I talked about the France Insoumise convention in a previous post. They randomly selected the participants from a list of volunteers. They used a script available on github. Yet most of the questions I asked to the developer stayed unanswered. Also they did not advertise this event. Were they wary of stacking? Anyway they manage to put in place a first test for the use of sortition to organise a meeting. A malicious agent could have rigged the experiment by drawing with different seeds until they obtained the desired result.
Computers are fully deterministic and use pseudo-random numbers. To generate « random » numbers one uses sequences from which it is difficult to predict the next outcome knowing the previous. These sequences, however, are entirely deterministic as the next element is computed from the previous in a predictable manner. For a given seed -initial condition- all computers can reproduce the entire sequence. The computer’s determinism constitutes both a weakness and also a strength.
Two lines, nobody like queueing except maybe for the monks. Romain Cazé CC-BY
A way to avoid possible tampering consists in randomly drawing a seed. For instance, we can do it by taking the arrival times of different witnesses and hashing these numbers. We can also use an entirely analogical device to draw a seed controlled by an usher. Any computer could then deterministically reproduce the outcome. Two advantages here: (1) it saves a lot of time, especially if we need to pick within a long list of people (2) everybody can reproduce the draw using a personal computer.
The aforementioned method would give a strong legitimacy to the draw. And rigging the draw would become virtually impossible.
Thank you for reading! If you have ideas on how to use this method please comment in the section below.
P.S: Thank you Ambre for the proof read.