[EM] A quick, dirty, and somewhat obvious method for a secret proxy ballot

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Wed Nov 16 20:56:48 PST 2005

At 07:55 PM 11/16/2005, Scott Ritchie wrote:
>I pick you as my proxy since I trust you to vote properly when informed
>on the issue rather than myself.  If you can betray me by voting
>"wrong", then doesn't that signal that I think I have more information
>than you, and hence it was irrational of me to designate you as a proxy?

Exactly. One of the reasons that I expect FA/DP organizations to be 
comparatively successful, on average, is that I think people do *on 
the average* choose people to trust who are at least as trustworthy 
as the people themselves, *if* they know the people and can 
communicate with them.

Sure, people can be fooled, but it is enough for my premise if there 
is an average increase in trustworthiness moving up the proxy tree.

("trustworthiness" includes character, knowledge, and intelligence.)

>Actually, on second thought, maybe "delegable proxy voting" is a bad
>term to use.

Right. I don't think I've ever used that phrase. It is proxy voting, 
it just happens, perhaps, that proxies are delegable. It is the 
*system* which is delegable proxy, not the voting itself; what has 
happened with delegable proxy is that the proxy has been passed on.

It's not a huge leap. If I appoint someone as my health-care power of 
attorney, suppose I'm too ill to make decisions, and my proxy also 
becomes too ill after me, can my proxy appoint someone to exercise 
the responsibility on my behalf? I think he or she should be able to. 
If not, *nobody* would be able to make those decisions. Better 
someone trusted by someone I trusted.

>   In political science, we often talk about a distinction
>between representatives who serve as delegates versus those who serve as
>trustees, where generally trustee representatives are expected to have
>more leeway in determining what's best.  Perhaps "voting by trusted
>proxy" or "trustee voting" would better describe the idea here.

I've assumed, generally, the freedom of the proxy to vote. I think it 
is essential. But it is true that some people think of it as 
instructed voting. A proxy *can* be instructed, but, legally, 
following that instruction is voluntary. Indeed, this is like the 
electoral college. Electors do *not* have to vote as they promised, 
if I'm correct, there is no law preventing them from changing their 
vote, and some have.

The proxy stands in my place. Since I could change my mind and vote 
differently at the meeting than I thought I would before the meeting, 
the proxy should likewise. A proxy is a full participant in the 
deliberative process.

Delegable proxy is a way of collecting proxies on a large scale while 
directly assigning them on a small scale, thus, hopefully, creating a 
communications network where information and ideas flow efficiently.

(And the proxy serves as a noise filter, in both directions. Like a synapse.)

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list