Monday, April 21, 2008

Delegated Democracy - Part 2

Ok, I've come up with a few ideas that might reduce the problems I highlighted in my previous post, starting from a simple party-run computer system.
  • Authentication: When you first register your identity with the party, you use a computer at the local party headquarters. While using this confidential voting station, you can input a list of URLs, with one "used" entry, and an unlimited number of "dummy" entries.
    • No one will have to be a registered member of the party in order to input their list and participate in this system. The ultimate goal is to have elected officials who best represent the desires of the entire voting public, not just their own party.
    • You will be able to update your list at any time should you be in some way coerced (see below) or decide to use a different first layer of delegation.
    • (Update) Each URL would need the option of a password for encryption later in the process.
  • Delegation: Those URLs point to vote "feeds", which can be run by anyone in any way. For instance, you could simply delegate your vote to a feed controlled by one of your friends.
    • Another example for the more particular: you could delegate a private service anywhere on the internet that categorizes bills, which then accordingly delegates your favorite experts for each issue.
    • This means there are no limits as to how you determine your vote; any crazy method of your own devising is fine.
    • You could even publish your own opinions and convince people to delegate your feed. Keep in mind how you actually vote is still private, you just cannot hide what you openly endorse.
    • (Update) The feeds with passwords would encrypt all communication with the first proxy. From there, the voter could have any sort of privacy settings up to and including completely secret votes.
  • Resolution: When it's almost time for the party's elected official to vote, the party server queries all listed URLs, including the "dummy" entries. The final results (except of course for voter identities) are then made public.
    • This is to prevent intimidation and bribery - even if someone forces you to list a computer they control that logs hits, they have no way of knowing if theirs was your "used" entry or not.
  • Votes cast: The elected party representatives check to see what the winners were for each bill, and vote accordingly. Like in Senator On-Line, representatives will have to commit in writing that they will vote in accordance with the party view.
There's a good chance I'm missing something critical, so if there's something I haven't addressed or problems with my idea, go ahead and comment away.

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4 Comments:

Blogger coriolinus said...

Maybe I missed something, but it seems like you've got a network of vote servers set up to handle delegation. The vote counter computer (party server, whatever) tracks down the linked delegation chain for each person, according to the results each vote server publishes. Eventually, it's going to get to a Yea or Nea, which it will then tally.

Sure, your vote may be anonymous--though it's only security by obscurity; as soon as someone figures out which master delegation server you use that anonymity is gone--but the people to whom each vote eventually gets delegated cannot vote anonymously. Anyone can spoof being the party computer and see how they eventually speak. (Alternately, if people can't just ask and see how they voted, the process seems alarmingly opaque. I'd be hesitant to trust a delegated voting scheme like this if some third party, using a representative sampling of peoples' core delegation, couldn't at least statistically confirm the results.)

Public knowledge of the ultimate end of a delegation chain may be a feature, not a bug; it's why the votes of each member of congress are a matter of public record. However, it may discourage some people from becoming delegates.

5:55 PM, April 22, 2008  
Blogger Explodicle said...

The first thing I'd like to note is that the vote counting computer will only query one URL; it needn't follow any chains.

I'm a little unclear as to how people will figure out your first delegation server in the first place. IANACS, but I think bad guys would have to hack the party server to find out what your used URL is.

I'm actually counting on anyone being able to visit a URL and seeing its vote, for the transparency you mention. You could even disclose a URL you claim to use to a third party so they could publish live opinion statistics as the debate on a bill progresses.

Remember, you are selecting a URL (not another person) as your delegate. Someone could advocate position A while actually voting for position B. You could even delegate the feed of an unidentified blogger who in real life doesn't even vote himself.

12:08 AM, April 23, 2008  
Blogger AbdLomax said...

Others have been here before you.... see top-politics@googlegroups.com. My own point of view is that trying to design software solutions at this point is *way* ahead of the situation. If an organization using DP grows to the point that software is needed, it will be easy to design, and there will be the resources needed. But what if you design the perfect system, the perfect party, and nobody comes? Application first (i.e., organization on some topic, with real people participating), *then* software to make it easier. You might also like to see http://minguo.info. The founder has implemented a DP system. However, I also see that he did an FA no-no; he's got his personal proxy solicitation displayed on the basic proxy page.... people are still learning!

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