accounts, and at that point we have the number of votes.
Then you will say: yes, but it all depends on how good the banking system is. Quite right. But suppose at this point I tell you that such a system has failed, the question would be "but then the banks are not working for a shit." Because if it's possible to lie about the number of wire transfers, that's what we're saying.
What do I mean by that? I mean that if the problem is to guarantee the uniqueness of a transaction and its authenticity, banks, SIMs and credit cards are more than capable of doing it, and for decades. Obviously I don't propose to vote by making a bank transfer, as far as it would be possible but the point is simple:
Each bank, credit card and mobile operator makes unique and verified transactions in their daily business. And even if fraud does occur, there are anti-fraud software that run (run on the mainframes of the banks themselves) and can stop them. This is also ordinary administration, otherwise you would not have a credit card and you could not use an ATM.
And I repeat: if you think it is impossible to do it, then use the transfer as a voting method: assign a current account to each candidate, ask users to send a one euro bank transfer, and to write in the reason a certain string that you have given them in the "voting certificate". At that point you just have to count how many euros come from an existing hash, and you have to count that the same hash does not exist for multiple candidates.
Obviously, I repeat, you are leaning on an existing infrastructure. If you have duplicate votes, that is, if a person uses the same hash twice (spending two euros) it's all very traceable. And it is very traceable because it deals with well made transactional systems. If the problem is to check the infrastructure to prevent fraud, no one forbids you to have a mobile POS and to make the payment within your offices.
By this I mean that in the world of electronic payments it is already very possible to make unique verified transactions take place. The whole banking system is based on this possibility.
Now comes the second question: but why is this not done when it comes to electronic voting?
Well, it's simple: just look at the identity of the companies that take care of building these systems from time to time. In the American case, it was "a startup", which was "a spinoff of the last election campaign".
Let's take off English and see what happened. Some officials who previously worked for the party founded an IT company as a "startup", financed by a Venture Capital friend of the dem, which startup (coincidentally) won the tender for the vote of the Caucus of the same party, and coincidentally, the result seems to be what you get when a bunch of unable advisers has to do something. Strange.
Where have we seen this scene before? Um …. let me think. Don't you remember something?
If we go to see the history of all the "televoting" systems, both Italian and foreign, we always discover the same thing: that to make them is the "right" company, normally composed of recommended or "obligatory suppliers" of the party same. Casaleggio in Italy, the startuppz of silicon valley (but friend of Clinton) in the USA, etc.
Those who talk about the failures of electronic electoral systems should rather talk about the inherent inability of party structures to produce anything effective in the IT sector.
Because if you can put up an electronic store in five minutes on any cloud, complete with credit card payment, you cannot tell me that it is impossible to create a stupid e-commerce site where you register only if you are registered for a party (maybe from the same network as the caucus?) and you can buy a "I voted for X" for one euro, and only once.
Any fucking e-commerce on the planet does it, and we've never heard of Amazon losing a night counting payments received, or orders.
I know, now all the cazzologists of politics come and tell me that it is difficult to do this and do that. But when we go digging, we usually find people who wouldn't know how to write "Hello World". In Php.
And here we go to the tinder for dogs: the truth is that this thing is true, as I said, for any serious company. Any bank can guarantee authenticated and unique transactions, and to make matters worse, almost all banks have mobile ATMs, or mobile POSs, which they can give you for fairs and events. And yes, your payment of one euro to a given candidate will be traced, authenticated and unique, as much as you want. If not, we are doubting the functioning of the entire banking system.
But here we are talking about a startup . And perhaps you missed what TODAY, the "startup world" is behind the myth. Remember when the Cassa del Mezzogiorno gave non-refundable funding for "projects in the area"? At that time, fake companies were born that presented the project for a hotel for dogs, the Cassa del Mezzogiorno approved the project, and zac, the company produced the hotel for dogs, which failed. And they took the money, which consistently came from the government or the Central Bank.
Now replace the word "Tinder for dogs" for "hotel for dogs", and "Venture Capital" for "Cassa del Mezzogiorno". You will get the same mechanism: Unlikely companies present unlikely projects, which a financially irresponsible body finances without any funds, using money from the Central Bank or the government.
Certainly, if someone had said that “ To prevent the dead from being registered, the Christian Democrats have contracted the card count to a company born as a project of the Cassa del Mezzogiorno, managed by a friend of De Mita, and the official of the Cassa del Mezzogiorno who decided to finance her surname De Mita “, probably everyone who is of a certain age would have opened popcorn.
On the contrary, if we say that “To avoid fraud in the Caucus, the Democratic Party has awarded the vote count to a startup born with Tinder for Dogs, financed by a venture capital managed by a well-known dem supporter, and managed by a friend of the Clinton ”strangely nobody is shocked. Aha. Still , we are saying the exact same thing.
But we are still far from the basic problem: the catastrophic idea of entrusting the party with the construction of the electronic voting system. In Ferrara it is said "you tied the dog using the sausage as a rope".
You all see well that at every lost election, every party asks to change the rules of the electoral system. It also happened in the US in the last election, when Clinton fans wanted to change the distribution of delegates and the voting rules. As it happens, every party wants to change the rules, with new rules that would have made it win. And you see that in Italy, EVERY legislature changes the electoral system. As it happens, with a system that should keep the parties in charge.
Just like any football team would be happy to be able to appoint their own referee and change the rules of football. But who is the arbiter of the elections? Um. The voting system. Does it say anything?
This should make you suspect a fact: parties are ENEMIES of whatever a functioning electoral system is. They have no respect for it, and the parties themselves consider the electoral system as a political instrument subject to the dynamics of power, rather than the arbiter of the dynamics themselves.
Entrusting a party with the construction of a functioning, fair and precise voting system is like tying the dog using a sausage as a rope. Because if there is one thing the party wants to do, it's to pervert the voting system in its favor, and the voting system has to be third in order to prevent it.
The voting system, with its precision, is made to be the inexorable and precise arbiter who CONTROLS the parties and blocks bad practices. It is not possible for a party to be an arbiter of itself, it would be as if in a football game it was decided that the manager of the team playing at home would arbitrate. It does not make sense.
In the catastrophic failure of all the electronic voting systems tested so far, I see three problems, none related to technology:
- Party X is expected to build the voting system that arbitrates Party X, when it is well known that Party X, as any party shows, considers the arbitrator (i.e. the goodness of the voting system) as an obstacle in the race for power.
- It is the party that gives the contract for the voting system, and this contract is awarded in a regime which is defined as "exposed to corruption, familism and recommendation". The choices are made in a non-transparent and at least doubtful way.
- The contract is almost always given to companies without market credentials, specific experience and normally "chosen by those who manage power in the party". When not owned by the leader himself, as in the case of Casaleggio.
Under these conditions, we always find some humanists talking about the "algorithm failure".
Sure. But what you don't say is that the name of the failed algorithm is "the party".
Because it must be very clear: the voting system on paper is so catastrophically perverted (folds on the corners of the card, dots made with pencil to mark the card, cuts on the edge of the card, holes made with a pin, they are all methods normally used to identify voters, just as photos are used on cell phones), in majority systems colleges are composed with voters "of known tendencies" in order to win this or that candidate (it is very easy to distribute the voters in order to always win a party in two colleges, instead of two different parties in two colleges) and so on.
Every party fears an electronic voting system, because it knows that these tricks, which make every western election a joke, are difficult.
The game of these parties is ALSO to discredit electronic voting.
And they are doing very well. Sometimes voluntarily, sometimes because the parties are exactly the wrong bodies to build such a voting system, just like football teams are the wrong institutions to provide the referee for the game.