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Pure Delegatable Democracy

Pure Democracy Scheme with Fractional Votes and Optional Representation
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Here is a scheme that could replace the legislature and possibly much of the executive branch for a pure democracy: 1. Every voter gets 1 vote at any instant for each voting district they are a member of (city, state, federal, school, neighborhoot, etc.) 2. The vote may be split up into any desired set of fractions. Votes would be tallied on as close to an instantaneous basis as possibly - initially daily or hourly. 3. Any fraction of a person's vote may be delegated to another individual or organization. 4. There is a central web site for voting and exchanging bills (suggested laws) and comments about them. 5. Any individual may submit any number of bills, whether or not he votes for them. 6. The web site will provide searching and sorting capabilities, and 3rd party software can be used for this also. 7. Default view: Bills will be ranked by interest - sum of all votes, for or against, within a specified district. 8. Bills will take effect when some formula such as interest level * Duration * For / Against > some threshold function. Thus, if 1000000 people vote unanimously for something it will pass in a day, 51000/49000 will pass in 6 months, 1 person voting for something for would pass in 2 years. 9. Secret voting would be supported but not required by the system.

Bills would be carried out by the Executive branch and interpreted by the Judicial branch as now. If the people disagreed with either they could pass a more specific law.

The way this would work:

Similar bills would tend to merge to gain interest and thus priority. This would require some compromise. Initially an issue might have hundreds of bills, but it would quickly narrow down to a few and then 1.

People who were very interested in a field or experts would tend to vote just within that field, and have proportionately higher effect than uninterested. A group of 10 neighbors might vote most of their vote for a speed bump on their street, and get it.

People would tend to delegate parts of their votes to representatives - I might choose to allocate my vote: 30%libertarian party, 10% consumers union, 10% my employer, 20% Jimmy Carter, 10% Greenpeace, and 20% for a bill to expell Texas from the US.

It would be perfectly legal to sell your vote to a delegate, but your vote could be withdrawn at any time.

Some representatives might require or request that you pay them to vote for you, and they may use that money to buy other votes. That would be equivalent a political contribution in the current system.

Some representatives would work to keep the system flowing smoothly - for example, to vote just enough to cancel out the odd lunatics who want to expell Texas from the US, or voting to resolve deadlocks if an even vote occurred that had too long a delay.

tolly3, Feb 14 2002

real-time forest voting Prior art by [jutta] [notexactly, Jul 24 2017]


       //3. Any fraction of a person's vote may be delegated to another individual or organization.//   

       So the rich get to buy the votes of the poor. Fishbone for this alone.
st3f, Feb 14 2002

       In your 'pure democracy', if enough people vote to kick Texas out of the US, why should that be denied?
Serious objection: I don't want to keep myself informed about absolutely everything involved in running a country (which is what your system proposes - as do the countless similar systems which have been put forward over the years which allow people to vote on every bill being considered by government). I have representatives whose job it is to be informed about such things to do that for me. The representatives I like, I vote for.

st3f bought my voting rights, so you get a fishbone from me.
hippo, Feb 14 2002

       Title Change: Impure...
thumbwax, Feb 14 2002

       A simple version of fractional voting powers is to give members of parliament/congress/etc not a whole vote each, but a fraction equal to the fraction of the electorate which voted for them. This alleviates part of the problem of first-past-the-post elections by making each vote more important. (I think I saw this on a Channel 4 program in Britain on democratic reform, which also included something like the congress=jury duty thing: a jury as part of a second chamber in a bicameral [love that word] legislature.)
pottedstu, Feb 14 2002

       But it's right that the rich should be able to buy more votes, they have been blessed by god with more money so they must be correct (hell what do you think that pre-election tax cuts are all about!)
dare99, Feb 14 2002

       This is just a complicated version of mob rule.
mcscotland, Feb 14 2002

       Please read or listen to the Federalist Papers.
seal, Feb 14 2002

       actually, I think Texans would "vote" to form their own country (heck, we're bigger than most countries anyhow). so there. (you can't fire me, I quit!)
runforrestrun, Feb 14 2002

       Before this idea gets fishboned completely out of existance, I would like to say that I think that the idea of delegating your vote and being able to change that decision at any time is a rather effecient means of election if you consider it as such.   

       I'd love to see someone explore that idea again at some point. In the mean time I will play touch-rugby with it in my head.
st3f, Feb 14 2002

       Any decision-maker's primary weakness is the tendency to make too many decisions. A pure democracy is a societal-scale version of the too-decisive personality. The tendency is toward runaway decision making, ending in chaos. This is happening in my state to some extent with the peripatetic but now somewhat softened activities of one Tim Eyman, who keeps starting initiatives that are marketed as anti-bureaucracy but are just ill-conceived and damaging jabs at government in general. Over time, we end up having to work around the initiatives that get voted in. On the other hand, if more people would exercise their right to vote, maybe none of his initiatives would pass. Getting signatures is not too hard if you know how to market and are persistent.   

       A decision-maker's tendency to be too decisive works to the advantage of the job hunter who finds the decision maker and tells them that they do not expect to find a job there that same day, and simply asks them where a person with their qualifications should go to find work, incidentally.
entremanure, Feb 15 2002

       The main thing that would make this work is powerful groups such as ACLU or ABA trying to make it work, correcting these problems.   

       It wouldn't be necessary to keep informed about everything. You could distribute your vote exactly as it is today. Your chosen representatives would be the experts. This would just allow you to vote directly when you do have an opinion. Most people don't vote now, because they usually don't have an opinion.   

       // So the rich get to buy the votes of the poor. Let the free market decide. If a group of people becomes unhappy because the rich are taking advantage of them, enough people will eventually refuse to sell and instead give it to someone who they think will fight for them. The price of their vote will rise to the point that either the rich must improve their lot or pay enough that they are sufficiently happy. This could replace some forms of welfare. It would also deregulate pork. The 2000 congressional election cost around $5-$6 per vote. That is probably not enough to buy most votes. An unpopular representative would have to pay a lot.   

       If there was a problem with runaway decision making and chaos, powerful representatives (such as the Republican Party) could vote specifically to correct the problem, by supporting some measures strongly enough to resolve issues.   

       I have nothing against Texas seceeding, there would just need to be watchdog groups to make sure that one individual doesn't sneak something major into effect without anyone noticing.
tolly3, Feb 15 2002

       An idea very similar to this was halfbaked in an issue of the Australian political journal "The Independant" towards the end of the '90s. At the time, there was somewhat of a debate in our country on consitutional change.   

       The essential elements of direct but delegatable votes, one per citizen, were there. You could choose to cast your vote yourself on every issue, or delegate that vote to the organization or individual of your choice, removeable at any time. Organizations would not have to be political parties per se.   

       The main difference between this version and the OP's was that there was still a house of debate. Any body or person with a sufficient quota could send reps to this house, to review and debate legislation, sit on committees, ask each other pointed questions under privelege, etc.   

       The main problem I envisage is the complexity of modern legislation. Laws can run to hundreds of pages, and many thousands of paragraphs, clauses, definitions, and the devil's in the details. Passages may clash with other passages, the constitution or other laws. Sometimes a single word can have enormous implications.   

       Who would have the time to read all that? Indeed, many laws are passed under the current system (the execrable USA PATRIOT Act for example) without being read even by most of the legislature.   

       I imagine a new industry of consultant lawyers would spring up to interpret legislation ans explain it in layman's terms to the populace. While this could never be perfect, it would certainly be an improvement on the current system. And of course bias would be a factor, but then you'd just subscribe to the legislature newsfeed whose biases you liked the most (GreenLaw, ChristLaw, BusinessLaw etc.)   

       I'd also like to apply the Australian principle of compulsory voting (or at least compulsory delegation). The democratic process should reflect the opinions of everyone, not just those who can make it to the booths, for whatever reasons.   

       And what is with all you Americans thinking _buying_ votes would be a _good_ thing? Have you become that inured to the corruption of the political process that you think this is an improvement? Do you really need someone to explain the many and varied ways this idea sucks?   

       I'm afraid that I must side with st3f and fishbone this on the strength of that alone. Take it away and the croissants will fall like snow.
BunsenHoneydew, Dec 20 2003


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