A "proxy" (or "proxy vote") is a weighted combination of votes from one or more other voters. Each individual voter may create as many proxies as they want, choosing:
- the other voters or proxies they want to feed from
- the weight to assign to each
- how to use the results (advisory, category, or per-question)
Proxy voting is a "layer III" concept, but I am including some basic support for it in layer I tables until I see a good reason not to.
This solves a group of related problems not addressed by the current system:
- voters who would rather not think about politics at all, and either don't vote or decide more or less randomly
- voters who would rather trust someone else's opinion on an issue or set of issues (either friends/family or a voting guide)
- voters who primarily vote for whichever names seem most familiar (largely due to advertising, i.e. money influence)
The proxy system deals differently with a problem which is currently addressed by secret ballots.
The problems which secret balloting -- the prevention of any objective record connecting an individual with their vote -- is intended to solve include:
- vote-buying: secret ballots prevent vote-buyers from verifying that they're getting what they paid for, removing the incentive to attempt the act.
- voter intimidation: secret ballots prevent intimidators from determining whether their target has caved to pressure or not, thereby making retaliation pointless.
These can loosely be thought of as forms of "voter coercion".
Problems with secret balloting include:
- Primarily, they impose additional design constraints on verification measures (i.e. they make recounting more difficult).
- Secondarily, they discourage or prevent discussion of individual voting records. (This is less important overall, but seems to be a significant factor in the general deterioration of political discourse.)
Instead of trying to prevent voter coercion, the proxy system takes a "legalize and regulate" approach: encourage people to document who controls their vote, with as much granularity as is needed. This allows everyone to see who the influencers are (and what issues they control) and therefore who we need to be arguing with (or taking other measures against, if said influencers are not amenable to reason).
Note that the proxy system is not in conflict with the idea of secret balloting; it is a different solution to the problem that seems like it might negate the need for the first. Secret balloting may be a feature that will need to be available in InstaGov, and individual nodes/pods can enable or disable it according to the wishes and needs of their users.
- 2011-02-15 post introducing the concept