The idea of liquid democracy responds to a widely-felt desire to make democracy
more "fluid" and continuously participatory. Its central premise is to enable
users to employ networked technologies to control and delegate voting power, to
approximate the ideal of direct democracy in a scalable fashion that accounts
for time and attention limits. There are many potential definitions, meanings,
and ways to implement liquid democracy, however, and many distinct purposes to
which it might be deployed. This paper develops and explores the "liquid"
notion and what it might mean for purposes of enhancing voter choice by
spreading voting power, improving proportional representation systems,
simplifying or aiding voters in their choice, or scaling direct democracy
through specialization. The goal of this paper is to disentangle and further
develop some of the many concepts and goals that liquid democracy ideas often
embody, to explore their justification with respect to existing democratic
traditions such as transferable voting and political parties, and to explore
potential risks in liquid democracy systems and ways to address them.