[EM] Proxy Democracy

Forest Simmons fsimmons at pcc.edu
Fri Oct 26 15:57:02 PDT 2001

1. The purest form of democracy (govt by the people) has all of the
citizens voting on every issue, which is totally inconvenient, so the
people delegate authority to representatives. 

2. In the purest form of representative democracy everybody who wants to
be a representative is allowed to represent him/herself and all others who
delegate their vote to him/her as proxy. 

This seems to be impractical in any large political body, though some say
that the internet now makes it more of a possibility.

3. The next purest form of representative democracy makes a requirement
that a person must represent at least x percent of the population before
being allowed to serve as proxy for anybody. That way all of the proxies
can fit in the same building at the same time, and some of the lunatics
are eliminated. 

This is starting to get more practical, and is a form of PR.

4. Now the point of this message:

Why not convene a type three democracy for a few days every four years
for the purpose of choosing a president?

Call it a "Reformed Electoral College" if you want.

Each member of this REC must have the certified backing of at least x
percent of the citizens eligible to vote.

They might just as well be the presidential candidates themselves. Who
else would you rather have as your proxy than the person you think should
be president?

You designate which candidate you want to act as proxy for you by a lone
mark on your standard election ballot.

Let's consider the advantages of the REC over the current electoral

* The REC has perfect proportional representation because each member is a
proxy for each voter that supports his/her candidacy, whereas the current
EC is highly non-proportional even in the states that do not have a winner
takes all rule.

* The members of the REC are well known to the public. In the current
system most people don't even know the members of the EC.

* The current EC members use lone mark plurality (in conjunction with
block voting) to determine the winner of the presidential election. The
RFC could use a modern sophisticated method like ACMA, because even George
W. Bush could vote an unspoiled ballot with the help of some of his

Which brings up the fact that there are potential advantages of this RFC
over total elimination of any form of proxy in the presidential election:

* Good methods that are too sophisticated or inconvenient for Joe Q Public
can be employed.

* The relative popularity of the candidates is (automatically!) known with
high accuracy before they (as proxies) have to start making voting
strategy decisions, so it becomes hard to manipulate the election by bogus
polls or stone walling candidates by the corporate media, etc.

If the method used by the proxies is a form of Approval runoff (not an
instant form, but actual repeated approval votes by the proxies) then
strategy can be refined at each stage of the runoff based on the new
information gleaned from the results of the previous stage. 

It would be hard indeed to use bogus information to manipulate the outcome
under those conditions. 

The luxury of non-instant elimination methods is not too expensive when
only the proxies have to make the repeated trips to the polls.

I believe that if the details are crafted properly, this can be made
into a practical process as good as any other of similar simplicity,
convenience, democratic fairness, Banzhaf power, etc., adapted to this

I have some more ideas along these lines, but first I would like some
comments on what I have said so far.

Obviously it was Demorep's low tech proxy PR postings that sparked these
ideas, though the variants described there had no application to single
winner elections. 


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