Title:
DIRECT DEMOCRACY FRAMEWORK
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There is disclosed a global infrastructure that would help change the world's political landscape. Utilizing the distributed technology of end-user voting tools—installed on computers, cell phones, and other digital devices across the globe—this new infrastructure would facilitate a viral virtual democracy process identified as distributed voting. When integrated with the centralized management capabilities of a Voting Management Server into a Direct Democracy Framework, this process can dovetail into petitioning, registration, congress, and ratification. Such a system makes it clearly possible to represent the will of the people far more effectively than the often slow-moving voting systems that serve us today, either by providing a conduit of the people's will to existing representative governments or, where appropriate, by facilitated governance by direct democracy.



Inventors:
Kincaid, Ian (East Stroudsburg, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/476341
Publication Date:
12/10/2009
Filing Date:
06/02/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G06Q99/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
RAVETTI, DANTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MEREDITH & KEYHANI, PLLC (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of voting comprising the steps of: creating an initiative which requires a response of support for the initiative, rejection of the initiative, or no opinion to the original initiative for transmission to selected recipients; editing said initiative prior to transmitting to said selected recipients; sending said edited initiative to said selected recipients; allowing said selected recipients to send said initiative to other recipients for a vote; sending a vote response from said selected recipients back to the creator; and sending said initiative to other recipients for a vote; transmitting a vote response from said other recipients back to said selected recipients; and sending back to the creator of the initiative the responses from the other recipients to the initiative wherein a preponderance of support responses is needed for the initiative to be submitted for petition to one or more organizations.

2. The method of claim 1 further comprising the step of creating a petition upon receiving a preponderance of support for the initiative; transmitting said petition to a hosting organization such as a voting management server; transmitting with said petition the initiator's identity to said voting management server.

3. The method of claim 2 further comprising the step of notifying each of said selected recipients who received the initiative that the initiative that they previously supported or opposed is now being petitioned.

4. The method of claim 3 further comprising the step of notifying selected recipients who received the initiative that is now being petitioned that they have the opportunity to automatically or manually sign the petition for or the petition against the initiative.

5. The method of claim 4 further comprising the step of notifying the selected recipients who received the initiative that they can forward the petition to those whom they originally forwarded the initiative.

6. The method of claim 5 wherein said voting management server transmits the petition across multiple serves

7. The method of claim 6 wherein the number of persons supporting or opposing the petition is tracked and the voting management server, based of the results obtained, can proceed to require authentication of user voting.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein, where authentication of user voting is required, said voters are requested to register by physically visiting a site that facilitates direct democracy registration.

9. The method of claim 8 wherein said registration is administered by competent neutral groups.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein said registered users can confirm all of their positions on all of the initiatives in which they were involved in a secure environment provided by a voting management server.

11. The method of claim 10 wherein the registered users can participate anonymously.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein the registered users, instead of voting for individuals, have voted for direct initiatives.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein said voting management server creates a statistically valid sampling lottery and randomly selects a limited number of voters to appear as delegates to a congress to validate the registered vote.

14. The method of claim 13 wherein the validated registered vote is ratified by the appropriate conventional government bodies.

15. The method of claim 13 wherein non-government entities confirm the legitimacy of the initiatives sent to them and write into law the process by which these initiatives would be enforced.

Description:

REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This patent application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/059,120 filed on 5 Jun. 2008, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile preproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the invention

This invention relates to method and process for removing inefficiencies and barriers to entry from the direct democratic process, making direct democracy a more fundamental component of everyday life in society.

2. Description of Related Art

With today's technology a single email is sent and resent and can eventually end up arriving in a multitude of different inboxes. Using this principle, there is disclosed a voting tool that can be used to quickly reach multitudes of individuals. For example, the user interface of the voting tool includes a checkbox to allow recursive voting; when this feature is selected, users receiving an initiative have the ability to forward it on to a user list of their own choosing. Those users in turn would be able to forward it on to users of their choosing and so on. In this manner, it's possible for an initiative to spread out to vast numbers of individuals within a few iterations of the process. For example, if ten people are asked to respond to an initiative, and they in turn each ask ten more people, and the process is continued for ten cycles, the initiative will reach millions of people, a number which is far more than the practical limits of the number of people who would have access to the appropriate technology to participate in this voting tree.

What is needed is a process that allows an end user voting tool to generate a counter-initiative (an initiative that automatically records a vote to oppose the original initiative in conjunction with a vote to support the counter-initiative) or an amended initiative, and still allow the user to record a vote of support or no opinion to the original initiative.

Through the constant exchange of initiatives, counter-initiatives, and amended initiatives, the contribution of everyone in the voting tree will be absorbed to ensure that the very best available thinking is included in the final output of the process.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The method of voting disclosed is a software tool that can be integrated into an email or instant messaging application that has the following capabilities:

Instead of allowing recipients to respond to the sender with a message of their own, recipients can only respond in support, opposition, or no opinion. This message will be called an initiative. The tool then provides the ability to record a tally of the responses that are received, effectively tracking votes for each initiative.

The tool also includes a checkbox to allow recursive voting; when this feature is selected, users receiving an initiative have the ability to forward it on to a user list of their own choosing. Those users would, in turn, be able to forward it on to users of their choosing, and so on. As responses are sent back up the voting tree created by this recursive process, the tally of incoming responses is calculated and passed back along the tree to the original sender. Note that the voting roster itself is not sent to the original sender, just the end tally. As the process proceeds, the original author of the initiative ends up collecting a total tally of all the votes cast against the original initiative; that tally is then sent back out through the tree so that all users receive constant updates on the votes for and against the initiative as it grows.

The tool allows users to launch counter initiatives and amended initiatives of their own. An amended initiative allows support for the original initiative, whereas a counter initiative automatically includes a vote against the original initiative. As these derivative initiatives move through their own voting trees, they carry with them the original initiative on which they are based as attachments.

The tool also supports the automatic submission of a petition by defining a pre-defined voting management server to which to send a copy of the initiative once a specific voting threshold is passed. Notification of the initiation of a petition would flow through the voting tree, allowing other voters to participate in the petition.

The tool also uses a voting management server which combines the functionality of current web based voting servers with an email server to provide several unique capabilities as follows:

The voting management server provides an internet browser based version of the previously described end user voting tool.

The server also hosts open forums, in which users could subscribe to a specific topic and automatically receive all initiatives submitted to the forum. The server similarly hosts petitions of successful initiatives, To support large scale petitions, voting management servers have the ability to distribute petitions across multiple servers.

The server can also replicate the capabilities of software distribution servers in updating client based end user voting tools.

Confirming and registering the identity of a voter is also provided by the voting management server. This process would allow the Direct Democracy Framework to replicate the security found in traditional voting systems.

The voting management server allows for a statistical sampling of voters to be selected so that, in case of particularly important initiatives, those voters could be selected to attend a congress.

Finally, these two technology components are brought together in a five step framework that provides the solution with the flexibility to meet the needs of any size of organization. The first step is always performed; then, based on the level of importance of the initiative in question, any of the additional steps that follow may be added:

A. Distribute voting is the first step; it is supported exclusively by the end user voting tool.

B. Petition is the second step in the process; it is supported by the voting management server.

C. Registration is the third step; it is supported by the voting management server.

D. Congress, the fourth step, occurs when a random selection of delegates from the list of registered voters is asked to attend a physical event and confirm their voting record.

E. Ratification is the fifth and final step in the process; in this step, direct democracy initiatives are incorporated into traditional democratic legislatures through their own standard voting procedures.

The foregoing has outlined, rather broadly, the preferred feature of the present invention so that those skilled in the art may better understand the detailed description of the invention that follows. Additional features of the invention will be described hereinafter that form the subject of the claims of the invention. Those skilled in the art should appreciate that they can readily use the disclosed conception and specific embodiment as a basis for designing or modifying other structures for carrying out the same purposes of the present invention and that such other structures do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention in its broadest form.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other aspects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description, the appended claim, and the accompanying drawings.

FIGS. 1-8 Illustrative Recursive Voting

FIG. 1 shows Initiative Creation

FIG. 2 shows First Level Response

FIG. 3 shows First Level Voter Update

FIG. 4 shows Second Level Send

FIG. 5 shows Second Level Response

FIG. 6 shows Second Level Response Received

FIG. 7 shows Second Level Updates

FIG. 8 shows Level Updates Reach Second Level

FIGS. 9-28 are End User Voting Flowcharts

FIG. 9 is a flow chart of Main Program Loop;

FIG. 10 is a flow chart of Process User Input;

FIG. 11 is a flow chart of Create New Initiative;

FIG. 12 is a flow chart of Search Initiatives;

FIG. 13 is a flow chart of Display Initiative;

FIG. 14 is a flow chart of Edit Existing Initiative;

FIG. 15 is a flow chart of Send Existing Initiative;

FIG. 16 is a flow chart of Recursive Send Process;

FIG. 17 is a flow chart of Vote on Initiative;

FIG. 18 is a flow chart of Voter Response Process;

FIG. 19 is a flow chart of Voter Update Generation Process;

FIG. 20 is a flow chart of Process Inbox Messages;

FIG. 21 is a flow chart of Initiative In-processing;

FIG. 22 is a flow chart of Voter Response In=processing;

FIG. 23 is a flow chart of Vote Update In-processing;

FIG. 24 is a flow chart of Update User Profile;

FIG. 25 is a flow chart of Voter Management Server Message In-processing;

FIG. 26 is a flow chart of Send Petitions;

FIG. 27 is a flow chart of Petition Status Change Process; and

FIG. 28 is a flow chart of Petition Signature Process.

FIGS. 29-42 are Voting Management Server Flowcharts

FIG. 29 is a flow chart of Main Program Loop;

FIG. 30 is a flow chart of Process Administrator Requests—Part 1;

FIG. 31 is a flow chart of Process Administrator Requests—Part 2;

FIG. 32 is a flow chart of Group Administration Process;

FIG. 33 is a flow chart of User Administration Process;

FIG. 34 is a flow chart of Petition Administration Process;

FIG. 35 is a flow chart of Forum Administration Process;

FIG. 36 is a flow chart of Server Configuration Process;

FIG. 37 is a flow chart of Auto Process Inbox;

FIG. 38 is a flow chart of Auto Process Membership Request;

FIG. 39 is a flow chart of Auto Process Petition Request;

FIG. 40 is a flow chart of Auto Process Petition Signature or Link Request;

FIG. 41 is a flow chart of Admin Inbox Process; and

FIG. 42 is a flow chart of USER Details Process.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Introduction

There is disclosed a global infrastructure that would help change the world's political landscape. Utilizing the distributed technology of end-user voting tools—installed on computers, cell phones, and other digital devices across the globe—this new infrastructure would facilitate a viral virtual democracy process identified as distributed voting. When integrated with the centralized management capabilities of a Voting Management Server into a Direct Democracy Framework, this process can dovetail into petitioning, registration, congress, and ratification. Such a system makes it clearly possible to represent the will of the people far more effectively than the often slow-moving voting systems that serve us today, either by providing a conduit of the people's will to existing representative governments or, where appropriate, by facilitated governance by direct democracy.

The End User Voting Tool

Envision a software tool, perhaps integrated into the email or instant messaging application in use today, that—instead of allowing recipients to respond with a message of their own—only allows them to respond in support, opposition or no opinion. Such a tool might be very handy for making extremely quick group decisions, such as where to meet our friends for dinner or whether or not to approve the latest bylaw in a home owners association. Individuals would be able to author something they would like a group or organization to decide on—here referred to as an initiative—and select recipients from their contact lists to gather their input.

Communication related to the initiative could take advantage of various communication methods including, email networks, cell phone data networks, and the Internet. Within 10 to 15 minutes, responses would begin to come back and a list of people supporting and opposing the decision would emerge. Group actions could then move forward based on the simple and democratic process driving them. Such a tool could be called simply an End User Voting Tool. It is the first of two pieces of technology that are envisioned as part of the larger concept of the Direct Democracy Framework that is discussed in this document.

Given the constraints of a tool of this nature, perhaps installed in a personal computer, a laptop computer, personal digital assistant or a cell phone, it becomes a practical solution for groups of perhaps a hundred people or less to make decisions effectively and consider those decisions final.

The Global Reach of Recursive Voting

With today's technology, a single email is sent and resent and can eventually end up arriving in millions of different inboxes. This principle can affect the reach of the End User Voting Tool if security concerns are put aside for a second. Imagine that the user interface of the End User Voting Tool includes a checkbox to allow recursive voting; when this feature is selected, users receiving an initiative have the ability to forward it on to a user list of their own choosing. Those users in turn would be able to forward it on to users of their choosing and so on. In this manner, it's possible for an initiative to spread out to vast numbers of people within a few iterations of the process. For example, if you ask 10 people to respond to an initiative, and they in turn each ask 10 more people—a process that continues for 10 cycles—the initiative in question will reach ten billion people—more than the population of our globe and far more than the practical limits of the number of people who would have access to the appropriate technology to participate in this voting tree.

The process by which people connect to the voting tree might also be accelerated by allowing users to transmit an initiative to an open forum in which other interested parties could subscribe and add themselves to the voting roster. Undoubtedly, users would also use conventional communication techniques such as email, instant messaging, chats, or just meetings over a cup of coffee to exchange dialogue about the initiatives outside the voting process itself.

New ideas could then become integrated into the process by allowing the End User Voting Tool to generate a counter-initiative (an initiative that automatically records a vote to oppose the original initiative in conjunction with a vote to support the counter-initiative) or an amended initiative (still allowing the user to record a vote of support or no opinion to the original initiative). Through the constant exchange of initiatives, counter-initiatives, and amended initiatives, the contribution of everyone in the voting tree would be absorbed to ensure that the very best available thinking is included in the final output of the process. In this process of group thinking the true benefits of the End User Voting Tool can be realized.

FIGS. 1 through 8 graphically illustrate an example of recursive voting. First, an initiative is created. In this case, illustrated is an example in which an initiative is first sent to five other users, FIG. 1. The next step involves the first-level recipients of the initiative sending back their responses, FIG. 2. In the third step in the process, once the votes have been received by the initiating end user voting tool, the vote count can automatically be sent out to the first level in the appropriate voter update packages, FIG. 3. At this point in the process, the voting cycle is completed assuming that no recursive voting is desired. For the purposes of illustration, five additional steps have been added to show how a second level is added to the voting tree. This happens when a first-level recipient initiates recursive voting (in this case, Recipient 1), FIG. 4. In the fifth step of the process, recipients in the second level of the tree can now vote. Their responses are sent back to the first level in the form of voter response packages. Although additional votes have been cast, the vote tally has not changed because the newly placed votes have not yet reached the author of the initiative, FIG. 5. The next step consists of the updates from the second level reaching the author and joining the total vote count. This step is automated. At this point, the vote tally now changes, FIG. 6. The seventh step is simply the automated update of the vote tally back to the first level, FIG. 7. Finally, in the automated eighth step, the total vote count reaches the second level, FIG. 8. The process is complete until the status of the initiative changes, any recipient in the tree chooses to change his or her vote or perhaps a recipient initiates further recursive voting.

The Five Steps of the Direct Democracy Framework and the Role of the Voting Management Server

The End User Voting Tool might be very handy if we are looking to make decisions in groups of perhaps a hundred individuals or less. However, larger groups—or even any group where we incorporate recursive voting into the system and create the voting tree previously described—may be vulnerable to fraud and corruption and may not be counted on as a final and reliable electoral process.

To solve this problem, we must combine cultural and organizational components with technology to achieve a workable solution. With that said, let's consider the possibility that the voting process we have described serves as the first of five process steps of the Direct Democracy Framework, a system to support the creation of ideas and law that any individual in the world can initiate. By creating a bright idea and asking our friends and colleagues to support it as well as allowing them to invite their own friends and colleagues to in turn support it, we have now tossed our creative energies into the ring of democratic thinking.

Step 1—Distributed Voting

We can think of this distributed voting process as the first of the five process steps in the Direct Democracy Framework. If our idea is good, then we might find that we get a large number of supporting votes; we might then decide to take the second step and submit our initiative for petition to one or more organizations.

Step 2—Petition

To create a virtual petition, we would simply check another box on our end user tool that indicates our ability to petition the initiative. In parallel, we would indicate where we are sending our petition—perhaps to a Direct Democracy Portal hosted by our local town council, our fantasy football league, or even a Global Democratic Union of Humanity. The hosting organization might also host open forums that allow initiatives to spread to users who are proactively interested in a given topic but may not have been contacted yet by someone in the voting tree for a given issue. The technical system that hosts this petition might be thought of as a Voting Management Server; it serves as the second piece of technology required in this process. In addition to hosting petitions and open forums, the Voting Management Server would also serve other purposes, some of which will be discussed later.

The petition process would be simple and similar to the paper petition process with which most people are familiar. An electronic record of the initiator's identity would be sent to the Voting Management Server while the fact that the initiative in question was now being petitioned would simultaneously be transmitted out across the voting tree created when we launched the initiative. Voters further up the tree would receive notification that the initiative they previously supported or opposed was being petitioned; they would then have the opportunity to automatically or manually sign the petition for or the petition against the initiative as well as forward the petition to the users to whom they originally forwarded the initiative.

To support large-scale petitions, Voting Management Servers would have the ability to distribute petitions across multiple servers. A small organization might host a petition on a single Voting Management Server whereas a global institution gathering millions of votes might collect the petition through hundreds or even thousands of interconnected Voting Management Servers. Over time, the petition would grow. The number of people supporting an initiative or opposing the initiative would be tracked, and the sponsoring agency would be able to make a determination—at a point it deems appropriate—to take further action, which might simply be to act on the petition immediately or perhaps move to the third step in the Direct Democracy Framework.

Step 3—Registration

In the third process step in the proposed Direct Democracy Framework, our virtual system moves into the brick-and-mortar realm and begins to mimic how representative democracy is orchestrated in our modern world. For those organizations that require authentication of user voting, such as larger governments or other large public or regulated institutions, we could ask users to register their direct democratic activities. During this process a user would physically visit a site that facilitates direct democracy registration, which could be set up at local libraries and schools and administered by competent and neutral groups—similar to those who administer voter registration in the current democratic system. In fact, the direct voter registration process and the traditional voter registration process could easily be integrated into a single activity.

Once registered, the users would then confirm, in a secure environment provided by a Voting Management Server—perhaps at a terminal located directly in the registering agencies office—all of their positions on all of the direct democratic initiatives in which they were involved. This could be facilitated in a very trouble-free manner by allowing direct democracy participants to forward their registration data ahead of time, followed by simply proving their identity and confirming their positions during the registration process itself.

Through the registration process, participants in the Direct Democracy Framework would also gain the ability to participate anonymously, as they do in most representative democracies. Their votes and petitions could be tied not to their complete identity, but to a registered voter identification that protects their privacy. Interestingly, once they have concluded the registration process, users of the Direct Democracy Framework will have voted in a system that includes all the same security and verification components of a traditional representative democracy. Instead of voting for individuals, however, they have voted for direct initiatives. The Voting Management Server could also easily produce a paper ballot during the registration process that replicates the audit trail of traditional voting systems.

Once a voter is registered, digital signature technology could be used to authenticate future voting activities in future petitions. With the third step in the process completed, the relevant agencies would again have the opportunity to act upon registered direct voting or—if a further level of validation and a final confirmation vote were required—move to the forth step.

Step 4—Congress

The next step would leverage the ability of the Voting Management Server to create a statistically valid sampling lottery and randomly select delegates. In this process, a limited number of the registered voters would be selected to appear as delegates to a congress to validate the registered vote. When attending the congress, which could be as short or as long as required and could involve as many locations and delegates as appropriate, the delegates would simply reiterate their voting positions. Through this process, a final and conclusive confirmation of the will of the people would be conducted. Perhaps only the largest of voting organizations, such as national or global direct democratic initiatives, would require a congress of this fashion.

Step 5—Ratification

Finally, we must recognize that, although a Global Direct Democracy becomes a possibility with the implementation of the Direct Democracy Framework, it will not emerge overnight. In fact, many decades may pass before the Direct Democracy Framework serves as the primary tool of government anywhere. But, even during this period, the Direct Democracy Framework will be able to provide an infrastructure that supports and enhances the democratic process throughout the world. As such, the fifth and final step of the Direct Democracy Framework—ratification—is critical. It is in this step that the parallel existence of direct democracy and representative democracy is facilitated.

During ratification the appropriate conventional government bodies and non-governmental entities would confirm the legitimacy of the initiatives sent to them through the direct process and write into law the process by which these initiatives would be enforced. Ratification might take place by individual legislative voting on each initiative, gaining sufficient momentum to warrant inclusion into law, or it might take place by constitutional process, whereby a government defines criteria such as the percentage of the voting population that has voted on an initiative, the percentage of supporting votes, and the longevity of the initiative as criteria for automated ratification.

Of course, not all of these steps are mandatory. It would depend on the particular protocols of the organization in question as to what steps were required. In the case of initiatives seeking to become global law, all five steps would likely take place.

End User Voting Tool: Requirements Definition

The End User Voting Tool is the tool responsible for the first step in the Direct Democracy Framework process; the distributed voting and more importantly, is the tool that each individual user of the framework uses to create, send and view initiatives as they move through the process. It is therefore important to document the core functionality of this tool that is used to implement the Direct Democracy Framework. The following table defines those features:

Functional Requirements

NameDescriptionImplementation Notes
CreateThe user should be ableSee below flowcharts (9),
Initiativeto create and edit a direct(10), (11), (13), (15)
democracy initiative a
manner that is as intuitive
and easy as composing
an email then (optionally)
send the initiative out to
selected recipients
Edit InitiativeThe user should be ableSee below flowcharts (9),
to find and edit an(12), (13), (14), (15)
existing direct democracy
initiative a manner that is
as intuitive and easy as
updating a draft email
then (optionally) send the
initiative out to selected
recipients
Send InitiativeThe user should be ableSee below flowcharts (9),
to find and send an(12), (13), (15)
existing direct democracy
initiative a manner that is
as intuitive and easy as
sending a draft email
Vote onThe user should beSee below flowcharts (9),
Initiativereceive a sent direct(20), (21), (13), (17), (18)
democracy initiative and
vote on it in a manner as
intuitively as responding
to an email the
resulting information
should be sent back to
the original author of the
initiative
View VoteThe user should be ableSee below flowcharts (9),
Tallyto find a direct(12), (13)
democracy initiative and
review the current vote
tally
Send InitiativeThe user should be ableSee below flowcharts (9),
(Recursive)to find and send an(12), (13), (15)
existing direct democracy
initiative to additional
users (if permitted by the
author)
in a manner that is as
intuitive and easy as
forwarding an email
PetitionThe user should be ableSee below flowcharts (9),
Initiativeto petition an initiative(20), (22), (19), (26)
either automatically
based on achieving a
certain voting Quorum or
manually through an
easy confirmation
process
Sign PetitionA user who hasSee below flowcharts (9),
previously voted on an(20), (23), (28)
initiative which has
subsequently been
petition should be send a
signature to the petition
in an intuitive way
Create andThe user should be ableSee below flowcharts (9),
Send Counterto attach existing(10), (11), (13), (15)
Initiatives andinitiatives to an existing
Amendedinitiative and, in the case
Initiativesof counter initiatives,
automatically register
a vote against them
Vote onThe user should receiveSee below flowcharts (9),
Initiativesa sent direct democracy(20), (21), (13), (17), (18)
includinginitiative together with
Amended andattached initiatives and
Counterbe able to vote on all
Initiativesinitiatives in the
package
Set, UpdateThe user should be ableSee below flowcharts (9),
and Maintainto set, update and(10), (24)
Usermaintain user profile
Profileinformation and
Informationautomatically generate
the appropriate updates
and
messages to associated
Voting Management
Servers

End User Voting Tool: Message Data Structures

The end-user voting tool technically enhances the typical email client software tool in a similar manner as a calendar software package enhances the same solution. A calendar tool adds specific message types, such as calendar event invitations and calendar event replies, adds a user interface to view and edit the user's calendar and then defines underlying process by which those elements interact; similarly, the end-user voting tool adds specific message types that can be sent, an associated end-user interface and certain new underlying processes. The new message types defined are either utilized in response to the end user's direction or driven by the automation within the end-user voting tool (described later in this document).

The discussion of these message types is critical to technically defining the framework. Three specific message types are required and used by the End User Voting Tool during the distributed voting process, with additional ones needed by the Voting Management Server and interaction with it. The message types needed by the End User Voting Tool are: Initiative Packages, Voter Response Packages, and Voter Update Packages. It should also be noted that in addition to being sent between End User Voting Tools, these message packages form the records within the internal database structure of the End User Voting Tool. Referred to as the repository this database stores all the required information the tool needs to function. The following sections will examine these three message types and in further detail.

Initiative Package

The Initiative Package is a message generated by the end-user voting tool when the original author starts the process of gathering votes on a Direct Democracy Framework initiative. The user enters the data of choice into a user interface screen that looks similar to an email program's “send message” screen. The specific look and feel of the screen is defined by the specific software developer. The Initiative Package can also be resent by other users when recursive voting is employed (described in more detail below). However, under these circumstances, unlike email, the Initiative Package cannot be altered, merely forwarded with changes made only to certain fields.

The package support, the inclusion of the following data:

Data
Element NameType of DataImplementation Notes
Message TypeSystem-defined indicatorGenerated by the system
states that this is anwhen the user selects the
Initiative Packageoption to
send or resend an
initiative
Initiative IDA unique identifier for theIncludes sufficient data to
initiativeensure it is always a
unique
number and can never be
duplicated by any other
end-user
voting tool at any time this
field never changes after
creation
TitleString field labeling theEntered by author and
initiativedoes not change after the
author
sends the initiative
making it active
ContentAppropriate content dataWritten by original author,
in various formats, suchthe content cannot be
as Text, HTML,changed
Rich Textonce the initiative is sent
by the author making it
active
Date/Time SentDate and TimeAutomatically generated
Informationby the tool does not
change after
the initiative is first sent by
the author
RecipientsList of the recipients ofSelected by author or
the initiativesender; can also include
forums or
mailing lists and it only
includes the immediate
recipients of
the message; previous
recipients in recursive
voting are not
included meaning that this
field is cleared and
repopulated
with new recipients each
time resent
AttachmentsFile attachmentsAny additional documents
needed and cannot be
added or
deleted once initiative is
sent and made active.
Related
initiatives can be attached
as required
RecursiveAn integer between zeroEntered by the user to
Voting Levelsand unlimitedcontrol recursive voting
Permittedcannot be changed once
the initiative is
sent by the author
RecursiveAn integer between zeroIdentifies the number of
Voting Levelsand unlimitedlevels removed from the
Usedoriginal
author of the initiative and
used to control the growth
of the
tree on recursive voting
this field automatically
increases by one each
time the
initiative is received by
another level in the voting
tree
SenderSender'sAutomatically
electronic contactadded by the system, is
address (typically email)the author the first
time the system is sent,
changes when the
initiative is sent
recursively with the
original sender being
stored to the
repository and associated
to this initiative, facilitating
the
delivering of Voter
Response Packages to
the correct sender
AuthorAuthor's electronicThis field would be
contact address (typicallydifferent than the sender
email)in the case of
recursive voting and is an
optional field it would not
change
once the initiative is sent
by the author
VotingDate and timeIndicates the time by
deadlineinformationwhich a response is
required to be
included in the vote
MinimumA time period rangingDefines the amount of
Updatefrom zero or instant totime that a responder has
Responsesome upper limited—to wait in
Delaymost likely no more thanorder to send an updated
a few hoursVoter Response Package
after
sending the first response
package; this is used to
manage
data transmission
requirements of the
framework
DigitalBoolean field thatOptional feature that may
Signatureindicates whether abe implemented in some
Requireddigital signature isversions
required orof the software
not in the response
RequiredA field that identifies theSelected by the author
Membershipsmembership(s) that areand linked to membership
required in order tocertificates
vote in this particularissued by a Voting
initiativeManagement Server this
field would not
change after being sent
by the author
RequiredA fields that identifies theSecurity certificates would
Securitysecurity certification(s)be issued by Voting
Certificationsrequired in orderManagement Servers
to vote on thisbased on security scans
initiativeand software
updates performed by the
Voting Management
Server this
field would not change
after being sent by the
author
AttachedBoolean field thatCreated by author when
Initiativesidentifies whether or notthe initiative is created
this initiative has anywould not
attached initiatives orchange after being sent
not.by the author
Voter UpdateThe initial InitiativeAll data included in the
DataPackage, also contains aVoter Update when the
complete copy of theinitiative is
Voter Update Packagefirst sent out subsequently
Voter Update Packages
are sent
by themselves to avoid
resending redundant data
AllowIdentifies whether aUsed for large initiatives
secondarypetition can be sent to ato allow distribution of
petition serversusers own preferredpetition
petition server or notdata across a large
number of servers,
secondary servers can
link into the primary
petition servers (see
below).
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

Voter Response Package

When the Initiative Package is received by another End User Voting Tool, the recipient sees the initiative in a very similar manner as when viewing a normal email. However, instead of allowing the recipient to respond to the initiator with a message of his or her own, the tool only allows the recipient to respond in support, in opposition, or with no opinion. (Other voting formats may be supported as well, but they are not discussed in detail here.) The Voter Response Package is the message that is sent back, either in response to the user making or changing the vote or in response to incoming recursive voting.

Thus, it can be sent either by the user or automatically. At a minimum, it supports the inclusion of the following data:

Data
Element NameType DataNotes
Message TypeSystem-defined indicatorGenerated by the system
that this is a Voterwhen the user selects the
Response Packageoption to send a certain
response
Initiative IDA unique identifier for theIs linked to the original
initiative
Date/Time SentDate and timeAutomatically generated
by the tool
SenderSender's electronicAutomatically added by
contact address, in thisthe system
case the recipient of the
initiative who is
responding (typically
email)
Voter ResponseSelection as determinedAutomatically added by
by the voting format ofthe system
the initiative
Digital SignatureOptional field providingMay not be supported by
the digital signature of theall versions of the
sendersoftware
Recursive VotesAn integer between zeroTallies up the additional
Supportingand a ten-digit numbervotes received through
Initiativerecursive voting and
sends them on to the
next level
Recursive VotesAn integer between zeroTallies up the additional
Not Supportingand a ten-digit numbervotes received through
Initiativerecursive voting and
sends them on to the
next level
RequiredA field that confirms theLinked to membership
Membershipmembership(s) that arecertificates issued by a
Certificatesrequired in order to voteVoting Management
in this particular initiativeServer
Required SecurityA fields that confirms theSecurity certificates
Certificatessecurity certification(s)would be issued by
required in order to voteVoting
on this initiativeManagement Servers
based on security scans
and software updates
performed by the Voting
Management Server
Petition StatusA field that recordsManaged automatically
whether the petitionby the tool based on
status for each petition ofoutbound and inbound
this Initiative for this usermessages to the Voting
status would be not-sent,Management Server
sent, confirmed
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

Voter Update Package

The third and final message type required to support the distributed voting step in the Direct Democracy Framework is the Voter Update Package. This message type is automatically generated by the End User Voting Tool when the votes tally or status of the initiative changes. Its purpose is to keep all recipients of the initiative updated in regards to the total vote of the initiative. It is therefore resent by all users who have participated in recursive voting to their own recipients. It also supports the petition process (described later). It contains the following data:

Data
Element NameType Data and NotesNotes
Message TypeSystem-defined indicatorAutomatically generated
that is a Voter Updateby the tool periodically as
Package.updates are necessary
Initiative IDA unique binary identifiedIs linked to the original
for the initiative
Date/Time SentDate and timeAutomatically generated
by tool
SenderSender's electronicAutomatically added by
contact address—in thisthe system
case, the sender of the
initiative or the recipient
one level up who is
resending via recursive
voting (typically email)
Total VotesAn integer between zeroTallies up the total votes
Supportingand a ten-digit numberreceived through all
Initiativevoting and sends that
number out to all
recipients
Total VotesAn integer between zeroTallies up the total votes
Notand a ten-digit numberreceived through all
Supportingvoting and sends that
Initiativenumber out to all
recipients
Voting StatusIdentifies the currentAutomatically managed
voting status of theby the voting process
initiative as draft (cannotfrom the
yet be voted on), activeauthor's End User Voting
(open for voting) orTool
closed (voting is
completed)
Petition StatusLike the voting status, theEither modified manually
petition status determineswhen the initiative is
where the petitioningpetitioned or
process stands statusesautomatically when the
include pre-petition,quorum is reached
petition in progress,
petition-closed
RegisteredLike the voting status, theControlled by the
Voting Statusregistered voting statussponsoring agency
determines where thethrough the Voting
registered voting processManagement Server
stands statuses include
pre-registered voting,
registered voting in
progress, registered
voting-closed
ExtendedA selection field thatSoftware developers
Initiativeindicates additionalneed to define standards
Statusstatus information aboutfor the types of initiative
the initiative (extendedstatus their version
status types mightsupports.
include options such as
in-process, passed,
cancelled, expired, in
congress, pending
ratification, and ratified.)
PetitionContains a list ofIs defined by the author,
Location(s)locations of Votingif he or she wishes to
Management Servers tosubmit a successful
which the initiative hasinitiative to some type of
been petitionedorganization for
consideration
QuorumIntegerThe total number of votes
required before a
initiative is considered
valid. Maybe used to
automatically trigger a
petition.
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

By incorporating all three of these voting packages into a recursive voting process, we can reach any size of audience in a relatively trouble-free manner.

End User Voting Tool: User Configuration

In addition to retaining message data regarding initiatives, the repository also stores certain information that controls the function of the End User Voting Tool. This is referred to as configuration data. The following table defines the configuration data needed to implement the core functionality of the End User Voting Tool:

End User Voting Tool Configuration Elements

Data
Element NameType Data and NotesNotes
Owner ContactContains multiple fieldsLinked to the contact
Datarecorded appropriatedatabase so that user
data about the ownerdata can easily be sent
such as name, address,as appropriate
phone number, email
address, etc
Membership(s)Lists organizations andLinks to Voting
the associated VotingManagement Servers for
Management ServersPetitions and Registered
for which the end user isVoting
registered or is
registering each
organization listed would
include a current
membership status such
as applied, accepted,
registered, not-active
MinimumThe setting thatInitially defined by the
Required Delaydetermines the delayuser, would be very low
Settingsetting associated with allfor high
outbound initiatives andperformance server
defines the delay settingbased End User Voting
for outbound voterTools and very high for
responses and voterlow bandwidth devices
updates
Auto DisplayDetermines whether orSet by the user
Setting(s)not user automatically
votes on inbound
initiatives automatically
displays inbound
initiatives and if initiatives
that have just been voted
on are displayed
Auto PetitionDefines whether or notSet by user
Settingsthe user automatically
submits petitions
signatures or should be
requested by the tool to
send petition
signatures
DefaultInitiative TemplateMultiple templates can be
Initiative Datadefines the default fieldsupported
entries for a newly
created initiative
PreferredIdentifies a locationSet by user
Petition Serverwhere Petition signature
are sent when a
preferred or secondary
petition signature server
is allowed
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

End User Voting Tool: Additional Notes

Having discussed the requirements of the End User Voting Tool, the core data structures it uses (with additional structures defined below), and the process flow utilized, it is important we close the discussion of this component of the Direct Democracy Framework by notating some other important aspects of this tool.

Data Transmission Capacity Management

An important issue addressed is the accumulation of massive amounts of data being generated if recursive voting allowed all data associated with an initiative—including every user's identification data and vote—to be passed on through the voting tree. Therefore, to protect both the users' privacy and the technical viability of the system, as the earlier example and data structures indicate, we limit the size of the Voting Response Package to only the most critical data. Initiators receive the votes of all users to whom they sent the initiative directly as well as the total tally of all the votes collected. They do not receive a complete list of all voters as such a list could not be built until the petition and registration process of the Direct Democracy Framework (described below).

Data Transmission Frequency Management

Another issue addressed is the impact that even small Voter Response Packages might have on the communications network if the frequency of their transmission rate is too high. This problem is alleviated through simple response delays incorporated into the tool. For example, requiring a 10-minute delay before an updated Voter Response Package or Voter Update Package is transmitted would significantly reduce the quantity and frequency of packages being sent across the communications network. This time delay could be defined by the end user based on the resources available and impact to the system and network in which the end-user voting tool is being operated. An end-user voting tool embedded in a high performance server might not need such a delay, whereas an end-user voting tool sitting on a cell phone might be best served by a long delay. All recipients of an initiative would be notified of the minimum delay associated with the sender's device and would set the delay for that initiative to the higher value of their own delay setting and the setting of the initiative.

Even with this delay mechanism included, a massive volume of users can be reached and the most distant response would still arrive in a matter of hours. Most would agree this is a very reasonable amount of time to begin gathering millions—or even billions—of votes from across the globe. Such heartbeat control of the frequency of transmissions would consequently reduce network load significantly.

Voting Frequency Management

The end-user voting tool ensures that a user can only vote on an issue once by tracking the unique initiative identification and the identity of the user who sent the initiative to users. Subsequent attempts by others to reach the same user on that initiative result in a response that signals the user previously supported, opposed, or indicated no opinion; this process occurs in the background so users are not bothered by seeing the same initiative repeatedly unless they choose to review the initiative again and change their response.

Broken Voting Tree Branch Management

Finally, the last issue to note that we have tackled above involves determining what happens when a branch of the voting tree becomes broken or disconnected—a problem that results in the downstream recursive voting portion of the voting tree linked to the disconnected recipient not being able to reach the initiator so that a complete and accurate tally of the votes is maintained. In determining an approach to this challenge several approaches were reviewed.

One approach is simply to allow broken branches to continue to grow as they normally do and recognize that—like any distributed system—our voting tree will be imperfect. Ultimately, a strong initiative that reaches the petition or registration phase carries a certain media awareness with it that enables users who become disconnected and do not hear about the petition through the voting tree to become informed about what was happening and send in their petitions anyway.

Another approach is to rely on the timestamp of the Voter Update Package sent from the initiating end-user voting tool. We can subsequently restrict recursive voting to being initiated only after an indication is received down the voting tree that determines the original vote has most likely already been tallied. This can be done by waiting to send out recursive votes until the timestamp of the latest Voter Update Package has aged by at least the send delay setting multiplied by the number of levels removed from the initiator. This control mechanism could stunt the growth of any broken branches of the voting tree until the breach is reconnected, thereby preventing new users from becoming connected to the broken branch of the tree. This method is discussed in more detail below.

Finally, perhaps the most complicated method for handling broken branches involves allowing those areas of the voting tree to reconnect to the tree through an alternate path. This could be facilitated by allowing open forums built into the voting tree to be passed down the voting tree. With this information, a branch that is unable to pass its tally up could instead connect to any of the listed open forums and pass its tally up that way. The part of the tree that has lost the branch could, after a certain period of time, remove the tally of the disconnected branch from its own tally. As a result, the vote count is correctly maintained while reaching the initiator through a different route.

Calculating Distribution Timeframes

An interested technical aspect of recursive voting to explore is the timeframes required for a tree to grow, which can be performed by analyzing the method of broken branch management we chose to use and then determining the number of levels in the tree in question. For example, as we have used the Voter Update Package timestamp method to control the growth of the tree, the time required for each layer to be added to the tree is calculated as follows:


Time to add level=Time Delay Setting×(1+(total levels in tree×2))

By utilizing this formula, we can develop the following table defining the time required to build voting trees based on the number of levels in the tree:

Approximate Average
Recipients per Send toTime Required to Build
Reach Ten BillionTree based on 10-
Tree LevelsVotersMinute Response Delay
1Ten Billion10 Minutes
2100,0001 Hour
32,0002 Hours, 10 Minutes
43003 Hours, 40 Minutes
51005 Hours, 30 Minutes
6477 Hours, 40 Minutes
72710 Hours, 10 Minutes
81813 Hours
91316 Hours, 10 Minutes
101019 Hours, 40 Minutes

As this table indicates, this methodology enables us to reach the entire world's population—even if each sender is only contacting an average of ten recipients in less than a day. This is the amazing power of recursive voting.

Voting Management Server: Requirements Definition

To recap the role of the Voting Management Server it is the tool responsible for the second through fourth steps in the Direct Democracy Framework process the; petition, registration and congress and also provides a server based version of the End User Voting Tool. It is therefore critically important to document the core functionality of this server system that is required to implement the Direct Democracy Framework. The following table defines those features:

Functional Requirements

NameDescriptionImplementation Notes
Web based EndThe Voting ManagementSee End User Voting
User Voting ToolServer must provide aTool flowcharts
functionalitymulti user web based
End User Voting Tool
environment that is
intuitive and provides all
the functionality
discussed above
Register UsersThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts (9),
Server administrator(10), (13), (17), (18)
must be able to accept
and approve requests for
membership(s) on the
Voting Management
Server
Create NewThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts
PetitionsServer administrator(9), (10), (14), (17), (19)
must be able to accept
and approve requests for
petitions from existing
members either
automatically or by
manual approval
Receive and AcceptThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts
PetitionServer administrator(9), (17), (20)
Signaturesmust be able to accept
and approve requests for
petitions from existing
members either
automatically or by
manual approval
Register InitiativeThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts
Server administrator(9), (10), (14)
must be able to assign
an existing petitioned
initiative into the voter
registration process
either automatically or by
manual approval
User RegistrationThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts (9),
Server administrator(10), (13)
must be able to accept
the in-person identity
verification of users and
assign them registered
status
Registered VotingThe VotingSee End User Voting
Management ServerTool flowcharts
administrator must be
able to grant access to
End User Voting Tool
functionality in a secure
location to
allow users to re-vote in
a secure registered
environment
Congress SelectionThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts
Server administrator(9), (10), (14)
must be able to assign
an existing registered
initiative for selection of
delegates for a
congress
CongressionalThe Voting ManagementSee End User Voting
VotingServer administratorTool flowcharts
must be able to grant
access to End User
Voting Tool functionality
in a secure location to
allow users to re-vote in
a secure registered
environment during a
congress
Delegate Check-inThe Voting ManagementSee End User Voting
Server administratorTool flowcharts
must be able to accept
the in-person identity
verification of delegates
and assign them
check-in status during a
congress
Ratify InitiativeThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts
Server administrator(9), (10), (14)
must be able to assign
an existing
registered initiative into a
ratified status
Create New ForumsThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts
Server administrator(9), (10), (12)
must be able to accept
and approve requests for
open forums from
existing members either
automatically or by
manual approval
Manage ExistingThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts
UsersServer administrator(9), (10), (13), (22)
must be able to search
for an update existing
user profiles including
security access,
membership, forums and
profile data
Manage ExistingThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts
GroupsServer administrator(9), (10), (12)
must be able to search
for an update existing
groups including security
access, membership,
forums and profile data
Manage ExistingThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts
PetitionsServer administrator(9), (10), (14)
must be able to search
for an update petitions
including status
Manage ExistingThe Voting ManagementSee below flowcharts
ForumsServer administrator(9), (10), (15)
must be able to search
for an update existing
Forums including
Initiative Status

Voting Management Server: Message Packages

In this section of the document we will describe all the data structures of the message types that are used when interacting with the Voting Management Server. There are in all eight message packages that we need to discuss and they are as follows:

Voting Management Server Membership Request Package

The Voting Management Server Membership Request Package is sent by an End User Voting Tool to request a user be added, group be added or membership status of a user be changed. It is sent automatically by the End User Voting Tool in response to the user making changes to the user configuration. The package supports, at a minimum, the inclusion of the following data:

Data Element NameType Data and NotesNotes
Message TypeSystem-defined indicatorAutomatically generated
that is a Voterby the tool based on End
Management ServerUser
Membership RequestVoting Tool user
configuration changes
User Contact DataContains multiple fieldsLinked to the contact
recorded appropriatedatabase from End User
data about the ownerVoting Tool
such as name, address,
phone number, email
address, etc
Membership(s)Lists organizations andGroups would be
the associated Votingconfigured on the Voting
Management Server forManagement Server
which the end user is
requesting a membership
or status change
Status Request(s)Specifies the statusWould then be validated
change requested suchby the administrator of
as application, extension,the Voting Management
cancelation, etcServer
Time and DateTime and Date ofGenerated by End User
RequestVoting Tool when sent to
Voting Management
Server
CertificatesAttaches any securityProvided by this or other
certificates that may beVoting Management
required to getServers
membership
Digital SignaturesAttaches digitalProvided by this or other
Signatures if requiredVoting Management
Servers
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

Voting Management Server Membership Request Response Package

The Voting Management Server Membership Request Response Package is sent by the Voting Management Server either automatically when a Voting Management Server Membership Request Package is processed by the server, or when the server administrator manually responds to the request. The package supports, at a minimum, the inclusion of the following data:

Data Element NameType Data and NotesNotes
Message TypeSystem-defined indicatorGenerated by Voting
that is a VoterManagement Server
Management Serverbased on either
Membership Requestautomated membership
Responseassignment or
Administrator
authorization
Membership(s)Lists organizations andGroups would be
the associated Votingconfigured on the Voting
Management Server forManagement Server
which the end user is
requesting a membership
or status change
Status RequestSpecifies status changeWould then be validated
granted or denied in thisby the administrator of
responsethe Voting Management
Server
Time and DateTime and Date ofGenerated by Voting
RequestManagement when sent
to End User Voting Tool
CertificatesAttaches any securityProvided by this Voting
certificates assigned asManagement Servers
part of this process
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

Voting Management Server Petition Request Package

The Voting Management Server Petition Request Package is sent by the End User Voting Tool either automatically when an initiative passes its quorum or manually at the request of an end user. It is the step that progresses an initiative from step one to step two in the Direct Democracy Framework Process. The package supports, at a minimum, the inclusion of the following data:

Data
Element NameType Data and NotesNotes
Message TypeSystem-defined indicatorGenerated by End User
that is a Petition RequestVoting Tool either
manually or automatically,
when Quorum is achieved
in voting numbers
InitiativeThe complete InitiativeProvided by the End User
PackagePackage being petitionedVoting Tool as part of the
Petition Request
Time and DateTime and Date of PetitionGenerated by End User
RequestVoting Tool at time of
send
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

Voting Management Server Petition Request Response Package

The Voting Management Server Petition Request Response Package is sent by the Voting Management Server either automatically when a Voting Management Server Petition Membership Request Package is processed by the server, or when the server administrator manually responds to the request. The package supports, at a minimum, the inclusion of the following data:

Data
Element NameType Data and NotesNotes
Message TypeSystem-defined indicatorGenerated by Voting
that is a Petition RequestManagement Server
Responseeither
automatically or at the
request of the
Administrator
InitiativeThe id of the Initiative inProvided by the End User
Package idquestionVoting Tool as part of the
Petition Request
Time and DateTime and Date of PetitionGenerated by Voting
RequestManagement Tool at time
of send
StatusStatus of Petition as aGenerated by Voting
result of this requestManagement Server
either
automatically or at the
request of the
Administrator
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

Voting Management Server Petition Signature Package

The Voting Management Server Petition Signature Package is sent by the End User Voting Tool either automatically when the End User Voting Tool receives and processes a Voter Update Package that indicates the initiative has gone into petition or manually at the request of an end user. The package supports, at a minimum, the inclusion of the following data:

Data
Element NameType Data and NotesNotes
Message TypeSystem-defined indicatorGenerated by End User
that is a PetitionVoting Tool when user
Signaturesigns
petition
InitiativeThe id of the Initiative inProvided by the End User
Package idquestionVoting Tool as part of the
Petition Request
Time and DateTime and Date of PetitionGenerated by
RequestVoting Management Tool
at time of send
VoteIndicates whetherGenerated by End User
Signature opposes orVoting Tool when the user
supports initiativesigns the
petition
CertificatesContains any securityGenerated by this or other
certificates that wereVoting Management
required to authenticateServers
signature to this serveroriginally
Other DataAs neededAs defined and
required by the specific
software developer

Voting Management Server Petition Signature Response Package

The Voting Management Server Petition Signature Response Package is sent by the Voting Management Server when a Voting Management Server Petition Signature Request Package is acknowledged. The package supports, at a minimum, the inclusion of the following data:

Data
Element NameType Data and NotesNotes
Message TypeSystem-defined indicatorGenerated by Voting
that is a PetitionManagement Server
Signature Responseautomatically
InitiativeThe id of the Initiative inProvided by the End User
Package idquestionVoting Tool as part of the
Petition Request
Time and DateTime and Date of PetitionGenerated by Voting
Signature RequestManagement Tool at time
Responseof send
ConfirmationProvides confirmation ofGenerated by Voting
whether signatureManagement Server
opposes or supportswhen the user signs the
initiativepetition
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

Voting Management Server Petition Link Request Package

The Voting Management Server Petition Link Request Package is sent from one Voting Management Server to another when a petition is sent to a preferred Voting Management Server during a petition process. The package supports, at a minimum, the inclusion of the following data:

Data
Element NameType Data and NotesNotes
Message TypeSystem-defined indicatorGenerated by Voting
that is a VotingManagement Server
Management Serverautomatically
Petition Link Request
Package
Initiative PackageThe id of the Initiative inProvided by the End User
idquestionVoting Tool as part of the
Petition Request
Time and DateTime and Date of VotingGenerated by Voting
Management ServerManagement Tool at time
Petition Link Requestof send
Package
Server AddressInformation identifyingGenerated by Voting
the server that isManagement Server
requesting the petitionwhen it sends the
linkPackage
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

Voting Management Server Petition Link Request Response Package

The Voting Management Server Petition Link Request Response Package is sent from one Voting Management Server to another when a petition is sent to a preferred Voting Management Server during a petition process. It confirms receipt of the link. The package supports, at a minimum, the inclusion of the following data:

Data
Element NameType Data and NotesNotes
Message TypeSystem-defined indicatorGenerated by Voting
that is a VotingManagement Server
Management Serverautomatically
Petition Link Request
Response Package
Initiative PackageThe id of the Initiative inProvided by the End User
idquestionVoting Tool as part of the
Petition Request
Time and DateTime and Date of VotingGenerated by Voting
Management ServerManagement Tool at time
Petition Link Requestof send
Response Package
ConfirmationInformation confirmingGenerated by Voting
(alternatively denying)Management Server
the link to the petitionwhen it sends the
Package
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

Voting Management Server: Server Configuration

In addition to retaining message data regarding initiatives, the Voting Management Server repository must also store certain information that controls the function of the Voting Management Server. This is referred to as server configuration data. The following table defines the configuration data needed to implement the core functionality of the Voting Management Server:

Voting Management Server Configuration Elements

Data Element NameType Data and NotesNotes
Auto ProcessMultiple fields thatEnter by Voting
Setting(s)defined whether requestsManagement Server
for new users, newadministrator to define
groups and new grouphow the server should
membership requests arereact to inbound
approved automatically,messages
denied automatically or
manually processed
Other DataAs neededAs defined and required
by the specific software
developer

The following notes apply to the above Voting Management Server flowcharts:

(a) The Forum Manager is a session of the End User Voting Tool running automatically, so that the Forum itself votes “no opinion” on all received initiatives, and automatically sends recursive voting to every member of the group associated with the Forum.

Additional Features (Not Included in Documented Core Functionality)

As the technical overview is now complete, it is of value to spend some time discussing the additional technical capabilities provided by the Direct Democracy Framework. Although these capabilities are not discussed in detail here, a few examples are introduced in order to demonstrate the potential flexibility of this system.

Integration and Automation

An important capability of the Direct Democracy Framework is its ability to automate the interactions of other technologies. Such integration uses APIs for the end-user voting tool and the Voting Management Server, which enables the framework to define potentially complex voting rules (e.g., unanimous support or majority support combined with a yes vote of named key stakeholders) with other technologies to automate certain key processes.

A simple scenario might be the automated scheduling or cancelation of a calendar event, based on the approval or disapproval of attendees, or a local government that proactively implements democratically controlled electronic speed limits on local streets. Another far more serious scenario might be the automated activation of lethal force capability with the unanimous vote of a set of well-trained security officers monitoring an emerging security threat. As military forces around the world increasingly rely on unmanned combat systems, such capabilities might become critical.

Weighted Voting

Another powerful feature for the Direct Democracy Framework could be the implementation of weighted voting. This feature would work by allowing the author to designated an initiative as a weighted initiative then apply a particular percentage weight to each recipient. When recursive voting is utilized, the percentage assigned to a particular recipient could then be broken down by that recipient to their own list of recipients.

Such a feature might be very valuable in the financial services industry where the voting on a particular issue is weighted by the number of shares or percentage of ownership. A given public company could send a stockholder initiative to all shareholders, then if a given stockholder happened to be a mutual fund, that fund could then forward to fund member based on the number fund shares they owned.

Variable Format Voting

Although the greatest value of the Direct Democracy Framework might be its ability to enable voting on issues in a simple support/do not support/no opinion format, nothing is preventing the framework from enabling additional voting formats. Multiple-choice surveys or multi-question initiatives could be added through a custom voting format configured by the initiative author or selected from a group of templates. In such a scenario, information for articulating the custom voting format would be sent along with the initiative for each end-user voting tool receiving it to decode and present information to the voter in the appropriate format.

Bundled Initiatives

Another important technical feature of the Direct Democracy Framework is its ability to bundle initiatives together. It may be important for a user to receive not only the initiative, but also other initiatives linked to it. Through this mechanism, the Direct Democracy Framework supports the amended initiatives and counter-initiatives discussed in the original document.

Initiative Templates

The technical concept of an initiative template consists of a standard format for the creation of an initiative. This could include the formatting of content, allowable attachments, pre-defined quorum required and other attributes. Templates could be created by organizations that participate in the direct democracy framework and could be designed to facilitate easier petition, registration and ratification processing of the initiative in question.

Dynamic Initiatives

A dynamic initiative would be one that focuses not on achieving an accurate vote at a certain point in time, but rather tracking a vote over a specific period of time. This would be implemented by allowing the End User Voting Tool to either record each individual transaction, or just recording the vote tally periodically at given time intervals. An example of a dynamic initiative might be one for example that tracks the approval rating of a certain political figure over time.

Vote Transaction Audit Trail

It is also a possibly valuable addition to the end user voting to permit it to track activities that the end user performs. This might be critical in highly secure or regulated voting environments. The voting activity audit trail could also be a source of data to create dynamic initiatives.

End User Voting Tool Replication, Backup and Software Updates

For users who wish to take advantage of the performance security and redundancy that can be built into an End User Voting Tool embedded into a voting management server, yet also take advantage of the convenience of a client device based End User Voting Tool, the Direct Democracy Framework could allow the configuration of replicated End User Voting Tools.

In this structure, one or more End User Voting Tools could be configured to manage the data associated with a single user and automatically forward data sent and received from each copy of the software to each other. This might be thought of as something very similar to the email configuration of someone using both an email server and a client based device to access the same email account.

This capability could easily be expanded to support the backup of data on an End User Voting Tool and the updating of the software on those tools.

Content Management

Another important role provided by the Voting Management Server is to store a repository of initiatives and their associated attachments that have been submitted to it—either in its forums or by petition—and their status.

This would form a searchable database that would also be capable of automatically updating itself based on voter activity and date changes. Effective dates and expiration dates could be employed to automatically change the status of an initiative. This creates a virtual ‘book of law,’ allowing users to search and review proposed, current, and obsolete laws for a given institution or government.

In addition, when the web based End User Voting Tool is employed, the content management features of the Voting Management Server can help make much more efficient use of storage space and vastly accelerate the time required to distribute initiatives through the use of a centralized content repository.

In this scenario, Initiative Packages would have key data elements such as content and attachments replaced by pointers to a centrally managed content repository. This would mean that any given attachment or content component that was references many times by initiatives on the server would only have to exist once. An initiative could be written and sent to hundreds or even thousands of users, and the content would only need to be replicated when a user whose End User Voting Tool did not reside on the server itself received the initiative.

These content management capabilities leverage the existing technologies associated with internet-based content management.

Subscriber Notifications

In addition to subscribing to open forums, users of the Direct Democracy Framework would also be able to create profiles on the Voting Management Servers allowing them to receive initiatives of their choosing. This might include any initiative submitted to an open forum, only initiatives that are petitions, only registered initiatives or perhaps even only initiatives having gained a certain level of votes, petition signatures, or registered votes.

Enforcing Security

The primary purpose of the five steps of the Direct Democracy Framework is to create an environment that is flexible and yet secure enough to support a democratic process on any scale. There are additional technical features that the Voting Management Server can provide to enhance and streamline the implementation of effective security. These are discussed in the next section.

Additional Security Features of the Direct Democracy Framework (Not Included in Documented Core Functionality)

The following describes the various security features that can be integrated into the technology of the End User Voting Tool and the Voting Management Server. These features supplement rather than replace the security inherent in the five steps of the Direct Democracy Framework.

Initiative Validity

Certificate, encryption and hashing technologies could be used to ensure that an initiative is valid when it is received by an End User Voting Tool. If somehow an initiative became corrupted or changed and the content of the initiative did not hash correctly when compared by an appropriate algorithm to the initiative id, the End User Voting Tool would not allow a user to vote on it.

Digital Signature

As mentioned earlier in the document, during the registration phase, the digital signatures can optionally be attached to Voter Response Packages in order to ensure that the user's identity is valid.

Required Membership

The required membership feature of the Direct Democracy Framework would work by having initiatives labeled in accordance with the organizational membership required in order to vote on them.

It would be implemented by allowing Voting Management Servers to issue certificates for registered membership in an organization, and adding a field to the Initiative Package & Voter Response Package that include a field for identifying required

Required Security Certification

Implemented in an identical manner to the membership feature discussed above, a required security certification feature, would identify the level of security that's successfully implemented in the End User Voting Tool being used. This security level would be established by updating, scanning and auditing of the End User Voting Tool by a Voting Management Server very similar to how virus scanning software and software distribution servers work today.

Centralized Voting Tree Implementation

By leveraging membership and/or security certification to require all users within a given organization to utilize an End User Voting Tool embedded into a secure and high performance server or set of servers, we are creating a highly secure and centralized voting tree. In this environment, response delays as well as the requirement to utilize the additional four steps of the Direct Democracy Framework could be eliminated. This could create an extremely fast and efficient mechanism for making formal democratic decisions within secure environments.

Security Fences

In the above example of the centralized voting tree implementation, it would further be possible to configure Voting Management Servers to prevent initiatives having certain membership or security restrictions to actually leave a server. Instead where a user outside a server was addressed, they could be sent an invitation to register with the organization managing the server in question. This feature could allow organizations to institute voting on classified or confidential items.

This would be extremely convenient of users working in jobs requiring high security or confidentiality. They could use a single End User Voting Tool for all their voting activity and rely on security fences to keep important initiatives inside their secure environment. Security fences would compliment not replace other electronic security measures. For example a security fence sits above and beyond standard firewall security that would exist in a secure network.