[EM] Election via Proxies

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Mon May 23 01:02:34 PDT 2005

This time I see "variable voting" introduced as if it is a new concept to 
be added.
      Going back to the beginning of this thread, I had specified "Each 
proxy has as many votes as they represent, directly or indirectly; a voter 
with no proxy would have one vote."
      Seems clear that the new phrase is not a new idea.
      The original concept exists in all proposed bodies.  It is qualified 
with a limit in any body to prevent a single member acquiring unacceptable 

This time I see reference to a "Town Meeting town" - I did not intend to 
force the proxies I propose on any government that had something that 
worked well. Instead, the goal here is to offer better representation when 
the best competitive method is PR.

We argue over loops, which I declare must be forbidden.  To clarify that:
      Members of bodies are each the top proxy in a chain of proxies.
      A loop has no top proxy, since each points "up" to another voter in 
the loop - so all the voters in the loop have deprived themselves of 
representation in the governing body.

Secrecy of proxy assignment.  I see this as equivalent to voter enrollment 
in a political party.  Anyway, we need a verifiable record of how many 
voters are represented by member X of a body.

On Fri, 20 May 2005 14:57:27 -0400 Abd ulRahman Lomax wrote:

> At 07:30 AM 5/20/2005, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>> We are pulling against each other too much.
> I'm not pulling. I'm discussing. Given the very high level of apparent 
> agreement on some pretty important and unusual aspects of our postings, 
> I'm a bit puzzled by Mr. Ketchum's remarks. However, perhaps I can 
> understand it, see below.
>> I would like to have you, and others, helping put together what I have 
>> started, just as it would make sense to further the picture you see, 
>> so please:
>>      Let "Election via Proxies" stay dedicated as a way to "elect" and 
>> operate a body for which PR is the alternative for trying to do better 
>> on quality of membership.
>>      Please start your own thread for your ideas, such as FA/DP.
> It is certainly not an unreasonable request. The only problem is that 
> many aspects of DP, and the advisability of same, depend upon other 
> organizational characteristics. Elections don't happen in a vacuum. FA 
> makes DP fully safe (indeed it makes most any election method much, much 
> safer). But, after this post, I'll honor Mr. Ketchum's request. And I'll 
> even try to stay away from FA comments even here.
>>> In my view, an election where a supermajority does not support or at 
>>> least tolerate the winner is at least partially defective, probably 
>>> not the best possible outcome were the whole system performing 
>>> better. If not even a majority of votes cast support the winner, the 
>>> defect is quite serious. I'd suggest that the winner of such an 
>>> election should hold office provisionally and in an acting capacity 
>>> at most, and quite possibly should not even be elected at all. 
>>> However, in some systems, this would create a crisis, and holding 
>>> over an incumbent could be worse.
>> Suppose our goal is a single color where the three choices are the 
>> flag's red, white, and blue, and about ONE/THIRD vote for each 
>> choice.  I see nothing defective about such disagreement, nor do I see 
>> a need to give up on having a single color as the goal.  Given that 
>> introduction, I see no need for complications such as provisionality

Best I can do is repeat EXACTLY what I said, for that is what I meant.
      Proposing a different problem, for which a different solution might 
make sense, would be a valid response PROVIDED opportunity to modify the 
problem was offered (which it might be if the goals were different).


>>>> If you are proposing something to use, consider whether it would 
>>>> survive electing a governor in NY or CA.
>> The above was in response to a paragraph about AV, which I saw as 
>> complex, and thus suggest thinking about whether your AV-based voting 
>> method would work with a large voting population - nothing intended by 
>> mentioning two large states, beyond their size.
> Yes, I think it would work, properly constructed. But I'd rather focus 
> on the use of proxies. It's really quite a separate topic from Approval 
> Voting.
>> My topic is switching a body, such as a legislature, to getting its 
>> members selected via proxy - and I run out of ideas after the two above.
>> I see your words below as addressing a different topic.
> Much of what I wrote was about the process of "getting its members 
> selected via proxy." That is, of causing the change to come to pass. We 
> might come up with the absolute best election system possible, but if 
> there is no way to implement it -- and, as I've written, there are 
> powerful elements who would strongly resist it -- the discussion is 
> almost totally useless. Perhaps it might be of some value to future 
> generations. Possible, but unlikely.
>> You had emphasized stockholders ability to decide how to organize 
>> their proxies.
> Yes. In other words, to implement change, they don't have to have change 
> as a precondition. They already have the *ability* to organize 
> independently, but, in my view, the idea has never occurred to the vast 
> majority of them, it only happens in a few rare cases because of a few 
> large shareholders trying to move the corporate monolith from its 
> declared course. HP/Compac, for example.
>> I was making the point that there have to be records.
> Well, not in an FA implementation of DP. But Mr. Ketchum is here talking 
> about the proposed election method for legislatures, which are not FA, 
> and, yes, that point is so obvious that I wonder at his thinking he 
> needed to make it....
>> Actually, there have to be dependable records in both cases as to 
>> assignment of proxies, and assignments can change, though I see them 
>> as more rigid in the bodies I discus.
> If this is an election method, what counts is proxies in place at the 
> time of the election. Proxies might be frozen the day before.

Here the election CONSISTS OF the assignment of proxies, which thus CANNOT 
be frozen the day before.

I see assignments as public, just as party enrollment is public - though 
this is election of body members, which is a bit more sensitive.

We can think more on secrecy, but hard to do here without causing more 
trouble than it is worth.

> If proxy assignments are public, there really is no problem at all. But 
> if society is still in such a condition as to require the equivalent of 
> secret ballot, and I'd agree that this is probably necessary in the 
> electoral use of DP, then it does become a problem, albeit a fairly 
> easily soluble one. If there is some agency that can be trusted. There 
> are also, I think, cryptographic techniques that could allow a public 
> assignment of proxies in that anyone could verify their own effective 
> assignments, but without a password, the rest of the public could not 
> decode it. And such a system could also be implemented in a way where 
> the operators of the system could not decode the assignments, they would 
> only get an output.
> Since outputs could be statistically verified (through the ability of 
> individual voters to confirm their own proxy assignments), fraud, only 
> possible through very sophisticated hackers with access to the nuts and 
> bolts of the proxy registration system, would still be easy to detect if 
> it is at all widespread.
> It's a lot easier if there is a trusted agency, all the above discussion 
> assumes that this is not available.

Where do you find an agency that deserves trust?
> (Actually, one of the problems with present secret ballot systems is 
> that votes can't be verified. That could be fixed. But fixing it does 
> provide an abuse pathway. I think of the enforcer bullying the voter, 
> demanding to see their vote receipt, or their password. Or simply the 
> spouse....

I CANNOT picture a vote receipt that deserves trust - but that is a 
problem for another day.

>> Again, deciding to change how an existing legislature gets "elected" 
>> does not count as de novo.  A new legislature could be set up for a 
>> new state - but even here you start with the structure that has worked 
>> for similar bodies.
> Yes.
>> NY Assembly has 150 members.  Certainly does much of its work in 
>> committees - and needs members to serve on the committees.
> Yes, bodies of that size are completely unmanageable without a strong 
> committee system.

I  would turn that around.  Considering the quantity of work to be done, 

you about need multiple committees - which demands a body of over a half 

dozen members.

Also need enough members to permit a reasonable quantity of groups to each 
have one or more members.

>>> Note that with proxy representation, there might be a relatively 
>>> small number of proxies representing, directly and indirectly, the 
>>> large bulk of members. Then there would be more members with fewer 
>>> proxies each. Thus there would likely be much more diversity 
>>> represented than in present elected bodies, and more than even in PR 
>>> systems.
>> True.  If enough of them could find each other, voters sharing 
>> interests across NY could support having an Assembly member 
>> representing them - or twice as many voters and have two members.
> A proxy system would facilitate people finding each other, if proxy 
> assignments aren't secret. Once again, if there is an FA outside the 
> system, it could easily facilitate people finding suitable 
> representatives to whom to give proxy. This is the continuing relevance 
> of FA to the discussion.
>> Here I responded to your suggesting that a voter might assign a single 
>> person as proxy for village trustee, county legislature, and state 
>> assembly.  I agreed, but pointed out that going up the chain the paths 
>> have to split.

Time to change the emphasis here:
      Proxy trees for each body about have to be independent.  The issues 
that cause grouping of voters differ for each body and thus mean that the 
trees must be created according to those issues.  Incidental that a group 
of voters MIGHT share interests and lower level proxies for multiple bodies.
      Note also that voters in a county proxy tree would often include 
voters from multiple villages.

> I'm not at all sure I understand what Mr. Ketchum is saying. However, 
> assuming I do, then I don't agree. The jurisdictions mentioned are 
> upwardly inclusive, that is, the village is in the county which is in 
> the state. I don't see at all why the paths "have to split." I think a 
> single proxy system could serve all levels. This would have the 
> advantage of thorough simplicity. However, where interests do diverge, 
> there might also be some advantages to having separate proxy trees for 
> each legislative body. Or at least the possibility of separate designations.
> In my early thinking on delegable proxy, I assumed small-scale 
> elections, i.e., ten people meet and elect a proxy, then ten of those 
> meet, etc. A national election in 9 days. It might still work, but I 
> actually think that the results could be wildly unpredictable if the 
> electorate is seriously divided. Anytime there is an election there are 
> winners and losers. I won't go into the details because I abandoned that 
> idea thoroughly when I realized that elections weren't necessary at all 
> in a proxy structure, that delegable proxy meant that the minority was 
> never cut off. It is the cutoff of the minority that allows 
> gerrymandering to work, for example.

It is not enough that ten voters could share a proxy.  It only works if 
ten voters who share a goal find, and sign up with, a proxy willing to 
back their goal.

>> You cannot go to the top, combining such trees, for their tips have to 
>> end in different bodies.
> Ah, but what if a proxy at a level can choose the representative at that 
> level. This is effectively automatic with delegable proxy.

I see no value in this idea.  My proposal is that the tip proxy in a chain 
IS the body member representing that chain.  Now, assuming a tip proxy did 
not wish to be a body member, simple enough to find someone willing to be 
a body member and make them the tip proxy.

> Start with a single tree instead of thinking from the other direction. 
> How could a single tree work to elect all three offices (village council 
> rep, county council rep, state legislature rep). A proxy tree with its 
> twigs in the village selects a village councilperson. That village 
> councilperson is the twig in a tree which selects a county 
> councilperson, and the county councilperson is a twig in the tree that 
> selects the state legislator.

This adds up to more rigidity than I propose.  The voters in a tree that 
defined a village trustee are not necessarily agreed as to which state 
legislator they are willing to support.

> Of course, in the system as conceived, at least by me, there is not a 
> single officer chose; rather, each council is effectively proportional 
> representation through variable voting powers. The membership number 
> might be fixed. If a "party", i.e., a single proxy tree, does not 
> concentrate at a village person with sufficient proxies to qualify for 
> the village council, some use of STV or the like could be used to allow 
> the highest proxy in the tree in the village to assign votes at the 
> village level to a member who does qualify, or who will qualify once 
> assigned those votes.

Seems to me it can all be done with proxies - forget STV.

Details need thought but, while bodies need a workable quantity of 
members, that quantity need not be rigidly fixed.

> And if a person in a village is unwilling to trust anyone to be on the 
> village council, this does not disqualify the person from being 
> represented up the scale; there might be enough people like this person 
> elsewhere to have a representative, say, in the state legislature.
> But it seems that Mr. Ketchum is not considering variable voting power; 
> rather he is describing a system with more traditional proportional 
> representation, which I think greatly inferior. For him, the proxy 
> system generates, effectively, mini-parties.

Curious that I am accused of not considering "weighted vote" (given a new 
label of "variable voting power" above), for it is a key to my thinking 
and specifying in the beginning of this thread.

> Variable voting power of proxyholders is one of the key advantages. It 
> would allow a much wider diversity in a body of fixed size than 
> traditional PR, because of the effect I described previously.
>> In the village, town, and county where I live, the meetings provide 
>> for citizens to speak up.  However, each of those bodies have been 
>> elected to do the voting, and I would expect the same of bodies 
>> "elected" via proxy.
> I live in a Town Meeting town, where the citizens *are* the town 
> council. (However, there is a small Board of Selectmen -- it seems to be 
> common that it is three persons in these New England towns -- which does 
> have some interim power.)
> Frankly, once one is thinking of changing the system to a proxy system, 
> I don't see any reason to not return to a phenomenally successful system 
> (successful, that is, in very small towns. It can be a real pain when 
> the towns get too large, absent proxy voting). I see no reason to 
> prevent citizens from directly voting on legislation *if they are 
> present at a meeting where the legislation is discussed*. But this 
> *requires* variable voting. So there are at least two advantages to 
> variable voting, i.e., to have the voting power of members of a council 
> being elected (election is the constraint of this discussion) vary with 
> the number of persons who trusted them by giving proxy to them, directly 
> or indirectly. It would mean that nearly every voter in the town could 
> not only participate directly (with the limitations on speaking and the 
> entry of motions that I previously mentioned, which would not prevent, 
> under most conditions, town individuals from doing these things, there 
> merely would be some filtering), but would also have a personally chosen 
> representative on the council, as long as the highest proxy representing 
> the person in the village, even if not on the council, did give council 
> proxy to a single member who *was* on the council, or who would qualify 
> for the council if given the proxy. My expectation is that a council of 
> 10, say, might include a member who represents only a fraction of a 
> percent of the voters of the town, because of the concentration of proxy 
> phenomenon.
> And another advantage of variable voting is that it increases the power 
> of those council members who are more widely trusted, *without* losing 
> the advantages of broad discussion.
>> Note that a shareholder meeting has votes by individual shareholders 
>> as it purpose, though most usually do it by proxy.  Legislative bodies 
>> have voting done by the members, not by whatever voters may attend.
> Yes. That's the difference. But if we are going to change the rules of 
> elections, it would theoretically be possible to change the operating 
> procedure at the same time so that the whole structure becomes 
> thoroughly democratic, with no unnecessary disenfranchisement of minorities.
> (And, of course, my proposal is to form the fully democratic and 
> equitable structure independently, which does not require changing any 
> existing institutions, and *then* to work on existing institutions, 
> which may or may not take on DP characteristics.)

But, if you make a structure independent from what exists, how does it get 
control to accomplish anything?

>>> It might be necessary to be present, in person, at a meeting to vote 
>>> directly. Means would be provided. If the U.S. Senate were to become 
>>> such a proxy body (tricky, but we might consider a proxy body that 
>>> represents the whole U.S., restricted in full membership to a similar 
>>> number of members, i.e., 100, to be roughly equivalent), then an 
>>> ordinary citizen go show up, and, if interested in a motion on the 
>>> floor, could vote on it. That would be one vote. If every "Senator" 
>>> (proxy of a high enough level to be a full member) were to vote for 
>>> the motion, the vote might be reported as 200,000,000 [?] to 1. Why not?
>> I exclude the US Senate from the bodies to be considered because each 
>> whole state elects one senator about every three years, so I see 
>> electing them by officer rules.
> Yes. Note that I covered this difference in what I wrote. The Senate as 
> constructed could not be a proxy body, because it is fixed-district 
> representation. PR is likewise impossible for the Senate as constructed. 
> Yes, they are officers hired to represent the state at the national 
> level. Not the voters, but the state. The House presumably represents 
> the voters, and House delegations could be elected, within the 
> delegation, by proportional representation. But the delegation size 
> would severely restrict, for most states, the thoroughness of the 
> representation. However, it is possible that this change would not 
> require a constitutional amendment. Or it might. I haven't looked at 
> this one. If it *does* require a constitutional amendment, I'd suggest 
> divorcing the House from being divided by State. Rather, House district 
> population would be a national constant, and might under some 
> circumstances cross state lines.

I see House state delegations each being a proxy body, but with the whole 
state body having the voting power it had by prior rules.  Likely need a 
constitutional amendment to do this much.  However, doing anything 
crossing state boundaries seems like buying trouble.

> Again, to me, this reform would be a tremendous advance, but far short 
> of what I think possible.
>> But, restating the thought in terms of an "elected" body, I stay with 
>> what I said above about not letting non-members vote.
> Non-member voting makes no sense unless there is variable voting. 
> However, if governmental bodies were freely formed by persons familiar 
> with the corporate model, I very much doubt that they would accept less 
> than the voting rights that shareholders have in corporations. It is 
> only because pre-existing forms are imposed that we expect less. The 
> pre-existing forms came out of authoritarian structures, where single 
> jurisdictions were ruled by a strong executive, and there was a strong 
> presumption of single-person officeholders, and representation was 
> considered just like any other office. One person represents a district....

Corporation shareholders do not have the voting rights you seem to 
imagine.  They do have some control, but not detailed management - they 
have neither time nor skill to become management (though an individual may 
prepare to cross the line).

>> As I said at the top, we have conflicting ideas, so had best package 
>> them as separate threads.
> Except to the extent that they interact and bear upon each other. 
> Definitely, a discussion of proxy elections is not complete without a 
> consideration of how they would *differ* from traditional proxy systems, 
> and why. And, frankly, I don't see why one would want them to, other 
> than an artificial conformance to what I see as nondemocratic structures 
> held over from the past.
>> I see loops as not permitted - a complication with not enough value.

I comment on loops at the top.

> Loops are natural. To prohibit them means that people cannot freely 
> assign proxies. Thus a free people will form, to some degree, loops. It 
> is *eliminating* proxy loops that is a complication.
> To explain, a loop is where proxy assignments, freeling given without 
> external restraints, form a loop, such as A names B names A, the 
> simplest loop and obvious to the persons in an open system, or A names B 
> names C, which might not be so visible. One way of eliminating loops 
> would be to have only certain persons available for choice as proxy, and 
> making oneself available (it could be completely open) is consent to 
> one's own proxy choices being public. Thus you could choose any person 
> in the available list and not thereby create a loop, and anyone on the 
> available list could choose any other person on the list and know 
> whether or not it would create a loop, and loop creation might even be 
> automatically rejected. At the highest levels, there are two 
> possibilities: some people at a high level don't assign any proxy, which 
> I consider undesirable, or loop formation is allowed. Perhaps a certain 
> minimum loop size could be set, creating a loop larger than that would 
> be permitted.
> The size of a loop is defined as the number of people represented by the 
> highest-level person in the loop. Note that in a loop, there is more 
> than one such person; but to determine, for election purposes, the 
> superproxy of the loop, one would neglect the loop-creating assignment, 
> thus leaving a single tree culminating in a single person. (I haven't 
> looked at all possibilities, but I suspect that the creation of a loop 
> always involves someone assigning proxy to someone who, without that 
> assignment, holds fewer proxies that the assigner. I'm sure someone 
> topologically inclined might know the answer immediately....)
>>> In a proxy system it really isn't all that important or desirable to 
>>> be a "member of the body." What is important is to have a way to be 
>>> heard in the halls of power, so to speak. And to have access to 
>>> information about why decisions are being made.
>> Being a member is VERY IMPORTANT, for members own rights and have 
>> authority and responsibility to serve those who "elect" them.
> Yes, but important to who? Frankly, someone who comes to me and says "I 
> want to be your representative," is under a pall from the start. I only 
> tolerate it because our system pretty much requires it. It's even worse 
> when someone comes and says "I want to be your governor." But, yes, we 
> need to know who is willing to serve. Politicians are aware of the 
> negative effect of appearing to want the office, so they try to arrange 
> to be "drafted," to at least appear to serve reluctantly. The truth 
> behind this is that those who actually understand what a pain in the 
> rump it is to serve in public office are quite likely the best to serve.

They say more than "I want the job".  Assuming the body will have some 
control over the response to Bush proposals about Social Security, the 
candidate promises to support (OR fight against) the Bush proposal.

>> Just as with current bodies, these hear their voters, and report (more 
>> or less quality) to their voters.
> This is the theory. It breaks down when the relationship between the 
> representative and the represented is not based on free choices.
> And anything short of full proxy involves less than free choices.
>>> When a proxy ring is broken by one member shifting assignment, it 
>>> does nothing but connect the former ring, which becomes a chain 
>>> linking up through the member who shifted. It's not an abandonment.
>> I make no sense of these words about rings. A proxy ring is another 
>> name for a loop. If a loop exists, then there is a proxy path which 
>> includes every member of the loop. (Other members may be represented 
>> by the loop; those members could leave and the loop would not be 
>> changed.) Any member of the loop who changes his or her proxy 
>> assignment to someone outside the loop breaks the loop and connects 
>> it, with himself or herself as the loop proxy, to the proxy chosen by 
>> that person. There are other consequences and aspects to this that I'm 
>> not mentioning.
>> Thanks for the more words, but I still do not see value.
> Tell me how you see the reforms you propose coming to implementation, 
> given the present political conditions and likely future ones....

I see some more fine tuning, followed by practice runs:
      In organizations outside government, and
      In smaller government units such as villages and towns.

> Further, my concern is generic, organizational systems under many 
> different conditions, not just legislative elections (and not 
> specifically elections at all, though DP can be used for elections, 
> hence this discussion.)
> FA is the basic, generic, non-coercive, peer organization. They exist 
> all over the place, but they are often so informal as not even to be 
> named. And they are, in fact, the working core of democracy. But we 
> don't know how to scale them. If we could, the whole scene would change. 
> Election reform would be a small aspect of that....
>> How does all this stop me, with 10,000 proxies, from disconnecting 
>> from the member I had liked, and connecting to the one I now like better?
> Nothing. However, the response of those you directly represent might 
> give you pause. If your decision seems foolish to them, they might 
> decide that they can't trust you, especially if they don't trust the 
> person to whom you gave proxy.

Trust is only part of it.  Going back to Social Security (or whatever are 
our important issues), did my switch please these particular voters.

> Remember, I suggested that a criterion for choosing a direct proxy is 
> availability for communication. That person has 10,000 proxies, but 
> unless he or she is a media star (I can get to that in a moment), it is 
> quite likely that the bulk of these proxies are indirect. If the system 
> encourages the limitation of direct proxies to about twenty, each of 
> these twenty can likely enjoy free and easy communication with the proxy 
> they have chosen. So we could have a little talk....
> Notice that leaving proxy assignments (and delegations) completely free 
> seems to have certain salutary effects. In theory, at least.
> Now, as to media stars. Yes, some people are going to give their proxy, 
> if there are no restrictions, to media stars. However, I suggest that if 
> such a proxy is accepted by the star, the star is accepting the right of 
> the giver to communicate directly. It's a free country, and nothing can 
> require the proxy acceptor to be actually available; but I think that 
> people would very rapidly come to expect to be able to communicate with 
> their proxies whenever they think it desirable. And, definitely, most 
> people will refuse to accept more than a certain number of direct 
> proxies, and this is one reason why I would require that proxies be 
> accepted in order to be valid. That acceptance is a communication from 
> the proxy to the giver. Proxy, as I conceive of it, is not merely an 
> election method!

Ignoring the label "media star", the ideas in this paragraph influence 
voters in their choice of proxies, plus what I said before about voters 
looking for proxies who will advance their goals.

>> What if my friends join me in making this switch?
> Why, a veritable revolution in a flash! But consider how often this 
> would take place. I think not very often. I think proxy assignments at 
> high levels would be pretty stable, *especially if direct proxies are 
> limited in some way*. The proxy system will select for reliability and 
> trustworthiness, that's my expectation.
> Wouldn't it be interesting to find out? This is another aspect to the FA 
> proposal. It represents trying out the proxy system in an organization 
> that doesn't own anything to damage.

If no ability to damage, how much ability to be constructive?

>>      In stockholder meetings the stockholders HAVE the voting power.
>>      In the bodies I discus, the proxies unconditionally pass the 
>> voting rights to the person acting as proxy.
> Yes. Those are the conditions as defined by Mr. Ketchum. I consider the 
> loss of the sovereignty of the individual a crucial element in the 
> alienation that we experience from our government. And it is completely 
> unnecessary. Corporations did not collapse because individual 
> shareholders could vote directly. And Town Meetings work quite well 
> under appropriate conditions.
> But it seems that Mr. Ketchum wants to discuss a proxy method of 
> election in a system which is otherwise exactly the same as, say, the 
> state House of Representatives. Except he'd like to see proportional 
> representation, so two changes are being made. It's an arbitrary 
> combination, hence some of the confusion here.
>> LOOK above - B DOES DEFINE who she is via platform.
> "Platforms" are, in my view, the death of deliberative democracy. The 
> party platform only functions because politicians don't keep their 
> promises. It's a setup. I.e., we expect politicians to do what they say 
> they are going to do, but we also expect them to be wise. And a wise 
> person doesn't always do what they expected to do, especially when faced 
> with new information or analysis, which is what is supposed to happen in 
> deliberation. So we expect the impossible. The politician is either a 
> slave to what he promised, in which case he is irresponsible, and we 
> call this pandering for votes, or he breaks his promises, confirming for 
> us that we can't trust politicians. And this doesn't even address the 
> fact that politicians might have to misrepresent their true views in 
> order to get elected. (I can think of plenty of times that a politician 
> simply told the truth to the public and lost office because of it, and I 
> don't just mean the truth about the politician! People don't always want 
> to hear the truth.)

The word "platform" seems to disturb you - what label would you place on a 
potential proxy's positions on Social Security, etc.?

>> Consider village boards - a body to practice on, and work up from there.
> I live in a Town Meeting town. There is, indeed, a Board of Selectmen. 
> It's three people, as is typical, I think. This is far too small to make 
> sense with PR. And there is no way in a hot place that the town is going 
> to change the basics of Town Meeting, not as a first step, I don't care 
> what high-faluting idea I might come up with. That is, it might be the 
> best system of election ever thought of, and it doesn't have a prayer. 
> Not as a first step!
> So what is the first step? And this is the question I've been working 
> on. And, to me, the first step is quite obvious. But I'll let Mr. 
> Ketchum answer the question.
>>>> This requires thinking beyond what I offer.  Note that a legislature 
>>>> could elect a governor - but that we CHOOSE to have the voters elect 
>>>> a governor - and to elect for a fixed term.
>>> I didn't choose that. Did Mr. Ketchum? Out of what set of choices did 
>>> he choose that, if he did? I don't recall ever voting on the issue, 
>>> and, as you know, simply voting on issues doesn't mean much if there 
>>> is no possibility to participate in the formation and deliberation of 
>>> them.
>> I did not make the choice - it was done many decades ago.
> By people who are no longer alive and who cannot therefore change their 
> minds, cannot consider new conditions, etc. Yet these people have 
> supermajority rights, because to change what they did requires a 
> supermajority. Just how intelligent do we expect that they were? Was the 
> writing of the Constitution a magical act, somehow superintelligent, 
> surpassing the human capacities of the framers? Or was it simply the 
> best thinking that a relatively free people could come up with at the 
> time. Let's say that I think they did a good job, but it was also quite 
> human and was not designed for the centuries; it was in many ways a 
> compromise with the conditions of the timel

Happens the people who wrote the constitution DID RECOGNIZE the 
possibility of needing change in the future, DID PROVIDE a mechanism for 
making changes, and dozens of such changes have been made.

>>> I'd say this is the cart before the horse. For how long has it been 
>>> widely known that the electoral college, combined with state rules 
>>> for choosing electors, can produce inequitable results? Why hasn't it 
>>> been changed?
>> BECAUSE picking something that is REALLY BETTER is no trivial task.
> Fagh! It is not picking something better that is difficult. It is 
> overcoming entrenched inequitable power. The state-by-state 
> all-to-the-plurality winner system is the most serious problem, the 
> other inequities in the college are trivial. Sure, finding the *best* 
> alternative is a problem, but there are some simple changes that I think 
> would not even require a constitutional amendment, though they might. 
> Basically, assigning electors according to the closest match to election 
> ration, i.e, a form of proportional representation, would be obviously 
> more equitable. But almost any somewhat similar change would be an 
> improvement. And it does exist, in which states? I don't recall.

Exists, to a limited extent in a couple small states, if I remember right.

Now, think of New York doing this in a large state that presently expects 
all its votes to help Democrats.

New York COULD split its votes between Democrats and Republicans - greatly 
pleasing the minority Republicans, and infuriating the majority Democrats.

Can you imagine the New York legislature making such a change?

Now, a constitutional amendment doing this in all states could make sense. 
  How do you sell this, when it is different from what the couple states 
have done?

>> Not clear where NGOs fit.  The bodies I talk of NEED structure.
> Every body needs structure. But living organisms are generally 
> structured through fractals.... Totally free delegable proxy is 
> problematic for some of us because it is difficult to imagine the 
> organizational structure, it is not a fixed thing. But, in fact, just as 
> in living things, a few rules of association will create a structure 
> with definite characteristics, even though the details might not be 
> specifically predictable.
> DP organizational structures are, in deed, fractals, they will be, 
> largely, self-similar, i.e., the structure is pretty much the same no 
> matter what scale is examined. But I do think that the defacto rules of 
> association will shift a bit as the scale gets larger, because the 
> character of the people and thus the kinds of choices they will make 
> will vary with trust level. People who are massively trusted will not be 
> just the same as people who are not.
> [about the implementation of DP democracy by an occupying authority, 
> i.e., set up from outside -- which I don't consider ideal, but which 
> might be the only way it could be started under difficult conditions]
>> Helps if the occupying authority has desire and ability to do some good!
> It has the desire, and it has the ability. Problem is it also has some 
> other things, such as ignorance and self-interest. But I think the 
> desire to do good is there. Whether or not that will lead to wise action 
> is another story.

We are getting too deep, for I have to demand evidence as to such desire 

> In my view, wise and good action and true self-interest converge. It is 
> only lack of vision which makes it seem otherwise. And self-interest can 
> blind us, if we allow it.

  davek at clarityconnect.com    people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
  Dave Ketchum   108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY  13827-1708   607-687-5026
            Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
                  If you want peace, work for justice.

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