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[liberationtech] Looking for collaborators for free-range voting project

Kurtiss Hare kurtiss at
Thu Feb 28 20:29:24 PST 2013

Sorry if this is off topic or redundant..

I've always thought some feature like the following would be a neat way to
vote your conscience without an implicit support of the greater evil:
create a realtime or near-realtime pact with another voter (anonymously, of
course) to strip votes away from the most popular candidates in pairs. Say
the following candidates are running for office: A, B, C and D. Voter 1's
conscientious vote is for A, lesser evil vote is for B, and greater evil is
C. Voter 1 registers their intent to choose A if they can siphon a vote
away from C and otherwise B. Voter 2's conscientious vote is D, lesser evil
vote is C, and greater evil is B. Voter 2 registers their intent and the
anonymous pact is created. Voter 1's vote goes to A and Voter 2's goes to D.

On Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 9:41 PM, Michael Allan <mike at> wrote:

> Ruben and Rich,
> Ruben Bloemgarten said:
> > It seems I might have jumped the gun, assuming the discussion was
> > about voting systems for use in political elections. Disclosing all
> > voter data, including voter identity would solve much if not all
> > issues regarding verifiability, however would that not also restrict
> > the use of such a system to topics that have no political or social
> > consequences ?  Otherwise it seems that the removal of
> > secrecy/anonymity would be extremely problematic if not out-right
> > dangerous.
> Rich Kulawiec said:
> > I'm with Ruben on this one.  There are serious problems (in many
> > cases) with disclosure of how someone voted; there are even problems
> > disclosing *if* they voted or possibly if they were *eligible* to
> > vote, even if that disclosure only (putatively) is done to the
> > voter.
> I guess the main concern is coercion and vote buying.  I've discussed
> this with others and we foresee some important mitigations.  (These
> aren't obvious BAM, and it took us some time to see them.)  *
>   (a) Continuous primary voting: Vote sellers can shift their votes
>       after taking the money, perhaps re-selling them to other buyers.
>       This makes vote buying a poor investment.
>   (b) Full disclosure: Buyers, sellers and systematic pressure by
>       others (employers, unions, churches, and so forth) are
>       detectable by statistical pattern analysis of vote shifts and
>       dispositions in correlation with facts (known buyers and
>       sellers, workforce structure and dynamics, and so forth).
>   (c) Separation of primary from decision systems: Public and private
>       voting may be interrelated through separate electoral systems: a
>       public vote in the run-up (primary system) culminates in a
>       private vote on election day (decision system).  The final
>       private vote (secret ballot) filters out instances of individual
>       vote buying and coercion.
>       A similar strategy may be applied to normative decisions.  Here
>       the decisive vote is often not private, but instead restricted
>       to a small number of people, such as elected assembly members.
>       Concerns of coercion and vote buying are thus *also* restricted
>       to that smaller group of people, who may therefore be closely
>       monitored and scrutinized.
> These should at least prevent skewing of decisions and other serious
> harm.  Or have we overlooked something?
> I used to point to the harm caused by our faith in the secret ballot,
> but now I feel it's the wrong approach.  Whatever we suffer on account
> of our political arrangements (we in the West, who have so much else
> to be thankful for) is our own fault.  We have the wherewithal to fix
> things, and could even proceed a little faster if we wished.
>   * From this footnote, which also links to discussions
> Mike
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