[MG] WikiPeace

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Thu Oct 20 02:29:35 EDT 2011

Craig and Paul,

Paul Nollen wrote:
> I know there are argument for and against secret voting but I think
> the most valuable argument is that people are now used to it. And if
> we want to break the governments monopoly to hold secret votings, at
> least we have to do better.

I think the monopoly will prove illusory.  An elector is *technically*
free to vote by any method, in the sense of publishing the intended
vote ahead of time.  That's a kind of primary vote.  States often
regulate the primary electoral systems of the parties (perhaps
requiring a secret ballot), but not the non-party primaries run by
unorganized electors; they never heard of those yet.

Non-party primaries are inevitable, however, because independent
candidates are preferred by at least some electors [1].  Inevitably
some of those will prefer to cast their primary votes in public,
because a public vote always has more power. [2]

I mention this to illustrate how a proliferation of voting systems can
open up possibilities that weren't apparent before.  If most of the
electors cast primary votes in public, then the secret ballot of the
*general* election would be bypassed *in general*, even while the
guarantees of privacy would remain in effect for *each individual*.
Nobody could possibly know how any given individual actually voted on
election day, but everyone would know the general results in advance.

Craig Simon wrote:
> I wouldn't dismiss the problem of vote buying so easily. It has a
> long sordid history in the US, and from what I've read about
> electioneering in India, it has become a serious problem in some
> locales.

If public votes are controlled by citizens and freely shiftable, then
they're less likely to be bought and sold systematically, or otherwise
coerced en masse.  I think the most important reasons are:

  * Vote sellers can shift their votes after selling them, which makes
    vote buying a poor investment.

  * Vote buyers and sellers are detectable by statistical pattern
    analysis of vote shifts.

 [1] Fwd: list of indy candidate requirements.

 [2] In fact, a private vote has a power of zero; it has no effect on
     the political outcome of the election.

 [3] For discussion of these and other remedies against coercion, see:

Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528

More information about the Start mailing list