# MACI 1.0 Specification
Minimum Anti-Collusion Infrastructure (MACI) is a base layer for bribery-resistant, secure, and private digital voting. This specification describes how MACI version 1.0 is designed and built.
In general, MACI 1.0 modifies the existing codebase – a minimal viable product – with a view to minimise the financial costs and computational resources needed to conduct and participate in an election, without compromising any of its anti-collusion, security, and trust guarantees. Additionally, it adds new useful features to improve usability.
The original idea for MACI is from an [eth.research post by Vitalik Buterin](https://ethresear.ch/t/minimal-anti-collusion-infrastructure/5413?u=weijiekoh), and the [source code](https://github.com/appliedzkp/maci) is maintained by the Applied ZKP team at the Ethereum Foundation. A good way to understand how it works is to read its [technical specification](https://github.com/appliedzkp/maci/blob/master/specs/01_introduction.md) or watch this 18-minute [video presentation](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKuNj_IQVYI).
In summary, MACI offers the following guarantees:
* **Collusion resistance**: no-one, except a trusted coordinator, can be convinced of the validity of a vote, reducing the effectiveness of bribery.
* **Receipt-freeness**: a voter cannot prove, besides to the coordinator, which way they voted.
* **Privacy**: no-one, except a trusted coordinator, should be able to decrypt a vote.
* **Uncensorability**: no-one, not even the trusted coordinator, should be able to censor a vote.
* **Unforgeability**: only the owner of a user's private key may cast a vote tied to its corresponding public key.
* **Non-repudiation**: no-one may modify or delete a vote after it is cast, although a user may cast another vote to nullify it.
* **Correct execution**: no-one, not even the trusted coordinator, should be able to produce a false tally of votes.
Under the hood, MACI uses Ethereum smart contracts and zero-knowledge proofs. It inherits security and uncensorability from the underlying Ethereum blockchain, ensures unforgeability via asymmetric encryption, and achieves collusion resistance, privacy, and correct execution via zk-SNARK proofs.
## User flow
Whitelisted voters named Alice and Bob register to vote by sending their public key to the MACI smart contract. Additionally, there is a central coordinator Charlie, whose public key is known to all.
When Alice casts her vote, she signs her vote with her private key, encrypts her signature with Charlie's public key, and submits the result to the smart contract.
Each voter may change her keypair at any time. To do this, she creates and signs a key-change command, encrypts it, and sends it to the smart contract. This makes it impossible for a briber to ever be sure that their bribe has any effect on the bribee's vote.
If Bob, for instance, bribes Alice to vote a certain way, she can simply use the first public key she had registered — which is now void — to cast a vote. Since said vote is encrypted, as was the key-changing message which Alice had previously sent to Charlie, Bob has no way to tell if Alice had indeed voted the way he wanted her to.
Even if Alice reveals the plaintext of her vote to Bob, she just needs to not show him the updated key command that she previously used to invalidate that key. In short, as long as she had submitted a single encrypted command before her vote, there is no way to tell if said vote is valid or not.
## System diagram
TODO: create a technical diagram of all components (CLI, contracts, and circuits)
## Polls and Ballots
In this document, we refer to *Polls* and *Ballots*.
A Poll is the process by which users cast their votes on a single set of vote options. It is akin to a referendum or election.
A Ballot represents a particular user's votes in a Poll, as well as their next valid nonce. It is akin to a voting slip, which belongs to only one voter and contains a list of their choices.
A MACI instance can have multiple Polls and multiple users. Each Poll can have multiple Ballots, but each user may only have one Ballot per poll.
For example, a user Alice may participate in two Polls. In Poll A, she can cast a vote for Party A, and in Poll B, she can cast a vote for Party B. Alice's Ballot for Poll A should only reflect her vote for Party A (as well as her nonce), and her Ballot for Poll B should only reflect her vote for Party B (and her nonce).
Sign-ups are perpetual — that is, there is no deadline. The only limit is the capacity of the state tree, which is hardcoded to `5 ^ 10` (9.7 million).
When a user signs up to MACI, they can only vote in Polls whose voting period has not expired, as well as all future Polls. For instance, if Bob signs up on 1 December 2020, and only Poll C is currently accepting votes, he can vote for Poll C. Bob, however, cannot vote for Poll A or Poll B. Nevertheless, when Poll D and future polls are created, he can vote for them.
## Technical process
### MACI deployment
#### Signup gatekeeper deployment
The signup gatekeeper is a way for the coordinator to define their own logic to allowing or disallow a particular Ethereum address be used to sign up. The signup gatekeeper contract inherits from the abstract contract `SignUpGatekeeper` which defines a virtual function `register(address, bytes memory)` that must be implemented. The bytes `data` can be anything, such as an ABI-encoded ERC-721 token ID or address of an ERC20 governence token.
There are two sample signup gatekeepers that MACI provides by default. Client should implement their own.
This signup gatekeeper allows anyone to sign up without restriction.
This signup gatekeeper restricts signups to addresses which own a certain ERC-721 token.
To deploy this contract on a testnet, a user needs to create an instance of `SignUpToken` and pass that into the gatekeeper contract constructor.
Be sure to mint a token and send it to the user that will sign up by calling `giveToken` prior to registration. They will need Keccak256 hash of their token ID which they will use in the MACI contract's `signUp()` method that will forward these bytes to the gatekeeper contract.
#### Voice credit proxy deployment
The voice credit proxy that defines the total number of voice credits available to each user. Clients should implement and deploy their own voice credit proxy for their use case. An example of a voice credit proxy is a contract that reads an address's ERC20 token balance.
Currently, the MACI contract only supports `2 ^ 32` voice credits as this is hardcoded in the state tree update circuit.
The voice credit proxy should inherit from the abstract `InitialVoiceCreditProxy` contract and override the function `getVoiceCredits(address, bytes memory)`, which returns a `uint256` which must be less than `2 ^ 32`.
An example of a voice credit proxy is `ConstantInitialVoiceCreditProxy`. It allows the deployer to set the voice credit balance to a constant value.
However, if a coordinator chooses to allow varying max voice credits for particular users they can implement `InitialVoiceCreditProxy` using an override of `getVoiceCredits`. Once again, the bytes field gives the option to get creative with other contracts that may track or help in the calculation of this information.
### Poll creation
Each MACI contract can theoretically support up to `2 ^ 50` polls.
The MACI contract itself wraps this process in the `deployPoll` method where one would specify the max batch size.
Coordinator creates a new poll by deploying the contract using a `PollFactory` which will allow said address to be the owner which will give them access to the method:
MaxValues memory _maxValues,
TreeDepths memory _treeDepths,
BatchSizes memory _batchSizes,
PubKey memory _coordinatorPubKey,
**Note:** the coordinator will need to instantiate the verification key registry `VkRegistry`, and `AccQueue` which handles the logic for processing the merkle tree of states.
This function will deploy an instance of the `AccQueueQuinaryMaci` for the messages merkle tree using the specified the `messageTreeSubDepth` in the `TreeDepths` domain object. The poll contract will be the owner of the message queue.
| Parameter | Type| Description |
| - | - | - |
| duration | uint256 | How much time, in seconds, the poll will last from deployment |
| stateTreeDepth | uint8 | Maximum depth for the merkle state tree |
| maxValues | MaxValues | Parameterizes max values for number of users, messages and voting options |
| treeDepths | TreeDepths | Contains the max depths of all the merkle trees including subtree for the message queue |
| coordinatorPubKey | PubKey | The coordinator EdDSA public key |
| VkRegistry | VkRegistry | The registry contract of all the verfication keys for the proofs the circut generates |
| stateAq | AccQueue | The contrat that contains the state merkle tree |
| pollOwner | address | This address will be the user that owns the `Poll` contract |
Aside from setting the empty ballot tree root and transfering ownership, certain criteria for the parameters must be satisfied to successfully deploy the `Poll` contract.
Namely, the max number of users must not exceed `5 ^ maxTreeDepth` (all Merkle trees in MACI have an arity of five) to ensure there is a valid Merkle root for each public key provided by a potential voter. This includes both the state, message, and vote option tree. Furthermore the maximum number of messages must be greater than the max batch size as will as be a factor, so that there is a guarentee that all of the leaves can be queued for processing.
Given all this information the process verifying key and the tallying verfiying key will be generated and set inside the `VkRegistry`.
**Note:** The following sections assume the coordinator has deployed an instance of MACI with the contracts outlined above, including the `VkRegistry`, and has called `init` successfully.
PubKey memory _pubKey,
bytes memory _signUpGatekeeperData,
bytes memory _initialVoiceCreditProxyData
) public afterInit
Given a user's public key as well as necessary bytes data for the respective gateway whitelist procedure and voice credit balance, the contract attempts to queue a state leaf for a voter.
To perform a successful signature for proofs the contract must enforce that both points in the public key be less than the `SNARK_SCALAR_FIELD` used to generate the circuit.
In the current implementation, no voter is allowed to exceed `2 ^ 32` voice credits, this may be increased in later versions. The section describing command hashing will go into this in more detail.
When these operations complete sucessfully an event `SignUp` is emitted containing the current state index, the submitted public key, and the intialized voice credit balance.
User publishes a message to a specific `Poll` contract. The method `publishMessage` receives both the message to publish as well as the voters ephemeral public key which peforms the scalar checks described in the previous section. Once the message is hashed it is then added to the message queue and an event is emitted containing the original message as well as the public key. This method will not succeed if called after the voting deadline, so the time passed from deployment is less than the maximum duration set.
### Merge queues
Coordinator merges the state and message queus by interacting with the `Poll` contract which interfaces with `MessageProcessor`. The following methods can only be called on the successful resolution of the `isAfterVotingDeadline` modifier which checks to see if enough time has passed from the specified voting `duration`.
As specified previously, when a message is published the message leaf is queued for processing. The method `mergeSubRoots` is responsible for forming the shortest possible state tree. If `numSrQueueOps` is zero then it will try to merge all the subtrees in a single transaction. It does this by queuing as many subtree roots for processing. However, the coordinator can specify a value greater than zero, then this function can be called however many times as necessary to reduce the tree state. This is useful when there are too many subtrees that need to merged where a single transaction may run out of gas.
Once this step is completed, the `Poll` contract can finally reconcile the main tree with the max tree depth specified by calling `merge(uint256 _depth)`
### Message processing
1. Check whether each message exists in the message tree.
2. Generate ECDH shared keys and decrypt each message.
Coordinator processes messages in batches
### Vote tallying
Coordinator tallies ballots in batches
### Result verification
## Cryptographic operations
### Key generation
Each user owns an EdDSA keypair, as does the coordinator. Every user should have a copy of the coordinator's public key, which is stored and available from the smart contract. Likewise, the coordinator should have a copy of each user's public key, which they publish on-chain to sign up.
We define an EdDSA private key as a random value (initially 256 bits large) modulo the snark field size as described in [EIP197](https://github.com/ethereum/EIPs/blob/master/EIPS/eip-197.md). This results in a key size of roughly 253 bits and no more than 254 bits. Additionally, we use [this efficient algorithm](http://cvsweb.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/~checkout~/src/lib/libc/crypt/arc4random_uniform.c) to prevent modulo bias.
MACI uses [iden3's implementation](https://github.com/iden3/circomlib) of the [Poseidon hash function](https://github.com/iden3/circomlib) to build the state and message AccQueues and Merkle trees. Poseidon is a snark-friendly hash function as it requires a small number of circuit constraints, as opposed to CPU-friendly hash functions such as SHA256. The tradeoff is that Poseidon consumes a lot of gas in the EVM (which is why MACI uses AccQueues instead of incremental Merkle trees, as described in a different section of this document).
MACI has more than one Poseidon hash function — one for a different number of inputs (from 2 to 5). It uses `circomlib`'s `poseidon_gencontract.js` script to generate EVM bytecode for each function. Additionally, the `maci-crypto` module provides corresponding wrapper functions, and the `maci-domainobjs` module abstracts the actual use of Poseidon from developers (for instance, the `Command` class contains a `hash()` function which invokes a Poseidon hash function that accepts 4 inputs, but the developer does not need to be concerned about the number of inputs).
### Command signing
We use the EdDSA scheme to allow users to sign their commands. We [modified iden3's EdDSA implementation](https://github.com/iden3/circomlib/blob/master/src/eddsa.js) to use Poseidon (t=2) instead of Blake512 to hash the user's private key and convert the message to an elliptic curve point.
More information about iden3's EdDSA scheme can be found in [this paper](https://iden3-docs.readthedocs.io/en/latest/_downloads/a04267077fb3fdbf2b608e014706e004/Ed-DSA.pdf).
### Command encryption
To encrypt a command, we first use [ECDH](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliptic-curve_Diffie%E2%80%93Hellman) in the BabyJub elliptic curve to generate a shared key.
Each command should be encrypted with a unique shared key. When the user publishes a message (i.e. casts a vote), they generate an ephemeral keypair with private key $eSk$ and public key $ePk$.
The shared key $k$ is generated using the coordinator's public key $cPk$ and the user's ephemeral private key $eSk$.
Next we use MiMC7 to encrypt the command and signature with $k$.
The user sends their ephemeral public key $ePk$ along with the ciphertext. The coordinator can recover the same shared key using their private key $cSk$ and the given ephemeral public key $ePk$.
- Coordinator has $cPk$, $cSk$.
- User generates a unique $ePk$, $eSk$.
- Using ECDH, the user generates $k$ using $eSk$ and $cPk$.
- The user encrypts their command with $k$, and publishes the ciphertext and $ePk$ to the MACI contract.
- The coordinator generates $k$ using $ePk$ and $cSk$, and can therefore decrypt the ciphertext.
MACI uses the Groth16 zk-SNARK construction on the BN245 pairing-friendly curve. Its circuits are written in the [`circom`](https://github.com/iden3/circom) language.
If time permits, we will perform a trusted setup for the circuits. Phase 1 of the trusted setup will use the latest verified output of the [Perpetual Powers of Tau ceremony](https://github.com/weijiekoh/perpetualpowersoftau). Phase 2 will ideally be run with the help of a user interface that allows for multiple circuit setups in one go. This UI is a separate project, which is a work in progress.
### Nothing-up-my sleeve value
The state queue and message queue both use a [nothing-up-my-sleeve value](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing-up-my-sleeve_number) as the default leaf. This value is:
which is the Keccak256 hash of the UTF-8 string `Maci`. The Typescript code used to generate it is:
) % SNARK_FIELD_SIZE
where `SNARK_FIELD_SIZE` is the [BN254 group order `p`](https://github.com/ethereum/EIPs/blob/master/EIPS/eip-197.md), equal to:
## Data structures and domain objects
An *AccQueue* enables MACI to build incremental Merkle trees cheaply. The AccQueue was originally proposed by Barry Whitehat in [this post](https://ethresear.ch/t/batch-deposits-for-op-zk-rollup-mixers-maci/6883). Previously, MACI used incremental Merkle trees. When a user signed up or published a message, the MACI contract would insert a leaf value at the next unmodified index. This involved the same number of hashes in the EVM as the depth of the tree, and as the gas cost of the snark-friendly Poseidon hash function is high, the cost of these functions went up to hundreds of thousands of gas. The AccQueue approach solves this by reducing the number of on-chain hashes that each user must perform, and making the coordinator responsible for paying for the gas needed to compute the final Merkle root.
To *enqueue* a leaf into an AccQueue is to insert it into its rightmost subtree. When a subtree is full, the next enqueue operation creates a new subtree. To obtain the Merkle root of all leaves, the coordinator merges all the subtree roots. When performed on-chain, the *merge* operation can be completed in multiple transactions, which is necessary if a single operation would exceed the block gas limit.
There are two steps to the merge operation:
This function merges the subroots to the shortest possible tree, also known as the *small subroot tree*. For instance, if the arity of the tree is 2 and the number of subroots is 5, the shortest possible tree has a depth of 3 (since $2^2=4$ and $2^3=8$).
The `_numSrQueueOps` parameter restricts the number of number of subroots to merge per transaction. This allows the entire operation to be performed in multiple transactions. If it is set to 0, the function will attempt to perform the operation in one go.
This function must and can only be run after `mergeSubRoots()`. It computes the Merkle root of a tree where the small subroot tree is the leftmost leaf. The given `_depth` must be greater than or equal to the small subroot tree depth.
### Public key
Each user has an EdDSA public key, and only they know the private key associated with it.
### Voice credit
A unit which denotes the strength of a user's vote for a particular option. In a quadratic voting use case, users start out with a limited number of voice credits and spend them on votes.
### Vote weight
The number of voice credits which a user wishes to spend on a particular vote option.
### Vote option
One out of many possible choices which a user may vote for. A vote option is represented by an index starting from 0.
### Vote option tree
A Merkle tree where each leaf at index $i$ contains the vote weight for the corresponding vote option $i$.
A command is an instruction from a user to cast a vote for a particular vote option, a key-change request, or both. Its fields are:
| Field | Bits | Description |
| `stateIndex` | 50 | The index of the leaf in the state tree which contains the public key used to sign the message. This is used to point to the state leaf to update. |
| `newPubKey` | 253 * 2| This row refers to two fields: the x- and y-coordinates of the new public key. If no change is desired, it should be that of the current key. |
| `voteOptionIndex` | 50 | The index of the leaf in the vote option tree to vote for. |
| `newVoteWeight` | 50 | In the quadratic voting use case, this is the square root of the number of voice credits a user wishes to spend on this vote. |
| `nonce` | 50 | The nonce. |
| `pollId` | 50 | The ID of the poll for which this vote is meant. |
| `salt` | 253 | A random value to prevent brute-force attacks. |
With the values provided above an array is generated with length four that is hashed and signed using the users private key.
This is acheived by packing the `stateIndex`, `voteOptionIndex`, `newVoteWeight`, `nonce`, and `pollId` into a single value. The `stateIndex` is added to a leftwise shift of increasing increments of fifty bits to each of subsequent parameters which are also concatenated, i.e. voteOption is shifted by 50, voteWeight is shifted by 100 and so on, that then gives a 250-bit value. This upper-bound limit of 50-bits provides more than enough space to run a poll with a large number of users while allowing MACI to save on gas by packing values using the method outlined here.
The hashed array contains this calculated value labeled `p`, the users public key (x and y coordinate), and the random salt. When encrypting, the signature generated from the hashed command array is used in the plaintext of the message. The plaintext contains both the hashed command array and user's signture flattened into a single array, where the shared EcDH key will encrypt and return this new message containing the ciphertext.
A message is the encrypted version of a command and its signature.
### State queue
The state queue is an AccQueue of state leaves. The Merkle root of all the state leaves represents a mapping of all users to their registered public key and voice credit balance.
The default (zero) leaf value is the nothing-up-my-sleeve value described above.
#### State Leaf
A state leaf is a user's public key and their voice credit balance.
A ballot represents the outcome of a user's actions during a poll. Specifically, it consists of the user's vote option tree and their next valid nonce.
It is analogous to the slip of paper that a voter uses to indicate their preferred candidates in an election.
The next valid nonce, as described below, allows MACI to prevent replay attacks, and allows users to easily invalidate a vote they wish to use to fool a briber.
#### Ballot tree
Each poll has a tree of ballots. Since each user has one ballot per poll, the ballot tree has the same arity and depth as the state tree. The vote option tree depth, however, is variable, so we precompute the Merkle roots of five empty ballot trees, for vote option tree depths 1-5.
An empty ballot tree has an empty ballot as its default leaf. An empty ballot with a vote option tree of depth 2 would therefore be computed as such:
0, // the nonce
root(2, 0, 5) // a quinary Merkle root of a tree
// with depth 5 and default leaf 0
#### Message queue
Each poll has a message queue. Like the state queue, each message queue is an AccQueue. Each leaf is the hash of a message.
The default (zero) leaf value is the nothing-up-my-sleeve value described above.
## Future goals
These are for MACI 2.0.
### Decentralised coordinator
### Anonymity via re-randomization
TODO: brief description
## Frequently asked questions
## OLD MACI 1.0 PROPOSAL FOLLOWS:
## Drawbacks and solutions
This section lists the drawbacks that the current implementation of MACI ([version 0.2.8](https://github.com/appliedzkp/maci/releases/tag/v0.2.8)) suffers, and suggests solutions to mitigate each of them.
1. Queue deposits in small Merkle subtrees and merge the subtrees later
2. Have the coordinator publish messages for users and pay the gas costs if the user trusts them
3. Process earliest-posted messages last
4. Optimistic proof verification
5. Store voice credit balance trees outside the state tree (easier top-ups)
6. Store the vote option trees outside the state tree (multiple polls per MACI instance)
7. Enable negative voting
### Signing up or publishing a message is expensive
To sign up and publish a message (which may be a vote, a key-change command, or both), a user must spend a large amount of gas per transaction. Each involves an insertion into an on-chain incremental Merkle tree. This requires at least `2 ^ depth` Poesidon hashes, where each hash [costs](https://ethresear.ch/t/gas-and-circuit-constraint-benchmarks-of-binary-and-quinary-incremental-merkle-trees-using-the-poseidon-hash-function/7446/5?u=weijiekoh) about 53189 gas. For a tree of 10 levels deep, the cost of a single insertion is around 430000 gas. At a gas cost of 80 gwei, this amounts to at least 0.0344 ETH. If 1 ETH costs US$300, it costs US$10.32 per transaction. This is arguably too expensive for many users.
#### Solution: use deposit queues
To reduce the gas cost of each sign-up or message publish transaction, we can instead have contract store the user's Merkle leaf in a *deposit queue*. Each queue has a maximum capacity, and when a queue is full, the next user's leaf should be stored in the next queue. The coordinator will then bear the cost of merging the Merkle root of each deposit queue into the main Merkle tree.
To store a leaf in a queue is to progressively compute the Merkle root of all the leaves. For instance, given a maximum queue capacity of 4:
1. Transaction 1: `store(leaf1)`
2. Transaction 2: `b = hash(leaf1, leaf2); store(b)`
3. Transaction 3: `store(leaf3)`
4. Transaction 4: `d = hash(leaf3, leaf4); store(hash(b, d))`
The result is the Merkle root of leaves 1-4. Leaves 5-8 would be accumulated into another Merkle root, and so on. After all users have signed up, the contract will have stored all these deposit roots.
Next, the contract will prevent message processing unless the coordinator merges all the deposit roots into a single message tree. The number of hashes required to do this is the total capacity of the message tree, minus one. If there are too many deposit roots to accumulate in a single transaction, the coordinator may accumulate them in batches. Note that the smaller the capacity per deposit queue, the more ETH the coordinator must spend to merge the deposit queues.
We retain uncensorability by making it compulsory for the coordinator (or anyone willing to execute the transactions) to merge the deposit roots into the message tree before message processing can start. All that a malicious coordinator can do is to refuse to process the messages.
In sum, this technique basically shifts gas costs from users to the coordinator. If the maximum capacity of each deposit queue is 4, then only one user needs to perform 2 hashes, one user needs to perform 1 hash, and each other the remaining two users do not need to perform any hashes.
This approach is inspired by this [eth.research](https://ethresear.ch/t/batch-deposits-for-op-zk-rollup-mixers-maci/6883) post by Barry Whitehat.
##### Implications for MACI's trusted setups
To save gas, the coordinator should only accumulate the deposit roots into the shallowest possible Merkle tree. Since the message tree depth could range from 1 to a predefined maximum `d`, there should be at least `d` message processing circuits, each of which supports a certain message tree height. In contrast, the state tree height `s` should be fixed so that we do not need to perform `s * d` trusted setups.
Finally, `s` should be large enough so that each MACI contract is reusable and new users may join. With voice credit top-ups, users only need to sign up once and may vote on multiple elections.
#### Solution: relay message-publish transactions
If a user wishes to save gas, and trusts the coordinator to not censor any of their messages, they may ask the coordinator to publish them on-chain on their behalf.
The coordinator can provide a relayer which accepts incoming messages. This relayer should:
1. Decrypt each message and filter out those which would result in a no-op during processing.
2. Insert each message into a Merkle tree of a depth that is lower than that of the penultimate message tree, but at least as deep as a penultimate deposit subtree.
3. When the tree is full, store the root on-chain.
4. Expose an API endpoint for users to query whether this Merkle root has been stored on-chain, as well as the Merkle path to their deposit.
The relayer may censor or refuse to publish any messages, but users are still free to publish their messages on-chain.
The depth of the relayer's Merkle tree may be different from the depth of the penultimate deposit subtree. This may result in additional complexity during the merging process. The easiest way to get around this problem is to simply have the relay insert each message into the next available deposit queue. To make this even more efficient, the relayer may insert multiple leaves into one or more deposit queues at the same time, without performing any on-chain hashes. Since the user may insert a leaf via their own transaction, the relay transaction calldata will have to contain not only the raw leaves, but also the Merkle subroots at levels 2 and 3.
Note that it is much more complex to relay sign-up transactions, since a sign-up gatekeeper may allow or disallow an address based on arbitrary logic. This means that the attacker may grief the coordinator and make it waste gas. As such, it is not advisable to relay sign-ups.
This solution is inspired by [this suggestion](https://github.com/appliedzkp/maci/issues/171) from Barry Whitehat.
### Separate sign-up and voting periods reduces usability
MACI currently requires separate sign-up and voting periods to prevent a "signup-and-vote" attack where a briber may ask a user to sign up, cast a bribed vote, and then change their public key to zero, thus preventing them from invalidating said bribed vote. The existence of separate sign-up and voting periods creates unnecessary friction for users.
#### Solution: process the earliest messages last
The solution is to:
1. Combine the sign-up and voting periods into a single *polling period*.
2. Allow users to sign up and publish messages before the polling period ends.
3. Process messages in reverse order.
This has already been implemented in [MACI 0.3.x](https://github.com/appliedzkp/maci/pull/180).
This solution prevents the signup-and-vote attack because even if the first vote `m0` is a bribe-vote, the next one (`m1`) could be a key-change message that renders the former invalid. Moreover, the briber has no way to tell if `m1` had been cast right after `m0`, or if there is a message in between that invalidates `m1`. For instance:
1. Eve wants Alice to sign up, vote for Option A, and then change her public key to `0x00`.
2. Alice signs up and votes for Option A via message `m0`.
3. Alice secretly publishes message `m1` to change her a public key `p0`, and also vote for Option B.
4. Alice publishes an invalid key-change message `m2` that ostensibly changes her public key to `0x00`, and shows it to Eve.
Even if Eve decrypts and reads `m2`, she has no way to tell if `m2` is valid or not, since she does not know whether there is some `m1` that invalidates `m2`. Indeed, during the message processing period, the coordinator processes the messages in the following order:
1. `m1` (valid): change Alice's public key to `p0` and vote for Option B.
2. `m2` (invalid): change Alice's public key to `0x00`.
3. `m0` (invalid): vote for option B.
This way, Eve's bribe has no effect, and Alice is free to vote for whichever option she prefers.
This solution is inspired by [this suggestion](https://github.com/appliedzkp/maci/issues/170) from Barry Whitehat.
### Message processing and vote tallying is very expensive
MACI currently requires the coordinator to perform expensive transactions to prove the correctness of message processing as well as the final vote tally. Each proof covers a batch of message or state leaves, and each transaction consumes hundreds of thousands of gas. One way to reduce the number of required transactions is to increase the batch size, but this drastically increases the computational requirements to produce each proof in the first place. This arguably limits the ability to be a coordinator to only those who can afford the gas costs, or the compute resources needed to produce proofs over large batches.
#### Solution: allow optimistic proof verification
A coordinator may stake some ETH/tokens and then publish vote processing / tallying proofs, along with their public inputs, on-chain. During a challenge period (e.g. 40320 blocks, which is roughly one week), anyone can verify these proofs and if any one is invalid, then they can take away the coordinator's stake.
The minimum amount that the coordinator should stake must be greater than the gas cost of a successful challenge transaction and large enough to be attractive to challengers. In other words, it should be worthwhile to run a bot to retrieve proofs, verify them, and execute a challenge transaction; otherwise, it will be feasible for the coordinator to submit a false tally.
Note that for message processing, it should be impossible to create a proof where an intermediate state root is fake, since the circuit requires valid Merkle proofs of message leaf inclusion in the message tree. As such, the challenger only needs to show that one proof is invalid to claim the reward, and does not need to verify each proof from the beginning.
### Deployed MACI instances are not reusable
The current implementation of MACI is limited to one election per contract. To save gas and improve user experience, each MACI contract should be as reusable as possible. This entails:
1. The ability for each user to only have to sign up once
2. The ability for each user to vote on multiple polls, with a fresh voice credit balance each time
#### Solution: keep track of voice credits and vote option trees separately
Currently, the user's voice credit balance and their vote option root is stored in their state leaf. We can move these values out of the state tree and store them in new trees:
- `mapping(poll_index => voice_credit_balance_root)`
- `mapping(poll_index => vote_option_root)`
Additionally, we can keep track of multiple message trees using the poll index. Each poll has its own message tree.
- `mapping(poll_index => message_root)`
When we prove the correctness of processing a batch of messages for a poll, we not only update the intermediate state root, but also update an intermediate voice credit balance root and an intermediate vote option root, also stored in mappings:
- `mapping(poll_index => current_voice_credit_balance_root)`
- `mapping(poll_index => current_vote_option_root)`
When the coordinator creates a new poll, they can either:
1. Copy the voice credit balance root from a previous poll, so that each user has the same number of voice credits as before.
2. Set a different voice credit balance root so that some or all users receive a different number of voice credits.
Option 1 is trustless, but option 2 assumes a honest coordinator.
Note that this construction allows the user to prove the number of voice credits they have spent after all messages have been processed.
**edit (4 Nov 2020)**: Instead of the above, the state leaf will store the user's pubkey and voice credit balance, and each Poll will have a `SpentVoiceCreditTree`.
### Users can only vote for an option, not against it
We implemented negative voting a few months ago, but did not merge it into the current version of MACI as we had other priorities.
The pull request for negative voting is [here](https://github.com/appliedzkp/maci/pull/112) but is currently outdated.
#### Solution: enable negative voting
It would be good to revisit [this PR](https://github.com/appliedzkp/maci/pull/112) and implement negative voting in the new version of MACI, but there are two differences in its implementation that would be good to have:
1. Negative voting should not be compulsory.
- The message processing circuit can accept a public input set by the MACI contract to enable or disable negative voting. If negative voting is disabled, then any votes cast with a negative flag should be rendered a no-op.
2. Instead of allowing a user to vote in both directions at the same time, only allow them to vote in one direction per vote.
- The PR allows a user to cast a vote where they can signal strong ambivalence. This may not be necessary and should be discussed.
### Data availability of the final vote tally
## Updated architecture
### Smart contracts
### Zero knowledge circuits
## Future goals
[Vote anonymization](https://ethresear.ch/t/maci-anonymization-using-rerandomizable-encryption/7054) using ElGamal rerandomisation