To the issue of vote buying
It’s likely more effective to stop vote buying by punishing BP’s who violate the BP agreement than it would be to punish the members exchanging their vote for profit. Do we really need to ban vote buying in the constitution where it largely only serves to prolong the contract language and obscure the more pertinent agreements? The real threat to EOS is malicious exchanges, not buying or selling votes but rather using them to vote without owners authorization. This is the real issue that needs to be addressed, and interestingly enough, it is not directly prohibited anywhere in the interim constitution. The only situation we might find a general constitutional ban on vote buying more useful than unenforceable is if we think whales are selling votes. Even so, such could be made hard to prove to the point of impracticability. At least BP's are in the public sphere by choice and literally running for an elected position as opposed to a privacy leaning EOS user who may or may not have violated any agreement. These kinds of things can turn into a witch hunt pretty quick and honestly I don’t really feel safe voting if ECAF or whoever else is elected to that position could at any time take it upon themselves, or a claimant, to freeze my account at a whim.
Voters are expected to and widely encouraged to vote for the BP’s who promise to do right by EOS, demonstrate the technical chops to keep producing blocks and give back to the community. EOS code requires every EOS voter to have some staked EOS to vote. If a voter does what most would consider a good job voting and elects the best BP’s, the value of EOS should be greater. Thus all of the best voters are receiving personal value in exchange for their votes. I would not want it any other way and not sure why some felt it necessary to ban this type of behavior.
For example, I have found the simpleos wallet to be of great value to myself, and the EOS community as a whole, which in turn adds even more value to my personal EOS assets. They continue to voluntarily offer further value to the code by updating it, thus our “unofficial” relationship continues to add value to my personal assets. It is implied that they will continue to add value via updates under the unspoken understanding and if they do not receive enough votes to at least break even, they will pack up shop and stop adding value to simpleos, effectively ending our arrangement. While not necessary to prove intent to sell or buy votes per the interim constitution, this app does include the text, “This application is an initiative spearheaded by Greymass” right next to a brief description of “eos-voter”. If in doubt users now know who to thank for this sweet new EOS wallet, how to thank them, and also keep the updates rolling.
On one hand Bp’s are not allowed to buy votes and on the other hand, they are expected to provide not only the core functionality of EOS but also to “give back to the community somehow.” If I were to vote for Graymass, in this example, it could be effectively argued that my vote was paid for, as I had indeed received something of value on a regular basis. At first glance, offering this valuable code for free to everyone as opposed to only those voting for them as a BP may seem to make this a non-issue. When you break it down, however, every vote made with intentions of improving EOS and ensuring the best BP’s are voted in is a vote bought. After all, if a BP candidate were to promise X% of BP rewards to every EOS holder if elected, that would be considered vote-buying under this interim constitution. If this kind of vote buying is intended to be allowed, it needs to be clarified to read as much.
This is actually a very common practice with BP’s and my concern is not with graymass or how they laid out their wallet. My concern is based in the fact that the interim constitution, as it is written, could be used by an arbitrator to seize the funds of everyone who voted for graymass using simpleos. Apart from the negligent lack of voluntary consent currently running unchecked on EOS, an arbitrator would be totally within their constitutionally given authority to do so. Actually, they would have an obligation to do just that and to refuse could technically be seen as an abuse of power. Again, this is just one of many examples apparent today and graymass has done nothing wrong unless we are to take the interim constitution at face value in which case they are guilty of building a great open source wallet and producing blocks for the betterment of EOS.
Given the constitution is amendable; we should at least attempt to patch the potential loopholes of abuse in which have already been identified. Before we ratify the constitution and add a valid method of voluntary consent, we should clarify a few things. A great start would be to simply do away with the vote buying clause in the constitution and just leave it in the BP agreement.
What is vote buying?
What degrees of evidence will be required to open a case, arbitrate a case, and take punitive actions against an alleged vote seller?
Who is to pay the cost of arbitration?
Is the default system arbitrator mandatory in this case or can alternative arbitrators be appointed!?!
The same questions should then be answered in regards to alleged vote buying of BP’s.
But alas, in EOS we also have delegated vote buying to consider and this is where it all falls apart. It point-blank shows a constitutional ban on vote buying to be unenforceable. Anyone wanting to buy or sell a vote need only use a ghost proxy, ie a disposable account with minimum staking requirements. A voting proxy needs only a small stake of their own to control large numbers of votes. Little to no punitive actions can be taken upon accounts selling votes through a ghost proxy, apart from stopping them when we are able to detect them. As proxies are only required by code to have a negligible stake, they could simply repeat the whole process, and learn from their mistakes each time.
So again I am not convinced that vote buying will be an issue as EOS is DPOS by design. The main and perhaps only potential problem that needs solving here is exchanges using customers funds to vote against their customers' wishes and/or without customer knowledge. We can call this vote stealing and it applies exclusively to exchanges or those holding funds on the behalf of others. As exchanges, they do not have to play by the same rules as BP’s or casual users. They are like delegated vote sellers on PCP and to freeze the entire exchanges funds or really intervene in any way, would inevitably affect numerous innocent users. This is the potential threat that needs to be dealt with. exchanges abusing the system in this way would not even have to buy the votes, simply use what they already have, to abuse the EOS constitution and voting system. It is worse than vote buying and is not directly addressed or prohibited anywhere in the interim constitution.
As it is written in interim,
“No Member shall offer nor accept anything of value in exchange for a vote of any type, including for Block Producer candidates, Amendments or Worker Proposals, nor shall any Member unduly influence the vote of another.”
It would seem, if an exchange does not directly offer or receive something of “perceived” value in exchange for votes, they can use their customers' votes to do as they please. Just so long as they do not add any value to the EOS? But then again the staked EOS does not belong to the exchanges, so really their customers are receiving the increased value of EOS via BP’s actions and not the exchanges themselves. The interim constitution specifically mentions BP’s, (constitutional) amendments, and WPs but not exchanges. This coupled with the undefined yet repetitive key term “Member” leaves much uncertain regarding the intended role of exchanges within EOS. I would like to see this issue clarified and finalized once and for all.