History of Voting
The paper ballot has been king in voting for a long time. Thinking about why we can see that it is direct, low susceptibility to outside errors and changes to the actual voting action, and can be counted quickly and securely by having representatives from all groups involved validating the process. Moreover, we have been able to hold onto those voting papers for long period of time with low chances of tampering with proper security measures in place.
The scale and gravity of the decision in question can vary greatly. We can see a handful of people voting in a room, a large classroom voting to select correct answers for questions in a lecture, a stadium sized organization breaking down the voting process over several weeks of smaller meetings or a large casting at a conference, or nations choosing their representatives for coming government terms. The security felt necessary can also vary based on which kind of decision is being made and how long it will affect the group in question.
We have seen people pushing how we can use technology and theory to further the security, authenticity, and validity of the process. Often these have been experienced as public failures of the new methods employed or stories of manipulations of the technology or new process in question. The freedom of the organization and group in general to allow people to express themselves also changes how the process is approached.
There are a number of recent and coming developments in theory, process, and technology that are changing how we can think of the voting process. This list includes blockchain processes, voting machines, biotech sensing devices, objectivity of truth, and theoretical explorations of representation in general. A number of paths forward arise from the developments currently being seen. We can focus on two of the clearest possible directions.
Classically we assume that people are certain about the work they have done researching a decision, the facts they have been presented by the sources in concern, the soundness of their mind in the moment of casting their decision. On the system side people organizing the decision are often sure about the honesty of the counting system in place (on an individual end point and system wide collection basis) as well as the representation by media and candidates of the issues and stances of concern.
When thinking about the future developments to be seen we are also imaging a constant cultural scope, which is to say that the culture the technology and process is working in stays the same rather than bei fundamentally shifted by the new development.
Path One: Secure End Points
As medications and technological thought and sensing support tools become more prevalent we can focus on checking the intentions of the people casting votes against a baseline. For instance, we could see visual tools such as active lenses changing the options people see or the way the options come together. This kind of vulnerability in the process has been seen in a number of modern shows and visual works. We could find secure solutions using solutions that address the vulnerabilities from innovations in theory behind how the process is implemented such as blockchain. An example here would be rather than have the government have to store everything we can have people or community representative organizations store the votes people cast.
The other option here is on the system side by working to more rigorously verify the ability of the process to understand the desire of the individual voters. This would require for a more direct voting instance such as a voting system that users talked to or a system that accounted for the possible effects the technology tools voters were using could have on them casting their vote.
Path Two: Active Process
The other path we will consider here is an active voting process. A present day example of this would be quizzes in school or primaries leading up to actual elections. We would increase the number of instances for voters to check how they align with a potential representative on a topic of concern. This could be in daily life as issues arise and affect everyday life a service could show how a potential representative would vote or has voted on that issue. We could also see this coming together as weekly or monthly check-ins and updates about how policy being discussed would affect the issues a voter cares about. Spreading out the engagement process rather than focusing the decision points to the actual voting action. Examples of apps that work towards this kind of engagement today include Voter.xyz and Brigade which help people see how elected officials align with the user on different issues.
We could also see a combination of these two paths by having a blockchain like process that is an active process that community members engage in through a weekly or monthly process with their local organizations of choice that are verified by neutral third parties such as an international voting group.
There are other paths that could be imagined as well, the ones explored here appear the most direct given how our culture around voting and the use of technology in the process has been changing. The main difference is that as technology changes how we operate as individuals and the number of points of entry for error increases it becomes harder for individuals to voice their representation desires. Share your thoughts on how technology could change how we share our opinions, connect with each other, decide on representation, and govern our communities.