Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions. The most often asked ones are below. If you have one that’s not here, please get in touch.

The basics


What is MiVote?

MiVote is an online platform that empowers voters to have their say on issues that matter. Evidence-based, digestible information helps voters to make the best decisions for them—they can vote on any or all tabled issues and their community’s independent candidate takes the majority opinion to the top. This powers direct democratic change—the way your community votes is the way your representative votes in government.


How does MiVote work?

We start with the facts. Zany, right? Our research team uncovers everything to know about a political issue and brings that information to members. For example, we might ask “how would you prefer political donations be managed in your country?”

A member (that’s you) will get unbiased, fully referenced content in a way that’s easy to understand. We outline the pros, cons and the details so you can take in as much as you want. Every member has one opportunity to vote and each vote carries exactly the same weight.

Every community within MiVote can be represented by an independent political candidate of its choosing. This MiVote-Powered Independent will take your community’s majority decision to government and advocate for the changes you want. No party line. No backroom deals. No one in the pocket of big business.

Our dedication to fairness runs deep. We use blockchain technology, so our system is incorruptible. We require independent candidates to agree to uphold our values in government. We’re not for profit. We’re party agnostic. We don’t accept corporate donations. We’re here to make sure government hears the voice of the people.


What is MiVote’s goal?

Within five years we want to be the biggest political organisation in the world. We want to have MiVote-Powered Independents in ten governments and give voices to emancipate a billion more people. To do this we need to give every individual an informed and equal say on the decisions that affect them and their communities.

Success for MiVote looks like this: abetter community driven decision making and a world where everyone feels empowered by their own self-determination.


Is MiVote a political party?

No. MiVote is a decision-making system. It’s a website and device-agnostic app you can become better informed with, then vote with on how you want to be represented. It’s unbiased research that can be found in one place, as well as easy to understand.

MiVote is a way of separating politics from the seedy underbelly. No toeing the party line, no cash for comment and no ideological lobby groups. Only empowered users and their ideas here, thanks.


Where does MiVote get its money?

From the people.

We don’t accept corporate donations or contributions from lobbyists. You keep telling us that’s what’s wrong with politics and we emphatically agree. All the money we use for operations comes from you and others like you—people who see value in our movement and want to support it.

Our app will also include a crowdfunding feature, so you can contribute to the campaigns of your MiVote-Powered Independents. Your funds will directly support your community’s majority position.

We also partner with NGOs to work on specific programs like education and representation of marginalised communities. Resultant funds are clearly and transparently quarantined, so they have no impact on votes or vote content.


Who started MiVote and why?

Who doesn’t want a better, fairer world, operating on a foundation of real democracy? That’s what founders Adam Jacoby, Hamish Hughes and Dr Richard Hames had in mind when they started MiVote.

How we differ


What is MiVote’s position within the political system?

MiVote is a platform that facilitates independent political candidates. We don’t have a political position and we’re not a political ideology.

The political position of MiVote-Powered Independents will always be that of the community they represent. As soon as they're elected, you have a direct line to them. That independent candidate (or multiple candidates) will be bound by the voice of the MiVote community. They’ll represent the majority vote on every issue, as decided on the MiVote platform.

When sitting in government they’ll be speaking with your voice.


How does MiVote differ to other direct democracy parties?

We’re not a party. We don’t accept corporate donations and have no ideology of our own. We don’t allow career politicians and can’t be influenced by special interest groups.

As a direct democracy model we are keen to use technology to advance the cause. Other movements apply technological solutions to a failing system. MiVote has created a new system and then applied technology to speed up and scale its development.

Our structure and approach is new. We’ve focused on the needs of the system first, applying technology to enhance it. Creating a better system is our primary goal.


Are you a charity with Tax Deductible Status?

Not yet, but we are working towards it.

Membership


I’m already a member of a political party. Can I join MiVote?

Yes. We’re party agnostic and that’s kind of the point. Anyone can join MiVote and any eligible voter can vote. There’s no left or right, us v them. Joining MiVote means having the support of a whole community to make informed choices you feel good about.


What does it mean to be a ‘member’ and what do I get?

A member is someone who uses the MiVote platform to cast votes. It’s a free service. When you join you’ll get:

  • Unbiased, research-based information on all issues up for debate
  • Access to your MiVote-Powered Independent, and input into their policies
  • Detailed results on policy decisions after a vote
  • Confidence that your MiVote-Powered Independent is representing your community in government
  • The satisfaction of being part of real democratic change

How much does MiVote cost?

Being a MiVote member is free. Running as a MiVote-Powered Independent has no upfront costs—a small percentage of funds raised is used by MiVote for continued improvements to the platform.


What if I don’t want to become a member?

Members of MiVote are part of a global movement towards transparent, accountable and true democracy. That means ensuring our community is verified and eligible to vote. Not being a member means you won’t be able to have your vote represented in government.

How much you're involved is up to you. You can choose to vote on every issue, or just one. You can write love songs for your MiVote-Powered Independent, or you can just learn their first name. We want all members to enjoy a level of participation that’s comfortable for them.


How can I get involved?

Please email joel@mivote.com.au if you'd like to join the movement.


How can I contribute to this movement?

We will be launching a crowdfunding campaign on December 1. Click here to help us fundraise.


Where do my financial contributions go?

We’re grateful for all contributions you make. MiVote is not-for-profit, so all funds are put back into the organisation to keep growing the platform, continue to offer the highest-quality research and advance global democracy into the future.

Before the vote


Can anyone vote?

If you're an eligible voter, the answer is ‘yes’.

MiVote is for people who are tired of corruption in politics or think their vote has lost its value. It’s for anyone who sees the way governments run and thinks “there has to be a better way”. It’s for the people who want to be involved in community decision making but think “what’s the point?” or “it’s too hard”.


How is MiVote for everyone if voting relies on technology?

We appreciate internet access isn’t universal. It’s why we partner with non-profits like Foundation For Young Australians to support disadvantaged communities and amplify voices that mightn’t otherwise be heard.

Technology is a way to mobilise voters, not exclude them. Barack Obama used crowdfunding to support his 2008 political campaign and Donald Trump engaged his audience through social media. Some of these campaigns may have lacked clarity, but their digital concepts were sound. We’re keen to build on this kind of inclusion.


How is a vote cast?
  1. You get a notification when a new vote goes live.
  2. You go to the website.
  3. Read the research. We’ve distilled it into digestible, unbiased content.
  4. Cast your informed vote.
  5. Get notified when the vote ends and the result is publicised.
  6. If your community comes to a majority position, your MiVote-Powered Independent takes it to government.

What if I change my mind?

Just like a paper ballot, a vote can’t be changed after you’ve cast it. However, we can revisit issues. We know opinions and external factors change, too. Vote topics are revisited at least once a year, so we’re always reflecting what the MiVote community is really thinking.

Further to the above, if our member base increases beyond a milestone (eg. 50%), we may no longer be able to say our position reflects the will of members—enough of them may tip the scales the other way. When that happens we go back to the people to see how the entire community feels.

The vote itself


Who decides what topics are voted on?

You do.

Any eligible member of the community can nominate a topic to be voted on. Topics with high levels of public interest are prioritised by our policy team. Votes need to be cast on every topic, so this method only affects the order in which you’ll have your say, not the validity of proposed topics.


Who decides what the frames are?

Frames are decided by data, the community and subject matter experts.

After a vote topic is decided on our policy team begins a rigorous exploration. At the same time we invite subject matter experts, NGOs, research groups and other relevant collectives to submit a report and add their perspectives to the research mix. Once this information is collated it's synthesised and presented to the advisory committees, who provide the perspective of their respective communities.

That’s not the end of it. The policy team then takes these inputs and identifies potential directions for frames. Those directions go through their own feedback loops—governance, ethics and subject matter experts again.

Once approved, the proposed frames go from research to straightforward, occasionally hilarious content that has you at its centre. We know it's challenging to find the right info—we have writers who keep it simple.

Everything then goes to MiVote's Head of Policy for sign-off. After that, the issue goes live for voting.

In future, MiVote will also use Artificial Intelligence to source and collate information. AI will scan for the latest research on any given topic, in all languages, and filter it according to relevance, validity, reliability and accuracy, before presenting it to the team to compare with insights from community groups and people on the ground. Cool, huh?


Who writes the vote content?

Our policy team is made of people whose job it is to find relevant, evidence-based information and present it in a straightforward manner. We have experts from universities worldwide who work with communications experts to “translate” academic and technical information into digestible content.

The above is then vetted by our advisory committees, working groups, governance and Head of Policy to make sure content is not leading and as free from bias as humanly possible.


How does MiVote ensure research info is unbiased?

MiVote takes the integrity of vote content very seriously. It is developed by an experienced research team and reviewed by an ethics committee (including members from universities like Stanford and Berkeley).

It is accessible to users of all knowledge levels and linked back to original source material that informed it. We're also rolling out extended functionality to further increase the accessibility of content: improvements for people with disabilities, in languages other than English and across other media to suit different requirements.

MiVote is subject to a number of independent governance processes designed to weed out leading or biased material that may influence decision making. We acknowledge that nothing that involves people can ever be completely unbiased, but are resolute in identifying and eliminating bias at every possible opportunity.

MiVote doesn’t have its own position on any topic. We’re party agnostic, here to take individual voices and turn them into real action.

After the vote


How does voting affect policy?

A majority result for an issue means more than 60% of the community voted in its favour. When that happens your MiVote-powered representative will argue for the outcome in government. Your voice becomes their influence and their votes will always reflect the will of the MiVote community.


How does my vote have an impact?

Each vote is important. By coming together as a group we can make the most noise. The majority vote (above 60%) for a given topic will be taken on the community’s behalf to government, where it becomes an actual, quantifiable representation of the will of the people.


I vote. An outcome is decided. What happens then?

Right now, the outcome represents the way the community voted.

In 2018, elected MiVote-powered representatives will represent the will of the community in government. Every MiVote member will have an opportunity to express their opinion. The majority outcome will go all the way to the top.

I have more questions


Is there a knowledge barrier to participation?

Informed decision-making is fundamental to a successful democracy and our team is dedicated to presenting you with the facts. For each issue we break down research into digestible content, always giving you the option to dive into the finer details.

Our goal is inclusion. We want to provide clear information for users of all interest and knowledge levels, in multiple languages and make it accessible to people with disabilities.


I don’t know about politics. How do I know what to vote for?

That’s okay. Politics is complex and the people calling the shots want to keep it that way. Changing that is a big part of why MiVote exists.

We won’t tell you how to vote, but we will make it easier for you to be better informed. We’ll give you the unbiased pros and cons of each option. You’ll have the information you need to make a decision based on what’s important to you and how it might affect your community.

Because you’re voting on destinations—the future direction you’d like to see—you’re identifying the basis of the laws you want. It’s still up to expert law-makers to create those laws, but now they’re accountable to their community when they do it.


Does MiVote have citizen juries?

MiVote’s primary function is to offer a voice to every eligible voter. Citizen juries invite people to represent their community and deliberate on decisions, but they’re vulnerable to the same inequalities and weaknesses that exist in current systems. They’re also expensive, time consuming, susceptible to special interests and marginalised groups are less likely to be supported to join them. When a decision is reached, there’s no guarantee it will be binding.

However, they do have merit and have been used by other groups to reach consensus on behalf of a community. MiVote will use citizen juries in the uncommon event of having no clear outcome and a secondary run-off vote between tied options does not yield a 60% majority.


How do you limit the influence of any one group on a vote?

Each person gets one vote. MiVote decentralises political power, meaning no pockets of influential people mobilising followers. Just like the blockchain technology underpinning MiVote:

  • Our objectives are broader than “yes” or “no”. We ask users to vote on complex issues with multiple outcomes. It’s up to legislators to deliver laws that take the community in the desired direction.
  • No one person or group of people can dictate what’s presented.
  • Every step is accountable to multiple other steps, from the initial topic nomination through to the checks and balances dictated by our policy and governance frameworks. There is no single point of failure.
  • Constant monitoring of unusual membership and voting activity. If a special interest group (eg. a church or union) tries to flood a vote, we’ll be made aware of it.

Because everyone’s single vote has the same value, growing the voter base in an inclusive way is the best chance we have for a truly democratic decision.


Why does MiVote provide four options?

We’re glad you asked. Often, when asked to vote, you're given “yes” and “no” options. We take a holistic view on each issue because we think it’s vital to understanding a community's wants. We start with the high-level question then drill down with repeated votes until we get to the heart of the community opinion.

We based our four-option model on a study in the American Political Science Review that posits “approval voting”, where voters can approve of any number of options. This method is most likely to represent actual majority ideas whilst reducing the likelihood of further runoff elections.

We’re not interested in finding out how many people voted “yes” on an issue that might not even be a dichotomy. This isn’t about winners and losers. We want to understand community consensus so MiVote-Powered Independents can take it to government.


Why can’t I add my own responses to votes?

Once the vote is cast it can’t be changed. That would invalidate votes already cast. But you can get on board while we’re creating the content. We engage with working groups and they offer their two cents as part of the research process. If it’s relevant, evidence-based, and stands up to peer review, it will be incorporated into the content-creation process.

I want to be a representative


How do I become a MiVote-Powered Independent?

If you want to represent your community through MiVote, please email us on candidate@mivote.org.au.


Who do MiVote-Powered Independents present to?

Like other politicians, MiVote-Powered Independents will present in government. Unlike other politicians, they will always represent the informed will of their community and answer only to the people they represent.

I'm a voter


When will MiVote-Powered Independents run at elections?

You will be able to vote for (or run as) a MiVote-Powered Independent from 2018. We currently have people preparing to run in State and Federal elections in Australia, in addition to the midterm elections, a gubernatorial election and a mayoral election in the United States.


Who are the MiVote-Powered Independents?

Anyone eligible to run for office can put themselves forward as a MiVote-Powered Independent. Just like now, these independents will run during the elections at local, state and federal level. MiVote-Powered Independent's can be your friends and colleagues, your doctor, your local change-makers, that guy from the telly, or even you — as long as you agree to uphold MiVote’s values, you can run. Once nominated, the community decides whether they want the candidate representing them, reflecting the true will of the people.


How does MiVote ensure representatives vote how people want them to?

They’re contractually bound to. Before they run, MiVote-Powered Independents must sign a commercial agreement to always uphold the MiVote values and only speak for the majority of their community during their term in office. That means they’re legally obliged to take their community’s majority view to government, and nothing else.

Before entering government a representative must also sign a resignation letter, that is only brought into effect if they fail to enact the will of the people. If they don’t sign it, they’re out. No one can run with MiVote without this letter.

There are other consequences designed to deter renegade candidates. If they violate their contract and vote against the community, they have to pay back 150% of what they would have been paid during their tenure. They will be publicly denounced in the press and their credibility as a representative of the people will be compromised.

If this sounds tough, it is. We're serious about changing politics and democratic process. Jeopardising that core value by taking advantage of the people who voted in good faith will have serious consequences.


Doesn’t parliamentary privilege protect politicians from MiVote?

Parliamentary privilege protects politicians, allowing them to speak and act freely during their time in office without fear of legal action. MiVote-Powered Independents can go back on their word once they’re in power and vote as they wish in government, but that doesn’t mean they’re not bound by the MiVote constitution. Any deviation from the values they’ve agreed to uphold has serious consequences—including, but not limited to, ejection from the MiVote platform and legal action.

Blockchain


What does blockchain mean?

A blockchain is a linked set of digital transactions, recorded to thousands of individual databases. Having the data spread out means that to change one bit of data, it has to be changed in thousands of other places. Storing it in this way decentralises ownership and control. Because the data belongs to no one, it’s incorruptible.


How does blockchain work?

Blockchain works through collective verification, across transactions broadcast to databases around the world. Each computer that receives the transaction has to mirror the others before data is validated and recorded. If there is a mismatch (eg. it’s been modified individually by someone attempting to tamper with it) it will be rejected by every participating computer.


How do you ensure votes are accountable, auditable and anonymous?

Votes can be counted by any member of public and directly matched with the number of eligible voters. These votes are logged into a public blockchain making them transparent and incorruptible. While votes themselves are public, who voted and what they voted for is not. Leading edge decryption is used to separate voter identity with the voting system to ensure all votes are anonymous.


What difference does blockchain make to the process of voting?

When we asked people what troubled them most about politics, they said corruption. And all the shouting (but mostly corruption). Blockchain is designed to be incorruptible. It means the MiVote community can rest assured every vote is conducted transparently and within a system that protects it. It also means every MiVote-Powered Independent will always advocate for the true, uncorrupted will of their constituents.


How is MiVote using blockchain?

MiVote uses blockchain to record votes. That means they’re permanently lodged, can’t be changed and are never removed. They can be counted and checked by anyone who wants to. We think it’s the perfect match for our goal of a transparent, people-powered democratic utopia. The data can be checked, but the only person who can link a vote with its caster is the person who cast it.


What is Horizon State?

Horizon State is a blockchain-based ecosystem that powers efficient vote casting and decision-making processes, guaranteeing the security of the vote. Data stored on the blockchain is distributed, tamper-proof and not owned by any individual or institution. There is no way to alter it.

Horizon State delivers convenient voting to internet-connected devices with immediacy. Traditional methods of voting cost taxpayers upwards of $7 per vote to facilitate—$25 in some cases. Horizon State’s blockchain voting solution is far cheaper, remaining under $0.50 per vote.

Voter fraud


How do you know the person voting is who they say they are?

The platform cross-checks voters against your country’s electoral roll, so every voter is validated and eligible to participate.


How do you ensure votes are from members and not fake accounts?

Before anyone casts a vote they must register for an account. This requires a valid and unique phone number, a verified email address, a full name and the address of registration for the electoral roll. These details are matched against the relevant electoral database(s), so they’re independently verified and associated with a real person. Short of creating a cloning device there’s no way to spoof an account—and you can’t vote without one.


What is reCAPTCHA?

reCAPTCHA is a Google tool that adds another “real person” layer of security to the voting platform.

Data security


How does MiVote keep my data safe?

Our own ethics and values are a good start, but the law also protects your personal information. We only use your data to register and verify your identity and (with your consent) to help us understand demographics in different communities. We have no way of knowing who’s cast what vote—this also means no one else can find out. The only person who knows how you voted is you.

For more information about what we collect and how we use it, you can read our detailed privacy policy.


What does MiVote use my information for?

We only use your information to verify your identity and cross-check your eligibility with your country’s electoral commission. Any extra information you provide is completely anonymous and helps us better understand what communities want, so we can keep improving.


How does MiVote ensure voting anonymity?

Every vote cast via MiVote is encrypted using blockchain technology. This maintains integrity and means no identifying information is sent or stored alongside it.