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

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Mon Jan 26 14:59:56 PST 2009

>> By a voting system "of the public sphere", I mean...

Dave Ketchum wrote:

> 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 complain.


We're using different definitions.  There's no power or authority to
speak of in the public sphere.  Consider this analogy with another
another domain in the public sphere - that of the press:

           voter  =  journalist

  voting systems  =  broadcast media + Weblog software

   secret ballot  =  anonymous authorship

Consider enforcing anonymity on all press systems (type 1), such that
journalists can no longer attach their names to news articles.  You
see, it is impossible.  There is going to be a mix of types, and in
fact it is:

 1. Economist, etc.
 2. Weblogs, many smaller newspapers, etc.
 3. New York Times, etc.

Type 2 predominates, meaning the journalist decides whether to reveal
her identity.  In any case, journalists have the choice of where to
post their articles, and are always free to start their own papers,
Weblogs, etc.

Likewise for voting systems in the public sphere.  The state cannot
enforce a pure type 1 (secret ballot) system.  Voters will choose
which system to vote in, and thus choose their own level and mix of
restrictions.  (Aside - it follows that we're building these systems
exclusively for the convenience of voters, and we should expect a
radical departure in designs.)

> 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.

Agreed, but only for voting systems on the government/administrative
side - as usually discussed in this list.  (This thread is mostly not
about those.)

> The society [club] 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).

Agreed, but this differs from an individual member having choice of
secret|open for a particular vote, and from a choice of which system
to cast the vote in.  These differences distinguish an administrative
voting system (in the club), from the voting systems of the public
sphere (outside the club).

>>> Proxies?  There is need for a verifiable record as to how many votes a
>>> proxy can cast.
>> etc...
> My point was that if the proxy claims to have 14 votes, self plus 
> permission by 13 voters must be provable.

I see... The verification process rests on proving the individual
votes of each voter (including the delegates).  Then all the rest -
the flow of 13 additional votes through the delegate, and the overall
flow in the cascade - follows from the individual votes.  Does this
answer?  Or are you interested in technical details of proving the
individual votes?

Michael Allan

Toronto, 647-436-4521

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