Concealed Ballot

Copied from Discord re-outerspace

Thanks for posting that here on the forum, @ChuckH !

I don’t have clarity on what is the Tension or originating issue that caused you to propose this change, can you please clarify?

My reactions / issues I see with the proposal
Regarding concealed ballots / voting, my personal perspective is that this is detrimental to the SEEDS community, hurting our sense of transparency and allowing under the table shady politics to align voting, with results only being visible when it’s too late to act on them.

This proposal also includes a change that disallows new citizens to vote for a whole proposal cycle, which I also find detrimental, as the time when they become Citizens is the time of greater engagement when they want to use their new “powers”, after waiting for 60 days already, then they potentially have to wait for another 29 days, which is a really frustrating user experience in my perspective.

Voters will normally allow their wallets to automatically publish their ballots at “ballot counting start” time by submitting the envelope decryption key to the blockchain. The voting record then becomes public; quota and unity criteria are evaluated.

Another problem I see with this proposal: it requires the wallets to automatically publish stuff to the blockchain, this is technically impossible, if the user is not logged in and sign the transaction with their password at the right time, the transaction will not happen. The maximum you can do is to generate a push notification reminding the user to login and push their votes, which they may forget to do, or ignore, and may lose the votes completely for that cycle.

There are my 0.02 SEEDS, really hoping to understand what is the reasoning behind this proposal and have this questions cleared before we can move forward with it.


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@julioholon see updated Google Doc.

Thank you @ChuckH, for adding more details to the document. I still kindly disagree with this proposal and would vote it down.

Regarding the motivation / reasoning of this proposal: (as stated on the doc)

  1. Desire to change your mind (maybe several times) after initially casting votes

This can be done without concealing the votes, just allow users to change their votes on chain, up to a point in the cycle (maybe half cycle), but it also has other consequences. If the user changes that on the UI before voting he’s not actually voting.

  1. New user unfamiliarity/confusion regarding vote decay and its rationale

Adding concealment may not alleviate that, on my perspective. User confusion can be reverted more efficiently by explaining to the user clearly. Vote decay is not that hard to explain, and it also has the positive effect of adding a pressure for people to vote early and not close to the end of the cycle.

  1. Concern with late voters using “strategic voting” as something that dilutes the accuracy of capturing underlying voter preferences

Adding concealment may not alleviate that too, on my perspective. Strategic voting will always happen. To make people want to vote we could to add more incentives. Removing transparency of the voting process likely won’t change that.

  1. Concern with “peer pressure” during the voting process

Harassing and peer pressure can always happen, with or without concealed voting, but on the later case, the pressure may be under the table / not visible.


Voting by Collected Wisdom vs Collective Intelligence

I have been sitting with some of the tension on the Concealed Ballot proposal, and reflecting on my life experience with voting.

When I was first voting in the northeastern US in the 1970s, voting was an “election day” thing. It was a snapshot of public opinion at a point in time. Most jurisdictions did not release any “early counts” as long as the polls were open. As I recall, this practice was explained as a civic good (“late voters’ opinions shouldn’t be biased by knowing early data”). Up to now I don’t think I have questioned the validity of that conventional wisdom. I internalized the model that voting is ideally a process that collects the individual opinions of the population, in confidence, at a particular time, processes them in an accepted, fair, and mechanical fashion, to produce a decision. I will call this the “Collected Wisdom” model.

In contrast, I have also grown up with an idealized vision of legislative chamber voting which is very different: one of parliamentary debate, with opinions developed over time through discussion and compromise, proposals amended to capture refined understandings, and a final decision which captures the wisdom of the collective group rather than just what the individuals initially brought to the table. I will call this the “Collective Intelligence” model (albeit that idealized vision has rarely been seen in my country in recent decades).

I feel a tension in the Seeds voting process where I sense that because of the extended voting time there should be a possibility for accessing Collective Intelligence over that time period, and achieving a superior decision. However the tools we have provided are far closer to serving Collected Wisdom than Collective Intelligence.

During the voting cycle, a spotlight is placed on the active proposals and people are both more expressive of their opinions and more attentive to what is said. This means that early voters are likely to learn something they didn’t know after they have cast their votes. The voicing of opinions is part of developing collective intelligence, and a change which permits revised votes would allow at least this limited capture.

Voters also feel an urge to incorporate the knowledge of how the rest of the community feels (visible through early voting) in their decision making. But the principle application of this is to observe that “Prop A, which I like a lot, is going to pass easily, so I might as well use my voting power on Prop B, which I like somewhat less and is struggling.” IMHO this is a weak invocation of collective intelligence.

While the Concealed Ballot proposal is largely aligned with the Collected Wisdom model, I sense there is something different in the Seeds subconscious trying to get out, and the existing mechanisms (e.g. irreversible voting, dividing vote power among competing proposals, limited incentives for improving a proposal once placed before community) are in the way. Perhaps we are seeking something closer to the Collective Intelligence model. However it will take some exploration to find that out.

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I whole heartedly endorse the point of view that there is something wanting to emerge from the “Seeds subconscious” that is “trying to get out” in this arena of governance, and that it is in the direction of “Collective Intelligence”. One of the key elements of this “great transition” to a truly just and regenerative society is how to make collective decisions that benefit the whole, while being equitable and inclusive for all. Although there are possible models other than direct participatory democracy (Citizens Councils, for example) I support SEEDS in developing this Direct Participatory model to the best of our ability. This will entail an elaborate and complex system of:

  • How proposals come into being,
  • Who is allowed to put forward proposals
  • How they get “onto the ballot,”
  • When and how deliberation among proponents and voters takes place,
  • Are Proposals fixed once submitted or up for modification?
  • What exactly is a “vote” and how is it apportioned among proposals
  • How and when voting takes place,
    • for example - Are votes interim an iterative or one-time and final?
  • Who gets to vote on which proposals,
  • How are the votes counted
    • Is the vote public or private?
  • How and when results are reported
  • Who holds what power to execute and enforce whatever is decided
    … And More

I don’t truly understand enough of the current model to critique it well, but I have some experiences that seem to point to some possible flaws. For example @Carleymonty has stated that there were elements that she believed were going to be included in a past proposal that were eliminated without those who were involved in creating it being consulted or asked for their consent. I also know of several people who had already voted on the referendum to accept the 3rd Hypha Milestone who wanted to change their vote after hearing more of the debate around it. And I personally am not clear about the impact of apportioning my trust tokens among the proposals. (Does allocating more than the average to one proposal reduce the chances of the others being adopted?)

We are doing great work here for the future of life on the planet. We have a lot of historical attempts and some good philosophical and theoretical work to build on (Robert Dahl, James Fishkin, Tom Atlee, founder of The CoIntelligence Institute, to name a few.)

Just as SEEDS is showing the way toward a new economy based on an entirely new kind of currency, let’s show the way to an entirely new way of governing ourselves with the proposal and voting system we adopt.