Liquid Democracy

April 28, 2021 ~ 4 min read

The Problem

Democracy has a couple of flaws:

  • Once someone gets elected, they don’t necessarily are aligned to represent their electorate, whatever happens after the vote is their decision fully. They might even become corrupted.
  • Parties aggregate certain political leanings, which might not exactly match your own leanings. But you decide to vote for them anyway since it’s your closest match. And in the worst situation, you only have 2 choices!

One “solution” would be to have a direct democracy, and make all decisions through referenda. This is not really practical in the real world for all decision making.

Liquid Democracy

Liquid democracy is a form of direct and electoral democracy. You get a direct vote in all legislation. But you can also give your vote to someone else to vote in your name. This other person can be a politician, scientist, friend, celebrity, etc…

This allows you to be as involved in the political process as you want. You can vote for every piece of legislation, or you can give your vote to your favorite politician (just like what happens now).

But you can also give your vote to different people for different subjects! Allowing for a finer grained control. It’s all up to the voter.

You can also become someone who aggregates votes for a particular topic (I’ll call this person the aggregator). This could be because you have a particular expertise in a certain topic, or people just trust you.

One condition would be that aggregators have their votes be public, just like decisions of politicians in democracies are public now.

On the other hand a person’s own decision to vote one way or give the vote to someone else should remain anonymous, just like how it is now.

This allows for a system where a person can give their vote directly to someone who they think might make better decisions on the topic than themselves. It also allows people to revoke their vote once they believe the aggregator doesn’t vote in their best interest. This gives a direct incentive towards the aggregator to listen to the people he or she represents, or at least explain why he or she is making certain voting decisions.

Implementation

The first condition should be that you’re already a democracy.

After that you can implement a partial liquid democracy for certain legislation. Just like how referendums are being done now, you could implement the referendums in a liquid way.

The voting itself can be done online, every citizen gets a personal account on where they can vote for legislation, or for a specific person who makes the vote in your name. This system should be extremely well thought out and secure. It should be possible to trace your vote and mathematically ensure your vote was counted to prevent fraud.

A partial implementation like this allows for a gradual rollout, going eventually for a full implementation, completely running all decision making through this system.

Uncertain Design Decisions

Some design decisions need to be made. For example, should there be certain laws that require everyone’s vote, or should everyone vote for every law? And who decides which laws get this requirement?

Summary

In any case I believe it’s an improvement on the current classical democracies that exist. It’s not a panacea and might introduce some new problems.

Also, it doesn’t get rid of politicians per se, it’s all in the hands of the people. If they think it’s a good idea to give their vote to an aggregator that is a politician it is fully their right. And I don’t think that’s a good or bad thing. It just transfers more power to the average person and that’s definitely a good thing.