Comments?NBP Public Notice #20
by Jon Roland
Ref: GN Docket Nos. 09-47, 09-51, and 09-137
This is to comment on two key problems with the initiative as presented:
1. Secret balloting. It is critical that all persons must be able to cast their votes in a way that no
one else may know how they vote, but that they be able to verify their ballots are accurately
submitted and counted. This would require voting in a private space out of view of any other
person, but also allow the association of each ballot to a digital signature that can allow the
tracking of the ballot for count verification, yet not permit the voter to be forced to reveal it or
how he voted. If he wishes to verify the count of his vote at any time during or after the
election, it should be possible for him to do that, also out of view of any other person, and to
confirm or deny the accuracy of the count. There must be no exceptions to this regime, lest
dissident voters be singled out by failure of other voters to comport with it.
2. Voter identification. It is critical to be able to verify the identify of each voter, but also critical
that this not be done by any kind of centralized governmental or private organization that might
be able to corrupt the identity of any person or falsely attribute anything to anyone. The way to
do this is through a digital notary system involving circles of trust, in which the identity of each
person is certified by several similarly certified individuals in an interlocking network that is
both robust and difficult to contaminate. Ultimately, identity must be tied to biometric
parameters. This should eventually be the basis for secure voter registration, and not
government-issued identification documents.
In connection with (2) above, there is a general need to digitally sign all information about any person
and maintain a digitally signed audit trail of all transmission, reading, copying,. Or other uses of the
information, so that an error can be tracked back to its source and all copies corrected and all readers
notified of the correction.
At present, the state of the art does not support needed functionality. The current structure of the DNS
and signed cert SSL infrastructures are not ready to support this application. Full deployment of
DNSSEC with all zones signed will help. Digital notaries like those previously supported by Thawte
are critical and the loss of their support needs to be replaced.
No special privacy or identification concerns arise with electronic town hall meetings and debates, but
to be satisfactory there needs to be a way to moderate them to allow every view to be presented and
everyone to hear what everyone else is saying, while suppressing those who are disruptive. That means
some system that supports parliamentary procedure, such as Robert's Rules of Order, Revised. Presently
I am aware of only one such system, Virtual Board Room. See
Although this is a matter for state legislation, states should require, as a condition for appearing on the
ballot, that every candidate participate in public debates in such town hall settings with all other
candidates for the same position, with questions posed by the audience drawn by lot, and filtered only
for duplicates or vulgarity. Panels of questioners might also be selected at random from among those
who score high on an online course on the subject matter of the debate.
It should be a requirement of any public debate that at least a third of the time be spent on the
constitutional issues involved in the contest, and what the candidates commit to do to strictly comply
with the Constitution. The questioners should also be required to get a high score in online courses on
constitutional history, law, and government, and how they apply to the issues. One site offering such
courses is http://constitutional-compliance.org (under development).
The subject of the submission is worthy of further study, but not of implementation until many
technical matters are resolved.
2900 W Anderson Ln
Austin, TX 78757