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Re: [atlarge-discuss] Election Preparation

espresso@e-scape.net wrote:

> At 20:11 -0700 2003/04/16, Sotiris Sotiropoulos wrote:
> >Such "people" have no business among us then, and I bet most
> >of them are phonies anyway, or at best proxy votes for the
> >Benedict Arnolds among us.
> I don't think I can agree with that. Undoubtedly, some of the
> names of the silent ones *could be* phonies but we have no
> reason to assume most of them are - plenty of people who
> haven't posted in either the mailing list or the forums are
> a) upset at ICANN's abolition of the "At Large" constituency
> and
> b) likely to have found one or the other of the two Web sites
> in the course of looking for news, and to have thought it a
> good idea to sign up in case we manage to get this thing
> off the ground.

I do admit that such a situation is possible, however, after 5 years of
experience in these affairs, I have good reason to be paranoid.  Consider
the 6000 original At-Large members Denise Michel recently announced she
will be re-activating(?).  AFAIK the "original" AtLarge members numbered
more than 76,000 (of which, I happened to be one).  See:
http://members.icann.org/ for more info.

> >I'll say it again, democracy is participatory.  If they don't
> >participate, how do we know they exist, or that they're not
> >simply proxies?
> I also believe wholeheartedly that democracy *should be*
> participatory, but that's not the kind of democracy most
> of our democratic governments allow these days and I suspect
> only people involved in political or social activism are
> accustomed to playing an active role.

So what exactly do you think our role here is, if not social activism,
pray tell?  We're here to stand up and be numbered, Judyth.  Anonymity
among political equals is a no-no in true democracy, Judyth.  In any
case, for members of any civic body to have a say and a stake in the
politics of the group, it is incumbent on members (anywhere on the
planet, I believe) to fulfil certain conditions of entitlement.  I should
think that merely registering for membership is hardly the best
qualification for establishing the uniqueness of identity for an email
address and a name.  Since I have called attention to it repeatedly over
the years (you don't know, but you can look it up in the GA archives), I
believe my point is as valid now as it ever was.

Practically speaking, I thnk a freemail email certificate available from
Thawte free-of-charge would be a pretty good place to start with unique
identity verification qualifications for our group.  I have attached my
own to this email.  Simple and free to get see:

Until that issue is addressed, you cannot adequately rebut my wariness
about who is ad is not a real member of our association, and I will not
let you (or anyone else) forget about it.

> BUT, that being said, when we go to vote for our various
> representatives in our governments, people don't just assume
> we're fraudulent or bought-off voters just because we've
> spent our time minding our own business instead of mouthing
> off in public or via the Internet. If we're registered
> voters, we have the right to vote no matter what anyone
> may think we are voting for.

In the real world here in Canada, voters remain generally assured that
there are rigorous safeguards in place to ensure uniqueness and identity
of their fellow voters, and that fraudulent voting practices are guarded
against.  In the real world here on the Internet, Judyth, the same
assurances do not apply, especially in our group's case.  I have every
right and good reason to opine that the current practice is highly
compromisable and therefore necessarily suspect.

> The onus is on us as a group to develop a voter registration
> (membership) process which includes some form of identity
> confirmation if we believe that those on the existing list
> may not be real people. If I remember correctly, Sotiris,
> you were very concerned about this earlier on and volunteered
> to work on a method for us.

I am working (in remote snatches, but I'm still far from being ready to
reveal it) on a vote tabulator mechanism, not an identity-establishing
facility.  I recomend http://thawte.com/html/COMMUNITY/index.html for
this group.  It's free and easy to use.  I have been recommending it for
years, but every time I bring it up, the likely suspects don't want to
talk about it, or they complain that's it's too involved for the
simple(ton) internet users they think we ought to be representing or some
such nonsensical repartee is offered as a refutation.  Pitiable,

> Did anything come of it? If not,
> perhaps you have some ideas about how it could be done ...
> preferably without just expelling everyone who is not known
> personally in "meatspace" by other members and without a
> labour-intensive or costly kind of identity-checking.

Oh yes!  http://thawte.com/html/COMMUNITY/index.html

> Meanwhile, there is really nothing one can *legitimately* do
> to disenfranchise people because they may side with somebody
> one disagrees with, unless you're going to chuck democracy out
> the window entirely. Given the nature of our group and its
> raison d'Ítre, anyone who is a live human Internet user
> should have the right to join and the right to vote.

Not that simple, I'm afraid.  They must first satisfy the condition of
proving they are a real person.  I think that's a pretty inclusive and
fair standard, don't you?

> >No Judyth, I think Joop's proposal is quite sound.  I, for one,
> >prefer the forum for these purposes... so much more convenient
> >than downloading the oftentimes huge volume of email from this
> >list (along with the spam that inevitably sneaks in too).  In
> >fact, I would say that if we want to be more efficient and
> >low-bandwidth friendly, we stick to the online forum entirely
> >for these purposes.
> We may disagree to some extent about this but I have no
> intention of forcing others to share my perspective on this.
> If the majority of members want Joop's site to be used
> exclusively, that's what the group will do and that's fine
> with me -- that's how democracy works. On the other hand,
> I don't think it's democratic to make the decision without
> letting *everyone* vote on it.

Only those who can prove their unique identity ought to be able to vote
PERIOD.  That's my position.  Any other vote is inter alia technically
suspect, and therefore illegitimate until completely and sufficiently

> There are a small number on
> this list who want things Web-based and another small number
> concerned that this will prevent some members from voting,
> so (to me, at least) it makes sense to hold that vote by
> e-mail as part of the election ballot and then do whatever
> the majority says it wants.

No.  Not quite so fast, if your warrant is the expediency of such a
process, I have to question the need for speed.  First things first,
after all, we wouldn't want to end up with the wishes of a potentially
suspect "majority", now would we?

> >P.S.  Judyth, some of us are still waiting for your "proposal"
> >for a voting mechanism, remember?  :-)
> Are you? I've been posting in some detail how I think an
> e-mail ballot can be conducted to minimize the chances of
> people voting in other people's names or tampering with
> either the ballots or the counts. Had you missed those
> messages?

I must have.  Please do copy them, I'm sure it will allow for renewed
discussion of the matter.

> Or perhaps you were looking for an automated, Web-based process?
> If so, I'm sorry but that's not something I could do (since
> I'm not a programmer) or would do -- since every real-world
> democratic voting system I know of depends on several humans
> scrutinizing each ballot as it goes into the box and as it is
> being counted, to ensure against tampering and leave no
> doubts open about ballot-box stuffing or other nefarious
> practices.
> Anyway, at this point the question is academic since Bruce,
> Jefsey and Eric are in charge of conducting the upcoming
> vote and have already seen my thoughts on the subject.

I propose that voers must also enter their votes in Joop's polling
mechanism to double-check any results and to provide a back-up system.
Do you have a problem with that?  Also, there's the matter of

Settle that before we settle anything else.

> Once we have elected a new Panel, I would hope that they'd
> make sure the relative merits of the various systems
> proposed were discussed and let the members choose what
> they think best to be included in the bylaws for the group.

This discussion must take place BEFORE any election, I'm afraid.


Sotiris Sotiropoulos

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