[EM] proxies and confidentiality

Raphael Ryan RaphFrk at netscape.net
Thu Mar 9 08:07:27 PST 2006

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
>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.
Well, all votes are cleared at the general election.  You don't submit a change of proxy vote at the general election, you select a proxy and don't have to have a password etc..  This means that most people will vote at them.  The "minor elections" would only be used by people who want to change their proxy mid term or want to override their proxy's vote on a specific bill.  Much less people would likely vote at them.
>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?
Personally, I would rather a system that is understandable by lots of people.  Physical ballots and hand counting are understandable by everyone while computer counting isn't.

Another option would be something like meta-proxies.  You vote for a meta-proxy and they get to vote your vote.  However, they promise that they will vote it as requested by your actual proxy.  They could then also provide an online interface.
In principle, this meta-proxy could provide secure communication between the voter and the proxy.  The proxy could then know that the communication is from a voter who has named them as proxy.  

However, this then allows a voter to prove to a proxy that they have selected them as proxy (by sending a message with a code word or something).  The meta proxies would have to only allow "honourable" proxies to register as proxies with them so as to protect the voter.
This could be mitigated with a two stage process.
Each person submits a secret ballot naming the meta-proxy that they feel is most honourable.  This step is counted by the government.
These proxies are given vote strength in proportion to their votes.
Proxies can register at the meta-proxies.  However, a meta-proxy can refuse to accept a proxy due to the proxy being corrupt (or for any other reason).
All the meta-proxies provide some form of system for reallocating votes mid-term.
If none of the meta-proxies will allow your candidate to register, you can just vote for your proxy directly.  This would include an inability to change your vote mid term.
However, the meta-proxies would want to have as many candidates on their books as possible.
As long as there is only 3-4 meta proxies which all allow mid-term vote changing, then the proxy can be sure that a message they receive is from someone has control of 25% of a vote to the proxy.  A voter would register at all 4 meta-proxies and indicate a proxy.

This does create an incentive to vote for a non-meta-proxied candidate and then register with the 4 meta proxies.
>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.
You are probably right.  However, secret ballots prevent the drift to a situation where they are actually needed.

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