h a l f b a k e r y
"My only concern is that it wouldn't work, which I see as a problem."
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Legislators are supposedly elected by their constituents for
the purpose of being their representative in government, so
let's see how good a job they're actually doing of it. Each
vote that comes up before a given legislator would be
presented to his constituency to vote upon (via the Internet,
touch-tone, postal mail, etc.). The vote would not be
binding, but the outcome of every vote along with the
legislator's ultimate action on the bill would be a matter of
public record (only after the vote, however, so as not to
unduly influence public opinion).
This would not only be a valuable tool for legislators to
connect with their constituents, but would act as a real-time
report card as to how effectively they represent the people's
mandate. Since the vote isn't binding, it could be ignored by
any legislator who felt it in the best interest of the public
do so, but at the risk of potentially having to be
accountable to his constituency for that decision come the
Testing the need for representative government
[theircompetitor, Mar 08 2011]
||How is it presented to the constituency? If it's self select (online poll or similar), then only the people who care enough to vote are going to have an input. This means that if 10 people really hate an issue, and 10000 are somewhat positive towards it, the 10 are going to have a disproportionate influence.
||If it's mandatory voting, then everyone is going to get annoyed about it.
||That's why the result isn't binding. If only a few people
bother to vote on a given measure, it's clearly not that
important to the constituency at large, and isn't likely to
be a major political liability however the legislator votes.
Of course, one could argue that the 10 people who
actually go out of their way to say something SHOULD
have more influence than 10,000 who don't bother
(consider 10,000 horses and 10 cows voting on subsidies
to the beef industry.)
||This isn't that different in principle from the way
politically active citizens currently contact their
legislators ("Please write or call your representative
today and urge him or her to vote YES on..."). It just
creates a more systematic and transparent means of
||Just incorporate a "no results displayed until 10%(?) of the voting population of the constituency have voted" type deal, which could help solve the skewed results problem, and bingo.