CheckBox: An Online + Offline Voting System

Our beta from 2013.

June 25, 2024 — In 2013 my friends and I won the Liberty Hackathon in San Francisco.

We built CheckBox, an open source system voting system that supported online, offline and hybrid elections. I did the technical design, Cam talked to users and developed the business pitch, and Ben provided the design.

CheckBox built on our new discovery at the time, which now goes by the name Scroll Notation.

We tried (and failed) to raise money to work on CheckBox full-time.

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We were quite poor at the time.

I subsisted on an unhealthy diet of ramen and an occasional treat from the McDonalds $1 menu.

I often slept on a couch while hosting an AirBedAndBreakfast guest in my bed.

I also had a roommate and we had one bed and one couch in the room, and when our room wasn't rented we alternated who got the bed.

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About six months after this hackathon, Microsoft acqui-hired our team for NudgePad, the other project we were working on.

This was great because I could now afford anything on the McDonalds menu.

Unfortunately CheckBox fell by the wayside, until someone reminded me of it today.

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Below is our executive summary from our failed fundraising attempt in 2013.

(I am still trying to find the code that powered our beta).

Although CheckBox as a business is not for me, I love the underlying CheckBox design, and still think that this system has a better underlying design than any other electronic voting system-by a wide margin.

The key idea is this: the underlying languages can power 100% digital election, 100% paper election, or a hybrid election.

If you want to build the best voting system, I am highly confident this is the way.

CheckBox Executive Summary

Overview

It’s 2013. Everyday we trust the Internet to process billions of dollars, keep our social security numbers secure, as well as our medical information. Yet still, to cast a vote we need to drive to a polling station, wait in line, and fill in bubbles with a pencil.

We’re changing that.

We built CheckBox so that voting districts can easily create a secure ballot for voters to vote from home.

Problem

Online voting is a technical problem, not a political problem. No existing technology is able to provide a secure, user-friendly online voting experience.

Solution

We invented the Space language (2024 note: this is now called Scroll Notation), which is the key technical innovation behind CheckBox. Space is the only language that is simple and powerful enough for online voting.

It offers:

Prototype is live at http://getcheckbox.com

How it Works

Distribution

Traction

We started working on CheckBox on June 21st. On June 22nd won the Liberty Hackathon Grand Prize ($3,000). On June 24th featured on NPR. Upcoming articles in Salon, BuzzFeed and Politico.

Business Model

Free to self host and 10 cents per ballot for fully managed and hosted operation.

Government Market

Private Market

Shareholder elections, corporate election, group elections, student elections

Corporation

We plan to incorporate as a for-benefit corporation in the State of California with a dual mission to maximize voter turnout and profit. Equity will be split as follows: Founders 60%, investors 20%, employees 20%. The company will be based in San Francisco and work from the Nudge Inc. office.

Milestones

Deal

We’re looking to raise up to $200,000 via convertible notes with an $800,000 cap to achieve our 2013 milestones.