Characterizing Properties and Trade-offs of Centralized Delegation Mechanisms in Liquid Democracy

by   Brian Brubach, et al.

Liquid democracy is a form of transitive delegative democracy that has received a flurry of scholarly attention from the computer science community in recent years. In its simplest form, every agent starts with one vote and may have other votes assigned to them via delegation from other agents. They can choose to delegate all votes assigned to them to another agent or vote directly with all votes assigned to them. However, many proposed realizations of liquid democracy allow for agents to express their delegation/voting preferences in more complex ways (e.g., a ranked list of potential delegates) and employ a centralized delegation mechanism to compute the final vote tally. In doing so, centralized delegation mechanisms can make decisions that affect the outcome of a vote and where/whether agents are able to delegate their votes. Much of the analysis thus far has focused on the ability of these mechanisms to make a correct choice. We extend this analysis by introducing and formalizing other important properties of a centralized delegation mechanism in liquid democracy with respect to crucial features such as accountability, transparency, explainability, fairness, and user agency. In addition, we evaluate existing methods in terms of these properties, show how some prior work can be augmented to achieve desirable properties, prove impossibility results for achieving certain sets of properties simultaneously, and highlight directions for future work.


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