[EM] proxies and confidentiality

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu Mar 9 06:40:32 PST 2006

At 05:30 AM 3/9/2006, Raphael Ryan wrote:
>Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
>[description of standard secret-ballot procedure]
>Is this not inconsistant with the following ?
> >But with direct democracy using delegable proxy, you can have your
> >cake and eat it too. If you most agree with A, and by this you
> >consider that you trust A, you can give your proxy to A, but if A
> >happens to disagree with you on your favorite issue, you simply vote
> >directly on that issue, for you will follow it and know when votes
> >need to be cast. You don't have to follow all the stuff that you
> >trust A to handle properly. You don't have to vote for F just because
> >F agrees with you -- or, more often, pretends to agree with you --
> >thus sacrificing every thing else.

Yes, it *is* inconsistent. Secret ballot is inconsistent with clear 
and full assignment of responsibility, with mutual communication. I 
won't go into all the details.

>The only way to link them would be to require that ballots are 
>stored for the duration of the term.

Which still means that the rep does not know who voted for him, thus 
he does not know who is represented by him, and he cannot communicate 
directly with them. (There is also the problem of scale, which exists 
even without secret ballot.)

Raphael goes on to propose a scheme whereby assignment of proxies is 
secret, but he postpones the effectiveness of legislation until what 
he calls "minor elections." However, I fail to see any true 
difference between the minor elections and the major one. The effect 
is that a voter may change his or her proxy at any minor election. I 
think there are holes in the scheme given, but it is not necessary to 
point them out.

The problem of continuous secret assignment of proxies is soluble, I 
have no doubt about that. I think there are better solutions than 
here proposed. However, they all depend on some metasystem which is 
trustworthy. That problem, too, may be soluble. Open source software, 
verifiably running on redundant systems?

But I also think that such a system would inevitably lead to one of 
two things: a new oligarchy or delegable proxy. Why not start with 
the preferred of these two outcomes?

The problem of government is also the problem of democratic change. 
How do we organize to improve conditions?

I'd say that whatever is efficient for one is also efficient for the 
other, as long as it is a scalable solution. Simple direct democracy 
is not scalable, that's well-known. Representative democracy is only 
scalable to a point, to the point where the gap between the 
representatives and those represented becomes too large for good 
communication to take place. Representative democracy, at best, only 
postpones the scalability problem.

FA/DP solves it once and for all, by making the organizational 
structure into a fractal, self-similar regardless of scale.

If secret ballot is necessary, then a very simple solution is to make 
the first level of proxy assignment purely local. However, this 
disenfranchises those who adhere to a small minority position, unless 
it is possible for a representative to be "elected" at this small 
level who only has one supporter, perhaps himself.

Essentially, people could volunteer to openly vote. This does cause 
problems with maintaining secrecy in the presence of coercion. I'll 
note, however, that detecting coercion could be quite easy. To safely 
maintain coercion, the coercer must monitor *all* the activities of 
the one coerced, if, that is, coercion is unlawful.

I really don't think that secret ballot is necessary any more, in 
most places. But many will still want it, and, as long as reports of 
coercion are taken very, very seriously, allowing people to 
voluntarily vote openly, which makes things *very* simple and 
efficient, make more sense to me than a complex scheme.

(If there is a trusted overseer, even in the presence of serious 
coercion, one could have secrecy and openness. But I won't go into 
how here, no time. In summary, an open voter could secretly change 
his or her vote. I.e., vote openly *and* secretly, with the secret 
vote voiding the open one. There are details, to be sure....)

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