Fundamental Dimensions within Liquid Feedback and Other Voting Technologies

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* Article: Liquid separation: three fundamental dimensions within Liquid Feedback and other voting technologies. By Nicolás Mendoza.


"The use of the Liquid Feedback software as a decision-making tool within the German Pirate Party is not an isolated event, but one inscribed in the long history of practices, methods and technologies for decision-making. These practices, methods and technologies are a fundamental part of all human societies, in a history that exceeds the secret ballot, and in general 'democracy' as understood in the West. Voting technologies are meant to make explicit and intelligible the political will of the members of the society that uses them. Whether hands, ballots or computers are used, collective decision-making practices are technological artifact-procedure assemblages in which one thing (individual political desires) are encoded to be decoded into another (collective decisions), processes of mediation par excellence. The specificity of Liquid Feedback as a digital platform carries dramatic implications both in terms of its ability to perceive and manage information, and in terms of privacy, security, and surveillance. To what extent and how does the Liquid Feedback platform capture and change information about the political will of its users in the process of mediating it? Is the voting technology socially located in a position where it can meaningfully change the state of affairs of society? Is it configured in such a way that it guarantees fairness and safety from both public and private perspectives? Through a series of interviews with individuals involved in the development and deployment of the platform, its underlying problematics and strenghts become explicit. In the process of analysis of the interview material, three fundamental dimensions to any voting technologies emerge: Expressivity, Influence, and Integrity. An understanding of Liquid Feedback, as a vis-a-vis the three fundamental dimensions of voting technologies can provide valuable insight into the challenges faced by Liquid Feedback in the German context in particular, and by all other possible implementations of the larger notion of a Digital Democracy in general."