[EM] proxies and confidentiality

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Wed Mar 1 19:07:05 PST 2006

At 03:26 PM 3/1/2006, Paul Kislanko wrote:
> > Jobst Heitzig wrote
> > Just to be sure, let me state more precisely what I think is
> > a necessary
> > degree of secrecy: *Nobody* but me must know whether I voted, what I
> > voted, whether I named a proxy, and who the proxy is. I don't see how
> > this can be done in an easy way!
>This is the fundamental question with delegable-Proxy. In order to meet
>Jobst's requirements, there must be a nomination and election (by secret
>ballot) of proxy-holders.

Actually, this is a total distraction. Proxy voting is used in 
corporations where there are billions of dollars at stake, yet the 
proxies are completely open and auditable. Secrecy adds complications 
and danger of manipulation.

So this is *not* a fundamental question; rather, it only legitimately 
relates to conditions where voting must be secret. Frankly, I'm not 
entirely convinced that such secrecy would be necessary, in a 
delegable proxy system, even in a place like Iraq, if proxies were 
routinely being given closely, i.e., to neighbors and friends. But I 
can certainly understand that some might think it necessary, and 
that, even, it might actually be necessary. So the compromise of 
base-level assignments of proxy being done secretly, preferably on a 
fairly small scale, with public delegation beyond that. I've put some 
thought into exactly how the rules could work, to protect the small 
fry and to make vote coercion quite difficult, but it is not at all 
my primary proposal. I'm just noting that Asset Voting has some very 
interesting implications and does include secret ballot at the base 
stage, and it might even include it at later stages (i.e, in the 
earliest phases of the negotiation process in which those who have 
received excess or insufficient votes reassign these "assets" in 
order to create winners.

Asset Voting really deserves much more attention than it has been given.

>Here, at least, there's no question about conforming to any criterion, since
>from the voter's standpoint it's not picking a winner, it is 'delegating my
>vote to X'. An "election" must be held to allow me to choose 'Choose ONE of
>{A, B, C, ...} to cast your vote OR choose "I will cast my own vote".If N
>voters chose A, then A's vote counts N+1 times (his own plus the N who said
>"whatever A says is fine with me").

One option that should be considered: *all* votes are cast secretly 
in the initial phase, and those who receive votes exercise only those 
votes that they have received, not their "own." They, of course, may 
have given their own vote to themselves, or they may have given it to 
someone else. But, yes, with delegable proxy, what was written would 
normally be accurate. A votes and N votes are added automatically to 
A's vote, being the number of votes that A received in the election. 
(Note that in my delegable proxy election procedure on the wiki, I 
suggested that those who volunteer as electors (open proxies) do 
*not* cast their votes in the initial election. Thus they do cast 
their own vote plus the votes they have received. If they voted in 
the initial election, and could also vote their own vote later, they 
would have an extra vote if they voted for themselves. Undesirable.

>Nobody (not even A) knows WHO delegated their vote to A, but how many people
>did has been counted.

Yes. And this is easy to do.

>And since it's more a "selection" than an "election", there should be no
>argument about what method to choose. It's only a "pick one of the choices",
>so simple counts for each choice are all that is needed.

Again, yes. Though write-in votes should generally be allowed. Once 
one has a system where no votes are wasted, it becomes quite feasible 
and practical for *anyone* to volunteer to serve as a proxy or 
elector. If you only get one or two votes, so what? The only 
difference, really, is that one has agreed to vote publicly.

(I've thought much more about this than I'm revealing in this 
writing, but I'm not going there as I think that the whole line of 
discussion about secrecy is a distraction, a red herring, so to 
speak. Secrecy may or may not be necessary under some conditions, but 
secrecy is *not* necessary under the NGO implementations of delegable 
proxy that I think must necessarily precede, almost certainly, its 
use in public elections. 

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