[EM] The structuring of power and the composition of norms by communicative assent

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Sun Jan 25 18:04:45 PST 2009

On Sun, 25 Jan 2009 13:19:13 -0500 Michael Allan wrote:
> Juho Laatu wrote:
>>>>I see three alternative approaches (for each individual voter)
>>>>1) The vote is forced secret. The voter can tell how she voted
>>>>(=freedom of speech). But she can not prove to the coercer or
>>>>buyer how she voted.
>>>>2) The voter can choose if her vote is public or secret. She can
>>>>also tell what her secret vote was.
>>>>3) The vote is public.
>>>>What I mean is that also enforced secrecy and free speech can be
> Michael Allan replied:
>>>Not in the public sphere - neither (1) nor (3) is enforceable - only
>>>(2) is allowed.  It is the nature of the public sphere, and part of
>>>the legitimacy it confers on the process.  More on that later...
> Dave Ketchum replied:
>>I get dizzy on public vs private as used here, but have to disagree
>>on some of the above.
As discussed below, need for secrecy/publicity varies on both sides.
> My argument above is a continuation from previous posts.  To
> reiterate:
> By a voting system "of the public sphere", I mean a system situated in
> a common space where systematic force is inapplicable.  Unlike the
> voting systems of the state (general electoral and in-house
> legislative), where the state enforces a monopoly system of a
> particular design, there is no way to enforce a pattern of design on
> the systems of the public sphere (primary voting systems).  Competing
> designs are allowed, and voters may choose among them.

I do not see voters getting a choice.  Whoever has power or authority sets 
up the system.  Voters, at most, can choose whether to participate and/or 
> Just as people are free to speak their minds in the public sphere, so
> they are free to propose and build their own voting systems for public
> use.  This is especially easy, because much of the software is open
> source.  No authority can *generally* enforce a secret ballot.  If
> some people happen to dislike the strictly secret ballot of one system
> (1), they may build an alternative system (3) that restricts itself to
> a public, fully disclosed ballot.  And if others prefer no
> restrictions at all, they may build yet another system (2) that allows
> for *both* secret and public ballots (voter choice).  Mutatis
> mutandis, the least restrictive of these systems will eventually
> acquire a broader level of participation.  So I argue - neither type 1
> nor 3 is likely to be stable in the face of competition from type 2.
> We may therefore assume type 2 voting systems in public sphere.
> This is important, because the design of type 1 is quite different
> than 2 and 3.  We can save effort by forgetting about type 1, and
> concentrating our thoughts on 3 (the simplest overall), moving later
> to 2 (not much different, so an easy migration).
I start below with a couple examples of true type 1 secrecy.  This has 
serious need, though other methods with the ability can be managed with 
MUCH care as to details.
>>True secret voting - important to protect a voter's vote from being known:
>>      A society can use a ballot box with black and white balls, especially
>>for deciding whether to accept a new member.  There is NO record to protect
>>    or lose as to who voted black.
> Each such voting system is enforced by the private "society" (club,
> etc.) that employs it.  It is therefore not a system "of the public
> sphere".  To change voting systems, one must change clubs.  (There is
> no way to change public spheres, we all share the same one.)
The society can give up on the secrecy if its members agree that there is 
no value in the secrecy (they must have seen need or they would never have 
invested the effort).
>>      Lever voting machines can be used in public elections.  At least
>>originally these were as secret, though all kinds of cheating now becomes
> Machines could be used... the interface medium is irrelevant to the
> argument.  A public voting system must be open to all members of the
> public, and they must have (in principle, if not in practice) a choice
> of alternative systems, with no design restrictions.  So the public
> (in effect) designs its own voting system.
The medium matters.  I cited one that offers secrecy.  With other media 
more attention as to needed details matters.
>>      Paper absentee ballots can be handled in a way that, if done
>>properly, maintains secrecy.  The envelope has the voter's name.  The
>>ballot is forbidden to identify the voter in any way, and is void
>>otherwise.  When the envelope is opened the ballot is placed in a stack of
>>such without looking at content.
> (Again, the interface medium is irrelevant to the argument.)
>>Signing petitions is generally non-secret - with this known to the signers.
> But this (type 3) cannot be generally enforced.  General rules are not
> possible in the public sphere.  It must be allowed that some petitions
> be of type 1 and 2 - if that is feasible for a petition.
>>Speech is only occasionally kept secret - courts and legislatures and
>>societies choose when they need this.
> Secret speech in a public space.  OK, but not too much, or the space
> is no longer public.
> Think of a private speech in Parliament.  Weird, but this has become
> the norm since the late 1800's or so.  The real debates moved to
> back-rooms, where the organized parties hammer out their differences
> in private.  Parliament is now a stage on which these parties speak in
> front of the public, and exlusive of it.  So Parliament is no longer
> an institution *of* the public, but rather of the party and state
> administrations - as we all intuitively know.
> Likewise, in a broader public voting system, as I propose.  If private
> voting comes to pre-dominate in such a system, then it is no longer
> *of* the public.  It becomes an artificial synthesis of private
> opinion that speaks *to* the public.  It speaks in a voice that
> neither the public nor individuals can recognize as their own - the
> voice of the mass.
>>Proxies?  There is need for a verifiable record as to how many votes a
>>proxy can cast.
> Like any voter, a proxy (delegate) casts a single vote of her own.
> Those of her voters are carried along with it.  The method is
> described in the first section of the original post.  Also here:
>   http://zelea.com/project/votorola/d/theory.xht

My point was that if the proxy claims to have 14 votes, self plus 
permission by 13 voters must be provable.
  davek at clarityconnect.com    people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
  Dave Ketchum   108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY  13827-1708   607-687-5026
            Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
                  If you want peace, work for justice.

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