Why I’m Jumping on the Liquid Democracy Train

Diagram of liquid democracy

Do you feel it?

To do it right, you need to learn about the backgrounds and policies of the various candidates for the various offices up for election, including federal, state, and local, and read up on several local and possibly statewide ballot propositions. It’s a whole thing! Few people have time for all that.

In an ideal world, everyone would be fully informed on all of these things and then use their best judgment to vote in a way that will benefit the greatest number of people. But we are quite far from that ideal world.

Given the reality of the situation, we need a way to relieve people of the burdens of voting, while still fully empowering them. I previously floated the idea of a new type of “electoral college” where the people would vote on “electors” who would then do the work of sorting out the candidates and propositions. But it’s probably too complicated to implement, so now I’m fully on board with a similar concept which is gaining traction, called “liquid democracy” (or sometimes “delegative democracy” or “proxy voting”).

What is Liquid Democracy?

Liquid democracy is pretty simple. It essentially gives you the ability to choose another person to vote on your behalf. You probably do some version of this already. When you ask a friend who they will vote for, and you trust them enough to simply vote the same way, you are basically delegating your vote to your friend.

People selected as “delegates” would probably be more informed than the average person, and being entrusted with the voting power of other people is an additional incentive to learn as much as possible about an election.

There are potential drawbacks and abuses of this system, such as the possibility of collecting voting power by paying others for it, or deceiving others about how the delegate plans to vote. But we can mitigate these issues by requiring the delegates to show their “constituents” how they voted. Most people believe that liquid democracy would be implemented using blockchain technology, which is well suited for the system.

Although there are some uncertainties involved with liquid democracy, the current situation is simply untenable. I may have been slightly hyperbolic when I wrote “Our Current Voting System Will Almost Inevitably Lead to Dictatorship” (at least I said ‘almost’), but in fact the problem of misinformation and disinformation of the voters is getting worse. New communication technologies are making it harder and harder to sort out fact from fiction, and we need voters who will do their best to be conscientious about it.

We have the capability to implement liquid democracy, we just need awareness and the will to make change. If you are on board, then start talking about with others, especially when discussions about the election come up. Let’s make this happen. Oh, and don’t forget to vote.

Originally published at lawsoup.org on October 18, 2018.

Not your average lawyer. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Law Soup, https://lawsoup.org

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