Voting is Flawed. Is There a Fix?

in #politics4 years ago (edited)


The many variations of voting systems seen throughout the world have all been reasonably flawed and unable to scale well beyond the size of a small classroom. Yet most of us still get involved anyway, simply because it's the way things work at the moment. We're just rolling with the punches. Even on Steem. What? You think the adults have it all figured out? The most important thing is to realise here is there are many flaws with our concept of voting.

First of all, not everybody can make and go through all proposals.

This is why most of our collaborative decision making processes only involve small groups of people determining what the general public votes on. You would think that in a society made up of individuals, we could all list our individual opinions, ordered algorithmically before getting a consensus through some voting process that covers it all. That's hardly even the case! Our methods of voting today are unable to scale well. There are bottlenecks whenever we pass information from one stage to the next.

Secondly, proposal list ordering is imperfect as we only have finite time and attention.

If you've tried curating on Steem, you will know what I mean. Even if the first ten that appears on screen are total crap, you might even push yourself to give out a vote for many different reasons like affinity to popularity, mood, relationship, patience, time, returns, etc. In small groups of people, the process may be fairly representative. But it all breaks down when we take it to the level of large communities.

Thirdly, most, if not all voters have incomplete knowledge.

Voters are assumed to be making informed decisions. Given the huge body of proposals, candidates, and socioeconomic complexities present in massive democracies, do voters really vote with full scrutiny and knowledge, or more likely through knowledge given off by information proxies we trust? Voting games usually end up being popularity contests.

Finally, voting systems can be easily exploited.

It doesn’t matter if voting is so-called tamper-proof and sybil-resistant through the use of indelible ink, identity checks, or even blockchain technology. There's just no way to properly secure any voting platforms, especially around the premise of one person, one vote (also known as account-based voting). Anyone telling you otherwise must have not thought through the problem well enough. Identity can be gamed, made up. This is why Bitcoin uses Proof-of-Work, and Steem, Delegated Proof-of-Stake. Not saying they're perfect, but they seem to work fairly well in massively open, permissionless environments where "Proof-of-Identity" is likely impossible.


Why do we ever vote in the first place? It's just a means to an end. It's a way for groups of people to come together through some method of consensus to achieve desired outcomes. Given the inefficiencies of the voting enterprise, what if we have something that works way better? Less friction, more satisfaction, and perhaps, much better outcomes?

Good news: it may be possible to surpass the performance limitations imposed by some of the outmoded voting implementations. A small group people are already working on it now. But it's certainly not just a simple upgrade, as it would be the same crap if we just try to shove legacy voting methodologies into blockchains. Voting is just a process to reach consensus anyway, so the point is to have better ways of achieving consensus in a way that the aggregate of participants feel is fair, inclusive, and representative.

Our traditional ways of achieving consensus will still be around for some time, even in the blockchain space. But I suspect their performance will be outpaced in great orders of magnitude by a platform that is able to actually scale discussions and consensus formation. Blockchains like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Steem are a glimpse of what is to come. Only time will tell. Please check out and meditate on these blogposts: The New Tau & The Power of Tau.

Some supporting resources

  1. Social Choice Theory
  2. Social Choice and Individual Values
  3. Arrow's Impossibility Theorem
  4. The Strategy of Voting: Social Preference Functions
  5. Electoral System
  6. Voting Paradox

Not to be taken as financial advice.
Follow me @kevinwong


You make some fine practical & philosophical points here, Kevin @kevinwong -- where to begin?

Voting, like democracy, like justice are the approximations of an ideal. As flawed humans in pursuit of such lofty aims, we're bound to fail. Some attempts, of course, are better than others.

Living in Egypt, voting was a sad farce. Our president would win the 'so-called' elections with 99.99% vote results, every year! Clearly, it was rigged--there was no opposition and Egyptians would joke that the dead must have been brought back to vote (to account for such high figures).

Living in the Divided States of America, at this historical moment is not much better, either. I voted for Obama the first time, but not the second. And, I could not get myself to vote for either Hillary or the Unspeakable One, now, in office. The 2 party system seems outdated; we need more choices.

Which brings us to this Utopian experiment, or social media revolution taking place on Steemit. Yes, there is corruption, here, too, with a pay to play mentality (bots, etc...) But, past that, I believe it aspires to a meritocracy.

There is curation, there are people with power and good taste, who rescue voices like mine from complete obscurity :) If one continues to work hard and produce quality content, they will be seen and endorsed. I really appreciate, for example, the auto-vote feature which allows artists like myself to feel like there are patrons of their work out there who appreciate/trust what they are doing enough to vote on it in advance.

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world, Shelley famously claimed -- which may seem outrageous considering how little money they make, online, and off. But, ideas and words, as you know, have another level of influence, past monetary. They change minds, even lives. And, I'm idealistic enough to believe that, with time, talent rises to the top :)

I believe in Steemit there is room for improvement, how to grant more security/incentives for thinkers and artists to stay on the platform and continue contributing. They needn't make the trending lists, but gaining the support of influential members of the community makes a difference.

How will the voting system be improved? Maybe quality content providers might be given a special badge, that rewards their efforts over time, and gives others contributors something to aspire to?

Yeah most voting systems are a farce since there are gatekeepers. Just gotta cross fingers and hope the gatekeepers aren't corrupted. Btw, gamification might be something on the table although honestly I don't know after so many delays in development!

Fingers, legs & eyes crossed, for good measure! Dunno what gamification means but looking forward to reading your new post on voting 🤓

Been waiting all morning (nearly 4 hours) to share an exclusive-to-Steemit short story of mine, that I suspect might tickle ya. And, now, that it finally posted, looks like Steemit is acting up, again 👀

You would think that in a society made up of individuals, we could all list our individual opinions, ordered algorithmically before getting a consensus through some voting process that covers it all.

I liked that idea, individuals should be relevant in decision making, especially in politics where mostly small numbers of people are only allowed to make decisions and this will deprived us some Good Ideas or even the best ideas that change our world faster and better.

Voting, as you tightly stated, is just a means to an end.....

A way to bring groups and entities together through some methods to achieve desired consensus.

So, even if Voting is just a process to reach consensus, the point is most definitely to have better ways of achieving consensus in a way that the aggregate of participants feel is fair, inclusive, and representative.

As for achieving perfection in voting, I do doubt that it could be possible, considering the myriad of corruption everywhere.....

So are we voting or... I'm confused :D
Let's just vote and see the result. Who knows maybe it will work out.

Hey Kevin just checking in. Made it form Ecuador to Patagonia and I'm in Florida visiting family. I now have a bit of time to take a peak at your blog. You've been doing great work as always.

Voting, unreal how we have not been able to go the rout of Switzerland yet. Who uses a form of direct democracy which I think is best as the people vote for all significant decisions the county makes.

We can have blockchain money and everything on line. But yet we allow the voting systems around the world to be manipulated to the benefit of those in power. It's always great how you bring awareness to topics like these. Keep up the great work.

Next stop- New York City! Have a great day!- Dan "World Travel Pro!"

Yeah I actually like how Switzerland functions, they're pretty decentralised afaik.. and it works. Probably because of their position and geolocation as well. Have a great day to you too!

Interesting points you made here Mr. Kevin. Nice to see your still posting strong, hope your having a great year so far. Hopefully Steemit gets better and better with the abuse but, said truth is there's always people taking advantage that's life. Either way I still love it here on Steemit this idea of blockchain blogging still keeps making me come back and post even when sometimes I don't feel like it. Its the simple fact of you don't know who your goinh to meet next and you don't know which post will flourish with a nice upvote for your hard work. I'm very interested to see how the voting structure changes in the near future, it's inevitable. Time will tell. Stay humble and Steem on my friend!

You're right, it's so difficult combating exploits! Thanks @gre3n, keep posting!

You kind of alluded to the problem of voting as it pertains to larger groups of people. This is especially problematic with government. The larger the country, the more problematic simple majority voting becomes because of the way our government is constructed. In our current system, if 50.01% of the people (Or electoral college) vote for a leader, that leader is given the power of that office and is able to do what her/she likes. The other half of the population just has to sit there and take it. In a country as large as the United States this means that whole large groups can be effectively ignored because they aren't needed to get the necessary votes to win. And I'm not sure that a system that is structured to leave a 150 million or so of it's citizens disenfranchised is a good system. Leaving aside of course that the winning side usually doesn't get what it wants in terms of campaign promises either.

Politics is good and so the democracy but the corrupt politicians make politics bad, they are the one who made it dirty.

Whatever the process of voting whether it is manual or automated, there is always a loophole in it where the red-handed politicians take advantage for their gain.

Politics is bad, because it covers plunder, abuse, and murder under a veneer of civility. Democracy is a false god. No one can delegate to another party an authority they do not have as individuals. Governments necessarily operate through violation of the very rights they claim to protect and defend.

I do not agree with you on this. Politics isn't bad, democracy isn't bad. The true definitions of these concepts are in existence for the betterment of the society. Where's problem occurs is in the execution of the concepts

Do I have the authority to govern you? No. So I cannot delegate to anyone else such an authority either. Claims of political power are thus usurpation, and wholly illegitimate.

There is no agent/principal relationship between a politician and those who voted for him, much less such a relationship between the politician and those who voted against him, did not vote, or could not vote. Thus, democracy is a sham.

Society does not exist except as a description for the peaceful exchanges and interactions between people. Government is by definition a territorial monopoly on violence. People who call themselves "government" necessarily claim a special authority to violate the life. liberty, and property of everyone in the region they "govern." The incentives of political power guarantee corruption regardless of the intentions of the people in "government" or the founders of the "government." Politics is inherently anti-social. It cannot be executed justly, fairly, or for the betterment of "society" by its very nature.

Why do you disagree? What specific reasoning has led you to the position you hold?

You are talking about the practicality of the concepts... My point is the theoretical definitions of the concepts in themselves are not evil. The practicality of it however has been tainted by the human nature in its active form, hence your stance.

If a concept fails to work in reality every time it's tried due to readily-explainable phenomena, it isn't a theory, and it needs to be discarded. There is no way political power can work as advertised. That is why politics and economics can only be understood by beginning at the level of individual human action, and not at the scale of, "It would be great if..."

Now I get your point... It should be "what is" and not "what ought to be"

Almost. It's "what is" versus "what people imagine."

Imagine if I told someone making a sacrifice to Neptune/Poseidon before going on an ocean voyage were a complete waste, and the priesthood was knowingly or unknowingly suckering the people there to give offerings, but I was told in response it was necessary to ensure a safe voyage anyway. Tradition and the teachings of past generations become a burden and an impediment to progress if they are not periodically reexamined for validity.

Democracy is an expression of being free - Everyone is free to choose whoever they want to lead them, unlike dictatorship we have no choice at all and whoever disobeys will surely face consequences. We are free to choose but of course, the majority of votes will be held as the winner.

Word Root of politics. The Greek word polis, meaning “city” or “community,” and the related word polītēs, meaning “citizen,” give us the roots polis and polit. Words from Greek polis. Politics is the science and art of governing citizens.

Politics is simply an art of governing but the problem lies on those who govern who are corrupt and dirty-handed. They tainted the clean essence of politics.

Democracy is the political manifestation of the bandwagon fallacy, and has nothing whatsoever to do with choosing leadership. I know the root Greek word, but rulership destroys communities, and plunder is antithetical to the concept of society. Government is by definition a territorial monopoly in violence, and the perverse incentives of power guarantee corruption and abuse.

I do not have the authority to rule you. Our spheres of authority are limited by our reciprocal rights to life, liberty, and property. I cannot delegate to some third party any authority I do not have in the first place. How then can the democratic process give politicians the authority to tax, impose arbitrary laws against non-crimes, wage wars, or do any of the other things governments do? Just because 50%+1 if the populace engages n a voting ritual every few years? There isn't even an agent/principal relationship between those who voted for the winner, so how does a politician represent anyone else either?

It is because I support the idea of community that I oppose politics as a means to further it.

It would be nice if democracy meant anything at all in modern contexts. I agree with a lot of the same stuff you have probably read or think, glad to see others on steemit with some insight into how everything is just a veneer to cover up state-sanctioned violence to maintain power over people and resources. Like, damn, most in the West really think their purchasing power is a result of their own efforts. Must be hard for them to contain that growing cognitive dissonance when they realize raw materials are plundered from the world over for their creature comforts.

Systems are in place, on paper, to make voting systems perfect. The imperfection ofnthe human entity is however still reflected in the electoral processes, everywhere.

One can only hope to strive to be as close to perfection as the environment allows.

Voting System is worst in Pakistan. All the corrupt politicians don't want to set the bio-metric system to get accurate results. A number of votes are sold by the individuals forcefully or due to ignorance. Those people blindly believe on those corrupt politicians as they fulfill some of their needs.
Very informative Article indeed. Stay Blessed @kevinwong!

The rationale behind the voting systems are full of flaws and fraud, in our contemporary society the voting system is not in any way perfect , as it is been manipulated to suit some particular interest. Then coming to decentralize system like blockchain those that are early adopters and those that has larger stake in such .

Do use it to influence their own selfish interest, just as in steemit where the whales and dolphins use their steem power to self vote themselves and also to vote for low quality contents just because those creators are their friends

You see in my own country the voting system is just a political game which we citizens knows about but we roll to the punches as you’ve said.
Relating this voting system to blockchain I think we have better chances of honest voting system as the knew identity could be made up and induced the prove system . Showing proofs is evidently transparent.

I agree with you with the fact that the aim of voting is census related and it’s very good to know we can surpass the performance limitations imposed by some of the outmoded voting implementations

Voting kind of a nice topic to pick this morning especially when we have it just around the corner here in Nigeria, voting they said is democratic and each individual have the ability to change the outcome of a process with his/her vote but sometimes not always the case, we tend to neglect so many things when voting and like you mentioned above giving vote some times is not because the candidate deserves it but due to various option available be it

affinity to popularity, mood, relationship, patience, time, returns, etc.

At the end we sometimes end up picking the wrong individual probably due to unavailability of a suitable candidate, promising of a better tomorrow which usually end up been a lie.

Only if there was a better fix available and your post said something quite unique is on its way and might take some time, that been said it's always better to look and hope tomorrow would be better.

What I love about your post is not just the fact that you were dead on point but also how your post found a common ground between the flaws in the world voting system and that of Steemit which i now see as one and the same.

Your third point struck a cord as in Nigeria people appear out of the blue to declare their intentions to go for a public office, spray money around and he is in office.

It's a great post, the beat I have read this morning

Can we achieve perfection with voting, I'll say no. As long as sentiment and feelings would still be part of our wiring, it would be difficult if not impossible to achieve true or honest voting even with blockchain technology. Well, only time would tell but in my opinion only machines could be objectively objective, humans can't.

It reminds me of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan where the act of man and the State is explained through a consensual pact in the relationship of power between mandated and mandated.

You say that we are forced to choose incompetent clowns with incompetent rules and systems to be governed by people who are not suitable for that position.

I hope in the future to see that system of which you speak until then we must hold the "decision" of the majority.

Recent US election is perfect example of a system flawed. The majority of the people of this country know that this man is a threat to everything we stand for and his mental stability is very questionable but gets elected through a system that allowed this to happen anyway. Americans must be concerned because this allows any Hitler type to seize control of this country and makes us incredibly vulnerable. @kevinwong

The people who run the world will not be interested to give the opportunity to fix these flaws. But when mass people gather together and grow awareness to ask for their rights, it is possible to do some big changes. You have pointed out very important things..

Where there is politics there will be flaws and they will not try to correct them. Because they know that will give smaller people a chance to change this world and our life. This is for sure.

If democracy can change something it would be illegal. That is how it is, and that is the game they play to trick us. They rule over us a d we need to accept that so we can fight that. If we gonna continue to live in a dream, the real life will always seem as something not worth fighting for...

Have a great day all. Let us change our world...

Knew the article will lead to the Tau. I was interested in it and unfortunately facing a few obstacles in obtaining the coin: got no easy and clear way to hold Tau, and the coin is unlisted at all.

Yeah it's only on bitshares / openledger now. Maybe just wait til it hits any major exchange again

Wonginator, bitusd is under $1 for an extended period of time and I'm scared. I want to re-invest it into SP at a good time but I don't want it to pull a Nubits on me.

I don't know what's a nubits haha. Also, I've not figured out how bitusd works until now. Anyway.. i'm barely keeping any fiat or equivalents.

Nubits was another "pegged at a dollar" coin that used some trading bot to maintain its peg, it got hammered hard and went down to 40ish cents lol, it's at 45.8559 cents right now. I think bitusd at 1.06 right now is a combination of people not wanting to get taxed by going to centralized exchanges, and them never having read

Well waking up to these prices sucks, but I guess the long game is in mind for individuals like yourself and I'm sure actual fiats have a lot to fall with all the printing that went on.

Pegging is for regulated markets.. crypto is anything but.. lol. Hmm can't say for sure, i might even lose it all tomorrow, but whatever.. i think crypto has more upside and won't totally die off

Unfortunately unless someone has total insider information at both the exchanges and Tether and all the central banks of the world it's hard to tell what will happen to prices in general... well, even so I can see crypto perhaps losing some energy as speculation dies down and excess money from the high liquidity/easy credit period goes away, but recovering a lot and maintaining a strong baseline when sovereign nations start to experience credit crises and talks of haircuts to debt or straight up defaults take place. But then it's up to where one lives because individual countries will assess how strong/weak they perceive themselves to be in the face of crypto as a new capital flight tool, just my thoughts on how it might play out.

The misuse of selfupvote is one of the major problems here. Some users dont want to be in a community and share everything with others, but instead working for themselves alone. Upvoting their own comments and leaving. And it is not only about whales, but also new minnows who dont understand the right strategy to survive here. Instead of making friends and growing here together, they prefer to be alone, what makes them look like spammers and couldnt go any step further.

For the reason most individuals do not have or take the time to understand the topic one will vote for, or simply the topic is too complex to understand all implications, in a reasonable time, the general vting system does not work, at least not for large group voting, eg government elections and so on.

This is why Bitcoin uses Proof-of-Work, and Steem, Delegated Proof-of-Stake. Not saying they're perfect, but they seem to work fairly well in massively open, permissionless environments where "Proof-of-Identity" is likely impossible.

You say they work fairly well. I doubt that to be honest. We try to believe they work fairly well, but I actually think the government and referenda voting works better than the voting system you refer to wrt blockchains. But that is my humble opinion :)

Your post made me feel like I was looking at Steemit from the inside out, as your perspective is based upon an in-depth insight into the mechanics of the platform, people and technology. I like how you've touched on the phycological aspect of voting and what drives one to vote the way one does, certainly made me ponder. So, on the back of your recent post (I'm working in reverse, remember:), regarding your idea of automating the voting system, should and would eliminate most, if not all of the personal reasons for a Steemian to vote. Maybe a certain level of automation, not fully, say 30% auto and 70% personal? I'm a fish out of it's depth on this one, so I'll stop there. And finally, awesome point @kevinwong and another reason why your idea of automating the voting system seems so interesting.

It doesn’t matter if voting is so-called tamper-proof and sybil-resistant through the use of indelible ink, identity checks, or even blockchain technology. There's just no way to properly secure any voting platforms, especially around the premise of one person, one vote (also known as account-based voting). Anyone telling you otherwise must have not thought through the problem well enough.

What is coming wud be taking away all the poverty ,i believe that...Still now the crypto is banned in many countries now the same will be accepted by these countries & the crypto will find its way and that too high.....

Hello @kevinwong

Such an in-depth thought on the current system of voting and its limitations..

Good news: it may be possible to surpass the performance limitations imposed by some of the outmoded voting implementations. A small group people are already working on it now. But it's certainly not just a simple upgrade, as it would be the same crap if we just try to shove legacy voting methodologies into blockchains. Voting is just a process to reach consensus anyway, so the point is to have better ways of achieving consensus in a way that the aggregate of participants feel is fair, inclusive, and representative.

This sounds like it's gonna be a savior. I cant wait for it to come. And please can you give us a glimpse about the name of the platform

@eurogee of @euronation community

You should check out the research on voting methods out of the National Election Studies group at the University of Michigan at the Institute for Social Research and in their political science department.

thanks for this information...

learned new

"There is no government like NO government!" -Unknown

It is a very good idea if there is an alternative to the voting system. Moreso, as the system can be compromised for various selfish interests just as you have listed. However, the third point you raised may still be an hinderance. Incomplete knowledge will always affect people's decisions. We however look forward to the concept that the research will come up with.

True indeed, the voting system on steemit is still unfair just like the electoral process around the globe. The public just goes with the voting systems even if they believe it's not right. And this will take a lot of efforts to change. I hope steemit figures out a solution to this however long it takes because steemit is here to stay.

Not to be taken as financial advice.. Very true.

My 2 cents suggestion - it's better to cast our votes with blockchain, easy and hassle free - not need to waste time just for long queue up...

EOS will fix all of this.

Check out

Once we get bigger than a tribe our social concepts get exponentially more complex. The electoral system minus bribery seems to have some merit

A very detailed and elaborative analysis, I agree with your opinion about the voting system in general, it becomes more difficult to organize and implement a voting system on a larger scale.

you have speaking about same problem I have been faced

Hello! Good article! I'm interested in the them of ICO and crypto-currency, I'll subscribe to your channel. I hope you will also like my content and reviews of the most profitable bounties and ICO, subscribe to me @toni.crypto
There will be a lot of interesting!

Voting is not a problem for accounts with large steam power, but voting will be a problem for accounts with small sp, it needs clarity from the steam promo team by telling people who want to join in steemit that the main problem is steem power. The actual ones that need to be invited to join are potential investors with enough wealth to invest some money in this platform.

I have a partial solution to the problem. Our reputations are somewhat hard to game but people utilizing upvote bots accelerated their reputations but it cost a lot of money. Also a certain amount of unique voting over the last 6 months is hard to fake as well for an account.

It is also impossible to fake having at least 500 or 1000 SP and spreading that amount to a ton of accounts won't be able to fool the right system that takes in the other criteria either.

So here is what I feel needs to be done. A new community is created either with SMTs or just a cloned chain of this or something built on EOS and everyone on here who meets the criteria gets air dropped an equal amount. That way everyone engaging feels like they have a solid vested interest in the platform and a decent influence over the rewards pool.

I honestly look at STEEM as more of a testnet at this point. Overtime we are seeing the outcome of certain decisions and a platform that skips the mistakes and has a more fair launch has a good chance to grab hold.

Something new is indeed needed and this could be it :)

Voting does not make a difference, unfortunately. Politicians just take the stance that fits their interests best, even if they have to break promises with their voters.

Sad to hear that some people here in our place vote not by heart, but because of money. huhu

you are writing very nice topics .. I am doing BTC analysis .. I would like to invite you to the page. to

True, indeed..

I agree with what you say.
And I also noticed that the relationship of proximity or relationship became the cause of voting. I see things that happen so often.

great explain about this issue thanks

Thank you so much brother @kevinwong for this information hopefully fore will be more advanced and growing!

Hopefully the future steam users put forward the positive things
@kevinwong 🙏

Thanks a lot brother, this post is very useful, hopefully the steemian can put something in its place!

I guess, voting rules are always a trade-off between optimal representation, practicality and particular interests when it's about setting up the rules.

You are a very professional writer. Congratulations .. I also do BTC analysis .. I would like to invite you to the page.

Even if it is flowed we should keep voting, otherwise we won't know what the majority thinks lol.

Hmm... the topic that comes from boleh land at this point of time. :-)

yes indeed we humans are not there perfect flaws and advantages it must exist. then we can understand it together

Abang @kevinwong, though I'm still very new to social media based on cryptocurrency, I'm happy, and as long as you translate your post, I want to learn a lot from you :)

Excellent post once again @kevinwong ! Glad to be following you and having you on my auto voter so I dont miss your posts ! Blockchains definitly a glimpse of whats to come and im sure the future will be much friendlier , at least I hope so !! Keep up the great work , Also resteemed !

"Our traditional ways of achieving consensus will still be around for some time, even in the blockchain space'. This is an informative reminder. Thank you.

@kevinwong Young people need to vote. They need to get out there. Every vote counts. Educate yourself too. Don't just vote. Know what you're voting for, and stand by that.

Hope all is peaceful with the general elections in Malaysia bro. It's swarming my feed on Facebook now.

Hello. I liked your post, keep it up. Good luck to you and have a nice day :)

To me this is actually the most fascinating aspect of Steemit, even though it in one word is: chaosabusivebotswindling.

I really appreciate it, quite informative

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