Discussion:
Helping the Pirate Party to vanish
Michael Allan
2013-03-13 04:09:36 UTC
Permalink
Dinu, Paul, Alex, Pablo and Abd,
cc Partido de Internet (please forgive my lack of Spanish)

> > To succeed in taking down the party system, the party must
> > sacrifice itself completely.

Dinu said:
> that sounds a lot like what a compatriot of yours, Lester Frank
> Ward, said about political parties in the US, way back in 1893, in a
> paper I've found reprinted in a book about sociocracy, and which I
> extracted and translated ...

Thanks Dinu, I didn't know about sociocracy. It's similar in some
ways to the designs I work with. But the words you quoted from Ward
don't seem to connect with my own words above. He doesn't mention
taking down the party system, or the method of political sacrifice.

It's basically an application of liquid democracy. Ward could not
have foreseen it, because it depends too heavily on the Internet. For
details, please see the thread "Parliamentary compromising strategy":
http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2013-March/thread.html#31593


Paul said:
> Well, not completely I think. There is no reason why people would
> not organise in parties around some kind of "party program" and try
> to get people elected. But parties respond always, as any
> organistion, to the iron law of oligarchy and therefore it is
> necesssary to keep the ultimate decisive power in the hands of the
> people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy

You're right, it's not a complete sacrifice on the part of the
technical party; it's only a political sacrifice. (See my reply to
Alex below.) And I agree with your last point. The open primary
(link above) can be seen as a method of transferring electoral power
from the political parties to the electors (i.e. the voters). But in
doing this, it also defeats the purpose of voting for a political
party. Why vote for a party's candidate list when instead you can
vote for your own candidate list? the one that you and the other
citizens are compiling in the open, all-party primary? the one that's
in the news? the one that names all the members who'll be sitting in
the next assembly? the one that everyone is looking at, talking about
and debating? And since it's pointless to vote for a political party,
then isn't it also pointless to join one? or to organize one?


Alex said:
> Yes, but initially, it probably needs a party that will help to beta
> test everything and bring this which has most support on the open
> plattform into the assembly. The long established parties will
> never start this. It needs pressure from the pirates to start this
> and when the other parties join in, then the pirates will vanish or
> at least become totally unimportant. ...

Yes, politically. But they'll still be important technically and
socially. And even politically, they'll win a place in history.
They'll win it precisely because they sacrificed their chance at
political power for the sake of the citizens at large.

> ... But the pirates will make it popular when they start to use such
> a platform and put this, which was decided by people on the
> plattform into the assembly. Media will start to talk about it and
> people will join, because they KNOW, that whatever is discussed and
> decided here, will be put into the the current governance process by
> the pirates. Otherwise, people would never make the effort if there
> is nobody who will make it binding.

I don't think it can happen that way. The technical parties who make
the big news will be the ones who organize the open primary and give
the electors their first chance to vote for something that isn't a
political party. That's the movement that will triumph in the
Bundestag, the Cortes Generales, the Italian Parliament, and so forth.
For the Pirates to join it (or found it), I think they must give up
all hope of gaining political power, and instead announce that their
candidate list will henceforth be set according to the open primary of
all-party candidates.

If the experts in the Election Methods list can't find a serious fault
with this method, then it might be possible to bring down the party
system in as little as a few years. Mind you, it would be no bad
thing if it took a while longer, given the disruption it might cause.

> > You predict that AG Meinungsfindungstool can commit to complete
> > user freedom (1) without being stopped by internal party
> > resistance. I'm less certain. I know that if you do move toward
> > (1), then the party will immediately start falling apart as such.
> > Citizens will start taking its place, and it'll be a painful
> > transition for the party.
>
> No it wont be a painful transition, because most pirates waiting for
> this to happen. There are only a few for which it might painful and
> thats the current "captains" so to say :-) Normal citizens join in
> all the time and discuss in the working groups, and very day, new
> people join in. Many of them are not party members.

Well, the Pirates could start by coding an open, all-party primary.
That would be a firm commitment to (1), because, when it comes to
technical parties like the Pirates and Partido de Internet, all-party
means all-platform. So the job is to enable the users to range freely
across voting platforms. A prototype could be running in as little as
a few months. And the Knight Foundation might even pay for it:
https://www.newschallenge.org/open/open-government/submission/free-range-voting/


Pablo said:
> ... more specifically, is there software out there contemplating the
> liberation of user data? ...
>
> It would also be very nice for new programs to appear and hook up to
> the network of already built user data. So innovation would thrive.

We're hoping to liberate voting data so that all tools have access to
the same votes (link above). I think you're right, it will help
innovation to thrive.


Abd said:
> We invented delegable proxy [DP], also known as liquid democracy and
> by various other names, more than a decade ago to allow the
> formation of consensus in large groups, efficiently. DP, however,
> will not reverse or disable the Iron Law. However, it does provide a
> means of watching it and limiting the damage from it. ...

(Abd's an expert on election methods. He's also written on the topic
of liquid democracy/DP, back as early as 2003.)

> ... In my work, and because DP was untested in large organizations,
> I always combined DP with a Free Association [FA] concept. ...
>
> The FA provides the communication structure and *the same structure
> can be used by competing parties.*

Providing communication structure for their members is also the focus
of technical parties like the Pirates and Partido de Internet. They
look similar to FAs in this regard. They're bound by similar
principles of freedom of information and expression that (by the Iron
Law) seem to be incompatible with the exercise of political power.

> However, the existing system generally assumes that parties compete,
> and often ignores the possibility of cooperation. DP technology can
> make it possible to estimate the breadth of support for some
> position, and consensus is powerful. If what people want to do is
> fight and win, they may accomplish something, but necessarily at a
> cost and with the reduced efficiency of dealing with opposition.

(You speak of political parties, but here I suggest they can be swept
away by the technical parties. Effectively their open DP primary
dissolves away the political boundaries that separate the parties,
which now become fluid in DP.)

> FA/DP -- like AA -- is about *communication*, the FA itself has no
> power to fight over. AA deliberately avoided property for this
> reason. Don't like a meeting? Start another. The saying in AA is,
> "All you need to start a meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot."
> And so AA harness the natural differences that appear in people to
> multiply meetings like rabbits. The more meetings, the more
> available meetings are when people need them....

That's how open the technical parties ought to be. Anyone with a
coffee pot should be able to fork a party (a technical platform) and
invite the members (users) to try it out. This means open primaries
(electoral, legislative, executive, etc.) based on free-range voting.
It's this that will sweep away the political parties. Or can anyone
foresee a problem with this approach?

--
Mike


Dinu Gherman said:
> Michael Allan:
>
> > To succeed in taking down the party system, the party
> > must sacrifice itself completely.
>
> Hi Mike,
>
> that sounds a lot like what a compatriot of yours, Lester Frank Ward, said about political parties in the US, way back in 1893, in a paper I've found reprinted in a book about sociocracy, and which I extracted and translated into German here:
>
> http://de.slideshare.net/dinugherman/sociocracy
> http://de.slideshare.net/dinugherman/soziokratie
>
> I'm adding just one quote below. Unfortunately, Ward was way ahead of his time. And it seems like, even 120 years later, we're still not getting there.
>
> Regards,
>
> Dinu
>
> How then, it may be asked, do democracy and sociocracy differ? How does society differ from the people? If the phrase “the people” really meant the people, the difference would be less. But that shibboleth of democratic states, where it means anything at all that can be described or defined, stands simply for the majority of qualified electors, no matter how small that majority may be. There is a sense in which the action of a majority may be looked upon as the action of society. At least, there is no denying the right of the majority to act for society, for to do this would involve either the denial of the right of government to act at all, or the admission of the right of a minority to act for society. But a majority acting for society is a different thing from society acting for itself, even though, as must always be the case, it acts through an agency chosen by its members. All democratic governments are largely party governments. The electors range themselves on one side or the other of some party line, the winning side considers itself the state as much as Louis the Fourteenth did. The losing party usually then regards the government as something alien to it and hostile, like an invader, and thinks of nothing but to gain strength enough to overthrow it at the next opportunity. While various issues are always brought forward and defended or attacked, it is obvious to the looker-on that the contestants care nothing for these, and merely use them to gain an advantage and win an election. -- Lester Frank Ward, 1893


Paul Nollen said:
> Hi Michel,
>
> Well, not completely I think. There is no reason why people would not
> organise in parties around some kind of "party program" and try to get
> people elected. But parties respond always, as any organistion, to the iron
> law of oligarchy and therefore it is necesssary to keep the ultimate
> decisive power in the hands of the people.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy
>
> Paul


Alexander Praetorius said:
> > Exactly, that's why the party is no longer needed and will vanish.
> > All that's needed is the tooling in the hands of the citizens. Once
> > they have that, then any party can floor their bills in the assembly.
> > Not only will the party be without a purpose, and subsequently vanish,
> > but the entire party system with it.
>
> [alex]
> Yes, but initially, it probably needs a party that will help to beta test
> everything and bring this which has most support on the open plattform into
> the assembly.
> The long established parties will never start this.
> It needs pressure from the pirates to start this and when the other parties
> join in, then the pirates will vanish or at least become totally
> unimportant.
> But the pirates will make it popular when they start to use such a platform
> and put this, which was decided by people on the plattform into the
> assembly.
> Media will start to talk about it and people will join, because they KNOW,
> that whatever is discussed and decided here, will be put into the the
> current governance process by the pirates.
> Otherwise, people would never make the effort if there is nobody who will
> make it binding.
> [/alex]
>
> > Where parties are not required by the constitution (Anglo-America),
> > they are likely to vanish completely. Elsewhere (continental Europe),
> > they will remain in form, but their content will become purely
> > technical. So German and Italian citizens (e.g.) will not choose a
> > party (political platform), but instead a toolset (technical
> > platform). Parties will offer different toolsets, but the same list
> > of candidates as chosen by the citizens. Election results will be the
> > same no matter how people vote on election day: the citizens' list
> > will always win.
> >
> > Pirates won't be able to count on gaining seats in the Bundestag in
> > their own name, and this is going to upset many in the party.
>
> [alex]
> I agree with your long term perspective, but i think in the short term, it
> needs the pirates to use an open toolset, so it will become more popular.
> At some point, the pirates will become irrelevant, but they are needed to
> start it, at least in germany they are needed.
> The green party might eventually join in as will the liberals, but only
> because they have to and they only have to if the pirates do it first and
> put pressure on the other parties.
> [/alex]
>
> > You predict that AG Meinungsfindungstool can commit to complete user
> > freedom (1) without being stopped by internal party resistance. I'm
> > less certain. I know that if you do move toward (1), then the party
> > will immediately start falling apart as such. Citizens will start
> > taking its place, and it'll be a painful transition for the party.
>
> [alex]
> No it wont be a painful transition, because most pirates waiting for this
> to happen.
> There are only a few for which it might painful and thats the current
> "captains" so to say :-)
> Normal citizens join in all the time and discuss in the working groups, and
> very day, new people join in.
> Many of them are not party members.
> [/alex]
>
> --
>
> Best Regards / Mit freundlichen Grüßen
> ***********************************************
> Alexander Praetorius
> Rappstraße 13
> D - 60318 Frankfurt am Main
> Germany
> *[skype] *alexander.praetorius
> *[mail] ****@serapath.de <***@serapath.de>
> *[web] *http://wiki.piratenpartei.de/Benutzer:Serapath
> ***********************************************


Pablo Segundo Garcia said:
> Hello everyone (Pablo from Partido de Internet, Spain; and pirate too.
> Living in Köln now.)
>
> I wonder how is the development of "meinungsfindungstools" right now.
> Maybe some link? Is there a software/schematics comparison page in
> some wiki or wikipedia?
>
> And more specifically, is there software out there contemplating the
> liberation of user data?
>
> I am no programmer but understand the technologies (interested
> electronics engineer).
>
> I can say:
>
> 1. one approach I usually thought is having the software/plataform,
> work always from the outside, being widgets to be inserted in normal
> forums, or even links in emails. This will make it naturally to use
> more "common" data forms and data meanings. And also it would be easy
> that at some point the widget will send signals not only to the
> "currently used tool" but also to some other, or a personal user data
> box.
>
> 2. Reading you I came up with another idea. Build a
> software/network/platform made of two type of components. One would
> receive and keep all user data, and the other would use it but in
> every new session it would have to re-upload, or refresh, the data
> from the user data server. Like separating savings-banks from
> investments-banks.
>
> It would also be very nice for new programs to appear and hook up to
> the network of already built user data. So innovation would thrive.
>
> Another question. What semantic structures are people using for this
> debate/decision/political-expression tools? Is there much new to be
> "developed"? are there clearly discussed different approaches?
>
> Cheers!
>
> Pablo


Abd ul-Rahman Lomax said:
> I've been watching this discussion, and think it might be useful to
> raise some Free Association/Delegable Proxy concepts.
>
> First of all, we should be aware of the Iron Law of Oligarchy:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy
>
> The Iron Law is a result of the centralization of power. Where power
> is centralized, there are gate-keepers, and in spite of theory, for a
> functional organization, there must be privileged access.
> Organizations without privileged access rapidly are overwhelmed by
> noise, and power then devolves to those with special skills at
> manipulating opinion in the presence of noise.
>
> The goal of eliminating oligarchy is probably equivalent to a goal of
> eliminating the coordinating power of large organizations. In other
> words, oligarchy is not "bad." In many organizations, the Iron Law
> arises through the Dictatorship of the Involved. I.e., some people
> are more involved than others, and become more conversant with the
> organization's "language" and how to function within it.
>
> The problem is that a gap can appear between the interests of these
> people and the overall interests of the organization's general
> membership. This becomes visible, often, when a proposal is made that
> would spreak out or decentralize responsibility or power. Those whose
> effective power would be reduced by this will very naturally see it
> as harmful, as turning over the organizational purpose to the less
> informed. They might even be right. By the conditions of the problem,
> they have a power advantage, and will typically, then, resist the
> change. They may not see any difference between what advantages them
> and what advantages the organization. In their own view, they *are*
> the organization. And, again, they may even be right.
>
> So ... what we know is that genuine consensus is powerful. The
> consensus of the oligarchs may, to some degree, represent the
> consensus of the whole, but it can rapidly become isolated, and the
> organization will then bleed members ( who think of the existing
> oligarchy as "them" rather than as "us."
>
> We invented delegable proxy, also known as liquid democracy and by
> various other names, more than a decade ago to allow the formation of
> consensus in large groups, efficiently. DP, however, will not reverse
> or disable the Iron Law. However, it does provide a means of watching
> it and limiting the damage from it. In my work, and because DP was
> untested in large organizations, I always combined DP with a Free
> Association concept.
>
> Free Associations were modelled on the structure set up for
> Alchoholics Anonymous, beginning in the 1930s. There are really two
> "AA"s. Bill Wilson, who became the theoretician behind AA structure,
> wrote the Twelve Traditions, covering the essentials (and wrote
> another book later, Twelve Concepts for World Service, with
> additional details.) Basically, one of the traditions is, "AA as such
> ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or
> committees directly responsible to those they serve." So there is AA
> itself, which is a ground-up organization, the individual groups are
> autonomous, "excepting in matters affecting other groups or AA as a
> whole." Nobody tells the groups how to run their meetings, or what
> must be conveyed there. There is broad consensus on many matters,
> which should not be confused with central control.
>
> The most prominent "special board" is AA World Services, Inc, the
> legal structure with headquarters in New York. They publish the
> material and hold the copyrights. However, the publishing operation
> -- which is huge -- is generally operated to be self-supporting. The
> intention was, very specifically, to make AAWS, Inc., dependent on a
> continual flow of small donations. They don't accept bequests beyond,
> I think it's now about $3,000. They don't accumulate assets beyond
> what is directly and short-term necessary. The *real* AA, which is
> not organized, is out there in the field, in the millions of members
> who make it work, and who support their own work. The central office
> never sends money out to members in the field. There is no dependence
> on the central office, in fact, it could disappear and local groups
> would simply print their own literature, or form a new "service
> board" to do this on a large scale.
>
> Free Associations, then, don't collect power. However, a Free
> Association may facilitate the formation of an ordinary organization
> "directly responsible to those it serves." Free Associations are
> formed around an "interest group." They generally have no
> requirements for membership other than self-declaration. They don't
> charge dues or fees for membership. And ... they don't collect major
> funding to distribute by majority vote or similar process. They only
> collect what they need for immediate expenses, such as meeting room
> rent and, of course, coffee. Perhaps they buy some literature to give
> away. And when they have some money left over, they give it to the
> local intergroup for its expenses.
>
> AA Clubs have formed and incorporated. They are legally independent
> from AA. Political action groups have formed, Alcoholism Councils
> become politically active. AA itself stays *entirely out of politics*
> or any unnecessary controversy. The goal is to maintain AA as a
> totally universal interest group for alcoholics who have a "desire to
> remain sober." The rest of what happens is what happens when people
> are brought together under those conditions, which, it turns out, can
> be amazingly effective.
>
> For many years, as I studied -- and used -- the AA structure (I'm not
> an alcoholic, but there are other programs using the same structure),
> I encountered people who would say how wonderful it could be if
> everything worked how it works in AA.
>
> Hence the Free Association concept, which is a generalization of the
> AA principles. There is an "interest group" which defines the
> Association. It could be very broad, or it could be relatively
> narrow. The FA will operate, then, within the Association definition
> -- and may refuse to be involved with organization on any other basis.
>
> But, in politics, how would this fit with an exercise power in a
> system that expects organizations with centralized control?
>
> AA did it. Where property was involved, centralized control was
> necessary. Someone must be responsible for it. A treatment center
> may, in fact, end up with many millions of dollars in property,
> staff, etc. AA does not create these, but AA *members* do, working
> with others as well. AA is not going to give an opinion on
> legislative or legal issues involving alchoholics, but AA *members*
> -- through Alcholism Councils -- do.
>
> In an FA/DP organization, what we call "natural caucuses" will form.
> A natural caucus is a proxy together with all the clients, direct and
> indirect, oof that proxy. A proxy can be, then, considered as the
> natural leader of a "political party," consisting of all those who
> chose that person, directly or indirectly. A collection of proxies
> who are members of a political party could, in fact, fully represent
> that party in the FA -- or close.
>
> What is the FA going to do? Is it going to recommend candidates for
> office, collect donations for them, etc.? No. Not as the FA. But
> natural caucuses are free to do this. The FA sets up a communication
> structure that would make it simple for a collection of like-minded
> individuals to rapidly negotiate an internal consensus toward such
> matters as whom a political part -- technically independent but with
> overlapping membership -- should nominate, and can rapidly determine
> how to coordinate toward that goal.
>
> The FA provides the communication structure and *the same structure
> can be used by competing parties.*
>
> However, the existing system generally assumes that parties compete,
> and often ignores the possibility of cooperation. DP technology can
> make it possible to estimate the breadth of support for some
> position, and consensus is powerful. If what people want to do is
> fight and win, they may accomplish something, but necessarily at a
> cost and with the reduced efficiency of dealing with opposition.
>
> FA/DP -- like AA -- is about *communication*, the FA itself has no
> power to fight over. AA deliberately avoided property for this
> reason. Don't like a meeting? Start another. The saying in AA is,
> "All you need to start a meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot."
> And so AA harness the natural differences that appear in people to
> multiply meetings like rabbits. The more meetings, the more available
> meetings are when people need them....
>
> But everyone stays connected, through "AA." Local intergroups
> maintain meeting lists. And the understanding of the traditions is
> widespread, efforts to control those meeting lists to exclude the
> "wrong kind of meetings" are generally resisted. Members know how
> important AA unity is, and the know that meetings which ignore the
> general consensus usually don't last long.
>
> So, take-home:
>
> 1. A metapolitical structure can be designed to *advise.* Advise
> whom? Its own members and anyone else who wishes to be advised.
> Advice is not control.
> 2. Within that structure, "caucuses" -- special interest groups --
> may exist, and these groups may separately organize or be affiliated
> with political parties. A political party may be represented within
> the FA structure by as few as one person, or an FA can be organized
> to specifically be an interest group for a political party.
> 3. FAs can easily merge, so, for the U.S., members of a Democratic FA
> and a Republican FA could form a meta Citizen's FA, say. And then the
> ability of *party members* to nevertheless organize to find consensus
> across party lines is developed. If there is a large Citizen's FA,
> consensus within it, I'd predict, *would* become party policy in the
> political parties. Consensus is powerful.
> 4. The key is the network formed, through proxy/client relationships,
> where the central characteristic of that relationship is not a
> designation in some software structure, but an actual linkage of
> direct communication and relative trust.
> 5. So, if necessary, FAs can also split. The only reason for this,
> that seems at all likely, would be that someone takes over the
> central FA communications mechanism and attempts to dominate the FA,
> violating the Traditions. Instead of fighting over it, members simply
> walk, but because of the DP structure, they *already have the basic
> organizational structure.* The "dominators" end up only advising themselves.
>
> (For the same reason, we are not terribly worried about "sock
> puppets" in FA structures. It is possible to analyze votes by much
> more sophisticated means than just doing a straight proxy expansion;
> the exactly analytical tools used can depend on the needs of the one
> seeking to be advised by a vote. The vote itself isn't going to
> exercise power, because the FA doesn't collect power. For this
> reason, while centralized software for amalgamation of positions can
> be useful, the raw member/proxy assignments and raw votes should be
> accessible to anyone. "Secret ballot" may see proper usage in
> accessory organizations (like political parties).
>
> This system harnesses the Iron Law, in fact. People who might
> dominate in a classical organization may dominate in an FA, but only
> to the extent that they are able to maintain their own positions,
> continuously, as serving their clients. In standard organizations,
> the gap between a major leader and the common member can be far too
> great, i.e., it can be impractical for the common member to actually
> have a conversation with the leader. In an FA, I expect, people will
> generally assign their proxy to someone *not far from them*, in any
> of several different ways. The bottom line for a proxy/client
> relationship is an agreement to accept communication, in both
> directions. Personally, I'd want a phone number as well as an email address....
>
> The structure will self-adjust to maintain optimal average client/proxy ratios.
----
Election-Methods mai
Paul Nollen
2013-03-13 10:17:22 UTC
Permalink
Hi Michael and all,

Freedom of organisation is, next to freedom of expression, a necessary
ingredient for democracy (by definition : legislative power of the people).
Organisations are a necessary tool for any action. An action group is not a
study group or discussion group. But bear in mind that all organisations
(except maybe study and discussion groups) are, by iron law oligarchic.
Otherwise they achieve nothing.
Lets look at the organisation:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_for_a_Switzerland_Without_an_Army : Group
for a Switzerland without an Army.
Without a doubt they originated out of a discussion group (or groups) about
peace and armies in general, and maybe a lot of other items.
Then they formulated and got consensus around a basic text.
With this consensus amongst an active group of people, and the establishment
of an action group around this text, they became an oligarchic organisation.
Once started there is no room any more for internal discussion about this
basic text. People who don't agree have to leave because they will weaken
the long time involvement of the action group (many many years) that is
needed to achieve a goal. This seems to be a problem for some people. You
can't change the goal or the basic principles of an action group
(frequently) and stay an action group. That is impossible and will not work.
Therefore it is important to have a strong case, and as much supporters as
possible (and yes, discussion, amendments, counter proposals and so on), to
start with.
The group is now a political party that will engage in a struggle to win.
They started signature gathering, engaged in public discussion and so on.
They launched a legislative initiative " For a Switzerland without an army
and an overall peaceful political stance" and they lost.
They lost, but they lost not completely.
Their influence, thanks to the nationwide discussions, was now big enough to
enforce the other political parties to review some laws who where proposed
and approved without a referendum started against those proposals. By doing
so the political parties "disarmed" in a matter of speaking, the action
group. They lost a political battle but not the war.

Paul


-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Allan
Sent: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 5:09 AM
To: AG Liquid Democracy
Cc: Votorola ; PDIComunicación ; AG Meinungsfindungstool ; Start/Metagov ;
Election Methods
Subject: Re: [MG] Helping the Pirate Party to vanish

Dinu, Paul, Alex, Pablo and Abd,
cc Partido de Internet (please forgive my lack of Spanish)

> > To succeed in taking down the party system, the party must
> > sacrifice itself completely.

Dinu said:
> that sounds a lot like what a compatriot of yours, Lester Frank
> Ward, said about political parties in the US, way back in 1893, in a
> paper I've found reprinted in a book about sociocracy, and which I
> extracted and translated ...

Thanks Dinu, I didn't know about sociocracy. It's similar in some
ways to the designs I work with. But the words you quoted from Ward
don't seem to connect with my own words above. He doesn't mention
taking down the party system, or the method of political sacrifice.

It's basically an application of liquid democracy. Ward could not
have foreseen it, because it depends too heavily on the Internet. For
details, please see the thread "Parliamentary compromising strategy":
http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2013-March/thread.html#31593


Paul said:
> Well, not completely I think. There is no reason why people would
> not organise in parties around some kind of "party program" and try
> to get people elected. But parties respond always, as any
> organistion, to the iron law of oligarchy and therefore it is
> necesssary to keep the ultimate decisive power in the hands of the
> people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy

You're right, it's not a complete sacrifice on the part of the
technical party; it's only a political sacrifice. (See my reply to
Alex below.) And I agree with your last point. The open primary
(link above) can be seen as a method of transferring electoral power
from the political parties to the electors (i.e. the voters). But in
doing this, it also defeats the purpose of voting for a political
party. Why vote for a party's candidate list when instead you can
vote for your own candidate list? the one that you and the other
citizens are compiling in the open, all-party primary? the one that's
in the news? the one that names all the members who'll be sitting in
the next assembly? the one that everyone is looking at, talking about
and debating? And since it's pointless to vote for a political party,
then isn't it also pointless to join one? or to organize one?


Alex said:
> Yes, but initially, it probably needs a party that will help to beta
> test everything and bring this which has most support on the open
> plattform into the assembly. The long established parties will
> never start this. It needs pressure from the pirates to start this
> and when the other parties join in, then the pirates will vanish or
> at least become totally unimportant. ...

Yes, politically. But they'll still be important technically and
socially. And even politically, they'll win a place in history.
They'll win it precisely because they sacrificed their chance at
political power for the sake of the citizens at large.

> ... But the pirates will make it popular when they start to use such
> a platform and put this, which was decided by people on the
> plattform into the assembly. Media will start to talk about it and
> people will join, because they KNOW, that whatever is discussed and
> decided here, will be put into the the current governance process by
> the pirates. Otherwise, people would never make the effort if there
> is nobody who will make it binding.

I don't think it can happen that way. The technical parties who make
the big news will be the ones who organize the open primary and give
the electors their first chance to vote for something that isn't a
political party. That's the movement that will triumph in the
Bundestag, the Cortes Generales, the Italian Parliament, and so forth.
For the Pirates to join it (or found it), I think they must give up
all hope of gaining political power, and instead announce that their
candidate list will henceforth be set according to the open primary of
all-party candidates.

If the experts in the Election Methods list can't find a serious fault
with this method, then it might be possible to bring down the party
system in as little as a few years. Mind you, it would be no bad
thing if it took a while longer, given the disruption it might cause.

> > You predict that AG Meinungsfindungstool can commit to complete
> > user freedom (1) without being stopped by internal party
> > resistance. I'm less certain. I know that if you do move toward
> > (1), then the party will immediately start falling apart as such.
> > Citizens will start taking its place, and it'll be a painful
> > transition for the party.
>
> No it wont be a painful transition, because most pirates waiting for
> this to happen. There are only a few for which it might painful and
> thats the current "captains" so to say :-) Normal citizens join in
> all the time and discuss in the working groups, and very day, new
> people join in. Many of them are not party members.

Well, the Pirates could start by coding an open, all-party primary.
That would be a firm commitment to (1), because, when it comes to
technical parties like the Pirates and Partido de Internet, all-party
means all-platform. So the job is to enable the users to range freely
across voting platforms. A prototype could be running in as little as
a few months. And the Knight Foundation might even pay for it:
https://www.newschallenge.org/open/open-government/submission/free-range-voting/


Pablo said:
> ... more specifically, is there software out there contemplating the
> liberation of user data? ...
>
> It would also be very nice for new programs to appear and hook up to
> the network of already built user data. So innovation would thrive.

We're hoping to liberate voting data so that all tools have access to
the same votes (link above). I think you're right, it will help
innovation to thrive.


Abd said:
> We invented delegable proxy [DP], also known as liquid democracy and
> by various other names, more than a decade ago to allow the
> formation of consensus in large groups, efficiently. DP, however,
> will not reverse or disable the Iron Law. However, it does provide a
> means of watching it and limiting the damage from it. ...

(Abd's an expert on election methods. He's also written on the topic
of liquid democracy/DP, back as early as 2003.)

> ... In my work, and because DP was untested in large organizations,
> I always combined DP with a Free Association [FA] concept. ...
>
> The FA provides the communication structure and *the same structure
> can be used by competing parties.*

Providing communication structure for their members is also the focus
of technical parties like the Pirates and Partido de Internet. They
look similar to FAs in this regard. They're bound by similar
principles of freedom of information and expression that (by the Iron
Law) seem to be incompatible with the exercise of political power.

> However, the existing system generally assumes that parties compete,
> and often ignores the possibility of cooperation. DP technology can
> make it possible to estimate the breadth of support for some
> position, and consensus is powerful. If what people want to do is
> fight and win, they may accomplish something, but necessarily at a
> cost and with the reduced efficiency of dealing with opposition.

(You speak of political parties, but here I suggest they can be swept
away by the technical parties. Effectively their open DP primary
dissolves away the political boundaries that separate the parties,
which now become fluid in DP.)

> FA/DP -- like AA -- is about *communication*, the FA itself has no
> power to fight over. AA deliberately avoided property for this
> reason. Don't like a meeting? Start another. The saying in AA is,
> "All you need to start a meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot."
> And so AA harness the natural differences that appear in people to
> multiply meetings like rabbits. The more meetings, the more
> available meetings are when people need them....

That's how open the technical parties ought to be. Anyone with a
coffee pot should be able to fork a party (a technical platform) and
invite the members (users) to try it out. This means open primaries
(electoral, legislative, executive, etc.) based on free-range voting.
It's this that will sweep away the political parties. Or can anyone
foresee a problem with this approach?

--
Mike


Dinu Gherman said:
> Michael Allan:
>
> > To succeed in taking down the party system, the party
> > must sacrifice itself completely.
>
> Hi Mike,
>
> that sounds a lot like what a compatriot of yours, Lester Frank Ward, said
> about political parties in the US, way back in 1893, in a paper I've found
> reprinted in a book about sociocracy, and which I extracted and translated
> into German here:
>
> http://de.slideshare.net/dinugherman/sociocracy
> http://de.slideshare.net/dinugherman/soziokratie
>
> I'm adding just one quote below. Unfortunately, Ward was way ahead of his
> time. And it seems like, even 120 years later, we're still not getting
> there.
>
> Regards,
>
> Dinu
>
> How then, it may be asked, do democracy and sociocracy differ? How does
> society differ from the people? If the phrase “the people” really meant
> the people, the difference would be less. But that shibboleth of
> democratic states, where it means anything at all that can be described or
> defined, stands simply for the majority of qualified electors, no matter
> how small that majority may be. There is a sense in which the action of a
> majority may be looked upon as the action of society. At least, there is
> no denying the right of the majority to act for society, for to do this
> would involve either the denial of the right of government to act at all,
> or the admission of the right of a minority to act for society. But a
> majority acting for society is a different thing from society acting for
> itself, even though, as must always be the case, it acts through an agency
> chosen by its members. All democratic governments are largely party
> governments. The electors range themselves on one side or the other of
> some party line, the winning side considers itself the state as much as
> Louis the Fourteenth did. The losing party usually then regards the
> government as something alien to it and hostile, like an invader, and
> thinks of nothing but to gain strength enough to overthrow it at the next
> opportunity. While various issues are always brought forward and defended
> or attacked, it is obvious to the looker-on that the contestants care
> nothing for these, and merely use them to gain an advantage and win an
> election. -- Lester Frank Ward, 1893


Paul Nollen said:
> Hi Michel,
>
> Well, not completely I think. There is no reason why people would not
> organise in parties around some kind of "party program" and try to get
> people elected. But parties respond always, as any organistion, to the
> iron
> law of oligarchy and therefore it is necesssary to keep the ultimate
> decisive power in the hands of the people.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy
>
> Paul


Alexander Praetorius said:
> > Exactly, that's why the party is no longer needed and will vanish.
> > All that's needed is the tooling in the hands of the citizens. Once
> > they have that, then any party can floor their bills in the assembly.
> > Not only will the party be without a purpose, and subsequently vanish,
> > but the entire party system with it.
>
> [alex]
> Yes, but initially, it probably needs a party that will help to beta test
> everything and bring this which has most support on the open plattform
> into
> the assembly.
> The long established parties will never start this.
> It needs pressure from the pirates to start this and when the other
> parties
> join in, then the pirates will vanish or at least become totally
> unimportant.
> But the pirates will make it popular when they start to use such a
> platform
> and put this, which was decided by people on the plattform into the
> assembly.
> Media will start to talk about it and people will join, because they KNOW,
> that whatever is discussed and decided here, will be put into the the
> current governance process by the pirates.
> Otherwise, people would never make the effort if there is nobody who will
> make it binding.
> [/alex]
>
> > Where parties are not required by the constitution (Anglo-America),
> > they are likely to vanish completely. Elsewhere (continental Europe),
> > they will remain in form, but their content will become purely
> > technical. So German and Italian citizens (e.g.) will not choose a
> > party (political platform), but instead a toolset (technical
> > platform). Parties will offer different toolsets, but the same list
> > of candidates as chosen by the citizens. Election results will be the
> > same no matter how people vote on election day: the citizens' list
> > will always win.
> >
> > Pirates won't be able to count on gaining seats in the Bundestag in
> > their own name, and this is going to upset many in the party.
>
> [alex]
> I agree with your long term perspective, but i think in the short term, it
> needs the pirates to use an open toolset, so it will become more popular.
> At some point, the pirates will become irrelevant, but they are needed to
> start it, at least in germany they are needed.
> The green party might eventually join in as will the liberals, but only
> because they have to and they only have to if the pirates do it first and
> put pressure on the other parties.
> [/alex]
>
> > You predict that AG Meinungsfindungstool can commit to complete user
> > freedom (1) without being stopped by internal party resistance. I'm
> > less certain. I know that if you do move toward (1), then the party
> > will immediately start falling apart as such. Citizens will start
> > taking its place, and it'll be a painful transition for the party.
>
> [alex]
> No it wont be a painful transition, because most pirates waiting for this
> to happen.
> There are only a few for which it might painful and thats the current
> "captains" so to say :-)
> Normal citizens join in all the time and discuss in the working groups,
> and
> very day, new people join in.
> Many of them are not party members.
> [/alex]
>
> --
>
> Best Regards / Mit freundlichen Grüßen
> ***********************************************
> Alexander Praetorius
> Rappstraße 13
> D - 60318 Frankfurt am Main
> Germany
> *[skype] *alexander.praetorius
> *[mail] ****@serapath.de <***@serapath.de>
> *[web] *http://wiki.piratenpartei.de/Benutzer:Serapath
> ***********************************************


Pablo Segundo Garcia said:
> Hello everyone (Pablo from Partido de Internet, Spain; and pirate too.
> Living in Köln now.)
>
> I wonder how is the development of "meinungsfindungstools" right now.
> Maybe some link? Is there a software/schematics comparison page in
> some wiki or wikipedia?
>
> And more specifically, is there software out there contemplating the
> liberation of user data?
>
> I am no programmer but understand the technologies (interested
> electronics engineer).
>
> I can say:
>
> 1. one approach I usually thought is having the software/plataform,
> work always from the outside, being widgets to be inserted in normal
> forums, or even links in emails. This will make it naturally to use
> more "common" data forms and data meanings. And also it would be easy
> that at some point the widget will send signals not only to the
> "currently used tool" but also to some other, or a personal user data
> box.
>
> 2. Reading you I came up with another idea. Build a
> software/network/platform made of two type of components. One would
> receive and keep all user data, and the other would use it but in
> every new session it would have to re-upload, or refresh, the data
> from the user data server. Like separating savings-banks from
> investments-banks.
>
> It would also be very nice for new programs to appear and hook up to
> the network of already built user data. So innovation would thrive.
>
> Another question. What semantic structures are people using for this
> debate/decision/political-expression tools? Is there much new to be
> "developed"? are there clearly discussed different approaches?
>
> Cheers!
>
> Pablo


Abd ul-Rahman Lomax said:
> I've been watching this discussion, and think it might be useful to
> raise some Free Association/Delegable Proxy concepts.
>
> First of all, we should be aware of the Iron Law of Oligarchy:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy
>
> The Iron Law is a result of the centralization of power. Where power
> is centralized, there are gate-keepers, and in spite of theory, for a
> functional organization, there must be privileged access.
> Organizations without privileged access rapidly are overwhelmed by
> noise, and power then devolves to those with special skills at
> manipulating opinion in the presence of noise.
>
> The goal of eliminating oligarchy is probably equivalent to a goal of
> eliminating the coordinating power of large organizations. In other
> words, oligarchy is not "bad." In many organizations, the Iron Law
> arises through the Dictatorship of the Involved. I.e., some people
> are more involved than others, and become more conversant with the
> organization's "language" and how to function within it.
>
> The problem is that a gap can appear between the interests of these
> people and the overall interests of the organization's general
> membership. This becomes visible, often, when a proposal is made that
> would spreak out or decentralize responsibility or power. Those whose
> effective power would be reduced by this will very naturally see it
> as harmful, as turning over the organizational purpose to the less
> informed. They might even be right. By the conditions of the problem,
> they have a power advantage, and will typically, then, resist the
> change. They may not see any difference between what advantages them
> and what advantages the organization. In their own view, they *are*
> the organization. And, again, they may even be right.
>
> So ... what we know is that genuine consensus is powerful. The
> consensus of the oligarchs may, to some degree, represent the
> consensus of the whole, but it can rapidly become isolated, and the
> organization will then bleed members ( who think of the existing
> oligarchy as "them" rather than as "us."
>
> We invented delegable proxy, also known as liquid democracy and by
> various other names, more than a decade ago to allow the formation of
> consensus in large groups, efficiently. DP, however, will not reverse
> or disable the Iron Law. However, it does provide a means of watching
> it and limiting the damage from it. In my work, and because DP was
> untested in large organizations, I always combined DP with a Free
> Association concept.
>
> Free Associations were modelled on the structure set up for
> Alchoholics Anonymous, beginning in the 1930s. There are really two
> "AA"s. Bill Wilson, who became the theoretician behind AA structure,
> wrote the Twelve Traditions, covering the essentials (and wrote
> another book later, Twelve Concepts for World Service, with
> additional details.) Basically, one of the traditions is, "AA as such
> ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or
> committees directly responsible to those they serve." So there is AA
> itself, which is a ground-up organization, the individual groups are
> autonomous, "excepting in matters affecting other groups or AA as a
> whole." Nobody tells the groups how to run their meetings, or what
> must be conveyed there. There is broad consensus on many matters,
> which should not be confused with central control.
>
> The most prominent "special board" is AA World Services, Inc, the
> legal structure with headquarters in New York. They publish the
> material and hold the copyrights. However, the publishing operation
> -- which is huge -- is generally operated to be self-supporting. The
> intention was, very specifically, to make AAWS, Inc., dependent on a
> continual flow of small donations. They don't accept bequests beyond,
> I think it's now about $3,000. They don't accumulate assets beyond
> what is directly and short-term necessary. The *real* AA, which is
> not organized, is out there in the field, in the millions of members
> who make it work, and who support their own work. The central office
> never sends money out to members in the field. There is no dependence
> on the central office, in fact, it could disappear and local groups
> would simply print their own literature, or form a new "service
> board" to do this on a large scale.
>
> Free Associations, then, don't collect power. However, a Free
> Association may facilitate the formation of an ordinary organization
> "directly responsible to those it serves." Free Associations are
> formed around an "interest group." They generally have no
> requirements for membership other than self-declaration. They don't
> charge dues or fees for membership. And ... they don't collect major
> funding to distribute by majority vote or similar process. They only
> collect what they need for immediate expenses, such as meeting room
> rent and, of course, coffee. Perhaps they buy some literature to give
> away. And when they have some money left over, they give it to the
> local intergroup for its expenses.
>
> AA Clubs have formed and incorporated. They are legally independent
> from AA. Political action groups have formed, Alcoholism Councils
> become politically active. AA itself stays *entirely out of politics*
> or any unnecessary controversy. The goal is to maintain AA as a
> totally universal interest group for alcoholics who have a "desire to
> remain sober." The rest of what happens is what happens when people
> are brought together under those conditions, which, it turns out, can
> be amazingly effective.
>
> For many years, as I studied -- and used -- the AA structure (I'm not
> an alcoholic, but there are other programs using the same structure),
> I encountered people who would say how wonderful it could be if
> everything worked how it works in AA.
>
> Hence the Free Association concept, which is a generalization of the
> AA principles. There is an "interest group" which defines the
> Association. It could be very broad, or it could be relatively
> narrow. The FA will operate, then, within the Association definition
> -- and may refuse to be involved with organization on any other basis.
>
> But, in politics, how would this fit with an exercise power in a
> system that expects organizations with centralized control?
>
> AA did it. Where property was involved, centralized control was
> necessary. Someone must be responsible for it. A treatment center
> may, in fact, end up with many millions of dollars in property,
> staff, etc. AA does not create these, but AA *members* do, working
> with others as well. AA is not going to give an opinion on
> legislative or legal issues involving alchoholics, but AA *members*
> -- through Alcholism Councils -- do.
>
> In an FA/DP organization, what we call "natural caucuses" will form.
> A natural caucus is a proxy together with all the clients, direct and
> indirect, oof that proxy. A proxy can be, then, considered as the
> natural leader of a "political party," consisting of all those who
> chose that person, directly or indirectly. A collection of proxies
> who are members of a political party could, in fact, fully represent
> that party in the FA -- or close.
>
> What is the FA going to do? Is it going to recommend candidates for
> office, collect donations for them, etc.? No. Not as the FA. But
> natural caucuses are free to do this. The FA sets up a communication
> structure that would make it simple for a collection of like-minded
> individuals to rapidly negotiate an internal consensus toward such
> matters as whom a political part -- technically independent but with
> overlapping membership -- should nominate, and can rapidly determine
> how to coordinate toward that goal.
>
> The FA provides the communication structure and *the same structure
> can be used by competing parties.*
>
> However, the existing system generally assumes that parties compete,
> and often ignores the possibility of cooperation. DP technology can
> make it possible to estimate the breadth of support for some
> position, and consensus is powerful. If what people want to do is
> fight and win, they may accomplish something, but necessarily at a
> cost and with the reduced efficiency of dealing with opposition.
>
> FA/DP -- like AA -- is about *communication*, the FA itself has no
> power to fight over. AA deliberately avoided property for this
> reason. Don't like a meeting? Start another. The saying in AA is,
> "All you need to start a meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot."
> And so AA harness the natural differences that appear in people to
> multiply meetings like rabbits. The more meetings, the more available
> meetings are when people need them....
>
> But everyone stays connected, through "AA." Local intergroups
> maintain meeting lists. And the understanding of the traditions is
> widespread, efforts to control those meeting lists to exclude the
> "wrong kind of meetings" are generally resisted. Members know how
> important AA unity is, and the know that meetings which ignore the
> general consensus usually don't last long.
>
> So, take-home:
>
> 1. A metapolitical structure can be designed to *advise.* Advise
> whom? Its own members and anyone else who wishes to be advised.
> Advice is not control.
> 2. Within that structure, "caucuses" -- special interest groups --
> may exist, and these groups may separately organize or be affiliated
> with political parties. A political party may be represented within
> the FA structure by as few as one person, or an FA can be organized
> to specifically be an interest group for a political party.
> 3. FAs can easily merge, so, for the U.S., members of a Democratic FA
> and a Republican FA could form a meta Citizen's FA, say. And then the
> ability of *party members* to nevertheless organize to find consensus
> across party lines is developed. If there is a large Citizen's FA,
> consensus within it, I'd predict, *would* become party policy in the
> political parties. Consensus is powerful.
> 4. The key is the network formed, through proxy/client relationships,
> where the central characteristic of that relationship is not a
> designation in some software structure, but an actual linkage of
> direct communication and relative trust.
> 5. So, if necessary, FAs can also split. The only reason for this,
> that seems at all likely, would be that someone takes over the
> central FA communications mechanism and attempts to dominate the FA,
> violating the Traditions. Instead of fighting over it, members simply
> walk, but because of the DP structure, they *already have the basic
> organizational structure.* The "dominators" end up only advising
> themselves.
>
> (For the same reason, we are not terribly worried about "sock
> puppets" in FA structures. It is possible to analyze votes by much
> more sophisticated means than just doing a straight proxy expansion;
> the exactly analytical tools used can depend on the needs of the one
> seeking to be advised by a vote. The vote itself isn't going to
> exercise power, because the FA doesn't collect power. For this
> reason, while centralized software for amalgamation of positions can
> be useful, the raw member/proxy assignments and raw votes should be
> accessible to anyone. "Secret ballot" may see proper usage in
> accessory organizations (like political parties).
>
> This system harnesses the Iron Law, in fact. People who might
> dominate in a classical organization may dominate in an FA, but only
> to the extent that they are able to maintain their own positions,
> continuously, as serving their clients. In standard organizations,
> the gap between a major leader and the common member can be far too
> great, i.e., it can be impractical for the common member to actually
> have a conversation with the leader. In an FA, I expect, people will
> generally assign their proxy to someone *not far from them*, in any
> of several different ways. The bottom line for a proxy/client
> relationship is an agreement to accept communication, in both
> directions. Personally, I'd want a phone number as well as an email
> address....
>
> The structure will self-adjust to maintain optimal average client/proxy
> ratios.

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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-13 18:46:33 UTC
Permalink
At 05:17 AM 3/13/2013, Paul Nollen wrote:
>Hi Michael and all, Freedom of organisation is, next to freedom of
>expression, a necessary ingredient for democracy (by definition :
>legislative power of the people). Organisations are a necessary tool
>for any action. An action group is not a study group or discussion
>group. But bear in mind that all organisations (except maybe study
>and discussion groups) are, by iron law oligarchic.

Yes, I would merely broaden "study and discussion groups" to include
what might be called "advisory groups," and then propose hybrids.

>Otherwise they achieve nothing.

That's the almost-universal opinion. There are counterexamples. But
the Iron Law *is* the Iron Law.

A hybrid consists of a more-or-less classical organization, with
central authority, plus a Free Association which only has the power
to communicate -- and to coordinate and cooperate, through voluntary
acceptance of advice.

>Lets look at the organisation:
>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_for_a_Switzerland_Without_an_Army
>: Group for a Switzerland without an Army. Without a doubt they
>originated out of a discussion group (or groups) about peace and
>armies in general, and maybe a lot of other items. Then they
>formulated and got consensus around a basic text.

Actually, let's don't. I did look. Classic political movement, starts
with ideals, gathers an action group, and then the action group takes
over and dominates, and gradually the organization may lose power, it
depends on how well the group represents a consensus of the
population being served.

Essentially, an action group is not designed for the kind of
intelligence necessary to determine and shift goals. It's optimized
for effective action. But to what end?

Bill Wilson, founding Alcholics Anonymous, looked at the history of
temperance organizations, and looked at what caused them to fail, in
the long run. Hence he designed a structure that could avoid the
pitfalls. This was life-and-death for him and for other alcoholics,
he understood the importance of getting it right. And considered that
what was needed was bigger than him, that his personal control would
*ruin* the organization, as it had so many others.

But they did set up the Alcoholic Foundation, and later, Alcoholics
Anonymous World Services, Inc. Classical board-controlled nonprofit
organization. The board, technically, appoints its own members, and,
at least initially, it was required that one-third be non-alcoholics.
So what is to prevent AAWS from drifting away from consensus among
the AA members. AA itself is *not organized*, as to formal
organization. Membership is self-declared. There is no membership
roster, centrally accessible. Local groups are autonomous and must be
self-supporting, by the Traditions. Through intergroups and area
organizations, delegates to the AA World Service Conference are
elected by a method that encourages consenus, but that where
consensus isn't found within so many ballots, they choose the
delegate by lot from the top two candidates.

At the Conference issues are considered and there are votes. A
"Conference Consensus" -- two-thirds vote -- is traditionally
considered binding on AAWS, Inc., but legally is not. The Conference
itself attempts to find *full consensus*, and will often go to great
lengths to do so. The Conference elects the alcoholic members of the
AASW Board, but legally, AAWS could decline the "advice."

However, another factor makes it quite unlikely that AAWS would do
this without strong reason. The operating principles of AAWS are to
not accumulate property beyond what's needed for current operating
expenses plus a "prudent reserve." My own interpretation of this is
enough money to shut down gracefully, paying all debts, if that
became necessary. So AAWS is dependent upon a continual stream of
donations. Donations from outside sources are not accepted. Bequests
from alcoholics are allowed, up to a rather small limit. If AAWS ever
seriously offends the membership, it would be committing economic suicide.

The main activity of AAWS is publications, so they publish
'Conference-approved' literature, and sell it for enough to sustain
publication, sales are almost entirely to local AA groups, which then
resell it, usually for cost, or they give away pamphlets.

AAWS excercises practically no control over local groups; legally, if
a group undertakes some controversial public activity, using the AA
name, they could intervene, and I think they have done that. But they
don't tell groups what to do, and don't enforce any central dogma.
The consensus in AA is nature, it is not centrally enforced. And AA
members know that.

AA itself isn't "organized." But there is a de-facto organization,
and it's got a meeting in just about every small town in North
America, and many around the world; in larger cities, there are many
meetings, even many every day of the week.

Because of the no-dogma tradition, there is only natural consensus
operating at the local meeting level. Yet there is a high degree of
unity. It's not "enforced." Members can -- and do -- challenge it.
And what they are told is "If this works for you, please come back
and tell us, we'd all like to do the same."

>With this consensus amongst an active group of people, and the
>establishment of an action group around this text, they became an
>oligarchic organisation.

Yes, it's *inherent* in any large-scale human organization. However,
it is *not* inherent in hybrids. That is, there will be a power
structure, involving some kind of oligarchy, in the "action organization."

Large groups sometimes attempt to form without this, a classic
example was the students at Tienanmen Square in China. Because they
had no clearly representative structure, when the Chinese government
*actually attempted to negotiate with them,* the government
discovered that there wasn't anyone to negotiate with, there were
just a collection of students with different motivates, cooperating
ad hoc with no actual unity on goals and no discipline, i.e., coherence.

If the students had actually created an organization that represented
them and that was responsible to them, history might have been quite different.

>Once started there is no room any more for internal discussion about
>this basic text.

*Not within the action organization.* What happens, unfortunately, is
that action organizations attract people whe are focused on *results*
as distinct from *goals.* They *do* get things done -- or they simply
fail, that also happens. The original group that formed the action
organization becomes irrelevant, the network of connections that
allowed that huge initial step to be taken *disappears,* to the
extent that is is not subsumed in the action organization.

And the action organization takes on a life and develops goals of its
own, the most natural being to survive, and survival is now defined
as realizing the original stated goals, and continuing to be *the
method* for realizing them. Staff is hired, and takes an interest in
preservation of positions.

From my point of view, looking at the "Group," it was formed with a
specific purpose, shown in the name. It will naturally be, if
properly set up, responsible to those who share that goal. This,
however, is a narrow goal, a particular agenda. It was almost
intrinsically "fringe." It was *not actually the shared goal,* it was
one particular way of approaching that goal. (The general goal would
be, presumably, peace.)

As a result of being a "special interest group," it frequently fails
to inspire the majority of the electorate. Now, imagine that an
advisory group had been set up, one that is able to negotiate
consensus -- or to measure level of consensus -- among a very diverse
"self-defined membership." Such a group could, in fact, *predict* the
outcome of Group initiatives. A number of things become possible. It
becomes possible to redefine the Group goals to reflect a broader
consensus, and, particularly, a broader consensus as to how to
realize the *original true goals.* The Group would not waste its
efforts on initiatives likely to fail.

(It might seem that the Group should stand for principles, but, in
fact, action organizations don't do that well. More practically
speaking, proposing an initiative battle that is like to be *close*
is to waste the resources of the Group. It might spend them, and
might still have a fifty percent chance of failure. If it negotiates,
through the advisory organization, a somewhat different intiative,
having tested and measured the possible consensus on it, it may spend
*fewer resources* with a *higher probability of success.*)

(But this is speculation. We don't know how a general-purpose Free
Association would *actually function,* when the scale becomes large.
It just seems that delegable proxy allows bottom-up formation of an
*advisory hierarchy.*)

>People who don't agree have to leave because they will weaken the
>long time involvement of the action group (many many years) that is
>needed to achieve a goal.

Yes, and as a result, over the years, the organization bleeds
members, and often those who leave are the best and brightest.
Sometimes these people form rival organizations, more often they
simply become discouraged and cynical.

> This seems to be a problem for some people. You can't change the
> goal or the basic principles of an action group (frequently) and
> stay an action group. That is impossible and will not work.

Change has happened and it can work. But, yes, Paul added
"frequently." That's correct.

>Therefore it is important to have a strong case, and as much
>supporters as possible (and yes, discussion, amendments, counter
>proposals and so on), to start with.

That might seem so. However, what *actually happens* is that someone
starts an action group anyway, without waiting for that truly broad
consensus. Other people, then, are faced with a choice: support the
action group as it is, start their own rival group, or become irrelevant.

Example from the United States: There was a conference in the early
1990s to discuss and support proportional representation. A small
group of people then formed the Center for Proportional
Representation, and leaders appeared. Eventually this because the
Center for Voting and Democracy. Early on, this thinking developed
among the activists involved:

1. The best method for proportinal representation is Single
Transferable Vote. (it isn't but that's what they believed, these
were not voting systems experts, but political activists.)
2. STV requires a complex voting system. Read, expensive to canvass,
difficult to audit, etc.
3. The single-winner version of STV could substitute, it was thought,
for the fairly common runoff voting, which requires, sometimes, a
second ballot, which is expensive.
4. They invented the name Instant Runoff Voting, then, for
single-winner STV, and represented it as equivalent to Runoff Voting.
(It isn't, and studies have clearly shown this, but, again, they are
coming up with an *action plan*, something they think they can sell.)
5. And so the primary activity of CVD became promoting instant runoff voting.

Early on, voting systems experts tapped them on the shoulder and
pointed out that, while multiwinner STV is a decent voting system,
the single-winner form wasn't, it suffered from some serious
problems. They rejected these experts as impractical dreamers. Only
their plan, they believed, had any chance of success. And, of course,
they, and their Executive Director, became heavily committed to a
whole series of deceptive arguments.

Because many people saw the defects in existing systems, they did
succeed in getting IRV implemented in a few places. And then those
places started to discover the problems with IRV, and quite a few
have rescinded the implementations, and it's possible the backlash
has made it unlikely for voting system reform to succeed in those
places for many years. The experts whom they rejected have started to
independently organize, and to present evidence at hearings and in
campaigns, it's getting more difficult for FairVote, as they ended up
calling themselves, to win implementations.

And it went this way because of how the original CPR was organized.
It could have gone many different ways, depending on the
*personalities* of the original organizers. What I see is the tragedy
of the dissolution of the original ad-hoc coalition to support PR. If
CPR had been organized to *serve that consensus,* it could have
avoided, perhaps, getting frozen into the self-serving views of what
amounted to the *staff* of CPR/CVD/FairVote.

Their plan of action, seeing to promote IRV, involved attacking the
most-widely used election reform, Runoff Voting. Political scientists
had, for years, proclaimed this as an important reform. Runoff Voting
has its problems, and simple solutions are known. Instead of
improving the best reform, they attempted to replace it, and
sometimes succeeded, with something worse, all the while pretending
that IRV would find "majorities."

(In nonpartisan elections, it usually fails to find a true majority
of voters, and voters have been directly lied to about this,
particularly in the Proposition that implemented Ranked Choice Voting
(a 3-rank IRV) in San Francisco. In real elections with RCV, the
winner sometimes had less than 40% of the vote.)

> The group is now a political party that will engage in a struggle to win.

Yes. And "winning" can diverge from the real interests of the people.
We need to redefine winning. "Winning" can mean "effectively
empowering the people, to act collectively, with efficiency and intelligence."

Once this is *reduced* to specific goals, it is *not* empowering the
people, it is empowering a *mechanism* which is controlled by ... the
oligarchy.

I'm not discrediting specific goals. They are necessary for
performance. However, we need something beyond them, that is beyond
the game of win/lose. That represents *us.*

There is nothing stopping this from happening except inertia. It's
been known for a very long time how to do it.

>They started signature gathering, engaged in public discussion and
>so on. They launched a legislative initiative " For a Switzerland
>without an army and an overall peaceful political stance" and they
>lost. They lost, but they lost not completely. Their influence,
>thanks to the nationwide discussions, was now big enough to enforce
>the other political parties to review some laws who where proposed
>and approved without a referendum started against those proposals.

Yes. They gained influence. Remember, I am *not* proposing that they
were "wrong." But something was missing, and the history shows it.

> By doing so the political parties "disarmed" in a matter of
> speaking, the action group.

I'd put it this way. In order to exercise influence, as a practicasl
matter, they had to become less strident. They needed to broaden
their appeal. In so doing, in working for attainable good, as
distinct from unattainable "rightness," they compromised, and some of
the original formation group would think of this as a betrayal.
Others would see it as working toward the ultimate goal, peace.

These things become factional battles in an action organization, and
can easily weaken it.

This is why I suggest the formation of a broad interest group. That
group *can* have a membership qualification, it *can* become
specific. The action organization can be created out of an interest
group consensus -- but anyone can form an action organization at any
time, there is no way to stop it. Forming it out of a consensus,
though, will make success more likely. And then the action
organization *can continue to be advised by the larger group
consensus. It can actually facilitate the larger group, as AAWS runs
the World Service Conference periodically.

When the WSC cannot reach a consensus, AAWS still makes its own
decisions. But, sensibly, it will pay attention to a genuine
consensus at the WSC, or it would be cutting itself off from its
roots. Even if the WSC is divided, AAWS can still seek to take
consensus positions, advised by the WSC process, considering the arguments.

Consensus is powerful. Yet action organizations don't have the
internal structures and process to fully seek it, usually. And they
need focus, and intentional and coherent action.

Somewhere, somewhen, somehow, either a political party will create a
broad advisory group, either to represent the members to the action
organization, the "official party," or, even more powerful, to
represent *the public* to it. The latter requires admitting, as
members, people who support rival parties.

I predict that when it happens, it will quickly be all over. Other
parties will follow suit or collapse out of irrelevance.

And then we will start to have, on a large scale for the first time
in history, true democracy, that addresses the problems of scale, the
need for efficiency, and full discussion of issues in a form that
generates useful advice, which, if designed properly, could be
*extremely difficult* to corrupt.

Yes, an oligarchy is formed, but an oligarchy, that, by design,
serves the general membership, or becomes powerless and irrelevant.
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-13 18:46:33 UTC
Permalink
At 05:17 AM 3/13/2013, Paul Nollen wrote:
>Hi Michael and all, Freedom of organisation is, next to freedom of
>expression, a necessary ingredient for democracy (by definition :
>legislative power of the people). Organisations are a necessary tool
>for any action. An action group is not a study group or discussion
>group. But bear in mind that all organisations (except maybe study
>and discussion groups) are, by iron law oligarchic.

Yes, I would merely broaden "study and discussion groups" to include
what might be called "advisory groups," and then propose hybrids.

>Otherwise they achieve nothing.

That's the almost-universal opinion. There are counterexamples. But
the Iron Law *is* the Iron Law.

A hybrid consists of a more-or-less classical organization, with
central authority, plus a Free Association which only has the power
to communicate -- and to coordinate and cooperate, through voluntary
acceptance of advice.

>Lets look at the organisation:
>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_for_a_Switzerland_Without_an_Army
>: Group for a Switzerland without an Army. Without a doubt they
>originated out of a discussion group (or groups) about peace and
>armies in general, and maybe a lot of other items. Then they
>formulated and got consensus around a basic text.

Actually, let's don't. I did look. Classic political movement, starts
with ideals, gathers an action group, and then the action group takes
over and dominates, and gradually the organization may lose power, it
depends on how well the group represents a consensus of the
population being served.

Essentially, an action group is not designed for the kind of
intelligence necessary to determine and shift goals. It's optimized
for effective action. But to what end?

Bill Wilson, founding Alcholics Anonymous, looked at the history of
temperance organizations, and looked at what caused them to fail, in
the long run. Hence he designed a structure that could avoid the
pitfalls. This was life-and-death for him and for other alcoholics,
he understood the importance of getting it right. And considered that
what was needed was bigger than him, that his personal control would
*ruin* the organization, as it had so many others.

But they did set up the Alcoholic Foundation, and later, Alcoholics
Anonymous World Services, Inc. Classical board-controlled nonprofit
organization. The board, technically, appoints its own members, and,
at least initially, it was required that one-third be non-alcoholics.
So what is to prevent AAWS from drifting away from consensus among
the AA members. AA itself is *not organized*, as to formal
organization. Membership is self-declared. There is no membership
roster, centrally accessible. Local groups are autonomous and must be
self-supporting, by the Traditions. Through intergroups and area
organizations, delegates to the AA World Service Conference are
elected by a method that encourages consenus, but that where
consensus isn't found within so many ballots, they choose the
delegate by lot from the top two candidates.

At the Conference issues are considered and there are votes. A
"Conference Consensus" -- two-thirds vote -- is traditionally
considered binding on AAWS, Inc., but legally is not. The Conference
itself attempts to find *full consensus*, and will often go to great
lengths to do so. The Conference elects the alcoholic members of the
AASW Board, but legally, AAWS could decline the "advice."

However, another factor makes it quite unlikely that AAWS would do
this without strong reason. The operating principles of AAWS are to
not accumulate property beyond what's needed for current operating
expenses plus a "prudent reserve." My own interpretation of this is
enough money to shut down gracefully, paying all debts, if that
became necessary. So AAWS is dependent upon a continual stream of
donations. Donations from outside sources are not accepted. Bequests
from alcoholics are allowed, up to a rather small limit. If AAWS ever
seriously offends the membership, it would be committing economic suicide.

The main activity of AAWS is publications, so they publish
'Conference-approved' literature, and sell it for enough to sustain
publication, sales are almost entirely to local AA groups, which then
resell it, usually for cost, or they give away pamphlets.

AAWS excercises practically no control over local groups; legally, if
a group undertakes some controversial public activity, using the AA
name, they could intervene, and I think they have done that. But they
don't tell groups what to do, and don't enforce any central dogma.
The consensus in AA is nature, it is not centrally enforced. And AA
members know that.

AA itself isn't "organized." But there is a de-facto organization,
and it's got a meeting in just about every small town in North
America, and many around the world; in larger cities, there are many
meetings, even many every day of the week.

Because of the no-dogma tradition, there is only natural consensus
operating at the local meeting level. Yet there is a high degree of
unity. It's not "enforced." Members can -- and do -- challenge it.
And what they are told is "If this works for you, please come back
and tell us, we'd all like to do the same."

>With this consensus amongst an active group of people, and the
>establishment of an action group around this text, they became an
>oligarchic organisation.

Yes, it's *inherent* in any large-scale human organization. However,
it is *not* inherent in hybrids. That is, there will be a power
structure, involving some kind of oligarchy, in the "action organization."

Large groups sometimes attempt to form without this, a classic
example was the students at Tienanmen Square in China. Because they
had no clearly representative structure, when the Chinese government
*actually attempted to negotiate with them,* the government
discovered that there wasn't anyone to negotiate with, there were
just a collection of students with different motivates, cooperating
ad hoc with no actual unity on goals and no discipline, i.e., coherence.

If the students had actually created an organization that represented
them and that was responsible to them, history might have been quite different.

>Once started there is no room any more for internal discussion about
>this basic text.

*Not within the action organization.* What happens, unfortunately, is
that action organizations attract people whe are focused on *results*
as distinct from *goals.* They *do* get things done -- or they simply
fail, that also happens. The original group that formed the action
organization becomes irrelevant, the network of connections that
allowed that huge initial step to be taken *disappears,* to the
extent that is is not subsumed in the action organization.

And the action organization takes on a life and develops goals of its
own, the most natural being to survive, and survival is now defined
as realizing the original stated goals, and continuing to be *the
method* for realizing them. Staff is hired, and takes an interest in
preservation of positions.

From my point of view, looking at the "Group," it was formed with a
specific purpose, shown in the name. It will naturally be, if
properly set up, responsible to those who share that goal. This,
however, is a narrow goal, a particular agenda. It was almost
intrinsically "fringe." It was *not actually the shared goal,* it was
one particular way of approaching that goal. (The general goal would
be, presumably, peace.)

As a result of being a "special interest group," it frequently fails
to inspire the majority of the electorate. Now, imagine that an
advisory group had been set up, one that is able to negotiate
consensus -- or to measure level of consensus -- among a very diverse
"self-defined membership." Such a group could, in fact, *predict* the
outcome of Group initiatives. A number of things become possible. It
becomes possible to redefine the Group goals to reflect a broader
consensus, and, particularly, a broader consensus as to how to
realize the *original true goals.* The Group would not waste its
efforts on initiatives likely to fail.

(It might seem that the Group should stand for principles, but, in
fact, action organizations don't do that well. More practically
speaking, proposing an initiative battle that is like to be *close*
is to waste the resources of the Group. It might spend them, and
might still have a fifty percent chance of failure. If it negotiates,
through the advisory organization, a somewhat different intiative,
having tested and measured the possible consensus on it, it may spend
*fewer resources* with a *higher probability of success.*)

(But this is speculation. We don't know how a general-purpose Free
Association would *actually function,* when the scale becomes large.
It just seems that delegable proxy allows bottom-up formation of an
*advisory hierarchy.*)

>People who don't agree have to leave because they will weaken the
>long time involvement of the action group (many many years) that is
>needed to achieve a goal.

Yes, and as a result, over the years, the organization bleeds
members, and often those who leave are the best and brightest.
Sometimes these people form rival organizations, more often they
simply become discouraged and cynical.

> This seems to be a problem for some people. You can't change the
> goal or the basic principles of an action group (frequently) and
> stay an action group. That is impossible and will not work.

Change has happened and it can work. But, yes, Paul added
"frequently." That's correct.

>Therefore it is important to have a strong case, and as much
>supporters as possible (and yes, discussion, amendments, counter
>proposals and so on), to start with.

That might seem so. However, what *actually happens* is that someone
starts an action group anyway, without waiting for that truly broad
consensus. Other people, then, are faced with a choice: support the
action group as it is, start their own rival group, or become irrelevant.

Example from the United States: There was a conference in the early
1990s to discuss and support proportional representation. A small
group of people then formed the Center for Proportional
Representation, and leaders appeared. Eventually this because the
Center for Voting and Democracy. Early on, this thinking developed
among the activists involved:

1. The best method for proportinal representation is Single
Transferable Vote. (it isn't but that's what they believed, these
were not voting systems experts, but political activists.)
2. STV requires a complex voting system. Read, expensive to canvass,
difficult to audit, etc.
3. The single-winner version of STV could substitute, it was thought,
for the fairly common runoff voting, which requires, sometimes, a
second ballot, which is expensive.
4. They invented the name Instant Runoff Voting, then, for
single-winner STV, and represented it as equivalent to Runoff Voting.
(It isn't, and studies have clearly shown this, but, again, they are
coming up with an *action plan*, something they think they can sell.)
5. And so the primary activity of CVD became promoting instant runoff voting.

Early on, voting systems experts tapped them on the shoulder and
pointed out that, while multiwinner STV is a decent voting system,
the single-winner form wasn't, it suffered from some serious
problems. They rejected these experts as impractical dreamers. Only
their plan, they believed, had any chance of success. And, of course,
they, and their Executive Director, became heavily committed to a
whole series of deceptive arguments.

Because many people saw the defects in existing systems, they did
succeed in getting IRV implemented in a few places. And then those
places started to discover the problems with IRV, and quite a few
have rescinded the implementations, and it's possible the backlash
has made it unlikely for voting system reform to succeed in those
places for many years. The experts whom they rejected have started to
independently organize, and to present evidence at hearings and in
campaigns, it's getting more difficult for FairVote, as they ended up
calling themselves, to win implementations.

And it went this way because of how the original CPR was organized.
It could have gone many different ways, depending on the
*personalities* of the original organizers. What I see is the tragedy
of the dissolution of the original ad-hoc coalition to support PR. If
CPR had been organized to *serve that consensus,* it could have
avoided, perhaps, getting frozen into the self-serving views of what
amounted to the *staff* of CPR/CVD/FairVote.

Their plan of action, seeing to promote IRV, involved attacking the
most-widely used election reform, Runoff Voting. Political scientists
had, for years, proclaimed this as an important reform. Runoff Voting
has its problems, and simple solutions are known. Instead of
improving the best reform, they attempted to replace it, and
sometimes succeeded, with something worse, all the while pretending
that IRV would find "majorities."

(In nonpartisan elections, it usually fails to find a true majority
of voters, and voters have been directly lied to about this,
particularly in the Proposition that implemented Ranked Choice Voting
(a 3-rank IRV) in San Francisco. In real elections with RCV, the
winner sometimes had less than 40% of the vote.)

> The group is now a political party that will engage in a struggle to win.

Yes. And "winning" can diverge from the real interests of the people.
We need to redefine winning. "Winning" can mean "effectively
empowering the people, to act collectively, with efficiency and intelligence."

Once this is *reduced* to specific goals, it is *not* empowering the
people, it is empowering a *mechanism* which is controlled by ... the
oligarchy.

I'm not discrediting specific goals. They are necessary for
performance. However, we need something beyond them, that is beyond
the game of win/lose. That represents *us.*

There is nothing stopping this from happening except inertia. It's
been known for a very long time how to do it.

>They started signature gathering, engaged in public discussion and
>so on. They launched a legislative initiative " For a Switzerland
>without an army and an overall peaceful political stance" and they
>lost. They lost, but they lost not completely. Their influence,
>thanks to the nationwide discussions, was now big enough to enforce
>the other political parties to review some laws who where proposed
>and approved without a referendum started against those proposals.

Yes. They gained influence. Remember, I am *not* proposing that they
were "wrong." But something was missing, and the history shows it.

> By doing so the political parties "disarmed" in a matter of
> speaking, the action group.

I'd put it this way. In order to exercise influence, as a practicasl
matter, they had to become less strident. They needed to broaden
their appeal. In so doing, in working for attainable good, as
distinct from unattainable "rightness," they compromised, and some of
the original formation group would think of this as a betrayal.
Others would see it as working toward the ultimate goal, peace.

These things become factional battles in an action organization, and
can easily weaken it.

This is why I suggest the formation of a broad interest group. That
group *can* have a membership qualification, it *can* become
specific. The action organization can be created out of an interest
group consensus -- but anyone can form an action organization at any
time, there is no way to stop it. Forming it out of a consensus,
though, will make success more likely. And then the action
organization *can continue to be advised by the larger group
consensus. It can actually facilitate the larger group, as AAWS runs
the World Service Conference periodically.

When the WSC cannot reach a consensus, AAWS still makes its own
decisions. But, sensibly, it will pay attention to a genuine
consensus at the WSC, or it would be cutting itself off from its
roots. Even if the WSC is divided, AAWS can still seek to take
consensus positions, advised by the WSC process, considering the arguments.

Consensus is powerful. Yet action organizations don't have the
internal structures and process to fully seek it, usually. And they
need focus, and intentional and coherent action.

Somewhere, somewhen, somehow, either a political party will create a
broad advisory group, either to represent the members to the action
organization, the "official party," or, even more powerful, to
represent *the public* to it. The latter requires admitting, as
members, people who support rival parties.

I predict that when it happens, it will quickly be all over. Other
parties will follow suit or collapse out of irrelevance.

And then we will start to have, on a large scale for the first time
in history, true democracy, that addresses the problems of scale, the
need for efficiency, and full discussion of issues in a form that
generates useful advice, which, if designed properly, could be
*extremely difficult* to corrupt.

Yes, an oligarchy is formed, but an oligarchy, that, by design,
serves the general membership, or becomes powerless and irrelevant.

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Richard Fobes
2013-03-13 20:16:12 UTC
Permalink
For the benefit of those who don't understand why FairVote promotes IRV
(instant-runoff voting) in opposition to many forum participants here,
I'm posting this extract from an excellent, well-written, long message
by Abd.

On 3/13/2013 11:46 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> ...

> Example from the United States: There was a conference in the early
> 1990s to discuss and support proportional representation. A small group
> of people then formed the Center for Proportional Representation, and
> leaders appeared. Eventually this because the Center for Voting and
> Democracy. Early on, this thinking developed among the activists involved:
>
> 1. The best method for proportinal representation is Single Transferable
> Vote. (it isn't but that's what they believed, these were not voting
> systems experts, but political activists.)
> 2. STV requires a complex voting system. Read, expensive to canvass,
> difficult to audit, etc.
> 3. The single-winner version of STV could substitute, it was thought,
> for the fairly common runoff voting, which requires, sometimes, a second
> ballot, which is expensive.
> 4. They invented the name Instant Runoff Voting, then, for single-winner
> STV, and represented it as equivalent to Runoff Voting. (It isn't, and
> studies have clearly shown this, but, again, they are coming up with an
> *action plan*, something they think they can sell.)
> 5. And so the primary activity of CVD became promoting instant runoff
> voting.
>
> Early on, voting systems experts tapped them on the shoulder and pointed
> out that, while multiwinner STV is a decent voting system, the
> single-winner form wasn't, it suffered from some serious problems. They
> rejected these experts as impractical dreamers. Only their plan, they
> believed, had any chance of success. And, of course, they, and their
> Executive Director, became heavily committed to a whole series of
> deceptive arguments.
>
> Because many people saw the defects in existing systems, they did
> succeed in getting IRV implemented in a few places. And then those
> places started to discover the problems with IRV, and quite a few have
> rescinded the implementations, and it's possible the backlash has made
> it unlikely for voting system reform to succeed in those places for many
> years. The experts whom they rejected have started to independently
> organize, and to present evidence at hearings and in campaigns, it's
> getting more difficult for FairVote, as they ended up calling
> themselves, to win implementations.

I'll add that in Canada the FairVote group directly advocates STV and
European-based PR methods, not the stepping-stone IRV path.

(BTW, please don't confuse the similarly named FairVote and VoteFair names.)

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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-13 21:48:39 UTC
Permalink
At 03:16 PM 3/13/2013, Richard Fobes wrote:
>For the benefit of those who don't understand why FairVote promotes
>IRV (instant-runoff voting) in opposition to many forum participants
>here, I'm posting this extract from an excellent, well-written, long
>message by Abd.
>
>On 3/13/2013 11:46 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>[not copied]

>I'll add that in Canada the FairVote group directly advocates STV
>and European-based PR methods, not the stepping-stone IRV path.
>
>(BTW, please don't confuse the similarly named FairVote and VoteFair names.)

I certainly won't.

Yes, STV is a far more sensible method, under certain multiwinner
conditions. However, the essential problem does remain, premature
elimination as a result of vote-splitting in first preference,
further, there is the problem that Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) identified
in the 1880s, that voters don't necessarily have adequate information
to properly rank more than one candidate. Hence he proposed what we
now call Asset Voting, as a tweak on STV.

With Asset Voting, candidates aren't actually eliminated; rather,
they aren't elected yet, but they can exercise the votes they hold,
to create winners, thus converting the voting system into a
*deliberative process.* In theory, if two candidates are holding
votes for the last seat, and can't come to an agreement, they can
choose *someone else*, who might not have been a candidate at all!

The Election Science Foundation, an informal ancestor of the Center
for Election Science, held an Asset election a few years ago, and it
demonstrated the power of Asset. It was amazing to watch, and very
different from what might have been expected, yet, -- except for one
voter who has later said he was disappointed because -- horrors! -- a
candidate who was the leading unelected candidate, after two had been
elected, *gave his votes to another to create him as a winner.*

Every other voter accepted the result, and this one exception *did
not actually object to the result,* but to the behavior of one
candidate. Apparently he had the idea that this person was supposed
to fight to the bitter end or something. Whatever happened to the
idea that people offer to serve, but actually care more about the
purposes and unity of the organization, than about *personal control*?

Just as IRV can fail to elect a candidate who would win, hands-down,
in a pairwise contest with the IRV winner, STV can do something
similar for representatives, it just happens less often and with less harm.

There are other PR methods which are less problematic. Asset could be
the simplest to canvass, but is untried in public elections. I highly
recommend using Asset for non-public elections, where one wants a
truly representative assembly or council or committee. I'd be glad to
assist with any implementation. Asset does something that could bring
major benefits all by itself, the establishment of "electors" or
"public voters" who can create -- or re-create, if needed, a
representation of the *entire membership* with only consensual
compromise. No votes need be wasted.

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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2013-03-14 08:06:40 UTC
Permalink
On 03/13/2013 10:48 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> At 03:16 PM 3/13/2013, Richard Fobes wrote:
>> For the benefit of those who don't understand why FairVote promotes
>> IRV (instant-runoff voting) in opposition to many forum participants
>> here, I'm posting this extract from an excellent, well-written, long
>> message by Abd.
>>
>> On 3/13/2013 11:46 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>> [not copied]
>
>> I'll add that in Canada the FairVote group directly advocates STV and
>> European-based PR methods, not the stepping-stone IRV path.
>>
>> (BTW, please don't confuse the similarly named FairVote and VoteFair
>> names.)
>
> I certainly won't.
>
> Yes, STV is a far more sensible method, under certain multiwinner
> conditions. However, the essential problem does remain, premature
> elimination as a result of vote-splitting in first preference, further,
> there is the problem that Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) identified in the
> 1880s, that voters don't necessarily have adequate information to
> properly rank more than one candidate. Hence he proposed what we now
> call Asset Voting, as a tweak on STV.

The good thing about multiwinner methods is that as the number of seats
go up, the proportionality constraints matter more and more and the
wiggle room between those proportionality constraints become less. So
the more seats you have, the more bizarre the base method can be as long
as it meets the proportionality criteria.

STV meets Droop proportionality, which is its proportionality criterion.
If you have a great number of seats, you're pretty much bound to have
some minorities be large enough that they'll proportionally get what
they want.

Of course, this logic also goes the other way, so mutual majority for
single-winner is a more loose constraint than DPC in the 10 seat case,
thus making IRV comparatively worse compared to Condorcet than say STV
with 10 seats compared to CPO-STV with 10. There's also the problem that
ranking very long lists of candidates becomes a chore, and if there are
many seats, there also are many candidates. The Australian way of
turning STV into a party list method is one way of "solving" this, but
in my opinion, that cure is worse than the disease.

> With Asset Voting, candidates aren't actually eliminated; rather, they
> aren't elected yet, but they can exercise the votes they hold, to create
> winners, thus converting the voting system into a *deliberative
> process.* In theory, if two candidates are holding votes for the last
> seat, and can't come to an agreement, they can choose *someone else*,
> who might not have been a candidate at all!

How does the process work? Is STV run through one round, and then the
candidates to be eliminated are asked where to transfer their votes, and
then STV is run through the next round, and then the candidates... and
so on?

Also, I haven't heard of Asset being used in public elections, but I
know of something similar where candidates provide a ranking of their
own. This was used in Fiji, for example, before the coup. One common
complaint about this is that it takes power out of the hands of the
voters. That is, the parties make backroom deals about whom to support,
and then the voters' votes are "hijacked" in the direction of the allies
against the voters' wishes.

How does proper Asset handle that? I've heard counters to the effect
that "if you don't trust your favorite to manage your vote, then you
shouldn't trust your favorite with policies either, and so you shouldn't
vote for him". But in a similar way to how a majority of a majority is
not a majority, the closest political candidate to your closest
political candidate may not be your next-to-closest political candidate.
Each link weakens the connection to the voter. Similarly, party pressure
can be applied to the candidate's ranking of other candidates, but not
as easily to the day-to-day workings of that candidate.

I guess Asset itself is not as susceptible to this problem if the
candidates are free to declare where their votes should go, instead of
having to commit ahead of time. But does it weaken it enough in a highly
competitive environment with party discipline?

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robert bristow-johnson
2013-03-14 17:45:05 UTC
Permalink
On 3/13/13 4:16 PM, Richard Fobes wrote:
> For the benefit of those who don't understand why FairVote promotes
> IRV (instant-runoff voting) in opposition to many forum participants
> here, I'm posting this extract from an excellent, well-written, long
> message by Abd.
>
> On 3/13/2013 11:46 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>> Example from the United States: There was a conference in the early
>> 1990s to discuss and support proportional representation. A small group
>> of people then formed the Center for Proportional Representation, and
>> leaders appeared. Eventually this because the Center for Voting and
>> Democracy. Early on, this thinking developed among the activists
>> involved:
>>
>> 1. The best method for proportinal representation is Single Transferable
>> Vote. (it isn't but that's what they believed, these were not voting
>> systems experts, but political activists.)
>> 2. STV requires a complex voting system. Read, expensive to canvass,
>> difficult to audit, etc.
>> 3. The single-winner version of STV could substitute, it was thought,
>> for the fairly common runoff voting, which requires, sometimes, a second
>> ballot, which is expensive.

except for IRV *any* existing runoff method is a delayed runoff, a
"second ballot" that is marked, usually weeks later. the expense of the
delayed runoff was not the major argument against it.

the principle argument is the greatly reduced voter turnout at the
runoff (it's generally argued by election reformers that increasing
voter turnout is good for democracy, one reason why we're for "motor
voter" laws).

the next argument is that if the "loser" (whether this loser was the
first or second vote-getter in the first election) dumps a truckload of
money into the runoff election that is not matched by his/her opponent,
that he/she can "pull 'victory' out of the jaws of defeat". but
"victory" for who?? might be a defeat for the majority of the original
electorate, thus also decreasing the value for the electorate.) the
cost of the runoff would come in about 3rd place as reasons for ditching it.

i would add that it is *not* necessarily the case that the top two vote
getters are the correct pair of candidates to put into the runoff.
certainly not in Burlington VT in 2009 (if we had not adopted IRV in
2005, the Condorcet winner would not have advanced to the delayed
runoff). this problem is *not* addressed by IRV.

>> 4. They invented the name Instant Runoff Voting, then, for single-winner
>> STV, and represented it as equivalent to Runoff Voting. (It isn't, and
>> studies have clearly shown this, but, again, they are coming up with an
>> *action plan*, something they think they can sell.)
>> 5. And so the primary activity of CVD became promoting instant runoff
>> voting.
>>
>> Early on, voting systems experts tapped them on the shoulder and pointed
>> out that, while multiwinner STV is a decent voting system, the
>> single-winner form wasn't, it suffered from some serious problems. They
>> rejected these experts as impractical dreamers. Only their plan, they
>> believed, had any chance of success. And, of course, they, and their
>> Executive Director, became heavily committed to a whole series of
>> deceptive arguments.
>>
>> Because many people saw the defects in existing systems, they did
>> succeed in getting IRV implemented in a few places. And then those
>> places started to discover the problems with IRV, and quite a few have
>> rescinded the implementations, and it's possible the backlash has made
>> it unlikely for voting system reform to succeed in those places for many
>> years. The experts whom they rejected have started to independently
>> organize, and to present evidence at hearings and in campaigns, it's
>> getting more difficult for FairVote, as they ended up calling
>> themselves, to win implementations.
>
> I'll add that in Canada the FairVote group directly advocates STV and
> European-based PR methods, not the stepping-stone IRV path.

no FairVote group advocates IRV as a stepping stone.

the problem is getting Rob and the other FairVote advocates to learn
something from *both* the failures of IRV in function (the Burlington
2009 election is the textbook example, but also is the surviving IRV
elections where the number of ranking levels is limited to far less than
the number of condidates on the ballot, like in SF) and politically (the
few places that have repealed it). like certain corporations that sell
a product and cannot admit to themselves the intrinsic shortcomings in
their product until the market makes it clear (and the product and
company fail in the marketplace), FairVote will not risk admitting to
any blemishes in their product, let alone admitting to the failure of
their product to work in a meaningful test case (a test case that is
difficult, like when there are 3 or 4 candidates, all roughly equal in
popular support). IRV will prevent a true spoiler (that is a candidate
with no viable chance of winning, but whose presence in the race changes
who the winner is) from spoiling the election, but if the "spoiler" and
the two leaders are all roughly equal going into the election, IRV can
fail and *has* failed (and Burlington 2009 is that example).

the purpose of having more than two viable parties (and/or having viable
independent candidates) is to give the voters another choice when
otherwise they may be forced to choose between "Dumb and Dumber".
unfortunately, after this failure, we were faced again with the choice
between Dumb and Dumber (IRV vs. plurality or delayed runoff) and this
time, as has happened before, Dumber won.

--

r b-j ***@audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."



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Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2013-03-15 09:12:05 UTC
Permalink
On 03/14/2013 06:45 PM, robert bristow-johnson wrote:
> IRV will prevent a true spoiler (that is a candidate
> with no viable chance of winning, but whose presence in the race changes
> who the winner is) from spoiling the election, but if the "spoiler" and
> the two leaders are all roughly equal going into the election, IRV can
> fail and *has* failed (and Burlington 2009 is that example).

If you think about it, even Plurality is immune to spoilers... if the
spoilers are small enough. More specifically, if the "spoilers" have
less support in total than the difference in support between party
number one and two, Plurality is immune to them.

So instead of saying method X resists spoilers and Y doesn't, it seems
better to say that X resists larger spoilers than Y. And that raises the
question of how much spoiler-resistance you need. Plurality's result is
independent of very small spoilers. IRV's is of somewhat larger
spoilers, and Condorcet larger still (through mutual majority or
independence of Smith-dominated alternatives, depending on the method).

Some rated methods are claimed to pass IIA outright and so not be
affected by "spoilers" no matter how large they are. That is true - as
long as the voters submitting the ratings are comparing the candidates
to a common standard rather than to each other.

So IRV advocates can say that IRV will prevent a spoiler from spoiling
the election, according to some definition of spoiler. So does Plurality
for a less useful definition of spoiler. In any case, it seems that
IRV's resistance against candidates that don't win isn't good enough.

It's like reinforcing a bridge that would collapse when a cat walks
across it, so that it no longer does so, but it still collapses when a
person walks across it. Cat resistance is not enough :-)

It would be really useful to know what level of resistance is enough,
but that data is going to be hard to gather. It also depends on your
bar. If you're perfectly content with Australian two-and-a-half party
rule, then IRV is good enough. If you want resistance even in a game
theoretical situation where everybody can communicate with everybody
else and votes are purely instrumental, then no ranked voting system is
going to work... and so on.

And beyond that we have even harder questions of how much resistance is
needed to get a democratic system that works well. It seems reasonable
to me that advanced Condorcet will do, but praxeology can only go so
far. If only we had actual experimental data!

(We do have, to some extent. We have Wikimedia elections and Pirate
Party primaries. We also know that unless the voters would have reacted
to the presence of Condorcet by counter-Condorcet strategy, Condorcet
methods would have avoided the IRV crash in Burlington. And if we
stretch enough, we have multiwinner ranked voting results, such as with
New York, that give some bound on whether they provide multiparty rule.)

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Richard Fobes
2013-03-17 17:32:08 UTC
Permalink
On 3/15/2013 2:12 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
> On 03/14/2013 06:45 PM, robert bristow-johnson wrote:
>> IRV will prevent a true spoiler (that is a candidate
>> with no viable chance of winning, but whose presence in the race changes
>> who the winner is) from spoiling the election, but if the "spoiler" and
>> the two leaders are all roughly equal going into the election, IRV can
>> fail and *has* failed (and Burlington 2009 is that example).
>
> If you think about it, even Plurality is immune to spoilers... if the
> spoilers are small enough. More specifically, if the "spoilers" have
> less support in total than the difference in support between party
> number one and two, Plurality is immune to them.
>
> So instead of saying method X resists spoilers and Y doesn't, it seems
> better to say that X resists larger spoilers than Y. And that raises the
> question of how much spoiler-resistance you need. Plurality's result is
> independent of very small spoilers. IRV's is of somewhat larger
> spoilers, and Condorcet larger still (through mutual majority or
> independence of Smith-dominated alternatives, depending on the method).

This is a good example of the need to _quantify_ the failure rate for
each election method for each "fairness" criteria.

Just a yes-or-no checkmark -- which is the approach in the comparison
table in the Wikipedia "Voting systems" article -- is not sufficient for
a full comparison.

...

> It's like reinforcing a bridge that would collapse when a cat walks
> across it, so that it no longer does so, but it still collapses when a
> person walks across it. Cat resistance is not enough :-)

Great analogy. We need to start assessing _how_ _resistant_ each method
is to each "fairness" criteria.

> It would be really useful to know what level of resistance is enough,
> but that data is going to be hard to gather.[...]

Indeed, that is difficult.

> And beyond that we have even harder questions of how much resistance
> is needed to get a democratic system that works well. It seems
> reasonable to me that advanced Condorcet will do, but praxeology
> can only go so far. If only we had actual experimental data!

My VoteFair site collects lots of data. I have used it to verify that
VoteFair ranking accomplishes what it was designed to do. Not only has
such testing been useful for refining the code for the single-winner
portion (VoteFair popularity ranking, which is equivalent to the
Condorcet-Kemeny method), but such testing has revealed that VoteFair
representation ranking (which can be thought of as a two-seats-at-a-time
PR method) also works as intended.

As for praxeology ("the study of human conduct"), I also watch to see
how people try to vote strategically. The attempts are interesting, but
ineffective.

I agree that using better ballots and better vote-counting methods in
real situation -- using real data -- is essential for making real progress.

Richard Fobes

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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 02:07:41 UTC
Permalink
Subject was: Re: [EM] Historical perspective about FairVote organization

At 12:32 PM 3/17/2013, Richard Fobes wrote:

>I agree that using better ballots and better vote-counting methods
>in real situation -- using real data -- is essential for making real progress.

A very unusual opportunity for voting system reform has recently presented.

The Arizona House of Representatives just passed HB2518, which
provides an approval voting method for use in municipalities which
choose to adopt it.

For background, all Arizona municipalities but one hold nonpartisan
elections. The exception is Tucson, which holds party primaries and
then partisan elections. (A "partisan election" has the candidate's
party affiliations on the ballot, and, also, provides for ballot
placement for parties, based on petitions and continued election perfomance.)

The measure allows voters in a "primary or first election" to vote
for more than one candidate and then the top two candidates go on to
the second election.

>1 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
>2 Section 1. Title 16, chapter 4, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended
>3 by adding article 8.2, to read:
>4 ARTICLE 8.2. OPTIONAL CITY AND TOWN APPROVAL VOTING
>5 16-559. City and town approval voting; requirements
>6 A. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER STATUTE, A CITY OR TOWN IN THIS STATE MAY
>7 BY ORDINANCE ESTABLISH AND USE A SYSTEM OF APPROVAL VOTING IN THAT CITY'S OR
>8 TOWN'S PRIMARY OR FIRST ELECTION. AN APPROVAL VOTING SYSTEM SHALL PROVIDE
>9 FOR THE FOLLOWING:
>10 1. THE VOTER IN THE PRIMARY OR FIRST ELECTION SHALL BE PERMITTED TO
>11 VOTE FOR AS MANY CANDIDATES FOR A SINGLE OFFICE AS THE VOTER CHOOSES TO
>12 APPROVE.
>13 2. THE TWO CANDIDATES WHO RECEIVE THE HIGHEST AND SECOND HIGHEST
>14 NUMBER OF VOTES IN THE PRIMARY OR FIRST ELECTION SHALL ADVANCE TO
>THE GENERAL
>15 OR RUNOFF ELECTION FOR THAT CITY OR TOWN WITHOUT REGARD TO WHETHER ANY ONE
>16 CANDIDATE HAS RECEIVED A MAJORITY OF THE VOTES CAST FOR THAT OFFICE.
>17 3. THE BALLOT AND ALL OTHER VOTING MATERIALS SHALL CLEARLY INDICATE
>18 THAT THE VOTER MAY VOTE FOR AS MANY CANDIDATES IN THAT ELECTION
>AS THE VOTER
>19 CHOOSES, AND THAT THE CANDIDATES WHO RECEIVE THE TWO HIGHEST
>NUMBER OF VOTES
>20 SHALL ADVANCE TO THE GENERAL OR RUNOFF ELECTION.
>21 B. EXCEPT AS OTHERWISE PROVIDED IN THIS ARTICLE, CITY AND TOWN
>22 APPROVAL VOTING ELECTIONS SHALL BE CONDUCTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE
>23 PROVISIONS OF ARTICLE 8 OF THIS CHAPTER.
>24 16-559.01. Approval voting; charter; ordinance
>25 THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT REQUIRE A CITY OR TOWN TO ADOPT AN APPROVAL
>26 VOTING SYSTEM, BUT A CITY OR TOWN MAY AMEND ITS CHARTER IF
>REQUIRED FOR THAT
>27 CITY OR TOWN TO ADOPT AN ORDINANCE TO IMPLEMENT AN APPROVAL
>VOTING SYSTEM AS
>28 PRESCRIBED BY THIS ARTICLE.

Municipalities in Arizona have great flexibility in choosing their
own voting systems. I have looked at four cities in Arizona, and I
have found two systems in use. Tucson is the only municipality which
runs partisan elections.

In Tucson, there is a regular party primary, and the winner of the
primary advances to the general election. So Tucson runs five
elections each election cycle.

In all other towns, that I've checked, there is currently top-two
runoff. It is no easy to check small-town elections, some of those
may simply be plurality. My experience in small towns is that often
there is only one candidate anyway....

It is possible that municipalities could tweak this, or even do
something different. Tucson has demonstrated that it can defy the
state; the legislature attempted to prevent Tucson from holding
partisan elections, and Tucson won in court.

HB2518 has the support of the majority of the Republican Party in
Arizona. The vote in the House was, Clay Shentrup's analysis:

>Republicans:
>Yes: 31
>No: 4
>Not voting: 1
>
>Democrats:
>Yes: 0
>No: 22
>Not voting: 2
>
>So 86% of Republicans voted yes. So what are prospects in the senate?
><http://www.azleg.gov/MemberRoster.asp>http://www.azleg.gov/MemberRoster.asp
>
>17 Republicans
>13 Democrats
>
>86% would be 14 Republicans. JUST ENOUGH to pass.

I did more research. This bill was introduced as HB2569 in last
year's legislature. See
https://groups.google.com/d/msg/electionscience/QTpV0Qr3Tfo/POWiz0m15NcJ
for coverage of HB2518 committee actions in the 2013 session, and
https://groups.google.com/d/msg/electionscience/QTpV0Qr3Tfo/X9fgzrTPOoEJ
for the Judiciary Committee in 2012.

Three Democrats approved this bill in the committee vote in 2012
(which was unanimous, 7-0). Two of them left the legislature, the one
that remained (Hale), voted in the first committee meeting in 2013,
No. And then in the second, Yes. And then on the floor, No again.

I have been unable to find any coherent criticism of this bill. What
was semi-coherent, *one blogger*, I addressed in
https://groups.google.com/d/msg/electionscience/QTpV0Qr3Tfo/eaDRR4WLDAEJ
(which was written just before the previous two linked posts).

I'd like election methods activists to realize the potential here.

1. If this passes, Phoenix might adopt it. Phoenix is a much larger
city than any in the U.S. that have adopted IRV. It's quite possible
that the *momentum* that FairVote has been claiming for IRV could
vanish in the dust of this. If, say, Mesa, Arizona, adopts the
procedure, the population of towns using Approval Voting would pass
that of all those using IRV (in the U.S.) Mesa is the home town of
the representative who introduced the bill, Mesa is just south of
Phoenix, part of the Phoenix Metropolitical Area.

2. This method wtih a two-stage election is actually a highly
sophisticated election method. It's been shown to be very strong
through simulations, in terms of Bayesian Regret. Range in general is
improved, in the presence of "strategic voting," by a two-stage election.

3. It appears that this is *not* a runoff-if-no-majority system, but
the language does seem to call the second election a runoff. It is
possible that a municipality, implementing it, could decide to
consider the primary complete if a majority is found, but given that
the "runoff" would be held with the general election, the system,
with the understanding that there is *always* a second election, will
not add much expense. The runoff is not a special election, the
primary is. And cities in Arizona can decide to use mail balloting.

4. Approval in a primary system is a fix for the Center Squeeze
problem that top-two runoff normally suffers (like IRV). Even better
would be Bucklin, which would be a next reform, that allows Ranked
Approvals. Bucklin is essentially Instant Runoff Approval, and the
mandatory runoff, if kept, would address certain complaints about
Bucklin. Bucklin would encourage additional approvals.... (as it did,
historically.)

5. The passage of this bill in the Arizona House is the best news
I've seen *ever* as to U.S. voting systems.

6. We need to encourage contacts in Arizona, and especially
progressives, i.e., Democrats and Greens, etc., to support this
legislation. It is *not* what that lone Democratic blogger called it,
some Republican trick. (It's *conceivable* that some Republican or
other thinks it would advantage their party, but, as written and as
it would be applied, it would not.)

The monolithic opposition of the Democratic Party in the floor vote
is mysterious. There was no maintained opposition in committee by
Democrats, but some wavering. It's looking like "party discipline"
was enforced, i.e., some Democratic minority leader made a decision
and made it important for all Democrats to vote together. But ... why?

Had there been this kind of system in, say, Florida in 2000, Gore
would have won, it's nearly certain. Approval, in general, does fix
the spoiler problem, to a degree. (Bucklin, i.e., Instant Runoff
Approval, would do it better.) But this bill does not apply to
partisan primaries and elections. It wasn't designed for that. If it
were to be applied to party primaries, as in Tucson, the election
would have to be ordinary one-round Approval. Very simple, and
definitely an improvement.

There has been some confusion with a failed Proposition in Arizona
that attempted to require all *partisan* primaries to be "open,"
i.e., unified, all voters vote in it, not just party voters. It
*only* applied to primaries where the candidate's party is listed the
ballot, and, except for Tucson, that is only for state elections. (I
think it didn't apply to federal elections.) *That* was a power grab,
possibly, or maybe just stupid.

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Andy Jennings
2013-03-18 04:52:20 UTC
Permalink
Abd,

Thanks for your support.


> Municipalities in Arizona have great flexibility in choosing their own
> voting systems.


I wouldn't say that municipalities have great flexibility in choosing their
own voting systems. That's why we need this bill.

In particular, Arizona statute says if there is one winner then the ballot
verbiage must say "Vote for no more than 1". The way I see it, they were
just trying to standardize ballot language for the state and (since all
they knew was plurality) they inadvertently restricted us to either
single-shot plurality or plurality with a plurality primary. Since the
constitution mandates a primary, that leaves us with either segregated
primaries or jungle primaries.

(The courts have ruled that cities, if they want, can implement a rule that
avoids the runoff if someone gets a majority in the jungle primary.)

That's the only statute I know of in AZ law that prohibits approval voting.
Though there may be others. HB2518 expressly allows approval voting, thus
overriding any other inadvertent prohibitions.

5. The passage of this bill in the Arizona House is the best news I've seen
> *ever* as to U.S. voting systems.
>

Thanks. Maybe I'm just downplaying the accomplishment here, but the way I
understand it there are already hundreds (thousands) of home rule cities
around the US that could enact approval voting with an ordinance. We're
just trying to catch AZ up to where these "home rule" cities already are.

But it is movement, hopefully it would be momentum to go to cities and say,
"The legislature just allowed this. You can try it."

~ Andy
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 16:52:11 UTC
Permalink
At 11:52 PM 3/17/2013, Andy Jennings wrote:
>Abd,
>
>Thanks for your support.
>
>
>Municipalities in Arizona have great flexibility in choosing their
>own voting systems.
>
>
>I wouldn't say that municipalities have great flexibility in
>choosing their own voting systems. That's why we need this bill.

Okay. Home rule municipalities may have some flexibility. And how
much, I don't know. What I know is "some." Tucson demonstrated that.

>In particular, Arizona statute says if there is one winner then the
>ballot verbiage must say "Vote for no more than 1". The way I see
>it, they were just trying to standardize ballot language for the
>state and (since all they knew was plurality) they inadvertently
>restricted us to either single-shot plurality or plurality with a
>plurality primary. Since the constitution mandates a primary, that
>leaves us with either segregated primaries or jungle primaries.

Combine this with partisan/no-partisan ballots, i.e, party
designation, then the two sane choices are segregated primaries (by
party), or unified nonpartisan primaries. In any case, then, using
Approval in the primaries is a major step foward.

Approval in party primaries, though, could use Approval. Could a
city, as well, hold, in addition to party primaries, hold an open
primary for all candidates who choose not to affiliate with the party
primaries?

The problem I'm seeing is that HB2518 appears to mandate two
candidates to go to the general election. That doesn't work with
party primaries. A partisan primary should choose one candidate. The
Bill calls the second election a "Runoff," as one alternate name. But
it explicitly excludes any consideration of "majority."

Now, from an election methods perspective, with an Approval election,
this is actually spectacular. The design of the system, with the
primary being held early, i.e., not held with the general election,
and with, then, the final election being held as a general election,
with generally higher turnout, addresses some objections to Approval
Voting, i.e,. multiple approval majorities and therefore failure of
some definitions of the majority criterion.

>(The courts have ruled that cities, if they want, can implement a
>rule that avoids the runoff if someone gets a majority in the jungle primary.)

What I'd recommend is that cities begin with the process in the Bill,
and study results. It is possible to extrapolate margins in the
runoff from those in the primary, and this is especially true with
nonpartisan elections. However, the cost of adding and canvassing an
additional runoff election in the general election is relatively
small. It's really just another question on the ballot.

The big issue is turnout. However, turnout can cut both ways. It
rewards motivation, which is probably a good thing.

Classically, advanced voting systems cause candidate numbers to
increase. That appears to have happened in San Francisco. It's
particularly true with nonpartisan elections, if people can run at low cost.

As to the problem of what the election law says -- I haven't read the
entire code, just large chunks of it -- there is a *very* advanced
system that vote-for-one works fine with, Asset. But we are focusing
on Approval, one small step, Count All the Votes.

And the next refinement would be to allow ranking on the ballot,
which allows, then, a series of advanced canvassing techniques.

By the way, if a city has an accumulated record, with the Approval
two-ballot system, there is one majority condition which really could
be with total safety used to determine the result from the primary:
where the absolute approval number for the winner exceeds half of the
high-normal turnout for the general election. That would kill the
participation problem. My guess is that better than this could be done.

But there is great value in that second election, there is media
focus on two candidates, instead of what could be many. That's a
reason why Robert's Rules of Order objects to IRV (and all
deterministic preferential voting systems).

>That's the only statute I know of in AZ law that prohibits approval
>voting. Though there may be others. HB2518 expressly allows
>approval voting, thus overriding any other inadvertent prohibitions.

And says so.


>5. The passage of this bill in the Arizona House is the best news
>I've seen *ever* as to U.S. voting systems.
>
>
>Thanks. Maybe I'm just downplaying the accomplishment here, but the
>way I understand it there are already hundreds (thousands) of home
>rule cities around the US that could enact approval voting with an
>ordinance. We're just trying to catch AZ up to where these "home
>rule" cities already are.

Right. But it's much more than that, as you go on to state.

>But it is movement, hopefully it would be momentum to go to cities
>and say, "The legislature just allowed this. You can try it."

Right. Note that IRV is also prohibited by that language.

The language was overspecified in the first place. It was defined by
the number of winners rather than by the necessities of avoiding
ballot spoilage. "Where a vote for more than one candidate, under the
canvassing rules, will cause the ballot to be spoiled for that race,
the ballot shall contain the language, "vote for no more than one."

As an example, for an IRV ballot, the language would say, "for each
rank, vote for no more than one."

But if the method allows voting for more than the number of winners
(which is the real concern, because with two winners, is the ballot
spoiled by voting for three?), then there is no spoilage and no need
for the warning. And the reverse might be needed, so that voters
don't assume they can only vote for one.

(FairVote has made a lot of noise about Bucklin being rejected
because of several reasons, and one was the one-person, one-vote
argument. The Minnesota Court did make an argument like that, but it
was directed at the bare possibility of voters who voted for more
than one candidate having some sort of advantage over voters who
chose to bullet vote. It would have applied to IRV, as the argument
was actually made. FairVote has pointed to an argument the court did
not make, but, if you believe the argument, it's possible to read
over the court argument and think they were making it.... that's what
partisan thinking does, it curdles the capacity of the brain to make
clear distinctions.....)

(What actually happened in Minnesota was almost certainly political,
not legal. The court majority -- there was diessent -- was killing an
advanced voting system *that worked*, and clearly frustrated the
expressed preferences of the voters, and, instead of allowing the
election result to stand but enjoining further use of the system,
which would have been possible in the context, they reversed the
election and rewarded it to the plurality winner in the first round.
They did not void the election, another possibility. No, this was
dirty politics.)

If the one-person, one-vote argument comes up, there is an argument
that Approval Voting satisfies one-person, one-vote, not only on the
basic equity argument (which is the real meaning of that phrase,
because, obviously, more than one vote is indeed allowed *when it is
equitable and treats all voters identically), and that relies on a
principle: if there are multiple ways of canvassing the votes, of
counting them, that produce the same result, always, and one of these
ways clearly only counts one vote at a time from each voter, then the
ballot method satisfies one-person, one-vote. An IRV ballot obviously
allows more than one vote on the ballot, so it violates a naive
application of the principle. However, IRV selectively ignores extra
votes, so it only counts one vote *at a time* from each voter.

The simple way to handle the matter with Approval does count multiple
votes at the beginning, but then recanvasses in a way that only
counts one vote, or none, from each voter. That way is to pick the
top two from counting *all the votes*, and then recount only that
pair, eliminating ballots with no vote (now considered as No on the
election of either), and those who voted for both, call that total
BA, for Both Approved). The remaining votes are compared, and the
candidate with the most votes is the winner. In this determination,
only one vote from each voter is considered. Then, if it is necessary
to determine if the candidate has a majority, the total number of
set-aside ballots with a vote for the winner, BA, is added in.

In determining the winner, only one vote from each voter is
considered, or none. Again, in determining if the winner has a
majority, only one vote from each voter is considered, and it is
either Yes or No. (Under Robert's Rules, a blank ballot is not
counted in the basis for majority, but a ballot with *any mark* is
considered valid, even if unintelligible. So under Robert's Rules,
for example, you can write "None of the Above" on the ballot and that
is counted as a vote against all candidates.)

There is a more complicated algorithm which doesn't even use the
shortcut of first counting all the votes. The basic point here is
that, with Approval, in the end, the only vote that counts as a Yes
for the candidate is a mark for the winner, and all other votes could
be *eliminated* without changing the result. All other votes are
preliminary. It's like the first-preference votes. The IRV system
*does* count more than one vote from each voter, it merely does it
sequentially. A similar sequence can be used to count Approval. It's
just a bit stupid, because it will produce the same result as simply
Counting All the Votes and awaring the win to the candidate with the
most votes.

Again, another argument is the multiple ballot question issue.
Normally, ballot questions are presented one at a time, on an issue.
But, occasionally, multiple conflicting questions are presented. The
rules are generally quite explicit. A majority Yes is required to
pass a ballot question. If no question passes, all the votes are
effectively moot. If one gains a majority and the other does not,
that a voter may have voted for more than one is moot. And if both
pass, there are obviously voters who have voted for more than one.

The question with the most Yes votes prevails.

Approval Voting is the exact equivalent of multiple ballot questions,
except for ballot form. It could be arranged to have the ballot form
match, either way. I.e., the election could be presented as a single
question with multiple possible answers or a series of ballot
questions, Yes/No. However, there needs to be a way to distinguish a
No from an abstention, so these would be linked as a single overall
question, if you vote Yes to any of the options, you are considered
to have voted No on all the others. (It's only important to know the
Nos if a majority is needed. Plurality Approval doesn't need to know
that, it only needs to look at Yes votes. So HB2518 is 2-winner
plurality approval, unrestricted voting).

A multiple ballot question could be presented on the ballot as

Vote for one or more:
[ ] Option A
[ ] Option B
[ ] No to both A and B.

The No vote is necessary because a majority is required, or the
initiative or referendum is killed. Back to the process to create a
new one, though that often doesn't happen for a long time.

The vote is voided if marked both for an option -- or two, because
the intention is not clear. Under Roberts' Rules, though, it would
still be considered in the basis for a majority, so it would
effectively be a No. Under public election rules I've seen, it would
be as if not cast. This is because Robert's Rules *always* wants a
true majority of those voting to clearly approve the winner, or it
wants the election to be repeated.

FairVote has glossed over this, pretending that Robert's Rules is
approving of their method of canvassing the votes, when it *never*
recommends electing with a mere plurality of valid ballots, and the
only invalid ballots are blank ones.

This is the problem with including IRV in the options for this bill.
You have to specify what that means. There are many, many details,
and the complexity can be great. However, a measure could generally
specifiy, not IRV, but preferential voting, giving only general
charactteristics and allowing towns the flexibility. That could then
allow Bucklin, IRV, Condorcet, and even Range voting. (Range Voting
can be presented as preferential voting, with a set of ranks, and
equal ranking and skipped ranks allowed. Range is then a way of
canvassing a preferential ballot. And there are very sophisticated
hygrid ways.)

The state, then, could write a section of the election law that
covers Preferential ballot, but that is a very complex thing. IRV,
out of the box as presented by FairVote, is a poor method, that is
practically useless in nonpartisan elections, that is fairly easy to
show. It's an expensive plurality in that context. (It's different in
partisan elections, the vote transfer patterns are different.)

What is a very simple bill, because Approval is really as simple as
Count All the Votes, would need to become very complex.

However, promising political support to allow towns to choose other
advanced voting systems, that can certainly be done. As well,
allowing preferential voting without specifying the details would be fine.

And, of course, there is Bucklin. It is possible that there is a
history of Bucklin in Arizona, I seem to recall Tucson, but I'm not
looking now. Bucklin is instant runoff Approval. It was actually
called American Preferential Voting, to contrast it with the original
STV preferential voting schemes.

I highly recommend, do *not* make this simple Bill into a great
complication. Allowing Approval is not disallowing preferential
voting, this is not "anti-IRV." It is possible for IRV to be
presented to satisfy that wording of the ballot provisions, and it is
also possible for this measure to revise that ballot provision
language, I mention how, above. That would then allow Tucson, in
particular, to use IRV for the party primaries.

An *interesting* possibility would be IRV without the no-overvoting
provision, used two-winner in the primary, as this measure describes.
It is then merely a different algorithm for determining the winner.
Votes can vote as FairVote proclaims they want to, i.e., to protect
their favorite from a lower preference vote for someone else, *or*
they can multiply approve at a rank. The *voters* can, if they learn
how, protect IRV from major pathologies. However, two-winner IRV does
not cover the needs of party primaries.

So ... here is what could be done. HB2518 could be amended to allow
single-winner party primaries. Essentially, this provision should be
negotiated with the Democratic Party, for obvious reasons. It could
allow the method of the primary to be determined by the municipality;
the municipality could punt and allow the party to determine its own
method, as long as it was cheap, or if the Party comes up with the
extra costs. (But that part would not need to be mentioned in the
Bill. It's all covered by the municipality choice.) It could be
Approval, single-winner. It could be IRV. Or it could be a better
method (or worse, that's the problem with freedom, it includes the
freedom to make mistakes.)

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Andy Jennings
2013-03-18 16:12:42 UTC
Permalink
Abd,

When applied to cities with partisan primaries, the bill is not even clear:

1) Does it mean that only two candidates advance (the two with the most
votes from any party even though the party primaries had different numbers
of voters)?

2) Does it mean the top two from each party advance to the general?

You could probably argue that it's up to the city to decide between those
systems. Is either one a good system? I don't know.

I would favor your amendment: use AV in all party primaries, top one from
each party goes to the general, if we also mandate AV in the general
election.

BUT, we are only talking about one city here (who won't necessarily even
want approval) and we have much to lose by inserting this amendment. If we
say anything about partisan elections, then we awaken all of the partisan
sensibilities in all of the legislators (and the governor). I don't think
we want to risk it.

~ Andy


On Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 9:52 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <***@lomaxdesign.com>wrote:

> At 11:52 PM 3/17/2013, Andy Jennings wrote:
>
>> Abd,
>>
>> Thanks for your support.
>>
>>
>> Municipalities in Arizona have great flexibility in choosing their own
>> voting systems.
>>
>>
>> I wouldn't say that municipalities have great flexibility in choosing
>> their own voting systems. That's why we need this bill.
>>
>
> Okay. Home rule municipalities may have some flexibility. And how much, I
> don't know. What I know is "some." Tucson demonstrated that.
>
>
> In particular, Arizona statute says if there is one winner then the
>> ballot verbiage must say "Vote for no more than 1". The way I see it, they
>> were just trying to standardize ballot language for the state and (since
>> all they knew was plurality) they inadvertently restricted us to either
>> single-shot plurality or plurality with a plurality primary. Since the
>> constitution mandates a primary, that leaves us with either segregated
>> primaries or jungle primaries.
>>
>
> Combine this with partisan/no-partisan ballots, i.e, party designation,
> then the two sane choices are segregated primaries (by party), or unified
> nonpartisan primaries. In any case, then, using Approval in the primaries
> is a major step foward.
>
> Approval in party primaries, though, could use Approval. Could a city, as
> well, hold, in addition to party primaries, hold an open primary for all
> candidates who choose not to affiliate with the party primaries?
>
> The problem I'm seeing is that HB2518 appears to mandate two candidates to
> go to the general election. That doesn't work with party primaries. A
> partisan primary should choose one candidate. The Bill calls the second
> election a "Runoff," as one alternate name. But it explicitly excludes any
> consideration of "majority."
>
> Now, from an election methods perspective, with an Approval election, this
> is actually spectacular. The design of the system, with the primary being
> held early, i.e., not held with the general election, and with, then, the
> final election being held as a general election, with generally higher
> turnout, addresses some objections to Approval Voting, i.e,. multiple
> approval majorities and therefore failure of some definitions of the
> majority criterion.
>
>
> (The courts have ruled that cities, if they want, can implement a rule
>> that avoids the runoff if someone gets a majority in the jungle primary.)
>>
>
> What I'd recommend is that cities begin with the process in the Bill, and
> study results. It is possible to extrapolate margins in the runoff from
> those in the primary, and this is especially true with nonpartisan
> elections. However, the cost of adding and canvassing an additional runoff
> election in the general election is relatively small. It's really just
> another question on the ballot.
>
> The big issue is turnout. However, turnout can cut both ways. It rewards
> motivation, which is probably a good thing.
>
> Classically, advanced voting systems cause candidate numbers to increase.
> That appears to have happened in San Francisco. It's particularly true with
> nonpartisan elections, if people can run at low cost.
>
> As to the problem of what the election law says -- I haven't read the
> entire code, just large chunks of it -- there is a *very* advanced system
> that vote-for-one works fine with, Asset. But we are focusing on Approval,
> one small step, Count All the Votes.
>
> And the next refinement would be to allow ranking on the ballot, which
> allows, then, a series of advanced canvassing techniques.
>
> By the way, if a city has an accumulated record, with the Approval
> two-ballot system, there is one majority condition which really could be
> with total safety used to determine the result from the primary: where the
> absolute approval number for the winner exceeds half of the high-normal
> turnout for the general election. That would kill the participation
> problem. My guess is that better than this could be done.
>
> But there is great value in that second election, there is media focus on
> two candidates, instead of what could be many. That's a reason why Robert's
> Rules of Order objects to IRV (and all deterministic preferential voting
> systems).
>
>
> That's the only statute I know of in AZ law that prohibits approval
>> voting. Though there may be others. HB2518 expressly allows approval
>> voting, thus overriding any other inadvertent prohibitions.
>>
>
> And says so.
>
>
>
> 5. The passage of this bill in the Arizona House is the best news I've
>> seen *ever* as to U.S. voting systems.
>>
>>
>> Thanks. Maybe I'm just downplaying the accomplishment here, but the way
>> I understand it there are already hundreds (thousands) of home rule cities
>> around the US that could enact approval voting with an ordinance. We're
>> just trying to catch AZ up to where these "home rule" cities already are.
>>
>
> Right. But it's much more than that, as you go on to state.
>
>
> But it is movement, hopefully it would be momentum to go to cities and
>> say, "The legislature just allowed this. You can try it."
>>
>
> Right. Note that IRV is also prohibited by that language.
>
> The language was overspecified in the first place. It was defined by the
> number of winners rather than by the necessities of avoiding ballot
> spoilage. "Where a vote for more than one candidate, under the canvassing
> rules, will cause the ballot to be spoiled for that race, the ballot shall
> contain the language, "vote for no more than one."
>
> As an example, for an IRV ballot, the language would say, "for each rank,
> vote for no more than one."
>
> But if the method allows voting for more than the number of winners (which
> is the real concern, because with two winners, is the ballot spoiled by
> voting for three?), then there is no spoilage and no need for the warning.
> And the reverse might be needed, so that voters don't assume they can only
> vote for one.
>
> (FairVote has made a lot of noise about Bucklin being rejected because of
> several reasons, and one was the one-person, one-vote argument. The
> Minnesota Court did make an argument like that, but it was directed at the
> bare possibility of voters who voted for more than one candidate having
> some sort of advantage over voters who chose to bullet vote. It would have
> applied to IRV, as the argument was actually made. FairVote has pointed to
> an argument the court did not make, but, if you believe the argument, it's
> possible to read over the court argument and think they were making it....
> that's what partisan thinking does, it curdles the capacity of the brain to
> make clear distinctions.....)
>
> (What actually happened in Minnesota was almost certainly political, not
> legal. The court majority -- there was diessent -- was killing an advanced
> voting system *that worked*, and clearly frustrated the expressed
> preferences of the voters, and, instead of allowing the election result to
> stand but enjoining further use of the system, which would have been
> possible in the context, they reversed the election and rewarded it to the
> plurality winner in the first round. They did not void the election,
> another possibility. No, this was dirty politics.)
>
> If the one-person, one-vote argument comes up, there is an argument that
> Approval Voting satisfies one-person, one-vote, not only on the basic
> equity argument (which is the real meaning of that phrase, because,
> obviously, more than one vote is indeed allowed *when it is equitable and
> treats all voters identically), and that relies on a principle: if there
> are multiple ways of canvassing the votes, of counting them, that produce
> the same result, always, and one of these ways clearly only counts one vote
> at a time from each voter, then the ballot method satisfies one-person,
> one-vote. An IRV ballot obviously allows more than one vote on the ballot,
> so it violates a naive application of the principle. However, IRV
> selectively ignores extra votes, so it only counts one vote *at a time*
> from each voter.
>
> The simple way to handle the matter with Approval does count multiple
> votes at the beginning, but then recanvasses in a way that only counts one
> vote, or none, from each voter. That way is to pick the top two from
> counting *all the votes*, and then recount only that pair, eliminating
> ballots with no vote (now considered as No on the election of either), and
> those who voted for both, call that total BA, for Both Approved). The
> remaining votes are compared, and the candidate with the most votes is the
> winner. In this determination, only one vote from each voter is considered.
> Then, if it is necessary to determine if the candidate has a majority, the
> total number of set-aside ballots with a vote for the winner, BA, is added
> in.
>
> In determining the winner, only one vote from each voter is considered, or
> none. Again, in determining if the winner has a majority, only one vote
> from each voter is considered, and it is either Yes or No. (Under Robert's
> Rules, a blank ballot is not counted in the basis for majority, but a
> ballot with *any mark* is considered valid, even if unintelligible. So
> under Robert's Rules, for example, you can write "None of the Above" on the
> ballot and that is counted as a vote against all candidates.)
>
> There is a more complicated algorithm which doesn't even use the shortcut
> of first counting all the votes. The basic point here is that, with
> Approval, in the end, the only vote that counts as a Yes for the candidate
> is a mark for the winner, and all other votes could be *eliminated* without
> changing the result. All other votes are preliminary. It's like the
> first-preference votes. The IRV system *does* count more than one vote from
> each voter, it merely does it sequentially. A similar sequence can be used
> to count Approval. It's just a bit stupid, because it will produce the same
> result as simply Counting All the Votes and awaring the win to the
> candidate with the most votes.
>
> Again, another argument is the multiple ballot question issue. Normally,
> ballot questions are presented one at a time, on an issue. But,
> occasionally, multiple conflicting questions are presented. The rules are
> generally quite explicit. A majority Yes is required to pass a ballot
> question. If no question passes, all the votes are effectively moot. If one
> gains a majority and the other does not, that a voter may have voted for
> more than one is moot. And if both pass, there are obviously voters who
> have voted for more than one.
>
> The question with the most Yes votes prevails.
>
> Approval Voting is the exact equivalent of multiple ballot questions,
> except for ballot form. It could be arranged to have the ballot form match,
> either way. I.e., the election could be presented as a single question with
> multiple possible answers or a series of ballot questions, Yes/No. However,
> there needs to be a way to distinguish a No from an abstention, so these
> would be linked as a single overall question, if you vote Yes to any of the
> options, you are considered to have voted No on all the others. (It's only
> important to know the Nos if a majority is needed. Plurality Approval
> doesn't need to know that, it only needs to look at Yes votes. So HB2518 is
> 2-winner plurality approval, unrestricted voting).
>
> A multiple ballot question could be presented on the ballot as
>
> Vote for one or more:
> [ ] Option A
> [ ] Option B
> [ ] No to both A and B.
>
> The No vote is necessary because a majority is required, or the initiative
> or referendum is killed. Back to the process to create a new one, though
> that often doesn't happen for a long time.
>
> The vote is voided if marked both for an option -- or two, because the
> intention is not clear. Under Roberts' Rules, though, it would still be
> considered in the basis for a majority, so it would effectively be a No.
> Under public election rules I've seen, it would be as if not cast. This is
> because Robert's Rules *always* wants a true majority of those voting to
> clearly approve the winner, or it wants the election to be repeated.
>
> FairVote has glossed over this, pretending that Robert's Rules is
> approving of their method of canvassing the votes, when it *never*
> recommends electing with a mere plurality of valid ballots, and the only
> invalid ballots are blank ones.
>
> This is the problem with including IRV in the options for this bill. You
> have to specify what that means. There are many, many details, and the
> complexity can be great. However, a measure could generally specifiy, not
> IRV, but preferential voting, giving only general charactteristics and
> allowing towns the flexibility. That could then allow Bucklin, IRV,
> Condorcet, and even Range voting. (Range Voting can be presented as
> preferential voting, with a set of ranks, and equal ranking and skipped
> ranks allowed. Range is then a way of canvassing a preferential ballot. And
> there are very sophisticated hygrid ways.)
>
> The state, then, could write a section of the election law that covers
> Preferential ballot, but that is a very complex thing. IRV, out of the box
> as presented by FairVote, is a poor method, that is practically useless in
> nonpartisan elections, that is fairly easy to show. It's an expensive
> plurality in that context. (It's different in partisan elections, the vote
> transfer patterns are different.)
>
> What is a very simple bill, because Approval is really as simple as Count
> All the Votes, would need to become very complex.
>
> However, promising political support to allow towns to choose other
> advanced voting systems, that can certainly be done. As well, allowing
> preferential voting without specifying the details would be fine.
>
> And, of course, there is Bucklin. It is possible that there is a history
> of Bucklin in Arizona, I seem to recall Tucson, but I'm not looking now.
> Bucklin is instant runoff Approval. It was actually called American
> Preferential Voting, to contrast it with the original STV preferential
> voting schemes.
>
> I highly recommend, do *not* make this simple Bill into a great
> complication. Allowing Approval is not disallowing preferential voting,
> this is not "anti-IRV." It is possible for IRV to be presented to satisfy
> that wording of the ballot provisions, and it is also possible for this
> measure to revise that ballot provision language, I mention how, above.
> That would then allow Tucson, in particular, to use IRV for the party
> primaries.
>
> An *interesting* possibility would be IRV without the no-overvoting
> provision, used two-winner in the primary, as this measure describes. It is
> then merely a different algorithm for determining the winner. Votes can
> vote as FairVote proclaims they want to, i.e., to protect their favorite
> from a lower preference vote for someone else, *or* they can multiply
> approve at a rank. The *voters* can, if they learn how, protect IRV from
> major pathologies. However, two-winner IRV does not cover the needs of
> party primaries.
>
> So ... here is what could be done. HB2518 could be amended to allow
> single-winner party primaries. Essentially, this provision should be
> negotiated with the Democratic Party, for obvious reasons. It could allow
> the method of the primary to be determined by the municipality; the
> municipality could punt and allow the party to determine its own method, as
> long as it was cheap, or if the Party comes up with the extra costs. (But
> that part would not need to be mentioned in the Bill. It's all covered by
> the municipality choice.) It could be Approval, single-winner. It could be
> IRV. Or it could be a better method (or worse, that's the problem with
> freedom, it includes the freedom to make mistakes.)
>
Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2013-03-18 09:00:56 UTC
Permalink
On 03/17/2013 06:32 PM, Richard Fobes wrote:
> On 3/15/2013 2:12 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>> On 03/14/2013 06:45 PM, robert bristow-johnson wrote:
>>> IRV will prevent a true spoiler (that is a candidate
>>> with no viable chance of winning, but whose presence in the race changes
>>> who the winner is) from spoiling the election, but if the "spoiler" and
>>> the two leaders are all roughly equal going into the election, IRV can
>>> fail and *has* failed (and Burlington 2009 is that example).
>>
>> If you think about it, even Plurality is immune to spoilers... if the
>> spoilers are small enough. More specifically, if the "spoilers" have
>> less support in total than the difference in support between party
>> number one and two, Plurality is immune to them.
>>
>> So instead of saying method X resists spoilers and Y doesn't, it seems
>> better to say that X resists larger spoilers than Y. And that raises the
>> question of how much spoiler-resistance you need. Plurality's result is
>> independent of very small spoilers. IRV's is of somewhat larger
>> spoilers, and Condorcet larger still (through mutual majority or
>> independence of Smith-dominated alternatives, depending on the method).
>
> This is a good example of the need to _quantify_ the failure rate for
> each election method for each "fairness" criteria.
>
> Just a yes-or-no checkmark -- which is the approach in the comparison
> table in the Wikipedia "Voting systems" article -- is not sufficient for
> a full comparison.

Spoiler resistance is to some degree already quantified. If a method
passes the majority criterion, then it's resistant to spoilers when a
party or candidate has a majority. A method that passes mutual majority
is resistant to spoilers outside a group that's ranked first by a
majority. Independence from Smith-dominated alternatives gives
resistance to spoilers not in the Smith set; and so on.

But you have a point. In the practical view, these are only interesting
inasfar as they cover enough to make the method resistant against
spoilers in general. That is, if an oracle told us that to get
multiparty democracy where people don't think spoilers get in the way,
all you need is ISDA and everything else is icing on the cake; then we
wouldn't need to bother about anything more than ISDA. At least not
unless the voters would find it unfair *on principle* to have something
that didn't pass, say, independence from covered alternatives.

That's the division into three I've mentioned before. Performance under
honesty, things that deter or make strategy unnecessary so we get to
honesty in the first place, and consistency with itself (or, more
broadly speaking, compliance with what the voters think should be held
for the method to be fair).

In all three cases, we have approximations.

Bayesian regret is an approximation to performance under honesty. It
holds if you assume certain things about what performance actually
means: how to do interpersonal comparisons, and utilitarianism[2].

Criteria are approximations to the other two. The good thing about
criteria is that they provide a bound. If I prove that a method passes
independence from Smith-dominated alternatives (ISDA), then it passes
ISDA outright. You don't have to worry about that the method only passes
ISDA in the cases that are irrelevant to a real election. If it passes
ISDA, it passes ISDA *everywhere*[1]. And I think that's why I try to
make methods that pass many criteria, because if they pass some
criterion X, then I can say "done" and move on without having to
quantify *where* they're passed. This saves a lot of detective work
determining if the areas where they pass are the areas we care about.

But beyond that, you're right. The approximations are not the real
things. They're proxies we use because they're easier to investigate.
And a method might seem to have contradictions when you look upon every
possible ballot set yet be without such in the real world. For instance,
if people voted exclusively on a left-right scale, then Condorcet always
finds a CW and so passes later-no-harm, later-no-help, IIA and so on, in
these cases. In that case, we could even use Borda IRV if that's what
the people would prefer. The various monotonicity failures wouldn't be a
problem because we'd never get to that domain. And if we had some way of
knowing what level of spoiler resistance is enough (or conversely, what
isn't), then we could exclude a lot of methods for either being too
complex or for not passing the mark.

>> It's like reinforcing a bridge that would collapse when a cat walks
>> across it, so that it no longer does so, but it still collapses when a
>> person walks across it. Cat resistance is not enough :-)
>
> Great analogy. We need to start assessing _how_ _resistant_ each method
> is to each "fairness" criteria.

Yes, and these fairness criteria might not even be the same sort as the
traditional criteria. They might be more vague, like "spoiler
resistance", which then fails when the voters complain like they did in
Burlington, and which would really be a meta-category including things
like ISDA, mutual majority, and so on.

>> It would be really useful to know what level of resistance is enough,
>> but that data is going to be hard to gather.[...]
>
> Indeed, that is difficult.

Perhaps one could make mock elections in some way, or a game where
candidates distribute benefits to certain groups of voters.

Polls are reasonably good at showing behavior under honesty, I think.
But one may object that they don't show adaptation to the system in
question. Both MO and David Wetzell have used arguments of this sort,
and I think there's something to it. Consider the Range polls on
rangevoting's site. These show great support and variety, and use of
ratings values besides min and max. On the other hand, consider YouTube,
which moved from Range-style voting to Approval style. They presumably
did this because people voted min and max, although I don't know that
for sure. If they did, then that shows that the YouTubers adapted to
Range and started voting min and max.

A game or series of mock elections would have the advantage that it
would include that adaptation element. However, the pressure might not
be right. It could induce too much strategy (if the game is set up so
candidates can only distribute power after each election, thus being
maximally patronage-like). It could also induce too little. More
generally, we wouldn't know if we hit the realistic spot. There would be
no oracle we could ask that would say "yes, with these rules, the people
will engage in just enough strategy that they would in a real election".
Still, it would be better than nothing and we might be able to gain
bounds from it. (If in the most patronage-based, most zero-sum variant,
people still don't massively bury, then we know they won't in a real
election, since the real election will be more "kind". Similarly, if the
voters engaged in massive burial even in the most cooperative scenario,
then we know that will be a problem in real elections too.)

> > And beyond that we have even harder questions of how much resistance
> > is needed to get a democratic system that works well. It seems
> > reasonable to me that advanced Condorcet will do, but praxeology
> > can only go so far. If only we had actual experimental data!
>
> My VoteFair site collects lots of data. I have used it to verify that
> VoteFair ranking accomplishes what it was designed to do. Not only has
> such testing been useful for refining the code for the single-winner
> portion (VoteFair popularity ranking, which is equivalent to the
> Condorcet-Kemeny method), but such testing has revealed that VoteFair
> representation ranking (which can be thought of as a two-seats-at-a-time
> PR method) also works as intended.
>
> As for praxeology ("the study of human conduct"), I also watch to see
> how people try to vote strategically. The attempts are interesting, but
> ineffective.
>
> I agree that using better ballots and better vote-counting methods in
> real situation -- using real data -- is essential for making real progress.

Could we use the polling data to get some information about, say,
candidate variety? I think we could, at least to some extent. We could
ask something like "how many elections with more than 20 voters have no
CW?". I think you published stats like that once, but I don't remember
what the values were.

Perhaps you could also ask the voters some time later if they were
satisfied with the choice. That kind of "later polling" could uncover
Burlington-type breakdowns if there were any. If they could rank the
options in retrospect, it would also be possible to determine whether
they would have been satisfied with, say, IRV; but I imagine that's too
much to ask.

-

[1] There are still assumptions about the input, of course. If everybody
goes on a burial spree, the Smith set may not mean what we think it
means anymore, and then ISDA would no longer hold. Same thing with
Majority Judgement and IIA. If people vote in a comparative manner, IIA
no longer holds for it.

[2] I have also suggested another approximation for performance, but I
haven't made code to implement it. It's the "games AI" approximation:
you take a bunch of different games AIs (say, chess programs) and run
their suggestions through a voting method, creating a "collective AI".
The better the performance of the collective AI, the better the method.
This could even be done in a "world champion vs the world" type match,
where the individual "AIs" are human players. This would be a better
metric than just using AIs, since then the various advisors could make
suggestions and thus influence the vote in a way that might improve play.

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Richard Fobes
2013-03-19 01:07:56 UTC
Permalink
On 3/18/2013 2:00 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
> On 03/17/2013 06:32 PM, Richard Fobes wrote:
...
>> My VoteFair site collects lots of data. [...]
...
>
> Could we use the polling data to get some information about, say,
> candidate variety? I think we could, at least to some extent. We could
> ask something like "how many elections with more than 20 voters have no
> CW?". I think you published stats like that once, but I don't remember
> what the values were.

I have not published anything from this data. I'm not in the academic
world so I don't have time to anonoymize (sp?) it, or do any special
analysis.

> Perhaps you could also ask the voters some time later if they were
> satisfied with the choice. That kind of "later polling" could uncover
> Burlington-type breakdowns if there were any. If they could rank the
> options in retrospect, it would also be possible to determine whether
> they would have been satisfied with, say, IRV; but I imagine that's too
> much to ask.

Somewhat related: There is a website named IdolAnalytics.com that
analyzes the correlation between American Idol polls and the actual
TV-show results (who gets eliminated) and compares the results for
different polls. Here is a quote about the VoteFair American Idol polls
from last year:

“People complaining about your site's sampling are being ridiculous.
Your site selected 20/30 bottom group contestants and 5/12 eliminated
contestants correctly (excluding the finale). That's better than any
other single index that I assessed, including Dialidol and Zabasearch.
No poll is perfect. Your site clearly captures a significant part of
the voting.”

Now I need to stop spending too much time in this forum and get back to
supporting real-life voting. Alas, more people vote in the American
Idol poll than the Presidential polls I've conducted, but that means
more people are learning how voting should be done (without the blinding
distractions of left-versus-right politics).

Richard Fobes

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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-16 04:15:49 UTC
Permalink
At 12:45 PM 3/14/2013, robert bristow-johnson wrote:

>except for IRV *any* existing runoff method is a delayed runoff, a
>"second ballot" that is marked, usually weeks later. the expense of
>the delayed runoff was not the major argument against it.
>
>the principle argument is the greatly reduced voter turnout at the
>runoff (it's generally argued by election reformers that increasing
>voter turnout is good for democracy, one reason why we're for "motor
>voter" laws).

Increasing voter turnout, by itself, is not particularly a benefit.
It can just increase noise, and it makes elections more vulnerable to
mass-media influence. Yes, this is an argument often advanced.

>the next argument is that if the "loser" (whether this loser was the
>first or second vote-getter in the first election) dumps a truckload
>of money into the runoff election that is not matched by his/her
>opponent, that he/she can "pull 'victory' out of the jaws of
>defeat". but "victory" for who?? might be a defeat for the
>majority of the original electorate, thus also decreasing the value
>for the electorate.) the cost of the runoff would come in about 3rd
>place as reasons for ditching it.

It's never a "defeat" for the original electorate, in fact, because
if they care, they see that fancy campaign and they turn out and
vote. In reality, in the kinds of elections where IRV is being
considered, if it's replacing runoff voting, real runoffs allow dark
horses to win. Not by money, but by convincing the voters!

>i would add that it is *not* necessarily the case that the top two
>vote getters are the correct pair of candidates to put into the
>runoff. certainly not in Burlington VT in 2009 (if we had not
>adopted IRV in 2005, the Condorcet winner would not have advanced to
>the delayed runoff). this problem is *not* addressed by IRV.

That's correct. I could easily be addressed in a better two-round
system, and why runoff systems, for a long time, were presumed to
always be vote-for-one systems, while single ballot systems were
proposed as sophisticated and complex methods, is beyond me.

Simply Approval Voting in a two-round system can improve it, Bucklin
actually simulates progressive-Approval-cutoff three rounds -- in the
original form, with the final round allowing multiple votes, but a
hybrid system using a Range ballot could make much better choices,
including identifying Condorcet winners and guaranteeing that such
get into the runoff, if a runoff is needed.

My sense is that with good primary and runoff systems, far better
choices could be made, many runoffs could be avoided, and, then, when
a runoff is necessary, it would include the best candidates. With a
decent runoff system, that could easily be three plus write-in, or
*at least two plus write-in.*


>>I'll add that in Canada the FairVote group directly advocates STV and
>>European-based PR methods, not the stepping-stone IRV path.
>
>no FairVote group advocates IRV as a stepping stone.

Of course not. However, FairVote *chose to work for IRV* as a
stepping stone. "Advocating" it as a stepping stone would be a losing strategy!

>the problem is getting Rob and the other FairVote advocates to learn
>something from *both* the failures of IRV in function (the
>Burlington 2009 election is the textbook example, but also is the
>surviving IRV elections where the number of ranking levels is
>limited to far less than the number of condidates on the ballot,
>like in SF) and politically (the few places that have repealed it).

Sure.

>like certain corporations that sell a product and cannot admit to
>themselves the intrinsic shortcomings in their product until the
>market makes it clear (and the product and company fail in the
>marketplace), FairVote will not risk admitting to any blemishes in
>their product, let alone admitting to the failure of their product
>to work in a meaningful test case (a test case that is difficult,
>like when there are 3 or 4 candidates, all roughly equal in popular
>support). IRV will prevent a true spoiler (that is a candidate with
>no viable chance of winning, but whose presence in the race changes
>who the winner is) from spoiling the election, but if the "spoiler"
>and the two leaders are all roughly equal going into the election,
>IRV can fail and *has* failed (and Burlington 2009 is that example).

Exactly.

>the purpose of having more than two viable parties (and/or having
>viable independent candidates) is to give the voters another choice
>when otherwise they may be forced to choose between "Dumb and
>Dumber". unfortunately, after this failure, we were faced again with
>the choice between Dumb and Dumber (IRV vs. plurality or delayed
>runoff) and this time, as has happened before, Dumber won.

The tragedy is that "delayed runoff" ... i.e, real runoff elections
... could easily be improved, so that many or most would be unnecessary.

Doing this in San Francisco with over twenty candidates, though,
might be difficult. There is a common phenomenon that if an advanced
voting system is implemented, many more candidates file. That, then,
tends toward majority failure. There are many possible solutions.

The majority requirement can be relaxed. Or we can notice that
Robert's Rules actually likes repeated ballot, because it allows
voters a better look at the candidates, now knowing who is really a
serious candidate. My guess is that this is behind the one-third of
nonpartisan runoff elections that are "comebacks." People didn't know
that runner-up well enough. Allowing three candidates into a runoff
-- or two plus write-in, say -- could improve results.

The alleged low turnout of runoff elections has several implications.
Some jurisdictions reverse the sequence and hold primaries early,
then a runoff, if needed, in the general election. That could simply
be done routinely.

Or there is the possibility of going to a parliamentary system and
using Asset Voting. One election, no runoffs needed, and an electoral
college is created that could do things like replace an incapacitated
candidate .... or even manage a recall.

Some group of students somewhere is going to realize how
crazy-powerful Asset Voting is, and implement it for student
elections.... and then they will see what *real democracy* looks
like. If it's done right. Asset is hybrid representative/direct democracy.

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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-13 19:44:04 UTC
Permalink
At 11:09 PM 3/12/2013, Michael Allan wrote:
>Abd said:

> > We invented delegable proxy [DP], also known as liquid democracy and
> > by various other names, more than a decade ago to allow the
> > formation of consensus in large groups, efficiently. DP, however,
> > will not reverse or disable the Iron Law. However, it does provide a
> > means of watching it and limiting the damage from it. ...
>
>(Abd's an expert on election methods. He's also written on the
>topic of liquid democracy/DP, back as early as 2003.)

Thanks. That came out of about twenty years of study and experience
in various organizations, including 12-Tradition organizations built
on the AA model, but also other consensus organizations, such as
cohousing communities, and various nonprofit organization boards.

> > ... In my work, and because DP was untested in large organizations,
> > I always combined DP with a Free Association [FA] concept. ...
> >
> > The FA provides the communication structure and *the same structure
> > can be used by competing parties.*

>Providing communication structure for their members is also the
>focus of technical parties like the Pirates and Partido de
>Internet. They look similar to FAs in this regard. They're bound
>by similar principles of freedom of information and expression that
>(by the Iron Law) seem to be incompatible with the exercise of political power.

The first model we could look at for a political FA/DP organization
would be Demoex in Sweden. They did not undertand the risks -- few
would. They created a *real political party*, which, then, of course,
met opposition, *solely on that basis.*

From my point of view, they made a series of mistakes.

1. They created a "bound councilmember," someone pledged to vote as
they decided through their own process. This, then, created a council
member *who could not negotiate,* defeating the function of
representation in deliberative democracy.

2. They thought of delegable proxy as a computer technique -- and
that was necessary because they needed *definitive votes*, and quickly.

3. They did not maintain the advisory structure distinct and separate
from the "executive/legislative structure." Really, the principle I'm
asserting here is the separation of the judicial and executive
functions. While we may not think of it that way, judicial structures
are advisory to the executive (and other organs of government.) They
do not ordinarily exercise direct power, they rely upon others for
the exercise of power.

4. Because they had developed this concept of "direct democracy," and
that was the definition of the experiment, they did not consider the
option of recommending voting for *existing or other members of the
Town Council.*

5. They did not understand the possibility of organizing and
facilitating *direct citizen involvement* in *advising* voters and the Council.

I consider "instructed seats" to be a Bad Idea, defeating the purpose
of representation, which is *participation* in deliberation; instead
of going that way, rather, we can affirm a much older and established
principle, that of *chosen representation.* That is what appears in
an FA/DP organization, where a Proxy simply votes their own best
opinion, and Clients who generally trust that Proxy -- having named
him or her -- may still directly vote in a contrary manner, if they choose.

And if this is within an FA, decisions are not being made about the
exercise of power, not directly. Advice is being generated as to the
relationship of some proposal to the views and understanding of the
entire membership. That can include recommendations of how to vote in
an election, and each Proxy can generate, for their own clients,
independent advice, there is no central decision, only central
reporting (generally).

If the public election system is Asset Voting, it's all unnecessary
as to selecting seat members. The public system is itself a bottom-up
hierarchy. built from voluntary choices.

>
> > However, the existing system generally assumes that parties compete,
> > and often ignores the possibility of cooperation. DP technology can
> > make it possible to estimate the breadth of support for some
> > position, and consensus is powerful. If what people want to do is
> > fight and win, they may accomplish something, but necessarily at a
> > cost and with the reduced efficiency of dealing with opposition.
>
>(You speak of political parties, but here I suggest they can be
>swept away by the technical parties. Effectively their open DP
>primary dissolves away the political boundaries that separate the
>parties, which now become fluid in DP.)

I predict that if a technical party facilitates the formation of an
FA/DP structure, rigrously applying the traditions that have been
described, the party structure (the *organization*), if it respects
and duly considers the advice it gets through the FA/DP structure,
will be nothing but successful. It will win elections, and it will grow.

The general membership, to avoid loss of this structure due to the
Iron Law, must be vigilant. If the techical party arranges itself so
that it is *dependent* upon the continual and direct support of the
general FA membership, or, at least, of some caucus within the FA,
damage from the Iron Law can be avoided, and the oligarchy will
maintain its natural function as servants of the people.

There must be respect in both directions.

Notice my mention of "caucus." A large public FA with self-declared
membership *will* attract members of "opposing" parties. But the FA
itself never takes controversial positions *as an FA.* It merely
reports on polls taken of the membership -- as to direct vote, by
whom, and as expanded by proxy representation. I mentioned, in
another post, the concept of a "natural caucus." Such a caucus, or
some collection of them, can effectively represent any political
party in FA process.

FA discussions, when a large scale is involved, *must* be controlled,
or the noise will overwhelm them. That's where "proxy rank" comes in.
In the U.S., we don't like the idea of, say, a *Republican* being
involved in our political discussions. If we are Democrats. So, fine.
We can have a caucus that works internally, and that only allows
declared Democrats to be members. If this is a "natural caucus,"
there is a ready and efficient decision-making mechanims, the choices
of the proxy at the center of the caucus. He or she is running that
natural caucus! But a natural caucus discussion group *can* welcome
certain "outsiders," if they are capable of useful discussion.

Further, the FA will have some sort of "top-level" assembly, where
participation is limited to those who represent a certain number of
members. (There can actually be more than one of these, on occasion,
but if the FA is following FA traditions, it's not likely to be
necessary, it's merely a safeguard against abuse.)

I don't see FA/DP as killing political parties, though it *could*
make them less necessary. Asset Voting could make political party
affiliation and endorsement irrelevant to actual election to an
Assembly. But political parties could still have a function.

> > FA/DP -- like AA -- is about *communication*, the FA itself has no
> > power to fight over. AA deliberately avoided property for this >
> reason. Don't like a meeting? Start another. The saying in AA is,
> > "All you need to start a meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot."
> > And so AA harness the natural differences that appear in people to
> > multiply meetings like rabbits. The more meetings, the more
> > available meetings are when people need them....
>
>That's how open the technical parties ought to be. Anyone with a
>coffee pot should be able to fork a party (a technical platform) and
>invite the members (users) to try it out.

Yes. There are many ways this could be implemented. The "meetings"
could be physical, local meetings, or they could be, as an easy
implementation, a mailing list. The FA would *not* give out the
mailing addresses of ordinary members. However, I'd have the proxy
designation process involve an exchange of direct contact
information. Every member who wants it could have a home page, and
might list possible activities.

What I'll call the FA Assembly may also, by vote, establish
centralized discussions, typically with limited participation, but
each one could be paired with an open forum that allows anyone to
comment directly. (Or not. I'd want to see how it works! -- and I
prefer to see people represented in high-level discussions by a
trusted proxy, with people themselves advising their proxy, who then
acts as a *chosen filter.* A proxy who passes on useless garbage, too
often, may find himself or herself censured by that high level group,
which *can* manage its own process, a basic principle.)

>This means open primaries (electoral, legislative, executive, etc.)
>based on free-range voting. It's this that will sweep away the
>political parties. Or can anyone foresee a problem with this approach?

The FA process that I have in mind can function as a cost-free open
primary. It's advisory, and the party, wishing to be advised by it,
can look at affiliations of members. It is not, I hope, bound to
accept *anything*. One of the reasons for a totally open proxy system
is being able to make complex judgments based on member information.

A party would set up a nominating committee, I'd think, that could
propose candidates *based on that advice,* and an FA poll could
indeed be analyzed as to party affiliation of members. Political
parties are supported by particular people, who contribute to that
party's campaign activities, either wtih funds or with labor. Those
people have a natural right to determine party nominations. (And a
party can be structured to avoid the domination of wealth, that's a
separate issue.)

Would we want a small party's nominations to be dominated by members
of a major party? Open primaries have been a disaster in some areas.

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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-13 19:44:04 UTC
Permalink
At 11:09 PM 3/12/2013, Michael Allan wrote:
>Abd said:

> > We invented delegable proxy [DP], also known as liquid democracy and
> > by various other names, more than a decade ago to allow the
> > formation of consensus in large groups, efficiently. DP, however,
> > will not reverse or disable the Iron Law. However, it does provide a
> > means of watching it and limiting the damage from it. ...
>
>(Abd's an expert on election methods. He's also written on the
>topic of liquid democracy/DP, back as early as 2003.)

Thanks. That came out of about twenty years of study and experience
in various organizations, including 12-Tradition organizations built
on the AA model, but also other consensus organizations, such as
cohousing communities, and various nonprofit organization boards.

> > ... In my work, and because DP was untested in large organizations,
> > I always combined DP with a Free Association [FA] concept. ...
> >
> > The FA provides the communication structure and *the same structure
> > can be used by competing parties.*

>Providing communication structure for their members is also the
>focus of technical parties like the Pirates and Partido de
>Internet. They look similar to FAs in this regard. They're bound
>by similar principles of freedom of information and expression that
>(by the Iron Law) seem to be incompatible with the exercise of political power.

The first model we could look at for a political FA/DP organization
would be Demoex in Sweden. They did not undertand the risks -- few
would. They created a *real political party*, which, then, of course,
met opposition, *solely on that basis.*

From my point of view, they made a series of mistakes.

1. They created a "bound councilmember," someone pledged to vote as
they decided through their own process. This, then, created a council
member *who could not negotiate,* defeating the function of
representation in deliberative democracy.

2. They thought of delegable proxy as a computer technique -- and
that was necessary because they needed *definitive votes*, and quickly.

3. They did not maintain the advisory structure distinct and separate
from the "executive/legislative structure." Really, the principle I'm
asserting here is the separation of the judicial and executive
functions. While we may not think of it that way, judicial structures
are advisory to the executive (and other organs of government.) They
do not ordinarily exercise direct power, they rely upon others for
the exercise of power.

4. Because they had developed this concept of "direct democracy," and
that was the definition of the experiment, they did not consider the
option of recommending voting for *existing or other members of the
Town Council.*

5. They did not understand the possibility of organizing and
facilitating *direct citizen involvement* in *advising* voters and the Council.

I consider "instructed seats" to be a Bad Idea, defeating the purpose
of representation, which is *participation* in deliberation; instead
of going that way, rather, we can affirm a much older and established
principle, that of *chosen representation.* That is what appears in
an FA/DP organization, where a Proxy simply votes their own best
opinion, and Clients who generally trust that Proxy -- having named
him or her -- may still directly vote in a contrary manner, if they choose.

And if this is within an FA, decisions are not being made about the
exercise of power, not directly. Advice is being generated as to the
relationship of some proposal to the views and understanding of the
entire membership. That can include recommendations of how to vote in
an election, and each Proxy can generate, for their own clients,
independent advice, there is no central decision, only central
reporting (generally).

If the public election system is Asset Voting, it's all unnecessary
as to selecting seat members. The public system is itself a bottom-up
hierarchy. built from voluntary choices.

>
> > However, the existing system generally assumes that parties compete,
> > and often ignores the possibility of cooperation. DP technology can
> > make it possible to estimate the breadth of support for some
> > position, and consensus is powerful. If what people want to do is
> > fight and win, they may accomplish something, but necessarily at a
> > cost and with the reduced efficiency of dealing with opposition.
>
>(You speak of political parties, but here I suggest they can be
>swept away by the technical parties. Effectively their open DP
>primary dissolves away the political boundaries that separate the
>parties, which now become fluid in DP.)

I predict that if a technical party facilitates the formation of an
FA/DP structure, rigrously applying the traditions that have been
described, the party structure (the *organization*), if it respects
and duly considers the advice it gets through the FA/DP structure,
will be nothing but successful. It will win elections, and it will grow.

The general membership, to avoid loss of this structure due to the
Iron Law, must be vigilant. If the techical party arranges itself so
that it is *dependent* upon the continual and direct support of the
general FA membership, or, at least, of some caucus within the FA,
damage from the Iron Law can be avoided, and the oligarchy will
maintain its natural function as servants of the people.

There must be respect in both directions.

Notice my mention of "caucus." A large public FA with self-declared
membership *will* attract members of "opposing" parties. But the FA
itself never takes controversial positions *as an FA.* It merely
reports on polls taken of the membership -- as to direct vote, by
whom, and as expanded by proxy representation. I mentioned, in
another post, the concept of a "natural caucus." Such a caucus, or
some collection of them, can effectively represent any political
party in FA process.

FA discussions, when a large scale is involved, *must* be controlled,
or the noise will overwhelm them. That's where "proxy rank" comes in.
In the U.S., we don't like the idea of, say, a *Republican* being
involved in our political discussions. If we are Democrats. So, fine.
We can have a caucus that works internally, and that only allows
declared Democrats to be members. If this is a "natural caucus,"
there is a ready and efficient decision-making mechanims, the choices
of the proxy at the center of the caucus. He or she is running that
natural caucus! But a natural caucus discussion group *can* welcome
certain "outsiders," if they are capable of useful discussion.

Further, the FA will have some sort of "top-level" assembly, where
participation is limited to those who represent a certain number of
members. (There can actually be more than one of these, on occasion,
but if the FA is following FA traditions, it's not likely to be
necessary, it's merely a safeguard against abuse.)

I don't see FA/DP as killing political parties, though it *could*
make them less necessary. Asset Voting could make political party
affiliation and endorsement irrelevant to actual election to an
Assembly. But political parties could still have a function.

> > FA/DP -- like AA -- is about *communication*, the FA itself has no
> > power to fight over. AA deliberately avoided property for this >
> reason. Don't like a meeting? Start another. The saying in AA is,
> > "All you need to start a meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot."
> > And so AA harness the natural differences that appear in people to
> > multiply meetings like rabbits. The more meetings, the more
> > available meetings are when people need them....
>
>That's how open the technical parties ought to be. Anyone with a
>coffee pot should be able to fork a party (a technical platform) and
>invite the members (users) to try it out.

Yes. There are many ways this could be implemented. The "meetings"
could be physical, local meetings, or they could be, as an easy
implementation, a mailing list. The FA would *not* give out the
mailing addresses of ordinary members. However, I'd have the proxy
designation process involve an exchange of direct contact
information. Every member who wants it could have a home page, and
might list possible activities.

What I'll call the FA Assembly may also, by vote, establish
centralized discussions, typically with limited participation, but
each one could be paired with an open forum that allows anyone to
comment directly. (Or not. I'd want to see how it works! -- and I
prefer to see people represented in high-level discussions by a
trusted proxy, with people themselves advising their proxy, who then
acts as a *chosen filter.* A proxy who passes on useless garbage, too
often, may find himself or herself censured by that high level group,
which *can* manage its own process, a basic principle.)

>This means open primaries (electoral, legislative, executive, etc.)
>based on free-range voting. It's this that will sweep away the
>political parties. Or can anyone foresee a problem with this approach?

The FA process that I have in mind can function as a cost-free open
primary. It's advisory, and the party, wishing to be advised by it,
can look at affiliations of members. It is not, I hope, bound to
accept *anything*. One of the reasons for a totally open proxy system
is being able to make complex judgments based on member information.

A party would set up a nominating committee, I'd think, that could
propose candidates *based on that advice,* and an FA poll could
indeed be analyzed as to party affiliation of members. Political
parties are supported by particular people, who contribute to that
party's campaign activities, either wtih funds or with labor. Those
people have a natural right to determine party nominations. (And a
party can be structured to avoid the domination of wealth, that's a
separate issue.)

Would we want a small party's nominations to be dominated by members
of a major party? Open primaries have been a disaster in some areas.
Paul Nollen
2013-03-14 06:53:02 UTC
Permalink
About demoex and related iniatiatives (E2D http://e2d-international.org ),
it was, as far as I understand not the intention to overtake the whole
political system with this experiment. It is just a "Trojan horse" to breach
the power of the political parties in order to establish a direct democracy
more or less build around the Swiss example (to start with).
The question still is: How do you evolve to a direct democracy in a
particracy that does not allow direct democracy and where parties have
direct democracy in their program just to forget it after elections.
And Demoex was, and is, a possible answer.

Regards

Paul

-----Original Message-----
From: Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
Sent: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 8:44 PM
To: Michael Allan ; AG Liquid Democracy
Cc: Meinungsfindungstool ; AG; Votorola ; PDIComunicación ; Election Methods
; Start/Metagov
Subject: Re: [MG] [EM] Helping the Pirate Party to vanish

At 11:09 PM 3/12/2013, Michael Allan wrote:
>Abd said:

> > We invented delegable proxy [DP], also known as liquid democracy and
> > by various other names, more than a decade ago to allow the
> > formation of consensus in large groups, efficiently. DP, however,
> > will not reverse or disable the Iron Law. However, it does provide a
> > means of watching it and limiting the damage from it. ...
>
>(Abd's an expert on election methods. He's also written on the topic of
>liquid democracy/DP, back as early as 2003.)

Thanks. That came out of about twenty years of study and experience
in various organizations, including 12-Tradition organizations built
on the AA model, but also other consensus organizations, such as
cohousing communities, and various nonprofit organization boards.

> > ... In my work, and because DP was untested in large organizations,
> > I always combined DP with a Free Association [FA] concept. ...
> >
> > The FA provides the communication structure and *the same structure
> > can be used by competing parties.*

>Providing communication structure for their members is also the focus of
>technical parties like the Pirates and Partido de Internet. They look
>similar to FAs in this regard. They're bound by similar principles of
>freedom of information and expression that (by the Iron Law) seem to be
>incompatible with the exercise of political power.

The first model we could look at for a political FA/DP organization
would be Demoex in Sweden. They did not undertand the risks -- few
would. They created a *real political party*, which, then, of course,
met opposition, *solely on that basis.*

>From my point of view, they made a series of mistakes.

1. They created a "bound councilmember," someone pledged to vote as
they decided through their own process. This, then, created a council
member *who could not negotiate,* defeating the function of
representation in deliberative democracy.

2. They thought of delegable proxy as a computer technique -- and
that was necessary because they needed *definitive votes*, and quickly.

3. They did not maintain the advisory structure distinct and separate
from the "executive/legislative structure." Really, the principle I'm
asserting here is the separation of the judicial and executive
functions. While we may not think of it that way, judicial structures
are advisory to the executive (and other organs of government.) They
do not ordinarily exercise direct power, they rely upon others for
the exercise of power.

4. Because they had developed this concept of "direct democracy," and
that was the definition of the experiment, they did not consider the
option of recommending voting for *existing or other members of the
Town Council.*

5. They did not understand the possibility of organizing and
facilitating *direct citizen involvement* in *advising* voters and the
Council.

I consider "instructed seats" to be a Bad Idea, defeating the purpose
of representation, which is *participation* in deliberation; instead
of going that way, rather, we can affirm a much older and established
principle, that of *chosen representation.* That is what appears in
an FA/DP organization, where a Proxy simply votes their own best
opinion, and Clients who generally trust that Proxy -- having named
him or her -- may still directly vote in a contrary manner, if they choose.

And if this is within an FA, decisions are not being made about the
exercise of power, not directly. Advice is being generated as to the
relationship of some proposal to the views and understanding of the
entire membership. That can include recommendations of how to vote in
an election, and each Proxy can generate, for their own clients,
independent advice, there is no central decision, only central
reporting (generally).

If the public election system is Asset Voting, it's all unnecessary
as to selecting seat members. The public system is itself a bottom-up
hierarchy. built from voluntary choices.

>
> > However, the existing system generally assumes that parties compete,
> > and often ignores the possibility of cooperation. DP technology can
> > make it possible to estimate the breadth of support for some
> > position, and consensus is powerful. If what people want to do is
> > fight and win, they may accomplish something, but necessarily at a
> > cost and with the reduced efficiency of dealing with opposition.
>
>(You speak of political parties, but here I suggest they can be swept away
>by the technical parties. Effectively their open DP primary dissolves away
>the political boundaries that separate the parties, which now become fluid
>in DP.)

I predict that if a technical party facilitates the formation of an
FA/DP structure, rigrously applying the traditions that have been
described, the party structure (the *organization*), if it respects
and duly considers the advice it gets through the FA/DP structure,
will be nothing but successful. It will win elections, and it will grow.

The general membership, to avoid loss of this structure due to the
Iron Law, must be vigilant. If the techical party arranges itself so
that it is *dependent* upon the continual and direct support of the
general FA membership, or, at least, of some caucus within the FA,
damage from the Iron Law can be avoided, and the oligarchy will
maintain its natural function as servants of the people.

There must be respect in both directions.

Notice my mention of "caucus." A large public FA with self-declared
membership *will* attract members of "opposing" parties. But the FA
itself never takes controversial positions *as an FA.* It merely
reports on polls taken of the membership -- as to direct vote, by
whom, and as expanded by proxy representation. I mentioned, in
another post, the concept of a "natural caucus." Such a caucus, or
some collection of them, can effectively represent any political
party in FA process.

FA discussions, when a large scale is involved, *must* be controlled,
or the noise will overwhelm them. That's where "proxy rank" comes in.
In the U.S., we don't like the idea of, say, a *Republican* being
involved in our political discussions. If we are Democrats. So, fine.
We can have a caucus that works internally, and that only allows
declared Democrats to be members. If this is a "natural caucus,"
there is a ready and efficient decision-making mechanims, the choices
of the proxy at the center of the caucus. He or she is running that
natural caucus! But a natural caucus discussion group *can* welcome
certain "outsiders," if they are capable of useful discussion.

Further, the FA will have some sort of "top-level" assembly, where
participation is limited to those who represent a certain number of
members. (There can actually be more than one of these, on occasion,
but if the FA is following FA traditions, it's not likely to be
necessary, it's merely a safeguard against abuse.)

I don't see FA/DP as killing political parties, though it *could*
make them less necessary. Asset Voting could make political party
affiliation and endorsement irrelevant to actual election to an
Assembly. But political parties could still have a function.

> > FA/DP -- like AA -- is about *communication*, the FA itself has no
> > power to fight over. AA deliberately avoided property for this >
> reason. Don't like a meeting? Start another. The saying in AA is,
> > "All you need to start a meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot."
> > And so AA harness the natural differences that appear in people to
> > multiply meetings like rabbits. The more meetings, the more
> > available meetings are when people need them....
>
>That's how open the technical parties ought to be. Anyone with a coffee
>pot should be able to fork a party (a technical platform) and invite the
>members (users) to try it out.

Yes. There are many ways this could be implemented. The "meetings"
could be physical, local meetings, or they could be, as an easy
implementation, a mailing list. The FA would *not* give out the
mailing addresses of ordinary members. However, I'd have the proxy
designation process involve an exchange of direct contact
information. Every member who wants it could have a home page, and
might list possible activities.

What I'll call the FA Assembly may also, by vote, establish
centralized discussions, typically with limited participation, but
each one could be paired with an open forum that allows anyone to
comment directly. (Or not. I'd want to see how it works! -- and I
prefer to see people represented in high-level discussions by a
trusted proxy, with people themselves advising their proxy, who then
acts as a *chosen filter.* A proxy who passes on useless garbage, too
often, may find himself or herself censured by that high level group,
which *can* manage its own process, a basic principle.)

>This means open primaries (electoral, legislative, executive, etc.) based
>on free-range voting. It's this that will sweep away the political parties.
>Or can anyone foresee a problem with this approach?

The FA process that I have in mind can function as a cost-free open
primary. It's advisory, and the party, wishing to be advised by it,
can look at affiliations of members. It is not, I hope, bound to
accept *anything*. One of the reasons for a totally open proxy system
is being able to make complex judgments based on member information.

A party would set up a nominating committee, I'd think, that could
propose candidates *based on that advice,* and an FA poll could
indeed be analyzed as to party affiliation of members. Political
parties are supported by particular people, who contribute to that
party's campaign activities, either wtih funds or with labor. Those
people have a natural right to determine party nominations. (And a
party can be structured to avoid the domination of wealth, that's a
separate issue.)

Would we want a small party's nominations to be dominated by members
of a major party? Open primaries have been a disaster in some areas.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-15 19:17:21 UTC
Permalink
At 01:53 AM 3/14/2013, Paul Nollen wrote:
>About demoex and related iniatiatives (E2D
>http://e2d-international.org ), it was, as far
>as I understand not the intention to overtake
>the whole political system with this experiment.
>It is just a "Trojan horse" to breach the power
>of the political parties in order to establish a
>direct democracy more or less build around the Swiss example (to start with).
>The question still is: How do you evolve to a
>direct democracy in a particracy that does not
>allow direct democracy and where parties have
>direct democracy in their program just to forget it after elections.
>And Demoex was, and is, a possible answer.

Not really, not as Demoex was run. It *was* an
experiment and thus some aspects of answer may be
learned from it. We are, however, short on deteiled information about Demoex.

First of all, direct democracy, just that simple,
is a Bad Idea when the scale becomes large, and
it can be untenable even on a small scale, long-term.

Direct democracy is what people do naturally,
when the scale is small. However, as the scale increases, difficulties arise.

The democracy that has been successful is
*deliberative* democracy. Deliberation on a large
scale can *seem* to work for a while, but
participation bias can kill it. Wikipedia is a case in point.

I don't know what Demoex is currently doing, but
this is from http://demoex.net/en/

>Demoex concept is to mix direct- and
>representative democracy. Our “arena” is this Internet site.
>
>How does it work?
>
>When Demoex get the summons to a new meeting we
>sort out the issues we are interested in. These
>issues are then debated before we finally send
>our ballots the day before the meeting. Our
>representatives in the local government votes like the majority of the members.

Demoex originally used Nordfors software, which
implemented delegable proxy. However, they
shifted to Membro software, and then, in 2008, to
their own. It is unclear whether or not they are using delegable proxy.

If they are, it could be working reasonably well,
but ... they are still apparently electing, not a
true representative, but a rubber-stamp for
majority opinion in the Demoex process. That does
not fit with the deliberative process in the local parliament.

The last reports I see show Demoex went from 1.7%
in the 2002 election, raised to 2.6% in 2006.
They elected one seat both years. For
perspective, the population of Vallentua is
reported in Wikipedia as 25,228. It is unclear if
the associated municipality, Taby, would be
represented in the parliament, if so, the population basis would be 85,425.

The page above refers to a blog for more information about Demoex.

http://pernor.wordpress.com/category/demoex/

This blog is obviously promoting Demoex and
deprecating at least one of the other parties
that took seats in the election, the Sweden
Democrats. In the latest post in this Demoex
section of the blog, Juluy 4, 2012, the Demoex
Way (roughly) is promoted for use around the world.

Posts of November 2 and December 12, 2011,
announced a book being published about Demoex and
plans to create software for on-line democracy,
following the Demoex model. Are they aware of Votorola?

January 18, 2011:

>Demoex has tried, but failed, to create a
>platform for joint public political debate on
>the web. The elected representatives from the
>traditional parties have refused to participate
>in this democratic experiment. Instead they have
>marginalised Demoex through out the eight years.

In other words, it's their fault we failed. The blog goes on:

>The greatest obstacle is the party system’s
>hierarchical structure. Hierarchies in politics
>mean that power is concentrated on only a
>handful of people. None of them benefit from
>sacrificing party interests for the benefit of a greater good.

This assumes that representatives "benefit" by
being elected. It totally ignores the other side
of this issue, and it identifies, as the problem,
what is probably inevitable in *any organization*
-- including Demoex. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy

There are solutions to the problem, but the Demoex model won't work.

What we see below is an assumption that members
of a town council will vote purely according to
party interests, rather than their own opinions.
Now, it looks like a system of PR is being used,
probably party-list. So members *are* identified
by party. In the US, town offices are commonly
elected without party designations. In hybrd
direct/representative democracy systems, as I've
been proposing, party-list and party
affiliations, while they might be known, would
not be on the ballot, and, indeed, there would be
no names on the ballot. Old-style ballot, the
name -- or a numerical code -- is written in.

But this assumes the election of
*representatives* with *discretion.* And the
system being proposed, Asset Voting, creates an
Electoral College of all those who received
votes, and it is *possible* that these "electors"
could cast their votes directly if they wish, on
issues. And *anyone* could become an elector.
Just register. So ... direct voting is possible,
but there is, essentially, a default vote that is
cast by elected members of the Assembly.

Demoex has actually demonstrated the problems of
the kind of direct democracy that they are
advocating. They call it, somewhere,
direct/representative, but the representative
does not represent people in the Council who
voted for them, but the party majority's
expressed position. This "representative" could
be replaced with a rubber stamp.

Direct democracy exists where public intiative
and referendum exist. And, I'd say, it is a
device for giving power to those whe can spend
the most money on a political campaign, or who
have the best media access. A true reform might
*use* the party system, where it exists, but
would, indeed, remove the influence -- and
necessity -- of money for campaigning.

Lots of people naively think that direct
democracy would be better than what we have. Town
Meeting government, which is direct democracy, is
still common in New England. As towns increase in
population, eventually, they move to a
Mayor/Council government. Amherst, MA, retained
what it called "Town Meeting," through a special
state law allowing it, but that "Meeting" is, as
I recall, something like 300 people, elected by
majority vote from small districts. And it's
famous for untenable discussions. *Far too many
people.* Unless it creates and uses an effective committee system.

So, Demoex may get a certain knee-jerk vote based
purely on the idea that it's "direct democracy."
They seem to have the support of about 1/40 of
the voters. I don't know the demographics, but
1/40 is not enough to give them two seats, and
about 1/60 was enough for one. That does *not*
mean that they actually had a direct quota,
necessarily, they might merely have been the largest block remaining.

If anyone can compile better statistics on Demoex, it could be useful.

It is unknown if they are using delegable proxy.
With delegable proxy, they should be able to
negotiate 2/3 consensus, and then only consider a
2/3 vote to be routinely binding on their
representative. For the representative to be
*obligated* to vote based on the opinions of
those *who did not participate in the parliament
deliberations* is directly contrary to strong
democratic traditions. It is because Robert's
Rules of Order thinks of proxy voting as being
"instructed voting" that they strongly discourage
it. Basic handbook of democracy....

They do mention "advisors." "Advisor" was
Nordfors word for what I called the "proxy." It
emphasizes the "outbound" flow of information,
the proxy designations and conversations between
proxies and clients is the inbound flow. So
Nordfors and I, at one point, wrote about the AP, the Advisor/Proxy....

>Competition between ideas is important in
>politics, but the hierarchical system harms
>competition between ideas by blocking free flow
>of information in order to protect the party’s mandate. Two recent examples:

This is the claim and impression, and what may be
true about this is that the *official political
structure* is vulnerable to partisan politics.
However, in reality, and especially in small
towns, information flows readily *outside the
official structure.* My sense is that Demoex has
attracted "outsiders" who don't participate much
in the already-existing defacto communications
structure. They think of what goes on in terms of
insiders (the other people) and outsiders (them).

In small towns, though, from what I've seen, most
people volunteer to serve on councils because
they want to serve the town. Their friends and
neighbors. I lived in a small New England town
for some years, and, basically, it was difficult
to get people to volunteer for town offices. If
you wanted to serve, and weren't completely
crazy, you could do it. You could go to Town
Meeting if you wanted, and it was often difficult
to get a quorum, which I think was 30 or so. But
if there was some Huge Issue -- and as I recall,
this only had to do with outside political
issues, not actual town business! -- the room
would be packed to overflowing and nothing could
actually be done except to listen to a few speeches.

>September 6th 2010: Demoex submitted an
>interpellation to implement a democracy
>experiment that streaches across party lines.
>The majority of the City Council even prohibited
>the interpellation from beeing put forward.
>Further, Demoex inquired whether the
>municipality would be willing to publish
>politicians’ blogs on the municipality’s website
>before the election. The mayor then claimed,
>that he could not possibly answer the question
>due to lack of information, although he had three months to investigate.

I.e., they "failed" because others didn't see the
need. What was the actual "experiment"? And why
should, indeed, those elected under the existing
system think that the system should be
"improved." They had seen, for eight years, how
Demoex worked, and the signs are that they disliked it.

What would stop Demoex from just going ahead with
their experiment? Indeed, isn't Demoex itself
supposed to be such an experiment, anyone can join.

And why should the city publish blogs from
politicians before the election? How is it chosen
whose blogs are published? Anything submitted?
This could create an administrative nightmare,
legal issues, etc. Why can't Demoex *just do it*?
Invite all candidates that it's willing to invite
to submit statements or blogs.

Basically, this blog is being written by Per
Norback, who "believes in" Demoex, and who
clearly doesn't see what *others involved in the
town's government" see. He is apparently the
current Demoex representative. So ... he's
*partisan*. Clearly. Just over a different set of
issues, perhaps, than other representatives.

>September 13th 2010: Remuneration Committee
>proposes a dramatic increase of fees for the
>up-coming term. The municipality council’s board
>did not mention the issue beforehand on the
>agenda. The board decided that the chairmen of
>municipality boards together with the opposition
>party leader will have 65 percent increase of
>salaries. It seems like a deliberate strategy to
>keep voters unaware of the increase.

If so, didn't work. Notice, why do "voters" need
to be "aware" of the recommendation of the
Renumeration Committee? (*Demoex* wants this. So,
I would expect Per to vote against this. But
wait, he didn't have instructions? Does he vote
his own opinion, or does he have specific
instructions for how to handle matters like this?
Does he vote his personal opinion on such matters
as Amendements, Table, Postpone?

This is someone who seems a bit paranoid about
what happens in the Council. But notice that the
salary increase was for the *opposition* party
leader. I'd assume that is the ordinary minority
party on the Council. Not the majority party or
party with the most seats. Per seems to have an
opinion that this is an *obvious* example of
system breakdown due to the party system. In
other words, he's only looking from his own
rather narrow point of view. What was the vote on
the Council? How much opposition was there to this proposal, and from whom?

The blog links to a book in preparation, one chapter

http://pernor.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/chapter-10-in-english1.pdf

>In the past, I mentioned Wikipedia, a great example of what people
>can do by working together with common visions and ideas. I would
>like to see a »Wikimocracy« with the same commitment, but with
>political issues in all kinds of languages in different countries instead
>of dictionary words. The site would have referendums at all levels –
>municipal, regional, state or provincial and federal. People should have
>the right to vote in the political bodies to which they belong.

He's totally naive. Wikipedia, that train-wreck,
as an example. I should acknowledge that
Wikipedia, in certain ways, worked, but
frequently breaks down where there is
controversy. That's because it never established
a workable, adequately efficient, deliberative
structure. There is some decent theory behind
Wikipedia, but the site actually never
implemented structures to enforce the "policies."
It's all done ad-hoc and with very high
unreliability.... and, supposedly, decisions on Wikipedia are not made by vote.

Yes, people should have the right to vote in "the
political bodies to which they belong." However,
the vast majority of people, in democracies, only
belong to one political body, the overall
electorate. They don't belong to the Town
Council, the State Legislature, the Federal
Legislature. They have the right to vote of
citizens in the city, state, nation. And they
vote for people to *represent them*.

Many of us here are working for systems that more
fairly create actual representation. Demoex
attempts to turn the governmental process into
direct democracy, which is classically known to
break down when the size gets above some value.
(I was just having this conversation, some think
it starts to break down at about 30 people,
long-term. If most of my small town's voters
actually showed up at Town Meeting, that would be
about 600 voters. Completely untenable for any
serious, deep discussion. If that discussion is
going to happen, it has to happen outside of Town
Meeting, which means it's advisory.

Giving advice, as distinct from attempting to
control, would have been the proper role of
Demoex. They can elect a member who is specially
pledged to *respect* that advice, and to review
the discussions, but I highly recommend electing
such a representative as being someone trusted to
make apparently contrary decisions, on the spot,
as the representative see's fit for the welfare of the town.

What has been set up with Demoex is a system
which, instead, serves the expressed opinions of
a *party*. Does it allow negotiated compromise?

To get more information, I'll need to look at
sites in Swedish. First of all, the election results are on this page:
http://www.val.se/val/val2010/slutresultat/K/kommun/01/15/index.html

It looks like there were 21,880 eligible voters.
Of these, 83.52% actually voted. There are 8
parties that got more votes than Demoex. One of
the pages, the Demoex or blog page, mentioned the
Swedish Democrats, as Bad in some way. Looking at
the election results, it's obvious why. For the
two parties, which are at the bottom of the list,
there being only a category of Other Parties that
got 0.7% of the vote, 2006 and 2010 results
follow, with percentages based on a total of
18,373 non-blank and non-spoiled votes:

2006 2010
Demoex 2.85% 1.76%
SD 1.12% 2.68%

In 2006, Demoex was supported by 471 voters. In
spite of total turnout increasing from 16528 to
18373, Demoex was only supported in 2010 by 323
voters. In 2010, they did no better than in 2002,
their first election. SD overtook them, but it's
totally unclear whether or not SD actually took votes from Demoex.

If Demoex reconstituted itself as an advisory
organization, with either an elected
representative, or a *report by Demoex process*
of a different party's representative (which
might, in fact, be cleaner and more sustainable),
they could still turn things around.

Another piece of information: The current
demoex.net site claims that if the number of
voters reaches 24,000 in 2014, there will be 51 seats elected.

So what they have is about one seat out of fifty.

If they elect to keep running a candidate, I'd
revise the conditions, and elect someone trusted
to review the Demoex deliberations, and, as I
mentioned above, to *respect* them, which does
not necessarily mean following them. It would
mean that arguments raised in Demoex would either
be rejected by Demoex's own representative, who
would explain his or her decision to the party
strucutre, or accepted and forwarded to the Council.

If the goal is to eliminate partisanship, then
*the process must eliminate partisanship,*
including "Demoex partisanship." To accomplish
the goal of *citizen participation,* Demoex only
needs one seat, but it could elect more.

Notice on the elections page, that they are *at
the bottom*, except for the very tiny result for "other parties."

Calling for the imitation of Demoex at this point
is calling for the imitation of a process that
has only been successful in a narrow way. It's
not growing, but Per is looking toward being a force on the world stage.


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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-15 19:17:21 UTC
Permalink
At 01:53 AM 3/14/2013, Paul Nollen wrote:
>About demoex and related iniatiatives (E2D
>http://e2d-international.org ), it was, as far
>as I understand not the intention to overtake
>the whole political system with this experiment.
>It is just a "Trojan horse" to breach the power
>of the political parties in order to establish a
>direct democracy more or less build around the Swiss example (to start with).
>The question still is: How do you evolve to a
>direct democracy in a particracy that does not
>allow direct democracy and where parties have
>direct democracy in their program just to forget it after elections.
>And Demoex was, and is, a possible answer.

Not really, not as Demoex was run. It *was* an
experiment and thus some aspects of answer may be
learned from it. We are, however, short on deteiled information about Demoex.

First of all, direct democracy, just that simple,
is a Bad Idea when the scale becomes large, and
it can be untenable even on a small scale, long-term.

Direct democracy is what people do naturally,
when the scale is small. However, as the scale increases, difficulties arise.

The democracy that has been successful is
*deliberative* democracy. Deliberation on a large
scale can *seem* to work for a while, but
participation bias can kill it. Wikipedia is a case in point.

I don't know what Demoex is currently doing, but
this is from http://demoex.net/en/

>Demoex concept is to mix direct- and
>representative democracy. Our “arena” is this Internet site.
>
>How does it work?
>
>When Demoex get the summons to a new meeting we
>sort out the issues we are interested in. These
>issues are then debated before we finally send
>our ballots the day before the meeting. Our
>representatives in the local government votes like the majority of the members.

Demoex originally used Nordfors software, which
implemented delegable proxy. However, they
shifted to Membro software, and then, in 2008, to
their own. It is unclear whether or not they are using delegable proxy.

If they are, it could be working reasonably well,
but ... they are still apparently electing, not a
true representative, but a rubber-stamp for
majority opinion in the Demoex process. That does
not fit with the deliberative process in the local parliament.

The last reports I see show Demoex went from 1.7%
in the 2002 election, raised to 2.6% in 2006.
They elected one seat both years. For
perspective, the population of Vallentua is
reported in Wikipedia as 25,228. It is unclear if
the associated municipality, Taby, would be
represented in the parliament, if so, the population basis would be 85,425.

The page above refers to a blog for more information about Demoex.

http://pernor.wordpress.com/category/demoex/

This blog is obviously promoting Demoex and
deprecating at least one of the other parties
that took seats in the election, the Sweden
Democrats. In the latest post in this Demoex
section of the blog, Juluy 4, 2012, the Demoex
Way (roughly) is promoted for use around the world.

Posts of November 2 and December 12, 2011,
announced a book being published about Demoex and
plans to create software for on-line democracy,
following the Demoex model. Are they aware of Votorola?

January 18, 2011:

>Demoex has tried, but failed, to create a
>platform for joint public political debate on
>the web. The elected representatives from the
>traditional parties have refused to participate
>in this democratic experiment. Instead they have
>marginalised Demoex through out the eight years.

In other words, it's their fault we failed. The blog goes on:

>The greatest obstacle is the party system’s
>hierarchical structure. Hierarchies in politics
>mean that power is concentrated on only a
>handful of people. None of them benefit from
>sacrificing party interests for the benefit of a greater good.

This assumes that representatives "benefit" by
being elected. It totally ignores the other side
of this issue, and it identifies, as the problem,
what is probably inevitable in *any organization*
-- including Demoex. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy

There are solutions to the problem, but the Demoex model won't work.

What we see below is an assumption that members
of a town council will vote purely according to
party interests, rather than their own opinions.
Now, it looks like a system of PR is being used,
probably party-list. So members *are* identified
by party. In the US, town offices are commonly
elected without party designations. In hybrd
direct/representative democracy systems, as I've
been proposing, party-list and party
affiliations, while they might be known, would
not be on the ballot, and, indeed, there would be
no names on the ballot. Old-style ballot, the
name -- or a numerical code -- is written in.

But this assumes the election of
*representatives* with *discretion.* And the
system being proposed, Asset Voting, creates an
Electoral College of all those who received
votes, and it is *possible* that these "electors"
could cast their votes directly if they wish, on
issues. And *anyone* could become an elector.
Just register. So ... direct voting is possible,
but there is, essentially, a default vote that is
cast by elected members of the Assembly.

Demoex has actually demonstrated the problems of
the kind of direct democracy that they are
advocating. They call it, somewhere,
direct/representative, but the representative
does not represent people in the Council who
voted for them, but the party majority's
expressed position. This "representative" could
be replaced with a rubber stamp.

Direct democracy exists where public intiative
and referendum exist. And, I'd say, it is a
device for giving power to those whe can spend
the most money on a political campaign, or who
have the best media access. A true reform might
*use* the party system, where it exists, but
would, indeed, remove the influence -- and
necessity -- of money for campaigning.

Lots of people naively think that direct
democracy would be better than what we have. Town
Meeting government, which is direct democracy, is
still common in New England. As towns increase in
population, eventually, they move to a
Mayor/Council government. Amherst, MA, retained
what it called "Town Meeting," through a special
state law allowing it, but that "Meeting" is, as
I recall, something like 300 people, elected by
majority vote from small districts. And it's
famous for untenable discussions. *Far too many
people.* Unless it creates and uses an effective committee system.

So, Demoex may get a certain knee-jerk vote based
purely on the idea that it's "direct democracy."
They seem to have the support of about 1/40 of
the voters. I don't know the demographics, but
1/40 is not enough to give them two seats, and
about 1/60 was enough for one. That does *not*
mean that they actually had a direct quota,
necessarily, they might merely have been the largest block remaining.

If anyone can compile better statistics on Demoex, it could be useful.

It is unknown if they are using delegable proxy.
With delegable proxy, they should be able to
negotiate 2/3 consensus, and then only consider a
2/3 vote to be routinely binding on their
representative. For the representative to be
*obligated* to vote based on the opinions of
those *who did not participate in the parliament
deliberations* is directly contrary to strong
democratic traditions. It is because Robert's
Rules of Order thinks of proxy voting as being
"instructed voting" that they strongly discourage
it. Basic handbook of democracy....

They do mention "advisors." "Advisor" was
Nordfors word for what I called the "proxy." It
emphasizes the "outbound" flow of information,
the proxy designations and conversations between
proxies and clients is the inbound flow. So
Nordfors and I, at one point, wrote about the AP, the Advisor/Proxy....

>Competition between ideas is important in
>politics, but the hierarchical system harms
>competition between ideas by blocking free flow
>of information in order to protect the party’s mandate. Two recent examples:

This is the claim and impression, and what may be
true about this is that the *official political
structure* is vulnerable to partisan politics.
However, in reality, and especially in small
towns, information flows readily *outside the
official structure.* My sense is that Demoex has
attracted "outsiders" who don't participate much
in the already-existing defacto communications
structure. They think of what goes on in terms of
insiders (the other people) and outsiders (them).

In small towns, though, from what I've seen, most
people volunteer to serve on councils because
they want to serve the town. Their friends and
neighbors. I lived in a small New England town
for some years, and, basically, it was difficult
to get people to volunteer for town offices. If
you wanted to serve, and weren't completely
crazy, you could do it. You could go to Town
Meeting if you wanted, and it was often difficult
to get a quorum, which I think was 30 or so. But
if there was some Huge Issue -- and as I recall,
this only had to do with outside political
issues, not actual town business! -- the room
would be packed to overflowing and nothing could
actually be done except to listen to a few speeches.

>September 6th 2010: Demoex submitted an
>interpellation to implement a democracy
>experiment that streaches across party lines.
>The majority of the City Council even prohibited
>the interpellation from beeing put forward.
>Further, Demoex inquired whether the
>municipality would be willing to publish
>politicians’ blogs on the municipality’s website
>before the election. The mayor then claimed,
>that he could not possibly answer the question
>due to lack of information, although he had three months to investigate.

I.e., they "failed" because others didn't see the
need. What was the actual "experiment"? And why
should, indeed, those elected under the existing
system think that the system should be
"improved." They had seen, for eight years, how
Demoex worked, and the signs are that they disliked it.

What would stop Demoex from just going ahead with
their experiment? Indeed, isn't Demoex itself
supposed to be such an experiment, anyone can join.

And why should the city publish blogs from
politicians before the election? How is it chosen
whose blogs are published? Anything submitted?
This could create an administrative nightmare,
legal issues, etc. Why can't Demoex *just do it*?
Invite all candidates that it's willing to invite
to submit statements or blogs.

Basically, this blog is being written by Per
Norback, who "believes in" Demoex, and who
clearly doesn't see what *others involved in the
town's government" see. He is apparently the
current Demoex representative. So ... he's
*partisan*. Clearly. Just over a different set of
issues, perhaps, than other representatives.

>September 13th 2010: Remuneration Committee
>proposes a dramatic increase of fees for the
>up-coming term. The municipality council’s board
>did not mention the issue beforehand on the
>agenda. The board decided that the chairmen of
>municipality boards together with the opposition
>party leader will have 65 percent increase of
>salaries. It seems like a deliberate strategy to
>keep voters unaware of the increase.

If so, didn't work. Notice, why do "voters" need
to be "aware" of the recommendation of the
Renumeration Committee? (*Demoex* wants this. So,
I would expect Per to vote against this. But
wait, he didn't have instructions? Does he vote
his own opinion, or does he have specific
instructions for how to handle matters like this?
Does he vote his personal opinion on such matters
as Amendements, Table, Postpone?

This is someone who seems a bit paranoid about
what happens in the Council. But notice that the
salary increase was for the *opposition* party
leader. I'd assume that is the ordinary minority
party on the Council. Not the majority party or
party with the most seats. Per seems to have an
opinion that this is an *obvious* example of
system breakdown due to the party system. In
other words, he's only looking from his own
rather narrow point of view. What was the vote on
the Council? How much opposition was there to this proposal, and from whom?

The blog links to a book in preparation, one chapter

http://pernor.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/chapter-10-in-english1.pdf

>In the past, I mentioned Wikipedia, a great example of what people
>can do by working together with common visions and ideas. I would
>like to see a »Wikimocracy« with the same commitment, but with
>political issues in all kinds of languages in different countries instead
>of dictionary words. The site would have referendums at all levels –
>municipal, regional, state or provincial and federal. People should have
>the right to vote in the political bodies to which they belong.

He's totally naive. Wikipedia, that train-wreck,
as an example. I should acknowledge that
Wikipedia, in certain ways, worked, but
frequently breaks down where there is
controversy. That's because it never established
a workable, adequately efficient, deliberative
structure. There is some decent theory behind
Wikipedia, but the site actually never
implemented structures to enforce the "policies."
It's all done ad-hoc and with very high
unreliability.... and, supposedly, decisions on Wikipedia are not made by vote.

Yes, people should have the right to vote in "the
political bodies to which they belong." However,
the vast majority of people, in democracies, only
belong to one political body, the overall
electorate. They don't belong to the Town
Council, the State Legislature, the Federal
Legislature. They have the right to vote of
citizens in the city, state, nation. And they
vote for people to *represent them*.

Many of us here are working for systems that more
fairly create actual representation. Demoex
attempts to turn the governmental process into
direct democracy, which is classically known to
break down when the size gets above some value.
(I was just having this conversation, some think
it starts to break down at about 30 people,
long-term. If most of my small town's voters
actually showed up at Town Meeting, that would be
about 600 voters. Completely untenable for any
serious, deep discussion. If that discussion is
going to happen, it has to happen outside of Town
Meeting, which means it's advisory.

Giving advice, as distinct from attempting to
control, would have been the proper role of
Demoex. They can elect a member who is specially
pledged to *respect* that advice, and to review
the discussions, but I highly recommend electing
such a representative as being someone trusted to
make apparently contrary decisions, on the spot,
as the representative see's fit for the welfare of the town.

What has been set up with Demoex is a system
which, instead, serves the expressed opinions of
a *party*. Does it allow negotiated compromise?

To get more information, I'll need to look at
sites in Swedish. First of all, the election results are on this page:
http://www.val.se/val/val2010/slutresultat/K/kommun/01/15/index.html

It looks like there were 21,880 eligible voters.
Of these, 83.52% actually voted. There are 8
parties that got more votes than Demoex. One of
the pages, the Demoex or blog page, mentioned the
Swedish Democrats, as Bad in some way. Looking at
the election results, it's obvious why. For the
two parties, which are at the bottom of the list,
there being only a category of Other Parties that
got 0.7% of the vote, 2006 and 2010 results
follow, with percentages based on a total of
18,373 non-blank and non-spoiled votes:

2006 2010
Demoex 2.85% 1.76%
SD 1.12% 2.68%

In 2006, Demoex was supported by 471 voters. In
spite of total turnout increasing from 16528 to
18373, Demoex was only supported in 2010 by 323
voters. In 2010, they did no better than in 2002,
their first election. SD overtook them, but it's
totally unclear whether or not SD actually took votes from Demoex.

If Demoex reconstituted itself as an advisory
organization, with either an elected
representative, or a *report by Demoex process*
of a different party's representative (which
might, in fact, be cleaner and more sustainable),
they could still turn things around.

Another piece of information: The current
demoex.net site claims that if the number of
voters reaches 24,000 in 2014, there will be 51 seats elected.

So what they have is about one seat out of fifty.

If they elect to keep running a candidate, I'd
revise the conditions, and elect someone trusted
to review the Demoex deliberations, and, as I
mentioned above, to *respect* them, which does
not necessarily mean following them. It would
mean that arguments raised in Demoex would either
be rejected by Demoex's own representative, who
would explain his or her decision to the party
strucutre, or accepted and forwarded to the Council.

If the goal is to eliminate partisanship, then
*the process must eliminate partisanship,*
including "Demoex partisanship." To accomplish
the goal of *citizen participation,* Demoex only
needs one seat, but it could elect more.

Notice on the elections page, that they are *at
the bottom*, except for the very tiny result for "other parties."

Calling for the imitation of Demoex at this point
is calling for the imitation of a process that
has only been successful in a narrow way. It's
not growing, but Per is looking toward being a force on the world stage.
Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2013-03-14 09:16:20 UTC
Permalink
On 03/13/2013 05:09 AM, Michael Allan wrote:

> If the experts in the Election Methods list can't find a serious fault
> with this method, then it might be possible to bring down the party
> system in as little as a few years. Mind you, it would be no bad
> thing if it took a while longer, given the disruption it might cause.

Regarding liquid democracy methods in general, I think the vote-buying
problem is pretty serious. Or rather, that's not the worst part of it,
but it's a symptom of a more general aspect.

This general aspect is that the network of delegation can't decide when
the power vested in a person is sufficiently great that he should be
public, and conversely, when the voters have sufficiently little power
that they should be anonymous.

Intuitively, for proxies with great power, the need for transparency
outweighs the repercussions of doing so, while for individual voters the
opposite is the case. But the voting method has no way of knowing where
one changes into the other.

Thus there seems to be two standard solutions. The first is to keep
everything private, and the second is to keep everything public. The
first is rather more difficult than the second, since one has to know
something about the proxies in order to subscribe to them; and neither
is really desirable.

I should clarify that vote-buying is only one side of the
transparency/anonymity problem. If you have a version where everything
is public, then vote-buying is not the only weakness. There could also
be vote coercion ("subscribe to this proxy or else") or small-town
effects (try being a liberal proxy in a particularly conservative town
in the Deep South).

Now, some people say that this isn't a problem, and more broadly that
complete disclosure is no problem. I've had that discussion on EM
before, and I know of people who think that, more broadly, Brin's
"Transparent Society" would be a good thing. Both from small-town
effects[1] and from vote-buying, I disagree.

If only one could solve this problem, liquid democracy could be really
good. I imagine it would be possible with judicious use of crypto, but
that would obscure the system quite a bit. You'd also have to code into
the system the "sorites" decision of where power becomes great enough
that transparency outweighs privacy.

-

[1] The "Law of Jante" is a Scandinavian term, after all. Similar things
exist elsewhere, e.g. the Japanese "nail that sticks up".

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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-15 20:27:46 UTC
Permalink
At 04:16 AM 3/14/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>On 03/13/2013 05:09 AM, Michael Allan wrote:
>
>>If the experts in the Election Methods list can't find a serious fault
>>with this method, then it might be possible to bring down the party
>>system in as little as a few years. Mind you, it would be no bad
>>thing if it took a while longer, given the disruption it might cause.
>
>Regarding liquid democracy methods in general, I think the
>vote-buying problem is pretty serious. Or rather, that's not the
>worst part of it, but it's a symptom of a more general aspect.

Kristofer is asseting as a serious problem something on which there
is zero experience. It's not clear that "vote-buying" is *ever* a
serious problem. A system that seeks broad consensus, where possible,
is only "vulnerable" to *truly massive vote-buying," where it is more
like "negotiation" than "vote buying." I.e., Walmart will donate
$100,000 to the town if voters allow a store to be sited there. Much
more likely to be successful than trying to pay voter $100 or
whatever and run legal risks.

First of all, Kristoger is assuming exercise of power through
delegable proxy. I don't recommend it for that, not without
substantial experience first. I recommend it for *advisory
structures.* Advice *can* be powerful, but with advice, created by --
and validated or transmitted through proxies, who can advise
differently than the "majority," there is essentially no danger of
vote-buying, I covered this years ago, the buyer, would, at great
expense, end up with a mouthful of hair. Most likely. We can't say
"impossible" to anything.

>This general aspect is that the network of delegation can't decide
>when the power vested in a person is sufficiently great that he
>should be public, and conversely, when the voters have sufficiently
>little power that they should be anonymous.

I've made two proposals: first, delegable proxy in NGOs, advisory in
nature. I strongly recommend that all proxy assignments in this
organization be public.

The other proposal is for NGOs and for governmental organizations,
running public elections, and that's Asset Voting. There is a tweak
for what I've called "difficult situations," meaning places and
circumstances where an isolated individual with certain views might
be in physical danger, but Asset Voting, I generally assume, does
have a secret ballot input. The *electors* empowered by this election
would, I assume, vote publically, except under very unusual and very
dangerous situations. These situations do not exist in major democracies.

(And there are ways to address this issue, but they complicate
matters greatly. I don't recommend anything but electors being public
voters, under ordinary circumstances. Note that I've lived in a small
town meeting town, and how citizens vote on issues before the Town
Meeting is very visible. And, yes, it can take courage to confront a
fake consensus; basically you need to know what's real, and one of
the things that an FA/DP organization that is *not* "in control" can
do is to measure consensus. And it can do it with process that is
largely hidden, i.e., is only direct communication between proxies
and clients.)

>Intuitively, for proxies with great power, the need for transparency
>outweighs the repercussions of doing so, while for individual voters
>the opposite is the case. But the voting method has no way of
>knowing where one changes into the other.

Beyond a possible initial assignment of voting power through Asset
Voting, I *highly recommend* total transparency, while not preventing
or even discouraging private discussion between willing participants.

What I expect would naturally arise when there are large numbers of
voters, and no inhibition on candidate numbers, is that the number of
*initial voters* per candidate will stabilize at a ratio of
voters/elector that optimizes communication efficiency, generally.
Some voters with low interest might add to that, without increasing
communication burden on the elector. You get what you pay for.

>Thus there seems to be two standard solutions. The first is to keep
>everything private, and the second is to keep everything public.

And the hybrid, where initial assignments are secret. For FA/DP
organizations that, as Free Associations, do not collect and exercise
power by majority vote, but operate to structure and negotiate and
collect and report on consensus, I *highly* recommend that it all be
public, within the organization. I.e., any recognized member may
access the proxy table.

It's essential for the most efficient and effective communication model.

>The first is rather more difficult than the second, since one has to
>know something about the proxies in order to subscribe to them; and
>neither is really desirable.

Open is highly desirable.

Imagine an open system. Not *everything* is open. There is a web
site, say. There are rules for registration, these are essentially
membership rules. In a pure FA, membership is by declaration, and
"expulsion" is somewhere between rare and nonexistent. However,
*participation* in particular structures might be restricted as
needed. (Those who are restricted would have alternate avenues for expression.)

On that web site, anyone willing to serve as a proxy sets a bit
indicating that. On the web site, there are discussions under way,
some discussions are totally public, some are moderated -- but there
may be large numbers of "moderators," able to approve posts. People
can see the discussion of other members, but, if this is an
organizaiton with local meetings, people can also meet others face-to-face.

The web site does not display direct contact information (though
individual members may put up their own direct contact information,
if they choose.)

However, there is a direct proxy nomination process. A registered
member designates somone as a proxy, and an email or text message is
sent to the nominee. The proxy is not considered effective unless
acknoowledged. The nomination provides direct contact information for
the nominator to the nominee. Who may negotiate, then, acceptance, or
simply accept. Accepting will automatically provide direct contact
information for the nominee to the nominator. So an accepted proxy
represents two people who have the option of direct, independent
communication, either in person, or on the phone, or by email, or the
like, and I'd expect proxies to generally set up mailing lists for
their clients. Which they would moderate.

I conceived of delegable proxy as setting up networks of mutual
trust. That is, in my view, crucial for the idea to work as
powerfully as possible.

While this can be done with secret systems, there then needs to be
"watchers," secure software, the whole nine yards. And secrecy
inhibits communication.

Consider that I have something to say to a VIP, who has joined the
FA/DP organization. There s/he is, on the membership roster. But s/he
hasn't volunteered to serve as proxy, or ... has volunteered, but has
a message that s/he is not accepting clients. So, I can look for two
other channels to communicate with him/her. I can look for someone
who has named him or her as a proxy, if that's been done, or I can
look for the person s/he has named.

I can analyze the proxy table and look for a communications path
between someone in one of their "natural caucuses" and someone in a
natural caucus of my own. So I can find someone with access to this
person, and I can communicate with *that person.* Not necessarily directly.

Yes, the person I'm trying to reach could be the President of the
United States. And the proxy netword filters traffic.

It is that filtering function that could allow FA/DP organizations to
beat the "Problem of Scale in Democracy." And then these
organizations can *advise* individuals and traditional organizations.
The DP network, created as I described, involves a "concentration of
trust." Not of power, in an FA. The distinction is crucial, it is, in
fact, the old separation of the judicial and executive functions.

>I should clarify that vote-buying is only one side of the
>transparency/anonymity problem. If you have a version where
>everything is public, then vote-buying is not the only weakness.
>There could also be vote coercion ("subscribe to this proxy or
>else") or small-town effects (try being a liberal proxy in a
>particularly conservative town in the Deep South).

Again, the criticism is largely invented. If it's an FA, and someone
coerces you, you have options. Besides being a crime, you can easily
just go along with it, and make a note to yourself that whatever
advice this person gives you, it's probably the opposite of what you
want to do. If they can coerce your "proxy assignment," which is
worth very little, and is created at great legal risk, they they
could also take your money, your property, and about anything else.

No, these questions arise in attempts to use delegable proxy for
*public exercise of power.* In public elections, any kind of vote
coercion, even vote-buying, is generally very illegal. And easy to
investigate and prosecute, if the target complains.

Under "difficult conditions," I've proposed schemes whereby electors
pre-designate alternates with registration, so that if anyone gets
less than N votes (like 2 might be adequate, or more, under some
circumstances), their vote is transferred automatically and not
reported publically. So they don't know if they got (with N=2) one
vote or none. So they don't know if any particular individual did not
vote for them.

But this is all imagining a problem and calling it "serious" that may
not exist at all.

>Now, some people say that this isn't a problem, and more broadly
>that complete disclosure is no problem. I've had that discussion on
>EM before, and I know of people who think that, more broadly, Brin's
>"Transparent Society" would be a good thing. Both from small-town
>effects[1] and from vote-buying, I disagree.

The small-town effect has been exaggerated. Again, the distinct
problems of public elections, where direct power is being assigned,
and the naming of an advisor in an advisory association, are being
confused. They need to be distinguished, because they have distinct
solutions, if the problem arises.

If you live in such a small town, you will need to know where it is
safe to express your real views, or you are *in trouble* and it has
nothing to do with the voting system.

By the way, in an FA/DP organization, measures can be taken to
protect member identity. Wikipedia went to an extreme on this; they
never should have allowed secret administrators, people with the
power to block and ban and censor. But for general membership, it may
have been a decent idea.

It is possible to set up secret polling, as well, in an FA/DP
organization. FAs can do all kinds of things that are more dangerous
in power structures.

In power structures, then, what is at stake makes the effort of
securing the voting process worthwhile. And we do know, generally,
how to do that, even though it's not always done.

Risk, then, with a public process -- and Asset was designed for
public process -- is confined to those who voluntarily take on the
risk by declaring themselves as electors (i.e, as "candidates," but
Asset actually creates electors, not necessarily "winners," directly.)

And *then* the electors know what they are getting into. They will be
voting *publically.* There is no other way to ensure the security of
the system and its relative immunity to corruption.

Again, it's *possible* to do it secretly, but ... what, exactly is
being protected that is worth the very substantial risk of corruption
of the system.

>If only one could solve this problem, liquid democracy could be really good.

While the "problem" might be real in some sense, there is no clue
that in any related activity, it's been a real problem. Where it is,
measures can be taken.

> I imagine it would be possible with judicious use of crypto, but
> that would obscure the system quite a bit. You'd also have to code
> into the system the "sorites" decision of where power becomes great
> enough that transparency outweighs privacy.

And then, you have to trust the programmers and administrators of the
system, and you have *no way to check.*

While clever schemes can be devised which *might work*, again, what
*exactly* is the problem? Just asserting it as a general problem,
when, under most conditions, it is no problem at all, is counterproductive.

There has only been one Asset election that we know of, the election
of a 3-person steering committee for the Election Science Foundation,
a few years back. 17 voters. The second-largest vote getter was Clay
Shentrup. The only candidate with a quota, directly, was me, and I
had enough votes to create another seat for Warren Smith (the
third-largest). So how would vote buying and coercion apply in this
real situation?

What, Clay would threaten me? Clay didn't even talk to me! Rather,
within a day or so, he made his decision: he transferred his votes to
create the third seat. This is the kind of thing Asset can do. This
move was completely unexpected. It was unpredictable from the votes
themselves. (Clay is now on the Board of the Center for Election
Science, last I looked, and doing a great job. My sense, back then,
was that he wasn't quite ready. Maybe. I wanted to see what happened,
so I waited, instead of just electing him (which was the other
reasonable possibility). What he actually demonstrated was maturity
and caring about the purpose of the organization, instead of personal
power. In the long run, that was more important.)

>[1] The "Law of Jante" is a Scandinavian term, after all. Similar
>things exist elsewhere, e.g. the Japanese "nail that sticks up".

Why in the world would one choose to live in a place where this was a
serious problem?

In such an environment, there are limits to what one can do. Those
limits are natural, i.e., don't arise merely because some election
method is being used. Asset Voting is secret-ballot input, public
thereafter, just as members of the Town Council of Abusiveville vote openly.

To change the abusive situation would take courage, no matter how you
slice it. The equivalent would be requiring that Town Council votes
be secret. After all, someone might say something nasty to a Council
member! -- or worse.

People *do* say nasty things, but actual harm is rare. If Brave
Disestablishmentarian is on the Council, he or she is going to need
to be careful, to know when winning is possible, and possibly to
abstain on certain votes. That is, if *results* matter. If what one
wants is self-immolation or martyrdom, that's open as well.

If you are going to shoot the King, don't miss.

Now, if we are talking about situations where differences of opinion
don't trigger people shooting each other, why should we turn a system
on its head to avoid a problem that would be rare to nonexistent, and
that has other solutions if it arises?

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Richard Fobes
2013-03-17 16:54:46 UTC
Permalink
On 3/15/2013 1:27 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> At 04:16 AM 3/14/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>> On 03/13/2013 05:09 AM, Michael Allan wrote:
>>
>>> If the experts in the Election Methods list can't find a serious fault
>>> with this method, then it might be possible to bring down the party
>>> system in as little as a few years. Mind you, it would be no bad
>>> thing if it took a while longer, given the disruption it might cause.
>>
>> Regarding liquid democracy methods in general, I think the vote-buying
>> problem is pretty serious. Or rather, that's not the worst part of it,
>> but it's a symptom of a more general aspect.
>
> Kristofer is asseting as a serious problem something on which there is
> zero experience. It's not clear that "vote-buying" is *ever* a serious
> problem.[...]

Vote-buying would become quite serious if "liquid democracy" (direct
voting on issues) were adopted.

Many years ago I lived in a neighborhood that the police often had to
visit, and I saw that the illegal behavior that the police responded to
was just the tip of the iceberg. Just making vote-buying and
vote-selling illegal would not stop low-income people from selling their
vote. An underground ("black") market would develop. Trying to stop it
would have the same non-success as trying to stop the use of illegal drugs.

Also consider that the reason elections require people to appear in
person to cast their votes is that it greatly reduces voter fraud, which
is common without that requirement. Of course there are exceptions.
Here in Oregon everyone votes by mail, but that approach would not work
in most other states because they are noticeably more corrupt.

Richard Fobes

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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 01:12:40 UTC
Permalink
At 11:54 AM 3/17/2013, Richard Fobes wrote:
>On 3/15/2013 1:27 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>
>>Kristofer is asseting as a serious problem something on which there is
>>zero experience. It's not clear that "vote-buying" is *ever* a serious
>>problem.[...]
>
>Vote-buying would become quite serious if "liquid democracy" (direct
>voting on issues) were adopted.

I've seen the argument before. Derelicts would sell their votes.
There was an election in Florida, I think it was Miami, where the
election was voided because of alleged vote-buying. However ... I
reviewed that case, years back, and it really looked like that Mayor
legitimately won that election, a campaign worker had done something
foolish, and the Mayor got crucified for it.

Not exactly a poster child for how easy it is to buy votes. Really,
what was bought was voters being given favors in order to vote. If
there was actual supervised voting, that is an entirely different crime.

The argument made applies to *any* direct democratic measure. Richard
hasn't thought this through. He believes that the existence of some
percentage of the population, likely less than 1%, who would do
anything for $20, means that there would be a serious problem.

Really, get serious!

>Many years ago I lived in a neighborhood that the police often had
>to visit, and I saw that the illegal behavior that the police
>responded to was just the tip of the iceberg. Just making
>vote-buying and vote-selling illegal would not stop low-income
>people from selling their vote. An underground ("black") market
>would develop. Trying to stop it would have the same non-success as
>trying to stop the use of illegal drugs.

*I don't mind if people sell their vote.* Richard is talking about
public systems, and not in advisory organizations. If people sell
their vote in an advisory organization, it will have no effect, and
I'm not going to bother to detail why. Figure it out.

The concern in public systems, where power is assigned through
voting, or binding decisions are made, is also misplaced, though,
because the systems we have advocated use a secret ballot front end.
If it is truly feared that people would sell their votes, and that
this should be inhibited, there are two simple measures, one very
simple. If it's illegal, and to gain substantial power this way, the
vote buyer is taking enormous risks. All it takes is one person
betraying the "confidence."

Fobes was trying to think of *stopping* it by making it illegal to
sell your vote. He would be right. But that's not what would be done.
It would be illegal to *buy* a vote. And those who would buy votes
would have a great deal to lose.... The seller? Let them keep the
money. Make a contract to sell a vote be unenforceable. Etc. (It
already is, in common law, contracts to engage in any illegal
activity are void.)

>Also consider that the reason elections require people to appear in
>person to cast their votes is that it greatly reduces voter fraud,
>which is common without that requirement. Of course there are
>exceptions. Here in Oregon everyone votes by mail, but that approach
>would not work in most other states because they are noticeably more corrupt.

There is little difference between mail voting and in-person voting.
A great deal depends on the specific rules. Voters are not required
to present ID, if they are on the roll of registered voters. You just
walk in, tell them your name and where you live, and they look you up
in the street list, and hand you your ballot. No signature was checked.

With a mail ballot, you have to sign the outer ballot envelope, so
there is a signature that can be verified, with the voter registration card.

No, the *real* problems with voting have been occurring on a massive
scale with corruption of computerized systems. I have no doubt that
lots of problems have occurred historically, but mostly they occurred
where massive corruption was tolerated. Warren just put up a great
article in the filespace for the range voting mailing list, about
election corruption.

But some people are terrified of those derelicts who might sell their
votes. How about all those illegal aliens who vote?

Yeah, right! They probably elected Obama, the usurper, who was born
in Kenya, not Hawaii. If we don't rise up and defeat these aliens,
tHey will soon be herding us into concentration camps, because they
are also COMMUNISTS!!!!


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aGREATER.US
2013-03-18 00:21:19 UTC
Permalink
You wrote

<<Yeah, right! They probably elected Obama, the usurper, who was born in Kenya, not Hawaii. If we don't rise up and defeat these aliens, tHey will soon be herding us into concentration camps, because they are also COMMUNISTS!!!!>>

Please post your proof.
Jon Denn
Editor
aGREATER.US



Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 17, 2013, at 9:12 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <***@lomaxdesign.com> wrote:

> Yeah, right! They probably elected Obama, the usurper, who was born in Kenya, not Hawaii. If we don't rise up and defeat these aliens, tHey will soon be herding us into concentration camps, because they are also COMMUNISTS!!!!

Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 17, 2013, at 9:12 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <***@lomaxdesign.com> wrote:

> At 11:54 AM 3/17/2013, Richard Fobes wrote:
>> On 3/15/2013 1:27 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>>
>>> Kristofer is asseting as a serious problem something on which there is
>>> zero experience. It's not clear that "vote-buying" is *ever* a serious
>>> problem.[...]
>>
>> Vote-buying would become quite serious if "liquid democracy" (direct voting on issues) were adopted.
>
> I've seen the argument before. Derelicts would sell their votes. There was an election in Florida, I think it was Miami, where the election was voided because of alleged vote-buying. However ... I reviewed that case, years back, and it really looked like that Mayor legitimately won that election, a campaign worker had done something foolish, and the Mayor got crucified for it.
>
> Not exactly a poster child for how easy it is to buy votes. Really, what was bought was voters being given favors in order to vote. If there was actual supervised voting, that is an entirely different crime.
>
> The argument made applies to *any* direct democratic measure. Richard hasn't thought this through. He believes that the existence of some percentage of the population, likely less than 1%, who would do anything for $20, means that there would be a serious problem.
>
> Really, get serious!
>
>> Many years ago I lived in a neighborhood that the police often had to visit, and I saw that the illegal behavior that the police responded to was just the tip of the iceberg. Just making vote-buying and vote-selling illegal would not stop low-income people from selling their vote. An underground ("black") market would develop. Trying to stop it would have the same non-success as trying to stop the use of illegal drugs.
>
> *I don't mind if people sell their vote.* Richard is talking about public systems, and not in advisory organizations. If people sell their vote in an advisory organization, it will have no effect, and I'm not going to bother to detail why. Figure it out.
>
> The concern in public systems, where power is assigned through voting, or binding decisions are made, is also misplaced, though, because the systems we have advocated use a secret ballot front end. If it is truly feared that people would sell their votes, and that this should be inhibited, there are two simple measures, one very simple. If it's illegal, and to gain substantial power this way, the vote buyer is taking enormous risks. All it takes is one person betraying the "confidence."
>
> Fobes was trying to think of *stopping* it by making it illegal to sell your vote. He would be right. But that's not what would be done. It would be illegal to *buy* a vote. And those who would buy votes would have a great deal to lose.... The seller? Let them keep the money. Make a contract to sell a vote be unenforceable. Etc. (It already is, in common law, contracts to engage in any illegal activity are void.)
>
>> Also consider that the reason elections require people to appear in person to cast their votes is that it greatly reduces voter fraud, which is common without that requirement. Of course there are exceptions. Here in Oregon everyone votes by mail, but that approach would not work in most other states because they are noticeably more corrupt.
>
> There is little difference between mail voting and in-person voting. A great deal depends on the specific rules. Voters are not required to present ID, if they are on the roll of registered voters. You just walk in, tell them your name and where you live, and they look you up in the street list, and hand you your ballot. No signature was checked.
>
> With a mail ballot, you have to sign the outer ballot envelope, so there is a signature that can be verified, with the voter registration card.
>
> No, the *real* problems with voting have been occurring on a massive scale with corruption of computerized systems. I have no doubt that lots of problems have occurred historically, but mostly they occurred where massive corruption was tolerated. Warren just put up a great article in the filespace for the range voting mailing list, about election corruption.
>
> But some people are terrified of those derelicts who might sell their votes. How about all those illegal aliens who vote?
>
> Yeah, right! They probably elected Obama, the usurper, who was born in Kenya, not Hawaii. If we don't rise up and defeat these aliens, tHey will soon be herding us into concentration camps, because they are also COMMUNISTS!!!!
>
>
> ----
> Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
>
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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 02:18:24 UTC
Permalink
At 07:21 PM 3/17/2013, aGREATER.US wrote:
>You wrote
>
><<Yeah, right! They probably elected Obama, the usurper, who was
>born in Kenya, not Hawaii. If we don't rise up and defeat these
>aliens, tHey will soon be herding us into concentration camps,
>because they are also COMMUNISTS!!!!>>
>
>Please post your proof.
>Jon Denn
>Editor
>aGREATER.US

My proof is that you are a Communist. And probably a foreigner or at
least some kind of hippie pinko comsymp, with a name like "Jon"
instead of a god-fearing "John." And if you say otherwise, it's not
surprising, because your kind are taught that lying is good.

Look, Jon, are you serious? You can't recognize sarcasm? I really
hope you were joking.....

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Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-15 20:27:46 UTC
Permalink
At 04:16 AM 3/14/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>On 03/13/2013 05:09 AM, Michael Allan wrote:
>
>>If the experts in the Election Methods list can't find a serious fault
>>with this method, then it might be possible to bring down the party
>>system in as little as a few years. Mind you, it would be no bad
>>thing if it took a while longer, given the disruption it might cause.
>
>Regarding liquid democracy methods in general, I think the
>vote-buying problem is pretty serious. Or rather, that's not the
>worst part of it, but it's a symptom of a more general aspect.

Kristofer is asseting as a serious problem something on which there
is zero experience. It's not clear that "vote-buying" is *ever* a
serious problem. A system that seeks broad consensus, where possible,
is only "vulnerable" to *truly massive vote-buying," where it is more
like "negotiation" than "vote buying." I.e., Walmart will donate
$100,000 to the town if voters allow a store to be sited there. Much
more likely to be successful than trying to pay voter $100 or
whatever and run legal risks.

First of all, Kristoger is assuming exercise of power through
delegable proxy. I don't recommend it for that, not without
substantial experience first. I recommend it for *advisory
structures.* Advice *can* be powerful, but with advice, created by --
and validated or transmitted through proxies, who can advise
differently than the "majority," there is essentially no danger of
vote-buying, I covered this years ago, the buyer, would, at great
expense, end up with a mouthful of hair. Most likely. We can't say
"impossible" to anything.

>This general aspect is that the network of delegation can't decide
>when the power vested in a person is sufficiently great that he
>should be public, and conversely, when the voters have sufficiently
>little power that they should be anonymous.

I've made two proposals: first, delegable proxy in NGOs, advisory in
nature. I strongly recommend that all proxy assignments in this
organization be public.

The other proposal is for NGOs and for governmental organizations,
running public elections, and that's Asset Voting. There is a tweak
for what I've called "difficult situations," meaning places and
circumstances where an isolated individual with certain views might
be in physical danger, but Asset Voting, I generally assume, does
have a secret ballot input. The *electors* empowered by this election
would, I assume, vote publically, except under very unusual and very
dangerous situations. These situations do not exist in major democracies.

(And there are ways to address this issue, but they complicate
matters greatly. I don't recommend anything but electors being public
voters, under ordinary circumstances. Note that I've lived in a small
town meeting town, and how citizens vote on issues before the Town
Meeting is very visible. And, yes, it can take courage to confront a
fake consensus; basically you need to know what's real, and one of
the things that an FA/DP organization that is *not* "in control" can
do is to measure consensus. And it can do it with process that is
largely hidden, i.e., is only direct communication between proxies
and clients.)

>Intuitively, for proxies with great power, the need for transparency
>outweighs the repercussions of doing so, while for individual voters
>the opposite is the case. But the voting method has no way of
>knowing where one changes into the other.

Beyond a possible initial assignment of voting power through Asset
Voting, I *highly recommend* total transparency, while not preventing
or even discouraging private discussion between willing participants.

What I expect would naturally arise when there are large numbers of
voters, and no inhibition on candidate numbers, is that the number of
*initial voters* per candidate will stabilize at a ratio of
voters/elector that optimizes communication efficiency, generally.
Some voters with low interest might add to that, without increasing
communication burden on the elector. You get what you pay for.

>Thus there seems to be two standard solutions. The first is to keep
>everything private, and the second is to keep everything public.

And the hybrid, where initial assignments are secret. For FA/DP
organizations that, as Free Associations, do not collect and exercise
power by majority vote, but operate to structure and negotiate and
collect and report on consensus, I *highly* recommend that it all be
public, within the organization. I.e., any recognized member may
access the proxy table.

It's essential for the most efficient and effective communication model.

>The first is rather more difficult than the second, since one has to
>know something about the proxies in order to subscribe to them; and
>neither is really desirable.

Open is highly desirable.

Imagine an open system. Not *everything* is open. There is a web
site, say. There are rules for registration, these are essentially
membership rules. In a pure FA, membership is by declaration, and
"expulsion" is somewhere between rare and nonexistent. However,
*participation* in particular structures might be restricted as
needed. (Those who are restricted would have alternate avenues for expression.)

On that web site, anyone willing to serve as a proxy sets a bit
indicating that. On the web site, there are discussions under way,
some discussions are totally public, some are moderated -- but there
may be large numbers of "moderators," able to approve posts. People
can see the discussion of other members, but, if this is an
organizaiton with local meetings, people can also meet others face-to-face.

The web site does not display direct contact information (though
individual members may put up their own direct contact information,
if they choose.)

However, there is a direct proxy nomination process. A registered
member designates somone as a proxy, and an email or text message is
sent to the nominee. The proxy is not considered effective unless
acknoowledged. The nomination provides direct contact information for
the nominator to the nominee. Who may negotiate, then, acceptance, or
simply accept. Accepting will automatically provide direct contact
information for the nominee to the nominator. So an accepted proxy
represents two people who have the option of direct, independent
communication, either in person, or on the phone, or by email, or the
like, and I'd expect proxies to generally set up mailing lists for
their clients. Which they would moderate.

I conceived of delegable proxy as setting up networks of mutual
trust. That is, in my view, crucial for the idea to work as
powerfully as possible.

While this can be done with secret systems, there then needs to be
"watchers," secure software, the whole nine yards. And secrecy
inhibits communication.

Consider that I have something to say to a VIP, who has joined the
FA/DP organization. There s/he is, on the membership roster. But s/he
hasn't volunteered to serve as proxy, or ... has volunteered, but has
a message that s/he is not accepting clients. So, I can look for two
other channels to communicate with him/her. I can look for someone
who has named him or her as a proxy, if that's been done, or I can
look for the person s/he has named.

I can analyze the proxy table and look for a communications path
between someone in one of their "natural caucuses" and someone in a
natural caucus of my own. So I can find someone with access to this
person, and I can communicate with *that person.* Not necessarily directly.

Yes, the person I'm trying to reach could be the President of the
United States. And the proxy netword filters traffic.

It is that filtering function that could allow FA/DP organizations to
beat the "Problem of Scale in Democracy." And then these
organizations can *advise* individuals and traditional organizations.
The DP network, created as I described, involves a "concentration of
trust." Not of power, in an FA. The distinction is crucial, it is, in
fact, the old separation of the judicial and executive functions.

>I should clarify that vote-buying is only one side of the
>transparency/anonymity problem. If you have a version where
>everything is public, then vote-buying is not the only weakness.
>There could also be vote coercion ("subscribe to this proxy or
>else") or small-town effects (try being a liberal proxy in a
>particularly conservative town in the Deep South).

Again, the criticism is largely invented. If it's an FA, and someone
coerces you, you have options. Besides being a crime, you can easily
just go along with it, and make a note to yourself that whatever
advice this person gives you, it's probably the opposite of what you
want to do. If they can coerce your "proxy assignment," which is
worth very little, and is created at great legal risk, they they
could also take your money, your property, and about anything else.

No, these questions arise in attempts to use delegable proxy for
*public exercise of power.* In public elections, any kind of vote
coercion, even vote-buying, is generally very illegal. And easy to
investigate and prosecute, if the target complains.

Under "difficult conditions," I've proposed schemes whereby electors
pre-designate alternates with registration, so that if anyone gets
less than N votes (like 2 might be adequate, or more, under some
circumstances), their vote is transferred automatically and not
reported publically. So they don't know if they got (with N=2) one
vote or none. So they don't know if any particular individual did not
vote for them.

But this is all imagining a problem and calling it "serious" that may
not exist at all.

>Now, some people say that this isn't a problem, and more broadly
>that complete disclosure is no problem. I've had that discussion on
>EM before, and I know of people who think that, more broadly, Brin's
>"Transparent Society" would be a good thing. Both from small-town
>effects[1] and from vote-buying, I disagree.

The small-town effect has been exaggerated. Again, the distinct
problems of public elections, where direct power is being assigned,
and the naming of an advisor in an advisory association, are being
confused. They need to be distinguished, because they have distinct
solutions, if the problem arises.

If you live in such a small town, you will need to know where it is
safe to express your real views, or you are *in trouble* and it has
nothing to do with the voting system.

By the way, in an FA/DP organization, measures can be taken to
protect member identity. Wikipedia went to an extreme on this; they
never should have allowed secret administrators, people with the
power to block and ban and censor. But for general membership, it may
have been a decent idea.

It is possible to set up secret polling, as well, in an FA/DP
organization. FAs can do all kinds of things that are more dangerous
in power structures.

In power structures, then, what is at stake makes the effort of
securing the voting process worthwhile. And we do know, generally,
how to do that, even though it's not always done.

Risk, then, with a public process -- and Asset was designed for
public process -- is confined to those who voluntarily take on the
risk by declaring themselves as electors (i.e, as "candidates," but
Asset actually creates electors, not necessarily "winners," directly.)

And *then* the electors know what they are getting into. They will be
voting *publically.* There is no other way to ensure the security of
the system and its relative immunity to corruption.

Again, it's *possible* to do it secretly, but ... what, exactly is
being protected that is worth the very substantial risk of corruption
of the system.

>If only one could solve this problem, liquid democracy could be really good.

While the "problem" might be real in some sense, there is no clue
that in any related activity, it's been a real problem. Where it is,
measures can be taken.

> I imagine it would be possible with judicious use of crypto, but
> that would obscure the system quite a bit. You'd also have to code
> into the system the "sorites" decision of where power becomes great
> enough that transparency outweighs privacy.

And then, you have to trust the programmers and administrators of the
system, and you have *no way to check.*

While clever schemes can be devised which *might work*, again, what
*exactly* is the problem? Just asserting it as a general problem,
when, under most conditions, it is no problem at all, is counterproductive.

There has only been one Asset election that we know of, the election
of a 3-person steering committee for the Election Science Foundation,
a few years back. 17 voters. The second-largest vote getter was Clay
Shentrup. The only candidate with a quota, directly, was me, and I
had enough votes to create another seat for Warren Smith (the
third-largest). So how would vote buying and coercion apply in this
real situation?

What, Clay would threaten me? Clay didn't even talk to me! Rather,
within a day or so, he made his decision: he transferred his votes to
create the third seat. This is the kind of thing Asset can do. This
move was completely unexpected. It was unpredictable from the votes
themselves. (Clay is now on the Board of the Center for Election
Science, last I looked, and doing a great job. My sense, back then,
was that he wasn't quite ready. Maybe. I wanted to see what happened,
so I waited, instead of just electing him (which was the other
reasonable possibility). What he actually demonstrated was maturity
and caring about the purpose of the organization, instead of personal
power. In the long run, that was more important.)

>[1] The "Law of Jante" is a Scandinavian term, after all. Similar
>things exist elsewhere, e.g. the Japanese "nail that sticks up".

Why in the world would one choose to live in a place where this was a
serious problem?

In such an environment, there are limits to what one can do. Those
limits are natural, i.e., don't arise merely because some election
method is being used. Asset Voting is secret-ballot input, public
thereafter, just as members of the Town Council of Abusiveville vote openly.

To change the abusive situation would take courage, no matter how you
slice it. The equivalent would be requiring that Town Council votes
be secret. After all, someone might say something nasty to a Council
member! -- or worse.

People *do* say nasty things, but actual harm is rare. If Brave
Disestablishmentarian is on the Council, he or she is going to need
to be careful, to know when winning is possible, and possibly to
abstain on certain votes. That is, if *results* matter. If what one
wants is self-immolation or martyrdom, that's open as well.

If you are going to shoot the King, don't miss.

Now, if we are talking about situations where differences of opinion
don't trigger people shooting each other, why should we turn a system
on its head to avoid a problem that would be rare to nonexistent, and
that has other solutions if it arises?
Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2013-03-17 22:29:22 UTC
Permalink
On 03/15/2013 09:27 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> At 04:16 AM 3/14/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>> On 03/13/2013 05:09 AM, Michael Allan wrote:
>>
>>> If the experts in the Election Methods list can't find a serious fault
>>> with this method, then it might be possible to bring down the party
>>> system in as little as a few years. Mind you, it would be no bad
>>> thing if it took a while longer, given the disruption it might cause.
>>
>> Regarding liquid democracy methods in general, I think the vote-buying
>> problem is pretty serious. Or rather, that's not the worst part of it,
>> but it's a symptom of a more general aspect.
>
> Kristofer is asseting as a serious problem something on which there is
> zero experience. It's not clear that "vote-buying" is *ever* a serious
> problem. A system that seeks broad consensus, where possible, is only
> "vulnerable" to *truly massive vote-buying," where it is more like
> "negotiation" than "vote buying." I.e., Walmart will donate $100,000 to
> the town if voters allow a store to be sited there. Much more likely to
> be successful than trying to pay voter $100 or whatever and run legal
> risks.

Given that there has been zero experience with the use of liquid
democracy for the exercise of power, yes, I am asserting something on
which there is zero experience. There's zero experience either way.

Since I make the assertion, I should provide something on which to base
it, though. And my assertions are based on analogous systems.

In the matter of vote-buying and coercion, that analogous system is
simply the election of candidates for office. Vote-buying and coercion
were here serious enough problems that one moved from the initially open
ballot onto a secret ballot. Clearly enough, openness at the lower end
was not a good thing.

The same arguments you provide against vote-buying and coercion could be
applied to a regular election. You say that vote-buying is illegal. Yes,
so it is in regular elections, but we still have secret ballots. You say
that if the small town is too oppressive, then just move. You could say
that about public balloting for candidate elections, too. And since we
still have secret ballots, it would seem that those arguments for a
public ballot are not considered sufficiently strong.

Would you prefer public (open) ballots for regular elections? If not,
what's the difference between your arguments as applied to liquid
democracy, and as applied to regular elections?

For that matter, liquid democracy (for the exercise of power) could need
more protection than ordinary elections. The argument would go something
like: if a minority is being oppressed in a small town, then it doesn't
matter because the majority will win anyway. However, being a consensus
system, liquid democracy needs to protect minorities as well, so that it
is safe to be a proxy and thus to pull the center of political gravity
in the right direction.

> First of all, Kristoger is assuming exercise of power through delegable
> proxy. I don't recommend it for that, not without substantial experience
> first. I recommend it for *advisory structures.*

With this (except for the spelling of my name :-), I do agree. If
experience is the most solid evidence, then let's get some of that
evidence. And since it's an optional matter whether one follows advice,
the stakes should be lesser.

I mentioned liquid democracy in the sense of exercising power because
that was what I was discussing in the parliamentary compromising problem
thread.

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 02:49:15 UTC
Permalink
At 05:29 PM 3/17/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>On 03/15/2013 09:27 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>At 04:16 AM 3/14/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>>>On 03/13/2013 05:09 AM, Michael Allan wrote:
>>>
>>>>If the experts in the Election Methods list can't find a serious fault
>>>>with this method, then it might be possible to bring down the party
>>>>system in as little as a few years. Mind you, it would be no bad
>>>>thing if it took a while longer, given the disruption it might cause.
>>>
>>>Regarding liquid democracy methods in general, I think the vote-buying
>>>problem is pretty serious. Or rather, that's not the worst part of it,
>>>but it's a symptom of a more general aspect.
>>
>>Kristofer is asseting as a serious problem something on which there is
>>zero experience. It's not clear that "vote-buying" is *ever* a serious
>>problem. A system that seeks broad consensus, where possible, is only
>>"vulnerable" to *truly massive vote-buying," where it is more like
>>"negotiation" than "vote buying." I.e., Walmart will donate $100,000 to
>>the town if voters allow a store to be sited there. Much more likely to
>>be successful than trying to pay voter $100 or whatever and run legal
>>risks.
>
>Given that there has been zero experience with the use of liquid
>democracy for the exercise of power, yes, I am asserting something
>on which there is zero experience. There's zero experience either way.

I'm not proposing "liquid democracy" for the actual exercise of
power, precisely because it's untested.

>Since I make the assertion, I should provide something on which to
>base it, though. And my assertions are based on analogous systems.
>
>In the matter of vote-buying and coercion, that analogous system is
>simply the election of candidates for office. Vote-buying and
>coercion were here serious enough problems that one moved from the
>initially open ballot onto a secret ballot. Clearly enough, openness
>at the lower end was not a good thing.

I don't think the history as presented is sound. Secret ballot has
been used for a long, long time. And major vote corruption occurred
in secret ballot systems. Open voting *on issues* is still done in
all legislative bodies, and that includes Town Meeting, where
ordinary citizens directly vote. They *never* use secret ballot for
this, and it's probably illegal. However, by law, some issues have to
be decided by registered voters in an election by secret ballot, not
by Town Meeting. (In Massachusetts, I've only seen this for debt overrides.)

>The same arguments you provide against vote-buying and coercion
>could be applied to a regular election. You say that vote-buying is illegal.

Yup.

> Yes, so it is in regular elections, but we still have secret ballots.

You seem to think that I'm opposed to "secret ballots." We do have
secret ballots, but only for general public voting. In the systems
I've proposed, hybrid representative/direct democracy, "electors"
would be empowered by secret ballot. These would be able to vote
directly, in some versions, on issues. The same electors would vote
publicly for seats in a deliberative body.

There is *lots* of precendent for open voting by those enabled as
representatives, indeed, it is *always* done that way. And, yes,
these people can be bought, sometimes. But we don't allow
representatives to vote secretly to prevent them from being corrupted!

> You say that if the small town is too oppressive, then just move.

No. I said that this is a bigger problem than vote coercsion.
Sometimes you can't move. Essentially, if one is in a situation where
one would suffer from the expression of opinion, publically, one
would not run to be an elector, just as one would not run to be a
member of the city council. Unless willing to take the heat. You
could vote in an Asset election for someone who was willing. And pay
them, if you like. That's actually legal, as long as you don't
attempt to influence legislation with the money.

>You could say that about public balloting for candidate elections, too.

Only by electors. Not by general voters. Again, we elect Presidential
electors, state by state in the U.S.. They vote publically.

>And since we still have secret ballots, it would seem that those
>arguments for a public ballot are not considered sufficiently strong.
>
>Would you prefer public (open) ballots for regular elections?

No.

>If not, what's the difference between your arguments as applied to
>liquid democracy, and as applied to regular elections?

I don't recommend elections at all by "liquid democracy." Basically,
Kristoger, I suspect you've understood hardly anything I've written.

I recommend delegable proxy for *advisory organizations.* For public
elections, I recommend Asset Voting, as the ultimate reform. The
electors *may use* delegable proxy to help guide them how to vote,
but that's *advisory* and optional. What is unusual about this
concept is that a deliberative body is created that could be very large.

Anyone who does not want to be exposed to harm from who they vote for
-- which is the basic issue -- simply would not become an elector,
quite the same as someone who fears that now would not run for a city
council position in this supposedly abusive small town. Nor would
they now vote in a Town Meeting.

But someone will be brave enough, and that could be the person you'd
vote for in an Asset election, if you want to support them.


>For that matter, liquid democracy (for the exercise of power) could
>need more protection than ordinary elections.

Of course. Kristofer, *I'm not suppoting liquid democracy for the
exercise of power.* Period. I'm supporting it for advisory
organizations. Which can be *associated with a political party.* But
delegable proxy sets up, as I propose it, networks of trust, where
the proxy-client relationship allows *direct communication*. A great
deal will happen outside of any official public channel. Indeed, most
of the traffic involved in an FA/DP organization would likely be
*private*. The organization, if it's an FA, does not make
controversial decisions. Rather, it arranges and facilitates
*communication* and it *measures* consensus.

It does so in a way that would be extraordinarily difficult to corrupt.

>The argument would go something like: if a minority is being
>oppressed in a small town, then it doesn't matter because the
>majority will win anyway. However, being a consensus system, liquid
>democracy needs to protect minorities as well, so that it is safe to
>be a proxy and thus to pull the center of political gravity in the
>right direction.

"Liquid democracy" is a term invented in the 90s for a rather fuzzy
set of proposals. I used "delegable proxy" to describe an
amalgamation system, which is essentially that of LD, but I place it
in the context of a Free Association (FA), which, by design, does not
centralize and collect power to be exercised by majority vote. These
Associations are designed to be easy to join and to participate in,
and to filter noise. Basically, you can control your level of
participation, from very minimal to very active, and yet your power
remains the same, because of the proxy system. The goal is *advice*,
and those advised are anyone who wants to be advised. The
participants of a political FA want to know how to vote powerfully
and effectively. Leaders of a political party -- and the FA should
*not8 be a political party as such, i.e., divided from others -- may
want to be advised as to how the FA members think and what they want.
An FA/Dp organization sets up ways for people to actually negotiate
things with "the other side." For a few to handle this, instead of
many, but representing many.


>>First of all, Kristoger is assuming exercise of power through delegable
>>proxy. I don't recommend it for that, not without substantial experience
>>first. I recommend it for *advisory structures.*
>
>With this (except for the spelling of my name :-), I do agree. If
>experience is the most solid evidence, then let's get some of that
>evidence. And since it's an optional matter whether one follows
>advice, the stakes should be lesser.
>
>I mentioned liquid democracy in the sense of exercising power
>because that was what I was discussing in the parliamentary
>compromising problem thread.

Demox in Sweden did attempt to use delegable proxy for the exercise
of power. It's not clear that they are still using it. It does appear
that they advise their representative on the Town Council by majority
vote, that that rep is obligated to vote according to the majority.

That is not an improvement, it's a reduction of deliberative
democracy, i.e., the design process of the Town Council, to the
activity of a party hack, i.e., someone who only does what their
party tells them to.

If Demoex had realized the power of citizen *advice*, of having a way
for citizens to collectively communicate through representatives
representing a known number of voters, they'd not be losing support,
they would be on their way up, to the point where they might actually
represent a majority of the town, instead of less than 2%.

It's still possible. But I don't know that they are listening. Most
of this was originally written about them many years ago.

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 02:49:15 UTC
Permalink
At 05:29 PM 3/17/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>On 03/15/2013 09:27 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>At 04:16 AM 3/14/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>>>On 03/13/2013 05:09 AM, Michael Allan wrote:
>>>
>>>>If the experts in the Election Methods list can't find a serious fault
>>>>with this method, then it might be possible to bring down the party
>>>>system in as little as a few years. Mind you, it would be no bad
>>>>thing if it took a while longer, given the disruption it might cause.
>>>
>>>Regarding liquid democracy methods in general, I think the vote-buying
>>>problem is pretty serious. Or rather, that's not the worst part of it,
>>>but it's a symptom of a more general aspect.
>>
>>Kristofer is asseting as a serious problem something on which there is
>>zero experience. It's not clear that "vote-buying" is *ever* a serious
>>problem. A system that seeks broad consensus, where possible, is only
>>"vulnerable" to *truly massive vote-buying," where it is more like
>>"negotiation" than "vote buying." I.e., Walmart will donate $100,000 to
>>the town if voters allow a store to be sited there. Much more likely to
>>be successful than trying to pay voter $100 or whatever and run legal
>>risks.
>
>Given that there has been zero experience with the use of liquid
>democracy for the exercise of power, yes, I am asserting something
>on which there is zero experience. There's zero experience either way.

I'm not proposing "liquid democracy" for the actual exercise of
power, precisely because it's untested.

>Since I make the assertion, I should provide something on which to
>base it, though. And my assertions are based on analogous systems.
>
>In the matter of vote-buying and coercion, that analogous system is
>simply the election of candidates for office. Vote-buying and
>coercion were here serious enough problems that one moved from the
>initially open ballot onto a secret ballot. Clearly enough, openness
>at the lower end was not a good thing.

I don't think the history as presented is sound. Secret ballot has
been used for a long, long time. And major vote corruption occurred
in secret ballot systems. Open voting *on issues* is still done in
all legislative bodies, and that includes Town Meeting, where
ordinary citizens directly vote. They *never* use secret ballot for
this, and it's probably illegal. However, by law, some issues have to
be decided by registered voters in an election by secret ballot, not
by Town Meeting. (In Massachusetts, I've only seen this for debt overrides.)

>The same arguments you provide against vote-buying and coercion
>could be applied to a regular election. You say that vote-buying is illegal.

Yup.

> Yes, so it is in regular elections, but we still have secret ballots.

You seem to think that I'm opposed to "secret ballots." We do have
secret ballots, but only for general public voting. In the systems
I've proposed, hybrid representative/direct democracy, "electors"
would be empowered by secret ballot. These would be able to vote
directly, in some versions, on issues. The same electors would vote
publicly for seats in a deliberative body.

There is *lots* of precendent for open voting by those enabled as
representatives, indeed, it is *always* done that way. And, yes,
these people can be bought, sometimes. But we don't allow
representatives to vote secretly to prevent them from being corrupted!

> You say that if the small town is too oppressive, then just move.

No. I said that this is a bigger problem than vote coercsion.
Sometimes you can't move. Essentially, if one is in a situation where
one would suffer from the expression of opinion, publically, one
would not run to be an elector, just as one would not run to be a
member of the city council. Unless willing to take the heat. You
could vote in an Asset election for someone who was willing. And pay
them, if you like. That's actually legal, as long as you don't
attempt to influence legislation with the money.

>You could say that about public balloting for candidate elections, too.

Only by electors. Not by general voters. Again, we elect Presidential
electors, state by state in the U.S.. They vote publically.

>And since we still have secret ballots, it would seem that those
>arguments for a public ballot are not considered sufficiently strong.
>
>Would you prefer public (open) ballots for regular elections?

No.

>If not, what's the difference between your arguments as applied to
>liquid democracy, and as applied to regular elections?

I don't recommend elections at all by "liquid democracy." Basically,
Kristoger, I suspect you've understood hardly anything I've written.

I recommend delegable proxy for *advisory organizations.* For public
elections, I recommend Asset Voting, as the ultimate reform. The
electors *may use* delegable proxy to help guide them how to vote,
but that's *advisory* and optional. What is unusual about this
concept is that a deliberative body is created that could be very large.

Anyone who does not want to be exposed to harm from who they vote for
-- which is the basic issue -- simply would not become an elector,
quite the same as someone who fears that now would not run for a city
council position in this supposedly abusive small town. Nor would
they now vote in a Town Meeting.

But someone will be brave enough, and that could be the person you'd
vote for in an Asset election, if you want to support them.


>For that matter, liquid democracy (for the exercise of power) could
>need more protection than ordinary elections.

Of course. Kristofer, *I'm not suppoting liquid democracy for the
exercise of power.* Period. I'm supporting it for advisory
organizations. Which can be *associated with a political party.* But
delegable proxy sets up, as I propose it, networks of trust, where
the proxy-client relationship allows *direct communication*. A great
deal will happen outside of any official public channel. Indeed, most
of the traffic involved in an FA/DP organization would likely be
*private*. The organization, if it's an FA, does not make
controversial decisions. Rather, it arranges and facilitates
*communication* and it *measures* consensus.

It does so in a way that would be extraordinarily difficult to corrupt.

>The argument would go something like: if a minority is being
>oppressed in a small town, then it doesn't matter because the
>majority will win anyway. However, being a consensus system, liquid
>democracy needs to protect minorities as well, so that it is safe to
>be a proxy and thus to pull the center of political gravity in the
>right direction.

"Liquid democracy" is a term invented in the 90s for a rather fuzzy
set of proposals. I used "delegable proxy" to describe an
amalgamation system, which is essentially that of LD, but I place it
in the context of a Free Association (FA), which, by design, does not
centralize and collect power to be exercised by majority vote. These
Associations are designed to be easy to join and to participate in,
and to filter noise. Basically, you can control your level of
participation, from very minimal to very active, and yet your power
remains the same, because of the proxy system. The goal is *advice*,
and those advised are anyone who wants to be advised. The
participants of a political FA want to know how to vote powerfully
and effectively. Leaders of a political party -- and the FA should
*not8 be a political party as such, i.e., divided from others -- may
want to be advised as to how the FA members think and what they want.
An FA/Dp organization sets up ways for people to actually negotiate
things with "the other side." For a few to handle this, instead of
many, but representing many.


>>First of all, Kristoger is assuming exercise of power through delegable
>>proxy. I don't recommend it for that, not without substantial experience
>>first. I recommend it for *advisory structures.*
>
>With this (except for the spelling of my name :-), I do agree. If
>experience is the most solid evidence, then let's get some of that
>evidence. And since it's an optional matter whether one follows
>advice, the stakes should be lesser.
>
>I mentioned liquid democracy in the sense of exercising power
>because that was what I was discussing in the parliamentary
>compromising problem thread.

Demox in Sweden did attempt to use delegable proxy for the exercise
of power. It's not clear that they are still using it. It does appear
that they advise their representative on the Town Council by majority
vote, that that rep is obligated to vote according to the majority.

That is not an improvement, it's a reduction of deliberative
democracy, i.e., the design process of the Town Council, to the
activity of a party hack, i.e., someone who only does what their
party tells them to.

If Demoex had realized the power of citizen *advice*, of having a way
for citizens to collectively communicate through representatives
representing a known number of voters, they'd not be losing support,
they would be on their way up, to the point where they might actually
represent a majority of the town, instead of less than 2%.

It's still possible. But I don't know that they are listening. Most
of this was originally written about them many years ago.
Paul Nollen
2013-03-18 08:58:54 UTC
Permalink
Liquid democracy is tested for many years in every big (and small)
corporation. It is unthinkable that shareholders have the obligation to give
their voice for more than one General assembly to anyone. Every shareholder
can vote for himself or appoint a representative at his choice only for that
dedicated General Assembly. This system of "liquid democracy" is proven over
many years all around the world.
It is only in politics that voters are forced to give a mandate for many
years for decissions unknown.

Regards

Paul


-----Original Message-----
From: Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
Sent: Monday, March 18, 2013 3:49 AM
To: Kristofer Munsterhjelm
Cc: Meinungsfindungstool ; AG; Votorola ; Comunicación ; Election Methods ;
PDI; Start/Metagov ; AG Liquid Democracy
Subject: Re: [MG] [EM] Helping the Pirate Party to vanish

At 05:29 PM 3/17/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>On 03/15/2013 09:27 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>At 04:16 AM 3/14/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>>>On 03/13/2013 05:09 AM, Michael Allan wrote:
>>>
>>>>If the experts in the Election Methods list can't find a serious fault
>>>>with this method, then it might be possible to bring down the party
>>>>system in as little as a few years. Mind you, it would be no bad
>>>>thing if it took a while longer, given the disruption it might cause.
>>>
>>>Regarding liquid democracy methods in general, I think the vote-buying
>>>problem is pretty serious. Or rather, that's not the worst part of it,
>>>but it's a symptom of a more general aspect.
>>
>>Kristofer is asseting as a serious problem something on which there is
>>zero experience. It's not clear that "vote-buying" is *ever* a serious
>>problem. A system that seeks broad consensus, where possible, is only
>>"vulnerable" to *truly massive vote-buying," where it is more like
>>"negotiation" than "vote buying." I.e., Walmart will donate $100,000 to
>>the town if voters allow a store to be sited there. Much more likely to
>>be successful than trying to pay voter $100 or whatever and run legal
>>risks.
>
>Given that there has been zero experience with the use of liquid democracy
>for the exercise of power, yes, I am asserting something on which there is
>zero experience. There's zero experience either way.

I'm not proposing "liquid democracy" for the actual exercise of
power, precisely because it's untested.

>Since I make the assertion, I should provide something on which to base it,
>though. And my assertions are based on analogous systems.
>
>In the matter of vote-buying and coercion, that analogous system is simply
>the election of candidates for office. Vote-buying and coercion were here
>serious enough problems that one moved from the initially open ballot onto
>a secret ballot. Clearly enough, openness at the lower end was not a good
>thing.

I don't think the history as presented is sound. Secret ballot has
been used for a long, long time. And major vote corruption occurred
in secret ballot systems. Open voting *on issues* is still done in
all legislative bodies, and that includes Town Meeting, where
ordinary citizens directly vote. They *never* use secret ballot for
this, and it's probably illegal. However, by law, some issues have to
be decided by registered voters in an election by secret ballot, not
by Town Meeting. (In Massachusetts, I've only seen this for debt overrides.)

>The same arguments you provide against vote-buying and coercion could be
>applied to a regular election. You say that vote-buying is illegal.

Yup.

> Yes, so it is in regular elections, but we still have secret ballots.

You seem to think that I'm opposed to "secret ballots." We do have
secret ballots, but only for general public voting. In the systems
I've proposed, hybrid representative/direct democracy, "electors"
would be empowered by secret ballot. These would be able to vote
directly, in some versions, on issues. The same electors would vote
publicly for seats in a deliberative body.

There is *lots* of precendent for open voting by those enabled as
representatives, indeed, it is *always* done that way. And, yes,
these people can be bought, sometimes. But we don't allow
representatives to vote secretly to prevent them from being corrupted!

> You say that if the small town is too oppressive, then just move.

No. I said that this is a bigger problem than vote coercsion.
Sometimes you can't move. Essentially, if one is in a situation where
one would suffer from the expression of opinion, publically, one
would not run to be an elector, just as one would not run to be a
member of the city council. Unless willing to take the heat. You
could vote in an Asset election for someone who was willing. And pay
them, if you like. That's actually legal, as long as you don't
attempt to influence legislation with the money.

>You could say that about public balloting for candidate elections, too.

Only by electors. Not by general voters. Again, we elect Presidential
electors, state by state in the U.S.. They vote publically.

>And since we still have secret ballots, it would seem that those arguments
>for a public ballot are not considered sufficiently strong.
>
>Would you prefer public (open) ballots for regular elections?

No.

>If not, what's the difference between your arguments as applied to liquid
>democracy, and as applied to regular elections?

I don't recommend elections at all by "liquid democracy." Basically,
Kristoger, I suspect you've understood hardly anything I've written.

I recommend delegable proxy for *advisory organizations.* For public
elections, I recommend Asset Voting, as the ultimate reform. The
electors *may use* delegable proxy to help guide them how to vote,
but that's *advisory* and optional. What is unusual about this
concept is that a deliberative body is created that could be very large.

Anyone who does not want to be exposed to harm from who they vote for
-- which is the basic issue -- simply would not become an elector,
quite the same as someone who fears that now would not run for a city
council position in this supposedly abusive small town. Nor would
they now vote in a Town Meeting.

But someone will be brave enough, and that could be the person you'd
vote for in an Asset election, if you want to support them.


>For that matter, liquid democracy (for the exercise of power) could need
>more protection than ordinary elections.

Of course. Kristofer, *I'm not suppoting liquid democracy for the
exercise of power.* Period. I'm supporting it for advisory
organizations. Which can be *associated with a political party.* But
delegable proxy sets up, as I propose it, networks of trust, where
the proxy-client relationship allows *direct communication*. A great
deal will happen outside of any official public channel. Indeed, most
of the traffic involved in an FA/DP organization would likely be
*private*. The organization, if it's an FA, does not make
controversial decisions. Rather, it arranges and facilitates
*communication* and it *measures* consensus.

It does so in a way that would be extraordinarily difficult to corrupt.

>The argument would go something like: if a minority is being oppressed in a
>small town, then it doesn't matter because the majority will win anyway.
>However, being a consensus system, liquid democracy needs to protect
>minorities as well, so that it is safe to be a proxy and thus to pull the
>center of political gravity in the right direction.

"Liquid democracy" is a term invented in the 90s for a rather fuzzy
set of proposals. I used "delegable proxy" to describe an
amalgamation system, which is essentially that of LD, but I place it
in the context of a Free Association (FA), which, by design, does not
centralize and collect power to be exercised by majority vote. These
Associations are designed to be easy to join and to participate in,
and to filter noise. Basically, you can control your level of
participation, from very minimal to very active, and yet your power
remains the same, because of the proxy system. The goal is *advice*,
and those advised are anyone who wants to be advised. The
participants of a political FA want to know how to vote powerfully
and effectively. Leaders of a political party -- and the FA should
*not8 be a political party as such, i.e., divided from others -- may
want to be advised as to how the FA members think and what they want.
An FA/Dp organization sets up ways for people to actually negotiate
things with "the other side." For a few to handle this, instead of
many, but representing many.


>>First of all, Kristoger is assuming exercise of power through delegable
>>proxy. I don't recommend it for that, not without substantial experience
>>first. I recommend it for *advisory structures.*
>
>With this (except for the spelling of my name :-), I do agree. If
>experience is the most solid evidence, then let's get some of that
>evidence. And since it's an optional matter whether one follows advice, the
>stakes should be lesser.
>
>I mentioned liquid democracy in the sense of exercising power because that
>was what I was discussing in the parliamentary compromising problem thread.

Demox in Sweden did attempt to use delegable proxy for the exercise
of power. It's not clear that they are still using it. It does appear
that they advise their representative on the Town Council by majority
vote, that that rep is obligated to vote according to the majority.

That is not an improvement, it's a reduction of deliberative
democracy, i.e., the design process of the Town Council, to the
activity of a party hack, i.e., someone who only does what their
party tells them to.

If Demoex had realized the power of citizen *advice*, of having a way
for citizens to collectively communicate through representatives
representing a known number of voters, they'd not be losing support,
they would be on their way up, to the point where they might actually
represent a majority of the town, instead of less than 2%.

It's still possible. But I don't know that they are listening. Most
of this was originally written about them many years ago.


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03/17/13
Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2013-03-18 10:00:53 UTC
Permalink
On 03/18/2013 09:58 AM, Paul Nollen wrote:
> Liquid democracy is tested for many years in every big (and small)
> corporation. It is unthinkable that shareholders have the obligation to
> give their voice for more than one General assembly to anyone. Every
> shareholder can vote for himself or appoint a representative at his
> choice only for that dedicated General Assembly. This system of "liquid
> democracy" is proven over many years all around the world.
> It is only in politics that voters are forced to give a mandate for many
> years for decissions unknown.

The way I understand liquid democracy (and correct me if I'm wrong),
people can give their votes to proxies, and these proxies can in turn
give their votes to other proxies; whereas in corporations, the proxying
happens only once. That is, either you vote or you say "X will vote for me".

(I imagine that if indirect proxying had been possible in corporations,
we'd heard more about cycles. But again, I could be wrong. I've never
been to a general assembly.)

Also, for corporations in general, there are arguments that the real
power resides as much with the board as the assembly. This is given as
an explanation for the weird incentive structures that often appear,
with enormous bonuses given to executives even when the companies
struggle or fail. The recent Swiss Minder referendum can be seen in that
light.

In effect, that argument goes that the board can more effectively
exercise power than the general assembly can counter it, so the real
decisions are made by the board. If this is true, then having a more
corporate system in the political domain may not be such a good thing.

On the other hand, perhaps the boards are powerful only because the
general assembly meets so infrequently. As an imperfect analogy: "you
can accomplish lots of things even in a prison if the guards only look
on you once every year". And if *that*'s the reason, then liquid
democracy could work in a political setting - at least for advisory
purposes.

I also note that vote-buying would make less sense in a corporation
since voting power is given by wealth, in terms of numbers of shares
held, in the first place. And then I wonder if there have been instances
of vote coercion on shareholders.

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Paul Nollen
2013-03-18 10:31:51 UTC
Permalink
Hi Kristofer,

I answer in between

Kind regards

Paul

-----Original Message-----
From: Kristofer Munsterhjelm
Sent: Monday, March 18, 2013 11:00 AM
To: Paul Nollen
Cc: Metagovernment Project ; Meinungsfindungstool ; Votorola ; Comunicación
; Election Methods ; AG Liquid Democracy
Subject: Re: [MG] [EM] Helping the Pirate Party to vanish

On 03/18/2013 09:58 AM, Paul Nollen wrote:
> Liquid democracy is tested for many years in every big (and small)
> corporation. It is unthinkable that shareholders have the obligation to
> give their voice for more than one General assembly to anyone. Every
> shareholder can vote for himself or appoint a representative at his
> choice only for that dedicated General Assembly. This system of "liquid
> democracy" is proven over many years all around the world.
> It is only in politics that voters are forced to give a mandate for many
> years for decissions unknown.

The way I understand liquid democracy (and correct me if I'm wrong),
people can give their votes to proxies, and these proxies can in turn
give their votes to other proxies;

- Multiple proxies is, or has to be, an option. There is nowhare any rule
that liquid democracy has to allow indirect proxy.

whereas in corporations, the proxying
happens only once. That is, either you vote or you say "X will vote for me".

(I imagine that if indirect proxying had been possible in corporations,
we'd heard more about cycles. But again, I could be wrong. I've never
been to a general assembly.)

Also, for corporations in general, there are arguments that the real
power resides as much with the board as the assembly. This is given as
an explanation for the weird incentive structures that often appear,
with enormous bonuses given to executives even when the companies
struggle or fail. The recent Swiss Minder referendum can be seen in that
light.

In effect, that argument goes that the board can more effectively
exercise power than the general assembly can counter it, so the real
decisions are made by the board. If this is true, then having a more
corporate system in the political domain may not be such a good thing.

- I only stated that "liquid democracy" existed as a system already for a
long time.

On the other hand, perhaps the boards are powerful only because the
general assembly meets so infrequently. As an imperfect analogy: "you
can accomplish lots of things even in a prison if the guards only look
on you once every year". And if *that*'s the reason, then liquid
democracy could work in a political setting - at least for advisory
purposes.

- That depend of the corporation ofcourse. I can imagine that in a
cooperative like Mondragon the situation is different than in, let's say for
example, General Motors.
- if people are not granted decisive power it doesn't interest me, but that
is my personal opinion of course.

I also note that vote-buying would make less sense in a corporation
since voting power is given by wealth, in terms of numbers of shares
held, in the first place. And then I wonder if there have been instances
of vote coercion on shareholders.

- yes, in corporations it is not "one man one vote" but that is another
issue.


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03/17/13
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-19 02:08:31 UTC
Permalink
At 05:31 AM 3/18/2013, Paul Nollen wrote:

>>-----Original Message----- From: Kristofer Munsterhjelm
>>Sent: Monday, March 18, 2013 11:00 AM
>>To: Paul Nollen
>>Cc: Metagovernment Project ;
>>Meinungsfindungstool ; Votorola ; Comunicación
>>; Election Methods ; AG Liquid Democracy
>>Subject: Re: [MG] [EM] Helping the Pirate Party to vanish
>>
>>On 03/18/2013 09:58 AM, Paul Nollen wrote:
>>>Liquid democracy is tested for many years in every big (and small)
>>>corporation. It is unthinkable that shareholders have the obligation to
>>>give their voice for more than one General assembly to anyone. Every
>>>shareholder can vote for himself or appoint a representative at his
>>>choice only for that dedicated General Assembly. This system of "liquid
>>>democracy" is proven over many years all around the world.
>>>It is only in politics that voters are forced to give a mandate for many
>>>years for decissions unknown.
>>
>>The way I understand liquid democracy (and correct me if I'm wrong),
>>people can give their votes to proxies, and these proxies can in turn
>>give their votes to other proxies;
>
>- Multiple proxies is, or has to be, an
>option. There is nowhare any rule that liquid
>democracy has to allow indirect proxy.

If I say that the tail of a dog is a "leg," how many legs does the dog have?

The standard answer to the riddle is being,
"Four. Because I say a tail is a leg doesn't make it one."

I had been working on delegable proxy for long
before the usage "liquid democracy" came into
being, but it was published before I published
anything, in the 1990s, as I recall. The concept
was independently invented in at least a
hafl-dozen places around the world, over roughly
a decade. Delegability is essential to the *new*
concept. Yes, it's based on old concepts, and in
some cases, traditional proxies could be
delegable in some sense, but that was not expected or reliable.

The current Demoex parliamentary rep has a blog
and is writing a book, in which he suggests that
Wikipedia is a fine example of democracy. It is,
in fact, a fine example of how direct democracy
can fail. In any case, currently, if you load the
link, you are redirected to the article on
deletaged voting. However, that is the result of
an anonymous edit -- and nobody who has a clue was paying attention.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_democracy

Until a few months ago, and almost four years, the page redirected to

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_voting#Delegated_voting

There was originally an article on Liquid
democracy itself. It was moved to the title of
"Delegable proxy" in 2008. That page was deleted, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Delegable_proxy

The content, though, was moved to
http://wiki.electorama.com/wiki/Delegable_proxy
It was never properly reformatted for that wiki.

If you want a clue as to what *really* happened
back then, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Delegable_proxy.
This proposal was merely for an experiment,
setting up a proxy table system, it proposed no
changes in policy and did not implement proxy
voting. But it would have made proxy analysis
possible. The rejection was violent, almost
visceral. The proposer was rapidly blocked; he'd
been a long-term editor who had a habit of
changing names, but I checked at the time. His
previous incarnation had been an editor in good
standing, for years. He was indefinitely blocked
for offenses that might have raised an eyebrow
for an ordinary editor, and it all came down very
rapidly once he proposed delegable proxy structures.

I don't frequently use the term "liquid
democracy," but ... here are some old pages.

http://www.communitywiki.org/LiquidDemocracy
seems to be from 2004, but the page history
indicates an earlier version existed in 2003.
http://www.communitywiki.org/en?action=rc;all=1;from=1;showedit=1;rcidonly=LiquidDemocracy

Soemthing from 2003, specifies delegation:

http://ming.tv/flemming2.php/_d10/_v10/__show_day/_w2003-05-15#000010-000797

This seemed to be from 1999, and it has a dead
link to a page by James Green-Armytage, who I
consider one of the various independent inventors of delegable proxy.
http://maparent.ca/Why_online_tools_for_public_deliberation_

This page doesn't discuss delegation. Apparently
the concept of ordinary proxy representation is
so radical for some people they don't understand
it's been around for centuries. I now think that
this page was not from 1999, but later.

However, here is a link to a paper written later by James G-A:

http://www.econ.ucsb.edu/~armytage/voting/proxy.htm#introduction

He explicitly discusses delegation, and he calls
the method "delegable proxy." I think he may have
gotten that usage from me, but may have been
working on the concepts as "liquid democracy" or
proxy voting long before we had contact. I'm not
certain. I've also called it "fractal democracy,"
and some people like that name, because the
organizational structure is a fractal. A large DP
structure will self-resemble at all scales, at least roughly.

I don't know if I could find the first mention of
liquid democracy. Many old pages are gone, and
there is no way that I know of to search the
Internet Archive. But I did find this page in the
Archive, from a dead link elsewhere:
http://web.archive.org/web/20070930030223/http://wiki.uniteddiversity.com/tiki-index.php?page=LiquidDemocracy

This, which may have been from 2004, though it
was captured later, refers to "chained answer
recommendation." I.e. the author is thinking of
what I call the Free Association concept, and has
the idea that this is for advice The "chained"
means that the designations are delegable. The
structure is a fractal. Another way to say it,
mathematically, is that it is a directed graph.

Many, many sources I saw in this recent search
clearly refer to delegation. Some merely refer to
proxy representation. But proxy representation is
not a new idea at all, in fact, that was Paul's
point, except that, instead of simply noting that
proxy representation is an old concept, he
claimed that "liquid democracy" was old. I'm
going to make one attempt to find a truly old mention.

This page version was last modified in 2002:
http://web.archive.org/web/20020225024957/http://twistedmatrix.com/users/jh.twistd/python/moin.cgi/LiquidDemocracy
and it links to

http://web.archive.org/web/20020826094730/http://twistedmatrix.com/users/jh.twistd/python/moin.cgi/LiquidDemocracyVotingSystem

I really do think this guy may have been the
first to use the term "liquid democracy." He
calls the system scalable, but the way he
describes it doesn't take advantage of the
scalability of delegable proxy, and, in fact, he
tries to address the problems that he can see would arise.

From my perspective, looking back at a decade of
massive discussions of delegable proxy, he's got
some aspects of the Free Association concept, but
only a primitive idea of how to actually make the
structure scalable. Without having any present
need, he's already trying to write code. He's
proposing complex solutions to problems that don't exist yet.

So ... what is "liquid democracy." I'd noticed
images along the way. Here are some, all returns
on a search for images for "liquid democracy."

http://www.karl.aegee.org/lf/ This one uses,
primitively, what I'd use to graphically display
a proxy table, concentric circles. Initially, all
clients are arranged around a first circle. When
a client names a proxy, the proxy is moved to a
second smaller circle, opposite the client. If
another client names that proxy, the client is
moved around the circle to be next to the first.
If a proxy and client name each other, they are
moved to that inner cricle, adjacent. If another
person names the first client as a proxy, that
ooriginal client moves inward to the first inside
circle and then the original proxy moves to the third, and so on.

When the graph is complete, the circle represents
what I've called the "proxy rank." Essentially,
it is the number of people the proxy represents
if nobody else shows up. So the outer circle is
circle 1. The positions of the individuals are
arranged around the circle so that proxy-client
lines don't cross. So as information is
transferred from client to proxy, it is
concentrating, and when it is transferred from
proxy to client, it is spreading.

So, one problem. Loops. A two-person loop is easy
to display, but a larger loop could complicate
the graph. I'm not solving that here.

http://agsm.fsk.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/Datei:LD-Grafik.png
shows only one delegation.
http://www.ruprecht.de/no_cache/nachrichten/archive/2010/june/19/article/demokratie-20/
shows multiple layers of delegation.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Democracy.svg
comes from the Common Good Bank, a local organization here.
http://www.tageswoche.ch/de/2012_15/schweiz/414125/die-noch-direktere-demokratie.htm

*On the other hand*
http://aktivdemokrati.se/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/enghumans.jpg
does not show delegation. Delegation, by the way,
doesn't necessarily become important until the
organization becomes large and traffic starts to
overwhelm proxies. That's when proxies would
start to recommend people move their assignments
to a client of the proxy. (or elsewhere, but that
would be for other reasons .... i.e., they don't
want to communicate with the person. Proxy
assignments should be *mutually* agreed upon.

The original coiner of the term, if I've
identified this person correctly above, didn't
think to this level, but did realize that there
could arise a problem of excessive traffic, he
handles it by having the proxy start to charge
for "advice." Indeed, that may happen. But such a
highly trusted individual would suggest that some
of her clients take on some of her proxies, and
might suggest a small charge as standard, and the
clients would keep some and pass some on to her.
Yes. This could become an occupation.

These are -- must be -- *voluntary relationships*
and can be covered by special and personal
agreements. The system doesn't care about that,
but, to be scalable, it *must* allow delegation.
That's what makes the structure into a fractal,
like the human brain. Can you imagine what
thinking would be like if every neuron could not
pass a signal on through other neutrons? Basically, it would not exist.

Here is how I'll resolve this. Liquid democracy
proposals and discussions clear include,
routinely, transitive delegation of
representation. Obviously, a particular structure
at a particular time may not be using delegation.
However, if a structure does not use delegation,
it's not anything new, it's simply direct
discussion, ordinary democratic process, or is a
step up with recognizing proxy representation.
The original liquid democracy proposal did not
contemplate delegation, which is why it got
complex for the proposer, he claimed it was
scalable but missed how delegation would make
that actually possible and practical.

Wikipedia broke down because not only did it not
allow proxy representation, it did not understand
the need to manage traffic, so discussions becoem
unwieldy if deep and inadequately considered if
kept to sound-bite dimensions. In frustration,
blocking and banning were used to manage traffic.

>>whereas in corporations, the proxying
>>happens only once. That is, either you vote or you say "X will vote for me".
>>
>>(I imagine that if indirect proxying had been possible in corporations,
>>we'd heard more about cycles. But again, I could be wrong. I've never
>>been to a general assembly.)
>>
>>Also, for corporations in general, there are arguments that the real
>>power resides as much with the board as the assembly. This is given as
>>an explanation for the weird incentive structures that often appear,
>>with enormous bonuses given to executives even when the companies
>>struggle or fail. The recent Swiss Minder referendum can be seen in that
>>light.
>>
>>In effect, that argument goes that the board can more effectively
>>exercise power than the general assembly can counter it, so the real
>>decisions are made by the board. If this is true, then having a more
>>corporate system in the political domain may not be such a good thing.
>
>- I only stated that "liquid democracy" existed
>as a system already for a long time.

Only if by liquid democracy you mean ordinary
proxy. Mostly the term is used for something new.
Now, this much is true. The advice-chains that
have been mentioned in liquid democracy
organizations are *very* old, ancient. It's how
human society actually works, but liquid
democracy and delegable proxy formalize it, and
much becomes possible with the formalization, including scalability.

>>On the other hand, perhaps the boards are powerful only because the
>>general assembly meets so infrequently. As an imperfect analogy: "you
>>can accomplish lots of things even in a prison if the guards only look
>>on you once every year". And if *that*'s the reason, then liquid
>>democracy could work in a political setting - at least for advisory
>>purposes.
>
>- That depend of the corporation ofcourse. I can
>imagine that in a cooperative like Mondragon the
>situation is different than in, let's say for example, General Motors.

Well, roles are filled in different ways.
However, if General Moters were to run an ESOP
and if the ESOP came to own a majority of the
stock, the operations might converge.

>- if people are not granted decisive power it
>doesn't interest me, but that is my personal opinion of course.

The people *have* decisive power, so who is going to "grant" it to them?

Here is what I suspect you have not considered. I
think you have in mind some way in which "the
people" make some collective decision, some
*mechanism.* For example, they cast votes, and a
clerk certifies the vote, and an executive goes
out and acts based on the vote. But how does the
clerk certify the vote? Well, in a standard
deliberative body, used in power structures,
questions are confined to Yes/No answers, and
proceed through a process that allows unlimited
amendment, and eventually the rules allow a vote
on the question, and a majority is required for a
decision, or else the whole process must start
over. And that's how deliberative bodies ordinarily work, all over the world.

However, when the organization increases in size,
the necessary discussions get rapidly more
cumbersome, even impossibly so. Above a fairly
small number, organizations start to delegate
early deliberation to committees. And when the
business of the body gets complex, officers start
to control it. Instead of considering this an
abuse of power, as proponents of direct democracy
think, it's simply a means of handling the
traffic distributing the load. Simply returning
to direct democracy does not address the problem, it recreates it.

In very small organizations, with training,
people can often find 100% consensus. It's work,
but it can also be exhilarating. On the other
hand, doing this week in and week out for years,
as in cohousing communities that have tried it,
is still exhausting, and fewer and fewer people
participate. There is an obvious solution, proxy
representation. But that's often rejected in
these communities because they think of proxy
voting as *directed voting.* It certainly could
be, but a directed voter cannot participate in
the process that can lead to consensus.

As organizations become very large, they
problably must abandon any *demand* for complete
consensus, and even modest organizations that
require fulll consensus end up, in my experience,
seeing that bring minority rule, if the status
quo favors a stubborn minority. I've seen it happen.

So I've concluded that the majority does have the
*right* of decision, but that maximizing
consensus remains always desirable. Hence the
importance of structures that can efficiently
*negotiate* consensus on a large scale. That's
delegable proxy. Other approaches can do it, but
DP is *so simple* that it deserves testing. I've
seen it work on a small scale, but it's
intrinsically scalable. It *should* work for the
entire population of the earth, it merely takes
longer for messages to travel through the
network, a few days per traverse. (System
messages, centrally broadcast, of course, can be
practically instantaneous, but there are very
good reasons to use those only in an emergency.
Central broadcast means, intrinsically, central
control. So we want to limit the usage of that.)

>>I also note that vote-buying would make less sense in a corporation
>>since voting power is given by wealth, in terms of numbers of shares
>>held, in the first place. And then I wonder if there have been instances
>>of vote coercion on shareholders.
>
>- yes, in corporations it is not "one man one vote" but that is another issue.

It's simply one-share, one-vote, and there are
corporations where members are limited to a single share.

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-19 02:08:31 UTC
Permalink
At 05:31 AM 3/18/2013, Paul Nollen wrote:

>>-----Original Message----- From: Kristofer Munsterhjelm
>>Sent: Monday, March 18, 2013 11:00 AM
>>To: Paul Nollen
>>Cc: Metagovernment Project ;
>>Meinungsfindungstool ; Votorola ; Comunicación
>>; Election Methods ; AG Liquid Democracy
>>Subject: Re: [MG] [EM] Helping the Pirate Party to vanish
>>
>>On 03/18/2013 09:58 AM, Paul Nollen wrote:
>>>Liquid democracy is tested for many years in every big (and small)
>>>corporation. It is unthinkable that shareholders have the obligation to
>>>give their voice for more than one General assembly to anyone. Every
>>>shareholder can vote for himself or appoint a representative at his
>>>choice only for that dedicated General Assembly. This system of "liquid
>>>democracy" is proven over many years all around the world.
>>>It is only in politics that voters are forced to give a mandate for many
>>>years for decissions unknown.
>>
>>The way I understand liquid democracy (and correct me if I'm wrong),
>>people can give their votes to proxies, and these proxies can in turn
>>give their votes to other proxies;
>
>- Multiple proxies is, or has to be, an
>option. There is nowhare any rule that liquid
>democracy has to allow indirect proxy.

If I say that the tail of a dog is a "leg," how many legs does the dog have?

The standard answer to the riddle is being,
"Four. Because I say a tail is a leg doesn't make it one."

I had been working on delegable proxy for long
before the usage "liquid democracy" came into
being, but it was published before I published
anything, in the 1990s, as I recall. The concept
was independently invented in at least a
hafl-dozen places around the world, over roughly
a decade. Delegability is essential to the *new*
concept. Yes, it's based on old concepts, and in
some cases, traditional proxies could be
delegable in some sense, but that was not expected or reliable.

The current Demoex parliamentary rep has a blog
and is writing a book, in which he suggests that
Wikipedia is a fine example of democracy. It is,
in fact, a fine example of how direct democracy
can fail. In any case, currently, if you load the
link, you are redirected to the article on
deletaged voting. However, that is the result of
an anonymous edit -- and nobody who has a clue was paying attention.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_democracy

Until a few months ago, and almost four years, the page redirected to

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxy_voting#Delegated_voting

There was originally an article on Liquid
democracy itself. It was moved to the title of
"Delegable proxy" in 2008. That page was deleted, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Delegable_proxy

The content, though, was moved to
http://wiki.electorama.com/wiki/Delegable_proxy
It was never properly reformatted for that wiki.

If you want a clue as to what *really* happened
back then, see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Delegable_proxy.
This proposal was merely for an experiment,
setting up a proxy table system, it proposed no
changes in policy and did not implement proxy
voting. But it would have made proxy analysis
possible. The rejection was violent, almost
visceral. The proposer was rapidly blocked; he'd
been a long-term editor who had a habit of
changing names, but I checked at the time. His
previous incarnation had been an editor in good
standing, for years. He was indefinitely blocked
for offenses that might have raised an eyebrow
for an ordinary editor, and it all came down very
rapidly once he proposed delegable proxy structures.

I don't frequently use the term "liquid
democracy," but ... here are some old pages.

http://www.communitywiki.org/LiquidDemocracy
seems to be from 2004, but the page history
indicates an earlier version existed in 2003.
http://www.communitywiki.org/en?action=rc;all=1;from=1;showedit=1;rcidonly=LiquidDemocracy

Soemthing from 2003, specifies delegation:

http://ming.tv/flemming2.php/_d10/_v10/__show_day/_w2003-05-15#000010-000797

This seemed to be from 1999, and it has a dead
link to a page by James Green-Armytage, who I
consider one of the various independent inventors of delegable proxy.
http://maparent.ca/Why_online_tools_for_public_deliberation_

This page doesn't discuss delegation. Apparently
the concept of ordinary proxy representation is
so radical for some people they don't understand
it's been around for centuries. I now think that
this page was not from 1999, but later.

However, here is a link to a paper written later by James G-A:

http://www.econ.ucsb.edu/~armytage/voting/proxy.htm#introduction

He explicitly discusses delegation, and he calls
the method "delegable proxy." I think he may have
gotten that usage from me, but may have been
working on the concepts as "liquid democracy" or
proxy voting long before we had contact. I'm not
certain. I've also called it "fractal democracy,"
and some people like that name, because the
organizational structure is a fractal. A large DP
structure will self-resemble at all scales, at least roughly.

I don't know if I could find the first mention of
liquid democracy. Many old pages are gone, and
there is no way that I know of to search the
Internet Archive. But I did find this page in the
Archive, from a dead link elsewhere:
http://web.archive.org/web/20070930030223/http://wiki.uniteddiversity.com/tiki-index.php?page=LiquidDemocracy

This, which may have been from 2004, though it
was captured later, refers to "chained answer
recommendation." I.e. the author is thinking of
what I call the Free Association concept, and has
the idea that this is for advice The "chained"
means that the designations are delegable. The
structure is a fractal. Another way to say it,
mathematically, is that it is a directed graph.

Many, many sources I saw in this recent search
clearly refer to delegation. Some merely refer to
proxy representation. But proxy representation is
not a new idea at all, in fact, that was Paul's
point, except that, instead of simply noting that
proxy representation is an old concept, he
claimed that "liquid democracy" was old. I'm
going to make one attempt to find a truly old mention.

This page version was last modified in 2002:
http://web.archive.org/web/20020225024957/http://twistedmatrix.com/users/jh.twistd/python/moin.cgi/LiquidDemocracy
and it links to

http://web.archive.org/web/20020826094730/http://twistedmatrix.com/users/jh.twistd/python/moin.cgi/LiquidDemocracyVotingSystem

I really do think this guy may have been the
first to use the term "liquid democracy." He
calls the system scalable, but the way he
describes it doesn't take advantage of the
scalability of delegable proxy, and, in fact, he
tries to address the problems that he can see would arise.

From my perspective, looking back at a decade of
massive discussions of delegable proxy, he's got
some aspects of the Free Association concept, but
only a primitive idea of how to actually make the
structure scalable. Without having any present
need, he's already trying to write code. He's
proposing complex solutions to problems that don't exist yet.

So ... what is "liquid democracy." I'd noticed
images along the way. Here are some, all returns
on a search for images for "liquid democracy."

http://www.karl.aegee.org/lf/ This one uses,
primitively, what I'd use to graphically display
a proxy table, concentric circles. Initially, all
clients are arranged around a first circle. When
a client names a proxy, the proxy is moved to a
second smaller circle, opposite the client. If
another client names that proxy, the client is
moved around the circle to be next to the first.
If a proxy and client name each other, they are
moved to that inner cricle, adjacent. If another
person names the first client as a proxy, that
ooriginal client moves inward to the first inside
circle and then the original proxy moves to the third, and so on.

When the graph is complete, the circle represents
what I've called the "proxy rank." Essentially,
it is the number of people the proxy represents
if nobody else shows up. So the outer circle is
circle 1. The positions of the individuals are
arranged around the circle so that proxy-client
lines don't cross. So as information is
transferred from client to proxy, it is
concentrating, and when it is transferred from
proxy to client, it is spreading.

So, one problem. Loops. A two-person loop is easy
to display, but a larger loop could complicate
the graph. I'm not solving that here.

http://agsm.fsk.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/Datei:LD-Grafik.png
shows only one delegation.
http://www.ruprecht.de/no_cache/nachrichten/archive/2010/june/19/article/demokratie-20/
shows multiple layers of delegation.
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Democracy.svg
comes from the Common Good Bank, a local organization here.
http://www.tageswoche.ch/de/2012_15/schweiz/414125/die-noch-direktere-demokratie.htm

*On the other hand*
http://aktivdemokrati.se/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/enghumans.jpg
does not show delegation. Delegation, by the way,
doesn't necessarily become important until the
organization becomes large and traffic starts to
overwhelm proxies. That's when proxies would
start to recommend people move their assignments
to a client of the proxy. (or elsewhere, but that
would be for other reasons .... i.e., they don't
want to communicate with the person. Proxy
assignments should be *mutually* agreed upon.

The original coiner of the term, if I've
identified this person correctly above, didn't
think to this level, but did realize that there
could arise a problem of excessive traffic, he
handles it by having the proxy start to charge
for "advice." Indeed, that may happen. But such a
highly trusted individual would suggest that some
of her clients take on some of her proxies, and
might suggest a small charge as standard, and the
clients would keep some and pass some on to her.
Yes. This could become an occupation.

These are -- must be -- *voluntary relationships*
and can be covered by special and personal
agreements. The system doesn't care about that,
but, to be scalable, it *must* allow delegation.
That's what makes the structure into a fractal,
like the human brain. Can you imagine what
thinking would be like if every neuron could not
pass a signal on through other neutrons? Basically, it would not exist.

Here is how I'll resolve this. Liquid democracy
proposals and discussions clear include,
routinely, transitive delegation of
representation. Obviously, a particular structure
at a particular time may not be using delegation.
However, if a structure does not use delegation,
it's not anything new, it's simply direct
discussion, ordinary democratic process, or is a
step up with recognizing proxy representation.
The original liquid democracy proposal did not
contemplate delegation, which is why it got
complex for the proposer, he claimed it was
scalable but missed how delegation would make
that actually possible and practical.

Wikipedia broke down because not only did it not
allow proxy representation, it did not understand
the need to manage traffic, so discussions becoem
unwieldy if deep and inadequately considered if
kept to sound-bite dimensions. In frustration,
blocking and banning were used to manage traffic.

>>whereas in corporations, the proxying
>>happens only once. That is, either you vote or you say "X will vote for me".
>>
>>(I imagine that if indirect proxying had been possible in corporations,
>>we'd heard more about cycles. But again, I could be wrong. I've never
>>been to a general assembly.)
>>
>>Also, for corporations in general, there are arguments that the real
>>power resides as much with the board as the assembly. This is given as
>>an explanation for the weird incentive structures that often appear,
>>with enormous bonuses given to executives even when the companies
>>struggle or fail. The recent Swiss Minder referendum can be seen in that
>>light.
>>
>>In effect, that argument goes that the board can more effectively
>>exercise power than the general assembly can counter it, so the real
>>decisions are made by the board. If this is true, then having a more
>>corporate system in the political domain may not be such a good thing.
>
>- I only stated that "liquid democracy" existed
>as a system already for a long time.

Only if by liquid democracy you mean ordinary
proxy. Mostly the term is used for something new.
Now, this much is true. The advice-chains that
have been mentioned in liquid democracy
organizations are *very* old, ancient. It's how
human society actually works, but liquid
democracy and delegable proxy formalize it, and
much becomes possible with the formalization, including scalability.

>>On the other hand, perhaps the boards are powerful only because the
>>general assembly meets so infrequently. As an imperfect analogy: "you
>>can accomplish lots of things even in a prison if the guards only look
>>on you once every year". And if *that*'s the reason, then liquid
>>democracy could work in a political setting - at least for advisory
>>purposes.
>
>- That depend of the corporation ofcourse. I can
>imagine that in a cooperative like Mondragon the
>situation is different than in, let's say for example, General Motors.

Well, roles are filled in different ways.
However, if General Moters were to run an ESOP
and if the ESOP came to own a majority of the
stock, the operations might converge.

>- if people are not granted decisive power it
>doesn't interest me, but that is my personal opinion of course.

The people *have* decisive power, so who is going to "grant" it to them?

Here is what I suspect you have not considered. I
think you have in mind some way in which "the
people" make some collective decision, some
*mechanism.* For example, they cast votes, and a
clerk certifies the vote, and an executive goes
out and acts based on the vote. But how does the
clerk certify the vote? Well, in a standard
deliberative body, used in power structures,
questions are confined to Yes/No answers, and
proceed through a process that allows unlimited
amendment, and eventually the rules allow a vote
on the question, and a majority is required for a
decision, or else the whole process must start
over. And that's how deliberative bodies ordinarily work, all over the world.

However, when the organization increases in size,
the necessary discussions get rapidly more
cumbersome, even impossibly so. Above a fairly
small number, organizations start to delegate
early deliberation to committees. And when the
business of the body gets complex, officers start
to control it. Instead of considering this an
abuse of power, as proponents of direct democracy
think, it's simply a means of handling the
traffic distributing the load. Simply returning
to direct democracy does not address the problem, it recreates it.

In very small organizations, with training,
people can often find 100% consensus. It's work,
but it can also be exhilarating. On the other
hand, doing this week in and week out for years,
as in cohousing communities that have tried it,
is still exhausting, and fewer and fewer people
participate. There is an obvious solution, proxy
representation. But that's often rejected in
these communities because they think of proxy
voting as *directed voting.* It certainly could
be, but a directed voter cannot participate in
the process that can lead to consensus.

As organizations become very large, they
problably must abandon any *demand* for complete
consensus, and even modest organizations that
require fulll consensus end up, in my experience,
seeing that bring minority rule, if the status
quo favors a stubborn minority. I've seen it happen.

So I've concluded that the majority does have the
*right* of decision, but that maximizing
consensus remains always desirable. Hence the
importance of structures that can efficiently
*negotiate* consensus on a large scale. That's
delegable proxy. Other approaches can do it, but
DP is *so simple* that it deserves testing. I've
seen it work on a small scale, but it's
intrinsically scalable. It *should* work for the
entire population of the earth, it merely takes
longer for messages to travel through the
network, a few days per traverse. (System
messages, centrally broadcast, of course, can be
practically instantaneous, but there are very
good reasons to use those only in an emergency.
Central broadcast means, intrinsically, central
control. So we want to limit the usage of that.)

>>I also note that vote-buying would make less sense in a corporation
>>since voting power is given by wealth, in terms of numbers of shares
>>held, in the first place. And then I wonder if there have been instances
>>of vote coercion on shareholders.
>
>- yes, in corporations it is not "one man one vote" but that is another issue.

It's simply one-share, one-vote, and there are
corporations where members are limited to a single share.
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 22:59:33 UTC
Permalink
At 05:00 AM 3/18/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>On 03/18/2013 09:58 AM, Paul Nollen wrote:
>>Liquid democracy is tested for many years in every big (and small)
>>corporation. It is unthinkable that shareholders have the obligation to
>>give their voice for more than one General assembly to anyone. Every
>>shareholder can vote for himself or appoint a representative at his
>>choice only for that dedicated General Assembly. This system of "liquid
>>democracy" is proven over many years all around the world.
>>It is only in politics that voters are forced to give a mandate for many
>>years for decissions unknown.
>
>The way I understand liquid democracy (and correct me if I'm wrong),
>people can give their votes to proxies, and these proxies can in
>turn give their votes to other proxies; whereas in corporations, the
>proxying happens only once. That is, either you vote or you say "X
>will vote for me".
>
>(I imagine that if indirect proxying had been possible in
>corporations, we'd heard more about cycles. But again, I could be
>wrong. I've never been to a general assembly.)

It is theoretically possible. A corporate proxy is essentially a
power of attorney. The power of attorney can allow the attorney to
delegate tasks, and, in fact, this is often assumed. But the
corporation may have specific rules about what it will recognize.

One of the FA/DP principles is to not expect others to change, but to
reach out and create structure, among those willing to participate.
It's not necessary to "get" the corporation to recognize delegable
proxy, just as there should be no need to "get" the City Council to
recognise Demoex. There is an action that is a real exercise of
power, and it remains with the "shareholders" themselves --
democratic process, as one-person, one-vote, being equivalent to a
share corporation in which each original elector has one share.

>Also, for corporations in general, there are arguments that the real
>power resides as much with the board as the assembly.

It's all subject to the assembly, legally. It must be. However,
boards may possibly attempt to hinder this in some way, and
shareholders, individually, have the option of moving their funds away.

>This is given as an explanation for the weird incentive structures
>that often appear, with enormous bonuses given to executives even
>when the companies struggle or fail. The recent Swiss Minder
>referendum can be seen in that light.

Basically, the shareholders are typically not organized except
through the corporate structure. It's the same with democratic
societies, where the common people are not organized except through
the defective power structures of majoritation organizational
structure. Those structures work, to a degree. But they also fail,
and FA/DP is a suggestion for how to create coherent public (i.e.,
member, citizen, shareholder) supervision, so that the *actual
sovereigns* -- the citizens collectively, or similarly the
shareholders or employees or whatever is the foundation of the FA --
can use their individual power wisely and effectively. Are those
bonuses wise? Probably not, but how is it that the Board favors the
executives over the shareholders? We can look at the pathology, how
it works, but it's probably easier to fix it. Shareholders have a
critical interest in preventing abuse of power by the Board and
executives. (The Board hires the executives, and it offers golden
parachutes to encourage what are considered competent, powerful
executives to work for the corporation. I am not prepared to judge
that this is *wrong.* It's really up to, with a corporation, the
shareholders, but corporations really represent or serve larger
communities, they serve the interests not only of the owners (the
shareholders), but also the employees (the executives and the general
employees), the customers, and the whole society in which the
corporation operates. A sane governing structure considers the
concerns of *all* these stakeholders.

Hybrid corporations may, for example, involve the employees in
ownership. They may also attempt to make organizational decisions
collectively. I'm suspicious, but if it works, fine. It's the right
of the *owners* to decide, legally, plus there is legal
responsibility, generally on the corporate officers, to prevent harm
to society, including employees. More normally, employee-owned
companies simply consider employees as shareholders, as vested, and
then the shareholders -- which may also include regular *investors*
-- manage the company through an elected board which then hires
executives. Such a structure may be associated with independent
organizations; I recommend an FA/DP organization to which *anyone*
can belong, but within it natural caucuses will form that may
individually represent verious classes of stakeholders. Everyone
needs advice from other players.

The point is that the legal structure can be *very* traditional, very
well tested and understood -- and therefore envforceable in court,
for example. But the *advisory* structure can be very sophisticated
and empowered to negotiate as broad a consensus as possible.

>In effect, that argument goes that the board can more effectively
>exercise power than the general assembly can counter it, so the real
>decisions are made by the board. If this is true, then having a more
>corporate system in the political domain may not be such a good thing.

No, the general assembly can remove all the board members, at any
time. If you own a majority of stock in a corporation, you can
essentially do what you want with it, provided that you don't rip off
other shareholders. (You *can* rip them off, but then they may be
able to sue you. You *can* sell the whole corporation to someone
else. You can shut it down. You can fire any or all of the employees,
up to and including all the executives. Usually this kind of activity
is not seen, because it can be difficult to get a majority of shares
represented. An FA/DP organization might be able to pull it off;
otherwise corporate raiders do it by buying up stock. It can be
expensive, unless the corporation has suffered some loss that
artificially depresses the share value. Sometimes that value has been
depressed by manipulation, there are huge scandals over this.

Some corporations may have set up bylaws to inhibit takeovers, and
golden parachutes can be poison pills planted for that purpose. But
if a board sets something like that for itself, it would probably be
vulnerable to a shareholder lawsuit to void the measure. If I were
involved with a shareholder organization, and I saw the board attempt
something like that, I'd be supporting firing them ASAP, and then
fighting the demand for payment.... that would be a board failing to
exercise its obligation to protect and promote the interests of shareholders.

Big theme that's been coming up, a lot, the power of *information*.
And an aspect of information is *how to coordinate activity to be effective.*

>On the other hand, perhaps the boards are powerful only because the
>general assembly meets so infrequently.

It's generally called the annual meeting. It is set by bylaw and
state law may require annual meeting. It could be done more
frequently. There are supposed to be ways to call a special meeting.

>As an imperfect analogy: "you can accomplish lots of things even in
>a prison if the guards only look on you once every year". And if
>*that*'s the reason, then liquid democracy could work in a political
>setting - at least for advisory purposes.

This is how I see it working: the FA/DP organization ("corporation
interest group") is *continuous*. It advises, through the DP
structure, anyone who needs advice, which is not limited to what
represents the basic exercise of advisory power that is about
controlling the corporation. So it most specifically advises the
shareholders on designations of actual corporate proxies, to be filed
before the annual meeting, according to the rules of the corporation.
(As I recall, the deadline may be the day before the meeting.)

What usually happens with corporations is that the corporation itself
sends out proxy solicitations, requesting that shareholders designate
a named person as proxy. Twere it up to me, I'd disallow boards from
doing that. Because so many shareholders, wanting to be
*cooperative*, sign and send in these things, it gives the fox the
job of guarding the henhouse. That's not really a good example,
because the board is not necessarily a fox. But it could be. That's
why boards should really be independent, and why proxies should be
either names as persons specifically trusted by the shareholder --
not someone unknown to them, named by the board -- or they should be
*not submitted.* What all those knee-jerk proxies do is to make
actual control of the corporation by shareholders more difficult. But
a substantial fraction of shareholders organized together could
address this problem, and fix it. I'm not going to attempt to solve
the problem here, I'm simply saying it can be done.

>I also note that vote-buying would make less sense in a corporation
>since voting power is given by wealth, in terms of numbers of shares
>held, in the first place. And then I wonder if there have been
>instances of vote coercion on shareholders.

Anything and everything has happened. There have been, I'm sure,
murders over proxy battles. But that doesn't mean that it's a
realistic possibility in any given situation.

FA/DP organizations only exercise power through advice. Now, if you
don't like that advice and want to get rid of it, want to know the
sure way to guarantee you lose? Turn someone who was really
representing a broad consensus into a martyr. For starters, they will
be replaced *immediately*, and then you have a huge group very angry
with you. Don't try it. Don't even *look* like you might do it. Very Bad Idea.

The political, governmental equivalent can result in the death of
yourself and your immediate family, sometimes your entire class or
ethnic group. Do *not* mess with a consensus, it can be deadly.
Cooperate with it, cajole it, bargain with it, maybe slow it down a
bit, but don't try to kill it. It can be suicidal.

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 22:59:33 UTC
Permalink
At 05:00 AM 3/18/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>On 03/18/2013 09:58 AM, Paul Nollen wrote:
>>Liquid democracy is tested for many years in every big (and small)
>>corporation. It is unthinkable that shareholders have the obligation to
>>give their voice for more than one General assembly to anyone. Every
>>shareholder can vote for himself or appoint a representative at his
>>choice only for that dedicated General Assembly. This system of "liquid
>>democracy" is proven over many years all around the world.
>>It is only in politics that voters are forced to give a mandate for many
>>years for decissions unknown.
>
>The way I understand liquid democracy (and correct me if I'm wrong),
>people can give their votes to proxies, and these proxies can in
>turn give their votes to other proxies; whereas in corporations, the
>proxying happens only once. That is, either you vote or you say "X
>will vote for me".
>
>(I imagine that if indirect proxying had been possible in
>corporations, we'd heard more about cycles. But again, I could be
>wrong. I've never been to a general assembly.)

It is theoretically possible. A corporate proxy is essentially a
power of attorney. The power of attorney can allow the attorney to
delegate tasks, and, in fact, this is often assumed. But the
corporation may have specific rules about what it will recognize.

One of the FA/DP principles is to not expect others to change, but to
reach out and create structure, among those willing to participate.
It's not necessary to "get" the corporation to recognize delegable
proxy, just as there should be no need to "get" the City Council to
recognise Demoex. There is an action that is a real exercise of
power, and it remains with the "shareholders" themselves --
democratic process, as one-person, one-vote, being equivalent to a
share corporation in which each original elector has one share.

>Also, for corporations in general, there are arguments that the real
>power resides as much with the board as the assembly.

It's all subject to the assembly, legally. It must be. However,
boards may possibly attempt to hinder this in some way, and
shareholders, individually, have the option of moving their funds away.

>This is given as an explanation for the weird incentive structures
>that often appear, with enormous bonuses given to executives even
>when the companies struggle or fail. The recent Swiss Minder
>referendum can be seen in that light.

Basically, the shareholders are typically not organized except
through the corporate structure. It's the same with democratic
societies, where the common people are not organized except through
the defective power structures of majoritation organizational
structure. Those structures work, to a degree. But they also fail,
and FA/DP is a suggestion for how to create coherent public (i.e.,
member, citizen, shareholder) supervision, so that the *actual
sovereigns* -- the citizens collectively, or similarly the
shareholders or employees or whatever is the foundation of the FA --
can use their individual power wisely and effectively. Are those
bonuses wise? Probably not, but how is it that the Board favors the
executives over the shareholders? We can look at the pathology, how
it works, but it's probably easier to fix it. Shareholders have a
critical interest in preventing abuse of power by the Board and
executives. (The Board hires the executives, and it offers golden
parachutes to encourage what are considered competent, powerful
executives to work for the corporation. I am not prepared to judge
that this is *wrong.* It's really up to, with a corporation, the
shareholders, but corporations really represent or serve larger
communities, they serve the interests not only of the owners (the
shareholders), but also the employees (the executives and the general
employees), the customers, and the whole society in which the
corporation operates. A sane governing structure considers the
concerns of *all* these stakeholders.

Hybrid corporations may, for example, involve the employees in
ownership. They may also attempt to make organizational decisions
collectively. I'm suspicious, but if it works, fine. It's the right
of the *owners* to decide, legally, plus there is legal
responsibility, generally on the corporate officers, to prevent harm
to society, including employees. More normally, employee-owned
companies simply consider employees as shareholders, as vested, and
then the shareholders -- which may also include regular *investors*
-- manage the company through an elected board which then hires
executives. Such a structure may be associated with independent
organizations; I recommend an FA/DP organization to which *anyone*
can belong, but within it natural caucuses will form that may
individually represent verious classes of stakeholders. Everyone
needs advice from other players.

The point is that the legal structure can be *very* traditional, very
well tested and understood -- and therefore envforceable in court,
for example. But the *advisory* structure can be very sophisticated
and empowered to negotiate as broad a consensus as possible.

>In effect, that argument goes that the board can more effectively
>exercise power than the general assembly can counter it, so the real
>decisions are made by the board. If this is true, then having a more
>corporate system in the political domain may not be such a good thing.

No, the general assembly can remove all the board members, at any
time. If you own a majority of stock in a corporation, you can
essentially do what you want with it, provided that you don't rip off
other shareholders. (You *can* rip them off, but then they may be
able to sue you. You *can* sell the whole corporation to someone
else. You can shut it down. You can fire any or all of the employees,
up to and including all the executives. Usually this kind of activity
is not seen, because it can be difficult to get a majority of shares
represented. An FA/DP organization might be able to pull it off;
otherwise corporate raiders do it by buying up stock. It can be
expensive, unless the corporation has suffered some loss that
artificially depresses the share value. Sometimes that value has been
depressed by manipulation, there are huge scandals over this.

Some corporations may have set up bylaws to inhibit takeovers, and
golden parachutes can be poison pills planted for that purpose. But
if a board sets something like that for itself, it would probably be
vulnerable to a shareholder lawsuit to void the measure. If I were
involved with a shareholder organization, and I saw the board attempt
something like that, I'd be supporting firing them ASAP, and then
fighting the demand for payment.... that would be a board failing to
exercise its obligation to protect and promote the interests of shareholders.

Big theme that's been coming up, a lot, the power of *information*.
And an aspect of information is *how to coordinate activity to be effective.*

>On the other hand, perhaps the boards are powerful only because the
>general assembly meets so infrequently.

It's generally called the annual meeting. It is set by bylaw and
state law may require annual meeting. It could be done more
frequently. There are supposed to be ways to call a special meeting.

>As an imperfect analogy: "you can accomplish lots of things even in
>a prison if the guards only look on you once every year". And if
>*that*'s the reason, then liquid democracy could work in a political
>setting - at least for advisory purposes.

This is how I see it working: the FA/DP organization ("corporation
interest group") is *continuous*. It advises, through the DP
structure, anyone who needs advice, which is not limited to what
represents the basic exercise of advisory power that is about
controlling the corporation. So it most specifically advises the
shareholders on designations of actual corporate proxies, to be filed
before the annual meeting, according to the rules of the corporation.
(As I recall, the deadline may be the day before the meeting.)

What usually happens with corporations is that the corporation itself
sends out proxy solicitations, requesting that shareholders designate
a named person as proxy. Twere it up to me, I'd disallow boards from
doing that. Because so many shareholders, wanting to be
*cooperative*, sign and send in these things, it gives the fox the
job of guarding the henhouse. That's not really a good example,
because the board is not necessarily a fox. But it could be. That's
why boards should really be independent, and why proxies should be
either names as persons specifically trusted by the shareholder --
not someone unknown to them, named by the board -- or they should be
*not submitted.* What all those knee-jerk proxies do is to make
actual control of the corporation by shareholders more difficult. But
a substantial fraction of shareholders organized together could
address this problem, and fix it. I'm not going to attempt to solve
the problem here, I'm simply saying it can be done.

>I also note that vote-buying would make less sense in a corporation
>since voting power is given by wealth, in terms of numbers of shares
>held, in the first place. And then I wonder if there have been
>instances of vote coercion on shareholders.

Anything and everything has happened. There have been, I'm sure,
murders over proxy battles. But that doesn't mean that it's a
realistic possibility in any given situation.

FA/DP organizations only exercise power through advice. Now, if you
don't like that advice and want to get rid of it, want to know the
sure way to guarantee you lose? Turn someone who was really
representing a broad consensus into a martyr. For starters, they will
be replaced *immediately*, and then you have a huge group very angry
with you. Don't try it. Don't even *look* like you might do it. Very Bad Idea.

The political, governmental equivalent can result in the death of
yourself and your immediate family, sometimes your entire class or
ethnic group. Do *not* mess with a consensus, it can be deadly.
Cooperate with it, cajole it, bargain with it, maybe slow it down a
bit, but don't try to kill it. It can be suicidal.
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 18:25:29 UTC
Permalink
At 03:58 AM 3/18/2013, Paul Nollen wrote:
>Liquid democracy is tested for many years in every big (and small)
>corporation. It is unthinkable that shareholders have the obligation
>to give their voice for more than one General assembly to anyone.
>Every shareholder can vote for himself or appoint a representative
>at his choice only for that dedicated General Assembly. This system
>of "liquid democracy" is proven over many years all around the world.
>It is only in politics that voters are forced to give a mandate for
>many years for decissions unknown.

Close, but not quite. Liquid Democracy is Delegable Proxy. What has
been tested is direct proxy. I have often proposed that shareholders
could build a delegable proxy structure that advises shareholders
about how to designate their proxies, but that structure would not
run a "majority vote" to designate a single representative to
exercise all the proxies, though certainly shareholders could then
choose to name that proxy.

However, the *corporation* is not going to acknowledge delegable
proxy, it is only going to respect actual signed proxy designations
by the shareholders.

That is, to apply this to Demoex, the corporation of the Town is
going to allow representation on the Council when members of Demoex
*actually* vote for the party. But this is not the delegable proxy
concept, there is no delegation, so it is not "Liquid Democracy," in
fact, on the public recognition side.

Back to that shareholder FA/DP organization. Through its own
structure, it would develop recommendations to shareholders, and
these would be accepted by the proxies or not. Any proxy could
recommend something different than the majority vote.

The more actual proxies designated, the more must attend the Annual
Meeting of the corporation. There is a natural balance, and
cooperation to share representation is thus encouraged (as well as
"natural competition," i.e, the continued availability of free
choice). What I'd expect is that most shareholders would *actually be
represented*, but some not, because they failed to designate a proxy
who actually will attend, and they did not attend themselves.

Proxies in corporations are generally allowed to vote as they see
fit, based on participation in the Annual Meeting. They are
assignments of a power of attorney, and for a client to designate a
proxy upon an agreement to vote only in a certain way is foolish. No,
trust the proxy, or don't name him or her!

Demoex is, in my view, both a success and a failure. And we need to
see what worked and what did not work.

Paul, it looks like you are defending Demoex, using arguments
designed for people who are completely unsophisticated about
delegable proxy. I've been working on the concepts for over thirty
years, and I've been in good communication with Michael Nordfors, who
may have been responsible for the initial usage of delegable proxy by
Demoex. But Demoex focused on a more traditional party structure, and
the principle of election by majority and choice by a majority (which
is the norm, business-as-usual, for many political parties).
Single-winner, in practice. Demoex, then, particularly because it
runs against them, is perceived by other parties as a competitor, not
a partner.

If Demoex supporters *really* want to promote liquid democracy and
wide public participation, they must abandon this attitude, it will
keep Demoex small and ineffective.

Demoex did not distinguish between its own structure and that of a
political party, a player in the political scene. The classic Free
Association way to handle the problem is to create separate
organizations -- or to utilize existing ones. So, given Demoex,
conceived as a structure that purely facilitates public discussion on
issues, with polling, using delegable proxy to create results
expandable intelligently beyond the views of the actual immediate
participants, using a proxy structure and other member information,
but that does not itself *make a decision* where controvery remains,
then a *separate political party* could be created if the existing
parties did not serve the purpose.

In the environment of the Swedish town, creating a new party is
relatively simple, which is why Demoex was successful in gaining
representation on the Town Council. They only needed to get something
short of 2% of the vote. In most places, that level of success would
represent failure, it would be moot.

(But if the party polls significantly in the public election, a party
representative would have some level of clout in negotiating with
other politicians. To be effective at this, though, the
representative must have the ability to believably promise election
support. Hence, to be powerful, the Demoex party would need to give
up running its own competing candidate. It could effectively endorse
more than one candidate, so what would be promised, in negotiations,
would be not to *oppose* the candidate. But it Demoex cannot
*control* its members, it can only advise them.

But the political party is *not* Demoex, and, really, it should not
even have the Demoex name, implying that Demoex "endorses" it,
because, then, Demoex is functioning as an opponent of the other
parties. Not good. Creating input into *all parties* should be a
Demoex goal. Inviting and encouraging participation in Demoex by
supporters of all parties should be a Demoex goal. Demoex itself
should never endorse *any outside enterprise,* and that would
certainly include a political party that Demoex members create.

(I'm distinguishing here between a Demoex endorsement and the results
of a Demoex poll. Those polls only measure the status of covered
issues as seem, at the time, by members. They don't create a "Demoex
position.")

Rather, lets call this party the Advised Party, the Listening Party,
or something like that. And this party would, through its own
process, as advised by the Demoex discussions and polls, nominate
candidates. Those candidates would not be pledged to vote in any
particular way, just as the members of any political party are not
personally bound by party dictates. If they reject party advice, they
are subject to withdrawal of party endorsement, that's all. What they
would pledge is to *respect and consider* Demoex results.
Essentially, they would be promising to be *advised* by the people,
through Demoex. That's all. They would be, in the end, responsible to
those voters who support them, and those voters may themselves be
advised by Demoex. Other Demoex members may decide to support other
parties, and may or may not obtain similar assurances from other
party nominees. Why not?

Through means like this, Demoex could end being a major force for
participatory democracy. The Listening Party might fade away, or it
might grow, and it really would not matter. The Listening Party is
only needed when others don't listen.

Demoex got up to better than 2%, but then dropped back to the level
of vote in the original Demoex election. The Swedish Democrats passed
them up in the last election, apparently. Demoex is at the bottom,
any more loss of vote could result in loss of reprsentation. It is
*crucial* for the survival of Demoex that it expand its base. It can
try to do that as a competitor, but the constant temptation will be
to ride on certain issues, and those will be divisive.

No, Demoex should have a single purpose, I'd suggest to increase free
and broad participation in democracy. If Demoex identifies *enemies*
and acts to discredit and disempower them, as itself, as the Demoex
organization, it will divide the electorate into supporters and
opponents, which will effectively be supporters and opponents of
Demoex. It may win some battles, but it will lose others, and the
losses have the potential to destroy the organization.

If Demoex confines itself to Free Association characteristics, design
to encourage unity and cooperation, there will be some people who
will still oppose it, but Demoex will never identify and proclaim
these people as enemies, and it will, in fact, remain open to their
participation. Since anyone can participate through a proxy, there is
almost no cost to participation. There is no "endorsement of any
outside cause" -- other than that of participation.

(An FA *can* limit participation, but it prefers -- greatly -- to
avoid that, and real FAs don't officially ban anyone from the
organization, only from specific, disruptive participation, and
that's not centralized. So sock puppets might be *identified* but not
necessarily banned. Someone who uses sock puppets would be known as
such, and poll analysts could easily use this information. A great
deal of this free flowing information might be untrustworty, but ...
the delegable proxy structure is a structure built on mutual trust --
as I design it. Proxies can decide to trust certain lists, which
might even be hosted off of FA web sites. However, since the FA is
not going to make controversial decisions, people shoot themselves in
the foot by attempting to abuse the system. It will be visible, and
that is precisely why, while an FA may take advantage of software
system, it doesn't *depend* on them. What is really created in an
FA/DP system is a *real network of trust,* documented. Anyone can use
the raw delegations for poll analysis. Or can decide to trust some
piece of software. Anyone can check the results of software analysis
(unless it uses private data, and the acceptance of that is up to the advisee.)

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 18:25:29 UTC
Permalink
At 03:58 AM 3/18/2013, Paul Nollen wrote:
>Liquid democracy is tested for many years in every big (and small)
>corporation. It is unthinkable that shareholders have the obligation
>to give their voice for more than one General assembly to anyone.
>Every shareholder can vote for himself or appoint a representative
>at his choice only for that dedicated General Assembly. This system
>of "liquid democracy" is proven over many years all around the world.
>It is only in politics that voters are forced to give a mandate for
>many years for decissions unknown.

Close, but not quite. Liquid Democracy is Delegable Proxy. What has
been tested is direct proxy. I have often proposed that shareholders
could build a delegable proxy structure that advises shareholders
about how to designate their proxies, but that structure would not
run a "majority vote" to designate a single representative to
exercise all the proxies, though certainly shareholders could then
choose to name that proxy.

However, the *corporation* is not going to acknowledge delegable
proxy, it is only going to respect actual signed proxy designations
by the shareholders.

That is, to apply this to Demoex, the corporation of the Town is
going to allow representation on the Council when members of Demoex
*actually* vote for the party. But this is not the delegable proxy
concept, there is no delegation, so it is not "Liquid Democracy," in
fact, on the public recognition side.

Back to that shareholder FA/DP organization. Through its own
structure, it would develop recommendations to shareholders, and
these would be accepted by the proxies or not. Any proxy could
recommend something different than the majority vote.

The more actual proxies designated, the more must attend the Annual
Meeting of the corporation. There is a natural balance, and
cooperation to share representation is thus encouraged (as well as
"natural competition," i.e, the continued availability of free
choice). What I'd expect is that most shareholders would *actually be
represented*, but some not, because they failed to designate a proxy
who actually will attend, and they did not attend themselves.

Proxies in corporations are generally allowed to vote as they see
fit, based on participation in the Annual Meeting. They are
assignments of a power of attorney, and for a client to designate a
proxy upon an agreement to vote only in a certain way is foolish. No,
trust the proxy, or don't name him or her!

Demoex is, in my view, both a success and a failure. And we need to
see what worked and what did not work.

Paul, it looks like you are defending Demoex, using arguments
designed for people who are completely unsophisticated about
delegable proxy. I've been working on the concepts for over thirty
years, and I've been in good communication with Michael Nordfors, who
may have been responsible for the initial usage of delegable proxy by
Demoex. But Demoex focused on a more traditional party structure, and
the principle of election by majority and choice by a majority (which
is the norm, business-as-usual, for many political parties).
Single-winner, in practice. Demoex, then, particularly because it
runs against them, is perceived by other parties as a competitor, not
a partner.

If Demoex supporters *really* want to promote liquid democracy and
wide public participation, they must abandon this attitude, it will
keep Demoex small and ineffective.

Demoex did not distinguish between its own structure and that of a
political party, a player in the political scene. The classic Free
Association way to handle the problem is to create separate
organizations -- or to utilize existing ones. So, given Demoex,
conceived as a structure that purely facilitates public discussion on
issues, with polling, using delegable proxy to create results
expandable intelligently beyond the views of the actual immediate
participants, using a proxy structure and other member information,
but that does not itself *make a decision* where controvery remains,
then a *separate political party* could be created if the existing
parties did not serve the purpose.

In the environment of the Swedish town, creating a new party is
relatively simple, which is why Demoex was successful in gaining
representation on the Town Council. They only needed to get something
short of 2% of the vote. In most places, that level of success would
represent failure, it would be moot.

(But if the party polls significantly in the public election, a party
representative would have some level of clout in negotiating with
other politicians. To be effective at this, though, the
representative must have the ability to believably promise election
support. Hence, to be powerful, the Demoex party would need to give
up running its own competing candidate. It could effectively endorse
more than one candidate, so what would be promised, in negotiations,
would be not to *oppose* the candidate. But it Demoex cannot
*control* its members, it can only advise them.

But the political party is *not* Demoex, and, really, it should not
even have the Demoex name, implying that Demoex "endorses" it,
because, then, Demoex is functioning as an opponent of the other
parties. Not good. Creating input into *all parties* should be a
Demoex goal. Inviting and encouraging participation in Demoex by
supporters of all parties should be a Demoex goal. Demoex itself
should never endorse *any outside enterprise,* and that would
certainly include a political party that Demoex members create.

(I'm distinguishing here between a Demoex endorsement and the results
of a Demoex poll. Those polls only measure the status of covered
issues as seem, at the time, by members. They don't create a "Demoex
position.")

Rather, lets call this party the Advised Party, the Listening Party,
or something like that. And this party would, through its own
process, as advised by the Demoex discussions and polls, nominate
candidates. Those candidates would not be pledged to vote in any
particular way, just as the members of any political party are not
personally bound by party dictates. If they reject party advice, they
are subject to withdrawal of party endorsement, that's all. What they
would pledge is to *respect and consider* Demoex results.
Essentially, they would be promising to be *advised* by the people,
through Demoex. That's all. They would be, in the end, responsible to
those voters who support them, and those voters may themselves be
advised by Demoex. Other Demoex members may decide to support other
parties, and may or may not obtain similar assurances from other
party nominees. Why not?

Through means like this, Demoex could end being a major force for
participatory democracy. The Listening Party might fade away, or it
might grow, and it really would not matter. The Listening Party is
only needed when others don't listen.

Demoex got up to better than 2%, but then dropped back to the level
of vote in the original Demoex election. The Swedish Democrats passed
them up in the last election, apparently. Demoex is at the bottom,
any more loss of vote could result in loss of reprsentation. It is
*crucial* for the survival of Demoex that it expand its base. It can
try to do that as a competitor, but the constant temptation will be
to ride on certain issues, and those will be divisive.

No, Demoex should have a single purpose, I'd suggest to increase free
and broad participation in democracy. If Demoex identifies *enemies*
and acts to discredit and disempower them, as itself, as the Demoex
organization, it will divide the electorate into supporters and
opponents, which will effectively be supporters and opponents of
Demoex. It may win some battles, but it will lose others, and the
losses have the potential to destroy the organization.

If Demoex confines itself to Free Association characteristics, design
to encourage unity and cooperation, there will be some people who
will still oppose it, but Demoex will never identify and proclaim
these people as enemies, and it will, in fact, remain open to their
participation. Since anyone can participate through a proxy, there is
almost no cost to participation. There is no "endorsement of any
outside cause" -- other than that of participation.

(An FA *can* limit participation, but it prefers -- greatly -- to
avoid that, and real FAs don't officially ban anyone from the
organization, only from specific, disruptive participation, and
that's not centralized. So sock puppets might be *identified* but not
necessarily banned. Someone who uses sock puppets would be known as
such, and poll analysts could easily use this information. A great
deal of this free flowing information might be untrustworty, but ...
the delegable proxy structure is a structure built on mutual trust --
as I design it. Proxies can decide to trust certain lists, which
might even be hosted off of FA web sites. However, since the FA is
not going to make controversial decisions, people shoot themselves in
the foot by attempting to abuse the system. It will be visible, and
that is precisely why, while an FA may take advantage of software
system, it doesn't *depend* on them. What is really created in an
FA/DP system is a *real network of trust,* documented. Anyone can use
the raw delegations for poll analysis. Or can decide to trust some
piece of software. Anyone can check the results of software analysis
(unless it uses private data, and the acceptance of that is up to the advisee.)
Kristofer Munsterhjelm
2013-03-18 09:41:20 UTC
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On 03/18/2013 03:49 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> At 05:29 PM 3/17/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:

>> Given that there has been zero experience with the use of liquid
>> democracy for the exercise of power, yes, I am asserting something on
>> which there is zero experience. There's zero experience either way.
>
> I'm not proposing "liquid democracy" for the actual exercise of power,
> precisely because it's untested.

Alright, I think there's been some confusion here. Let's clear it up.

Since I was talking about this in the connection of the primary
mentioned by Allan in the parliamentary compromising thread, I was
thinking of liquid democracy in the sense of a continuous election for
the purpose of exercise of power.

If you're arguing that my objections do not hold when liquid democracy
is used in an advisory setting, then we're talking past each other; and
then I should repeat that I agree with your suggestions of what to do.
Let's use liquid democracy to produce advice. Let's see what happens,
and gain experience.

If, on the other hand, you're arguing that even though there has been no
experience in the use of liquid democracy for the exercise of power, my
objections to it are inapplicable for logical reasons, then I can
explain and elaborate on my reply.

So, before we continue, are we talking about liquid democracy for the
exercise of power or as a deliberative and advisory system?

I say again that I don't object to liquid democracy or delegable proxy
for advisory purposes. I was talking about liquid democracy used to
exercise power. If my phrasing, "Regarding liquid democracy methods in
general" was the source of this confusion, then may that clear it up.
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 22:20:32 UTC
Permalink
At 04:41 AM 3/18/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>On 03/18/2013 03:49 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>At 05:29 PM 3/17/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>
>>>Given that there has been zero experience with the use of liquid
>>>democracy for the exercise of power, yes, I am asserting something on
>>>which there is zero experience. There's zero experience either way.
>>
>>I'm not proposing "liquid democracy" for the actual exercise of power,
>>precisely because it's untested.
>
>Alright, I think there's been some confusion here. Let's clear it up.

Great idea.

>Since I was talking about this in the connection of the primary
>mentioned by Allan in the parliamentary compromising thread, I was
>thinking of liquid democracy in the sense of a continuous election
>for the purpose of exercise of power.

And, in fact, you and Michael Allen may also have been talking past
each other. Or at least one past the other, and does it matter which
one? No, let's just get it clear.

Allan was referring to what he calls a "primary." This is *not*, I
expect, the kind of primary we see in two-round runoff, where options
in the second round are limited and maybe a decision is made in the
"primary." He uses the term primary to refer to a discussion and
process that, among other things, measures the degree of consensus
among participants on some issue. It does not, itself, decide the
issue. Someone or something else does that.

In all the more-complete structures I've proposed, a more traditional
structure is hybridized with a delegable proxy structure, such that
the latter is *purely advisory.* While advice can be powerful, if it
is trusted, the decision of what to trust is left to those who are
going to *act* (or not act), whether the action is voting in an
election, making some decision using executive power, or voting in an
assembly on some issue, whatever. In a free association of
shareholders, the delegable proxy process would advise shareholders
individually, and they choose the degree to which they want to trust
their own proxy in the DP process. The process does not officially
assign their corporate proxy (unless a corporation decides to
automatically do it, which is a kind of decision I'd not yet
recommend, until we know much more about how delegable proxy
*actually works*. The inconvenience of actually needing to personally
and individually assign a share proxy is small, compared to the
security of not tossing everything into the care of an untested system.

This is a concept which reserves power for individuals. That's why it
is relatively secure, by design.

Yes, if there is some *binding character* to delegable proxy
discussions and polls, that's dangerous. There is then an attractive
target for corruption. While a highly trusted proxy might be
targeted, that's just normal "talk to power." I.e., through the
proxy, talk to the entire natural caucus. It's the caucus itself that
has the power, not the proxy who defines the caucus.

The problems of trust in the proxy are the problems that we routinely
face in life. Do we trust our physician, knowing that the physician
might be tempted to advise according to "standards of care

>If you're arguing that my objections do not hold when liquid
>democracy is used in an advisory setting, then we're talking past
>each other; and then I should repeat that I agree with your
>suggestions of what to do. Let's use liquid democracy to produce
>advice. Let's see what happens, and gain experience.

Perfect.

>If, on the other hand, you're arguing that even though there has
>been no experience in the use of liquid democracy for the exercise
>of power, my objections to it are inapplicable for logical reasons,
>then I can explain and elaborate on my reply.

No, there are reasons to object. We could argue about how *strong*
they are, but that's actually speculative no matter which way we slant.

The objections may be valid in one context and not in another. There
may be some problem that none of us can anticipate.

FA/DP is *actually revolutionary,* but I noticed something about
prior revolutions, where they were developed first in thought and
abstranct analysis. When applied as if the thinking and analysis were
"truth," the results were sometimes totally horrific. I'm thinking of
the communist revolutions in particular. It is not necessarily that
the analysis and abstractions were "wrong," but that they were
incomplete and did not understand all the details of how human
societies function -- and fail. Instead of being implemented with
caution, they were implemented with force and such certainty that it
was considered legitimate to kill for them. That was hubris, and the
results were disastrous, and we still have not completely recovered
from the damage.

That does not mean that, what, laissez-faire capitalism is perfect.
It isn't. But some aspects of it work, and have worked for a long
time. In order to replace what we have without great harm, we need to
thoroughly understand it. Sometimes things look other than what they
are; for example, hoarding and profiteering, bad, right? Well, maybe,
sometimes. Sometimes they are the way in which a social structure, a
collection of traditions -- such as concepts of property --
anticipates shortages and buffers them. There may well be better ways
to do it, but for every example of someone who profited greatly from
"greed," there is someone else who lost his shirt because of it.

Basically, we need to realize how little we know, and proceed with
humility. We can do better than we did in the past, I *declare* that,
and I trust it. Most of all, though, we need to listen.

>So, before we continue, are we talking about liquid democracy for
>the exercise of power or as a deliberative and advisory system?

There are some defending LD for the exercise of power, but I don't
see that they have a successful demonstration of that. Demoex is a
mixed bag. Demoex did use LD for a short time, but, as far as I know,
abandoned it. (I don't see clear descriptions of what they are *now*
doing.) I see complaints about how they are not being successful,
blaming it on everyone else. I.e., the stupid City Council that
wouldn't promote Demoex. That might not be fair, for various reasons,
but ... the point is that we don't know. Demoex has not really
engaged with the rest of the community interested in delegable proxy
and expanding public participation in democratic process; what Ive
seen has been of the nature of promoting their approach for
imitation, and not for improvement. Again, I'd love to be wrong.

>I say again that I don't object to liquid democracy or delegable
>proxy for advisory purposes. I was talking about liquid democracy
>used to exercise power. If my phrasing, "Regarding liquid democracy
>methods in general" was the source of this confusion, then may that
>clear it up.

It is possible to propose liquid democracy methods in power
structures, but ... it raises a host of problems that should probably
be solved first, most notably security and (in)vulnerability to
corruption and coercion. In advisory structures, there are still a
few issues but they are far less serious in potential impact, and
less likely to be real problems, or, in particular, there are
relatively simple solutions that have to do with how the advice is
generated and analyzes. That does *not* need to be a central
function, expect for providing certain convenient -- and verifiable
-- analytical tools.

Lots of Liquid Democracy proposals consider that it's the internet
that makes it possible. No. Delegable proxy would have worked a
hundred years ago, in certain societies. It's about the
person-to-person *structure*. What technology changed was speed, not
substance. However, speed is important. Nevertheless, the necessary
speed, for large-scale process, was supplied by long-distance
communication, and that *could* have been done with much earlier
technology. Local structures (i.e., say, in a city) don't absolutely need this.

One of the working ideas, a decade ago, was to take DP to Brazil for
use for representation of remote villages in central national
consensus-formation. Those villages would *not* need to have
high-speed communication. But, of course, if they do, back-and-forth
negotiation that involves, potentially, the whole remote community
becomes possible. Otherwise their trusted representative(s) would
simply represent them.

(They are not *forced* to send any single representative. However,
the more they send, the higher the expense. If they can cooperate,
they can keep the total expense down. DP naturally negotiates these
compromises. The key is not to allow coercion, but little can be done
about "social disapproval." There are ways to handle the situations
that can arise, but anticipating them all in advance is a waste of
time. I only write about the most obvious possibilities, just to
address the general ideas. The real organizations will be formed by
the truly involved people.)

(What must truly be respected about Demoex is that *they did it.*
They did not just talk about ideals, they actually implemented
something. However, now, Demoex, the next step is review.)

----
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
2013-03-18 22:20:32 UTC
Permalink
At 04:41 AM 3/18/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>On 03/18/2013 03:49 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>At 05:29 PM 3/17/2013, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>
>>>Given that there has been zero experience with the use of liquid
>>>democracy for the exercise of power, yes, I am asserting something on
>>>which there is zero experience. There's zero experience either way.
>>
>>I'm not proposing "liquid democracy" for the actual exercise of power,
>>precisely because it's untested.
>
>Alright, I think there's been some confusion here. Let's clear it up.

Great idea.

>Since I was talking about this in the connection of the primary
>mentioned by Allan in the parliamentary compromising thread, I was
>thinking of liquid democracy in the sense of a continuous election
>for the purpose of exercise of power.

And, in fact, you and Michael Allen may also have been talking past
each other. Or at least one past the other, and does it matter which
one? No, let's just get it clear.

Allan was referring to what he calls a "primary." This is *not*, I
expect, the kind of primary we see in two-round runoff, where options
in the second round are limited and maybe a decision is made in the
"primary." He uses the term primary to refer to a discussion and
process that, among other things, measures the degree of consensus
among participants on some issue. It does not, itself, decide the
issue. Someone or something else does that.

In all the more-complete structures I've proposed, a more traditional
structure is hybridized with a delegable proxy structure, such that
the latter is *purely advisory.* While advice can be powerful, if it
is trusted, the decision of what to trust is left to those who are
going to *act* (or not act), whether the action is voting in an
election, making some decision using executive power, or voting in an
assembly on some issue, whatever. In a free association of
shareholders, the delegable proxy process would advise shareholders
individually, and they choose the degree to which they want to trust
their own proxy in the DP process. The process does not officially
assign their corporate proxy (unless a corporation decides to
automatically do it, which is a kind of decision I'd not yet
recommend, until we know much more about how delegable proxy
*actually works*. The inconvenience of actually needing to personally
and individually assign a share proxy is small, compared to the
security of not tossing everything into the care of an untested system.

This is a concept which reserves power for individuals. That's why it
is relatively secure, by design.

Yes, if there is some *binding character* to delegable proxy
discussions and polls, that's dangerous. There is then an attractive
target for corruption. While a highly trusted proxy might be
targeted, that's just normal "talk to power." I.e., through the
proxy, talk to the entire natural caucus. It's the caucus itself that
has the power, not the proxy who defines the caucus.

The problems of trust in the proxy are the problems that we routinely
face in life. Do we trust our physician, knowing that the physician
might be tempted to advise according to "standards of care

>If you're arguing that my objections do not hold when liquid
>democracy is used in an advisory setting, then we're talking past
>each other; and then I should repeat that I agree with your
>suggestions of what to do. Let's use liquid democracy to produce
>advice. Let's see what happens, and gain experience.

Perfect.

>If, on the other hand, you're arguing that even though there has
>been no experience in the use of liquid democracy for the exercise
>of power, my objections to it are inapplicable for logical reasons,
>then I can explain and elaborate on my reply.

No, there are reasons to object. We could argue about how *strong*
they are, but that's actually speculative no matter which way we slant.

The objections may be valid in one context and not in another. There
may be some problem that none of us can anticipate.

FA/DP is *actually revolutionary,* but I noticed something about
prior revolutions, where they were developed first in thought and
abstranct analysis. When applied as if the thinking and analysis were
"truth," the results were sometimes totally horrific. I'm thinking of
the communist revolutions in particular. It is not necessarily that
the analysis and abstractions were "wrong," but that they were
incomplete and did not understand all the details of how human
societies function -- and fail. Instead of being implemented with
caution, they were implemented with force and such certainty that it
was considered legitimate to kill for them. That was hubris, and the
results were disastrous, and we still have not completely recovered
from the damage.

That does not mean that, what, laissez-faire capitalism is perfect.
It isn't. But some aspects of it work, and have worked for a long
time. In order to replace what we have without great harm, we need to
thoroughly understand it. Sometimes things look other than what they
are; for example, hoarding and profiteering, bad, right? Well, maybe,
sometimes. Sometimes they are the way in which a social structure, a
collection of traditions -- such as concepts of property --
anticipates shortages and buffers them. There may well be better ways
to do it, but for every example of someone who profited greatly from
"greed," there is someone else who lost his shirt because of it.

Basically, we need to realize how little we know, and proceed with
humility. We can do better than we did in the past, I *declare* that,
and I trust it. Most of all, though, we need to listen.

>So, before we continue, are we talking about liquid democracy for
>the exercise of power or as a deliberative and advisory system?

There are some defending LD for the exercise of power, but I don't
see that they have a successful demonstration of that. Demoex is a
mixed bag. Demoex did use LD for a short time, but, as far as I know,
abandoned it. (I don't see clear descriptions of what they are *now*
doing.) I see complaints about how they are not being successful,
blaming it on everyone else. I.e., the stupid City Council that
wouldn't promote Demoex. That might not be fair, for various reasons,
but ... the point is that we don't know. Demoex has not really
engaged with the rest of the community interested in delegable proxy
and expanding public participation in democratic process; what Ive
seen has been of the nature of promoting their approach for
imitation, and not for improvement. Again, I'd love to be wrong.

>I say again that I don't object to liquid democracy or delegable
>proxy for advisory purposes. I was talking about liquid democracy
>used to exercise power. If my phrasing, "Regarding liquid democracy
>methods in general" was the source of this confusion, then may that
>clear it up.

It is possible to propose liquid democracy methods in power
structures, but ... it raises a host of problems that should probably
be solved first, most notably security and (in)vulnerability to
corruption and coercion. In advisory structures, there are still a
few issues but they are far less serious in potential impact, and
less likely to be real problems, or, in particular, there are
relatively simple solutions that have to do with how the advice is
generated and analyzes. That does *not* need to be a central
function, expect for providing certain convenient -- and verifiable
-- analytical tools.

Lots of Liquid Democracy proposals consider that it's the internet
that makes it possible. No. Delegable proxy would have worked a
hundred years ago, in certain societies. It's about the
person-to-person *structure*. What technology changed was speed, not
substance. However, speed is important. Nevertheless, the necessary
speed, for large-scale process, was supplied by long-distance
communication, and that *could* have been done with much earlier
technology. Local structures (i.e., say, in a city) don't absolutely need this.

One of the working ideas, a decade ago, was to take DP to Brazil for
use for representation of remote villages in central national
consensus-formation. Those villages would *not* need to have
high-speed communication. But, of course, if they do, back-and-forth
negotiation that involves, potentially, the whole remote community
becomes possible. Otherwise their trusted representative(s) would
simply represent them.

(They are not *forced* to send any single representative. However,
the more they send, the higher the expense. If they can cooperate,
they can keep the total expense down. DP naturally negotiates these
compromises. The key is not to allow coercion, but little can be done
about "social disapproval." There are ways to handle the situations
that can arise, but anticipating them all in advance is a waste of
time. I only write about the most obvious possibilities, just to
address the general ideas. The real organizations will be formed by
the truly involved people.)

(What must truly be respected about Demoex is that *they did it.*
They did not just talk about ideals, they actually implemented
something. However, now, Demoex, the next step is review.)
Michael Ossipoff
2013-03-18 13:58:11 UTC
Permalink
Regarding the question of whether people will favorite-bury, of course that
depends entirely on what people you're referring to, and under what
conditions.

I don't claim that favorite-burial will be a problem under general
conditions, or that FBC will be needed under general conditions. For the
"Green scenario", the methods that I like best all fail FBC.

The need for FBC in the United States, under current conditions, results
from a thoroughly pathological and abnormal media situation. I certainly
don't generalize from that, to claim that FBC is essential for every
electorate, under all conditions.

Here's what we know about the U.S. situation:

The disinformational mass media system has thoroughly convinced nearly
everyone that only the Democrat or the Republican can win. ...and that
therefore corruption in inevitable and just part of the American political
system. ...and that therefore corruption is acceptable. Media
commentators who speak for the Democrat and against the Republican always
make it clear that the Republican is entirely unacceptable, and that the
election of the Republican would be an unprecedented disaster. (even though
Republicans have been elected every few years).

Nearly everyone believes all that.

That's what I refer to as "current conditions". For brevity, I'll use the
term "current conditions", to refer to the conditions referred to above.

We don't have experience with the American population voting in official
public elections, via Beatpath (to use Beatpath as an example for the
traditional unimproved Condorcet (TUC) methods). But what do we know?

We know that current conditions (defined above) obtain.

If we don't have experimental data proving how Americans would vote in
Beatpath, then what can we say?

Well, we can speak of what voters' optimal strategy is, given their beliefs
and assumptions.

Voters' beliefs and assumptions are those that I described in the
definition of current conditions.

Given those assumptions and beliefs, it's uncontroversial that a voter's
best strategy in Beatpath is to rank the Democrat alone in 1st place.

If a method won't have a certain problem, or cause a certain strategy, even
under the worst-case conditions, then we can assure ourselves that, the
problem won't exist with that method.

For example, methods that meet FBC won't have favorite-burial need under
any conditions, even the worst.

Approval and Score meet FBC.

ICT and Symmetrical ICT meet FBC too, and additionally are completely free
of the chicken dilemma. But they're more laboriously-implemented, more
complicatedly-defined (as is Beatpath, because those are rank-methods).
And, because there are so many ways to count rankings, all rank methods
will give people the impression of arbitrariness.

Favorite-burial makes a joke of the election result.

Approval and Score are the voting-system proposals that I recommend, for
current conditions.

--------------------------------------

Comparison of Beatpath with other rank methods:

Different methods meet different criteria. Beatpath meets a few that
Symmetrical ICT doesn't meet. Beatpath fails FBC. Above, I discussed why
that's unacceptable for current conditions. Beatpath has the chicken
dilemma, fully.

Symmetrical ICT meets FBC and doesn't have the chicken dilemma.

For Green scenario conditions, let's compare Beatpath, Benham and Woodall
(defined in previous posts, and defined again at the end of this post):

Beatpath, Benham and Woodall all meet Smith. That means that they all meet
the Condorcet Criterion (CC) and the Mutual Majority Criterion (MMC).
...and Condorcet-Loser too, but that's only an aesthetic-embarrassment
avoidance.

So how do they differ? Beatpath fully has the chicken dilemma. Benham and
Woodall don't have the chicken dilemma. A chicken dilemma makes compliance
with MMC and CC quite meaningless.

Method definitions:

Benham:

Do IRV till there's an uneliminated candidate who isn't pair-beaten by any
other uneliminated candidate. Elect hir.

[end of Benham definition]

Woodall:

Do iRV till only one initial Smith-set member remains uneliminated. Elect
hir.

[end of Woodall definition]

------------------------------------------------------

Of course I understand that discussion of voting systems is more fun than
discussion of practical voting under Plurality. ...And that the latter is
more fun than discussing the mundane practicality of count-legitimacy.

But I suggest that without a legitimate count, there is no legitimate
election or election result, and there is no democracy.

Cowboy, you're getting all ahead of yourself when you debate voting-systems
when we don't even have a legitimate count.

I refer you to an article, published in Harpers, just before the 2012
presidential elections.

The article points out that we need to demand and get a legitimate,
verifiable, transparent count, before the 2014 elections. That's project
#1. Other suggestions and reform efforts are quite pointless until we
accomplish project #1.

Without that, you can forget all about what voting system is in use, or how
we vote, because it's irrelevant.

Here is a URL for the article. It's also a link to the article:

http://harpers.org/archive/2012/11/how-to-rig-an-election/
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