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

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Wed Nov 16 21:17:59 PST 2005

At 08:22 PM 11/16/2005, Paul Kislanko wrote:
>Yes, there's a big difference beteen the "trustee" paradigm and the "proxy"
>paradigm. When it comes to using proxies in public elections representing
>voters, it is MANDATORY that the "proxy" cast her vote the way she said she
>would when "campaining" for voters to select her as proxy. Hence, anyone
>casting more than one vote (i.e., hers and all the proxies she holds) must
>make her vote public.

This is a different usage of "proxy." Some jurisdictions allow a 
voter to vote by proxy if the voter is unable to vote, perhaps is 
legally blind, unable to get to the polls, etc. I would expect this 
kind of voting to be explicitly what the voter desires.

But this is not at all what we are talking about when we talk about 
proxy voting. We are talking about someone who *makes decisions* in 
your absence, on your behalf.

And the delegable proxy systems I'm working on, the proxy simply 
votes his or her own preference. I choose that proxy based on my 
knowledge of how he or she has voted or debated or discussed in the 
past, based on my personal trust of him or her. The proxy does not 
cast my vote as a separate thing. Rather, when votes are counted, my 
vote is counted with hers.

Yes, that could be done, the proxy could vote my vote separately, but 
in order to do it, the proxy would have to determine what my vote 
was. For the separate voting not to be moot, the proxy would have to 
understand that I would vote differently than her. Yet I'm not there, 
and I have not participated in the discussion. How is the proxy to 
know that I would not have changed my mind?

What a responsible proxy would do, in the systems I propose (which 
would not accomodate split voting by a proxy, it adds entirely too 
much complexity with not enough benefit, if any at all), would be to 
inform me that such and such an issue was coming to vote, that she 
thinks I might disagree with her conclusion. She would discuss her 
conclusion with me, and, if I remained unconvinced, she would advise 
me to vote directly, which, of course, invalidates the proxy for that 
particular vote.

Now, consider Asset Voting as an election method. Let's suppose the 
simplest Asset Voting, where you can vote for one candidate only. I'm 
also going to assume Asset Voting where every candidate for whom you 
can vote is *actually* a candidate, rather than someone who is merely 
collecting votes to be recast, but who is not seeking to serve in the 
elected office.

So you vote for whom? You vote for the person you most trust, in two 
capacities: to serve in the office, or if that is not going to 
happen, to help select the one who actually is going to serve.

Now, suppose that the candidate for whom I vote is actually elected. 
She is going to hire, let's say, staff, who are actually going to do 
most of the work. In reality, it happens that her ability to make 
good choices in delegating responsibility is an important aspect of 
her ability to function in the office. And that same ability would 
serve if she is called on to recast the votes she received in the 
asset redistribution phase of the election.

(It's been argued that I might think that a person was good for an 
office, but not good to select who would be good in the office. I 
think this unlikely; indeed, the best person to choose who should 
serve in office would be the next-best person for the office. Or the 
best person.)

What Asset Voting does is to convert an election into a deliberative 
process. If candidates are limited to what can be anticipated and 
promised, the process is severely hampered, and you end up with the 
various weird election phenomena which result from attempting to use 
rigid rules to produce winners from raw votes.

Asset Voting should avoid wasted votes. It would be quite practical 
with Asset Voting to require a majority winner in a single-winner 
election. But in an impasse, the collection of candidates could 
decide to allow a plurality winner (for they can cast their votes as 
they choose, and if a majority of them agree to a process, they can 
then cast their votes to implement the process. i.e., they would 
vote, determine the plurality winner, and then all vote for that 
winner, who would then have a majority....)

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