Thursday, May 22, 2008

Delegated Democracy - Part 3

Coriolinus got me thinking about my delegated democracy proposal after my last post, with his security through obscurity point. Even though there would be no sure-fire way to prove which feed was yours, people could narrow them down based on opinions you've expressed in public and determine your entire voting record with near certainty. Not good.

So to give people the option of complete privacy in their votes, I think the party server should give the option of encrypting all communication with the "first delegate" servers. It unfortunately means three things:
  1. Participating voters would have to memorize at least one more password per entry,
  2. Increased complexity in the computer software, and
  3. It's another thing the party would have to agree on.
Not as perfect a solution as I had hoped, but I still like it, and think I'm going to explore it a little more.

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Blogger Yev said...

Jesus Christ! I haven't visited your blog in a few months, and now I come back to have my brain explode. Delightful. Anyway, a few other issues:

* Such votes would be much easier to compromise... in a direct election, the number of votes compromised by a hacker is proportional to the amount of polling points hacked. With delegation, hacking a single node could have a disproportional (and cascading) effect on the entire election.

* The present-day issue of being able to verify how you voted will be even more difficult... If I delegate my vote to you, do I have the right to know how you/I voted? If I do, you're sacrificing some of your privacy... the more people delegate to you, the more people know how you vote.

* And finally, look at the world of political blogging... Sure, everyone and their mother can have a blog, and yet there are still a select few blogs that enjoy a very ubiquitous following: Huffington Post, maybe a bunch of Times columnists, etc. And even though anyone can now report the news, and have no shortage of traffic. In fact, look at the web in general - sure, millions of people can offer websites on a given topic, but a vast majority of the traffic will go to the ones that show up first in Google. What we're seeing over and over is people empowered with infinite communication channels still seek to huddle around a select few. I think the same thing would happen with a delegated democracy... rather than keep track of millions of delegate possibilities, the masses would collapse their choices into a select few. Suddenly, we're back to the representative democracy with which we started: many people choosing among a few candidates to whom they will delegate their decisions.

2:40 AM, May 27, 2008  
Blogger Explodicle said...


* I can't promise that it would be hack-proof, but I'd imagine the most popular delegation services would be carefully secured. In theory, the whole process could be just as secure, accessible, and widespread as online banking, which in my opinion works well enough.

* An important element is that your actual vote and your public endorsements are two completely separate and optional things. You could even endorse different things to different people - "well, if you're conservative you'd probably vote this way, if you're liberal you'd probably want this..." Take a look at Coriolinus' email suggestion, it really opens up a whole lot of great possibilities.

* This system can't and shouldn't change what people want. My only hope/claim is that it would more accurately represent what the people actually want than the current parties do. I would rather have the option to cast my own vote than have some guy I don't approve of cast it for me. And if I don't have the time to vote, then I should at least have the RIGHT to delegate to a minority party, even if I don't choose to exercise it. Aren't you sick and tired of not being represented by the sellouts in Washington? I'm betting that a lot of other people feel the same way.

1:28 AM, May 31, 2008  
Blogger Yev said...

* Online banking is secure because it's not anonymous...the whole point of online banking security is that it carefully verifies you are who you say you are. The only way to make sure your delegate feed isn't compromised by some hackers is via digital signing, and that eliminates the privacy aspect...

* "An important element is that your actual vote and your public endorsements are two completely separate and optional things." It also opens a world of possibilities for deception... every election could be like the 2000 election in Florida - your vote will not be what you think it was. Theoretically, a convention delegate can vote against the candidate he is pledged to, but if he does - it will be known and he'll probably never go to a convention again. With anonymous delegate voting, a delegate could deceive those who trust him over and over again. I have no idea how this can be construed as a good thing.

* Yes, I'm tired of being represented (or rather NOT being represented) by sellouts in Washington. But anonymous delegate voting would only make things worse. At least with the current system, I can know how each representative voted and make my decision accordingly. Representatives know this, and are forced to make at least some decisions that will benefit their respective constituencies. With the system you propose, no one will know how delegates voted, so your chances of honest representation will be even less.

10:41 AM, May 31, 2008  
Blogger Explodicle said...

* A delegate's feed would have to clearly state what the votes were in order to work. It would offer no more privacy than elected politicians have now. I'm not offering a solution to that problem, but I don't think my idea makes it worse.

* As mentioned in the last bullet point, people will know which way their votes are going. If you tell 100 people to vote Yes and you cast your private vote as No, I don't think that's going to make a big difference.

* I'm not proposing that. I agree that transparency is essential for the government to serve the people.

11:57 AM, May 31, 2008  
Blogger AbdLomax said...

There has been a lot of work done on "delegated voting," under different names. "Liquid democracy, "delegable proxy," "Delegated democracy," and the idea has been around for a long time, especially in the electoral form most recently called "Asset voting." The latter was designed for use as part of creating a proportional representation assembly, proposed by Lewis Carroll in about 1884, where seats elected in this way have equal voting power. The other approach is "weighted voting," where seats have variable voting power, and that idea has also been around a long time; it was at one time proposed in Portland (?), first part of the last century.

However, never having been tried, my own approach has been to apply it in Free Associations, where votes do not control anything; rather, voting is used to estimate consensus, and individual make decisions with that as part of the information they have. This is fail-safe, essentially. If it works, then it becomes more possible to consider it for public use. Some of the ideas and apparent problems you've been kicking around have already been considered in detail. It's really much simpler than you might think. Loops are, for example, not a problem, they are inevitable and desirable. If security is an issue, then one uses an Asset-voting like input stage and then any secret ballot method works. But, in fact, in most organizations voting security is moot. Town Meeting government, for example: all votes are public, generally.

2:51 PM, June 05, 2008  
Blogger Explodicle said...

I personally discovered the concept not too long ago and find it absolutely fascinating, so I've been posting my thoughts here as I explore the topic. I also saw the links you posted in previous posts, and will be sure to check them out. Thanks!

6:55 PM, June 05, 2008  
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