The origin of the delegative form and the concept of liquid democracy remains unclear. However, Bryan Ford in his paper "Delegative Democracy" explains the main principles of how it works. In 1884, Charles Dodgson (better known under his pseudonym Lewis Carroll) wrote about political candidates being able to grant their votes, the votes gained on top of the required number to win a seat, to others running for a seat in the Parliament. This could be seen as the first step towards liquid democracy. Based on the work of Jabbusch and James Green-Armytage, liquid democracy can be traced back to reports of William S. U'Ren, a man who, in 1912, demanded interactive representation, where the elected politicians' influence would be weighted with regard to the number of votes each had received. A few decades later, around 1967, Gordon Tullock suggested that voters could choose their representatives or vote themselves in parliament "by wire", while debates were broadcast on television. James C. Miller favored the idea that everybody should have the possibility to vote on any question themselves or to appoint a representative who could transmit their inquiries. Soon after Miller argued in favor of liquid democracy, in 1970 Martin Shubik called the process an "instant referendum". Nonetheless, Shubik was concerned about the speed of decision-making and how it might influence the time available for public debates.
In the early 2000s, an unknown web user known as “sayke” argued that "liquid democracy can be thought of as a function that takes a question as an argument, and returns a list of answers sorted by group preference […] as a voting system that migrates along the line between direct and representative democracy." This idea led to the concept of a decentralized information system allowing civic participation in political decision-making, which would push parliaments to become obsolete.