[EM] Election via Proxies

Abd ulRahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Mon May 23 23:03:57 PDT 2005

At 04:02 AM 5/23/2005, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>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 power.

I think that Mr. Ketchum is responding to what may have been a 
misunderstanding of mine, somehow it seemed at one point to me that he was 
referring to a body with members who would have one vote each. It's not 
worth it to me at this point to try to figure out how that misunderstanding 
came about. Suffice it to say that we are talking about proxy voting, where 
one person may exercise more than one vote, the additional votes having 
been entrusted to him or her.

>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.

Town Meeting works well. However, it could work much better. For example, 
I've lived in this town for about three years and I just attended my first 
Town Meeting. I've wanted to go before, but something always came up. I had 
to stay home with my daughter, or we were travelling, or is was sick, or 
whatever. That's a problem with Town Meeting. If you can't go to the 
meeting, you are not represented at it. Proxy voting could make this work 
better. There are other problems, too, which could be ameliorated.

The essential problem is that, even though this small town is a direct 
democracy, people still feel, quite often, alienated from the government. 
I've written about the fact that sometimes Town Meeting votes one way on an 
issue that Massachusetts law requires be submitted for secret ballot, i.e., 
in a regular election, and the town votes differently. Quite a bit 
differently sometimes. One person claimed that this was because people 
didn't want to express their true feelings in public. I don't think so. I 
think that most voters don't go to Town Meeting, but they do vote. (There 
is always higher turnout in elections than there is for Town Meeting.) And 
the communication between the voters and the Town Meeting is obviously 
sometimes not as good as could be. A delegable proxy system could 
accomplish this communication.

And, indeed, it could do it without any change to laws or existing 
institutions. But that's another story, that's the Free Association part 
that Mr. Ketchum would prefer kept apart from this particular discussion.

>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.

Not necessarily. If you assume that, yes, loops are a problem and must be 
forbidden. But what if, as only one example, there is a proxy tree within 
the body. One member is at the top of this tree. That top member designates 
as proxy another member as his proxy, one of those who, directly or 
indirectly has chosen the top member as proxy. This creates a loop. And, 
within the loop, there is no longer any top proxy, at least not from the 
simplest analysis. Rather, if any member is not present, all members of the 
loop remain represented.

>      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.

As I've pointed out, this is not necessarily true. Only if no member of the 
loop does not qualify as a member of the body would it be true. A proxy is 
simply the assignment of trust from one member to another, to act in the 
absence of the assigning member. Generally, a member of the electorate may 
assign proxy to any other member. The receiving member, prior to the 
assignment, may not be holding as many proxies as the assigning member, 
that is, may not be as high in the tree. However, after receiving the 
proxy, the receiving member is now at a higher level than the giver, unless 
there is a loop. If there is a loop, both are at the same level.

I've been writing, off-list, a description of a delegable proxy election, 
designed for situations where security or other concerns require that most 
voters be able to assign proxy secretly. Essentially, prior to balloting, 
persons willing to be chosen as proxies so announce, they become registered 
proxies. Then there is balloting; in the balloting, a means is provided for 
voters to name their proxies. This is really like an ordinary election 
where vote counts are tabulated for each candidate; but the number of 
candidates might be quite large. I won't deal with the technical problems 
of ballot construction here, I think they could rather easily be solved. 
The outcome of the balloting and counting process is that registered 
proxies now have a number of votes assigned to them. Neither they nor 
anyone else knows who these proxy-givers are, only that they were voters.

(This is not how I'd prefer to see delegable proxy work, for it eliminates 
an essential communication aspect of the system, the personal relationship 
between representative and the one represented, but this is a design for 
difficult circumstances, or as a replacement for an ordinary election.)

The result of the election is that there is now a body of voters, the 
registered proxies, who collectively represent all voters, including 
themselves. Some of them might only represent themselves. (Registered 
proxies would not be allowed to vote in the secret ballot; they exercise 
their own vote in the subsequent process.)

At this point there is now what could be called the extended electoral 
college, which votes in public. Because the point of using delegable proxy 
is to obtain a deliberative body, it may be necessary to winnow down the 
number of proxies who may have full participation rights in a meeting of 
the body. This would be done by the open assignment of proxies. The body 
size is fixed at N members maximum. The rank of each elector is determined 
by assuming that no other electors are present at the meeting: how many 
votes would the elector be holding? That number is the rank of the elector. 
Starting at the top rank, electors are admitted to full meeting rights, 
until N members have been admitted. If the admission of a block of members 
of equal rank would cause N to be exceeded, they are not admitted, and 
admission stops at that point. (There are other reasonable procedures, this 
is merely a simple one.)

The remainder of electors are regular electors, they still have the right 
to vote, but not to enter motions, nor to speak at the meeting absent 
permission from the meeting. (For some meetings, it might not be practical 
to allow regular electors to vote; in which case those electors may only 
exercise their vote by assigning proxy to a qualified member, or, in some 
cases, to one who becomes qualified by the act of assignment. I won't 
address bumping, where such an assignment causes a qualified member to lose 
qualification, other than to mention it.)

Proxy rings or looops are allowed; however, there are two considerations. 
First of all, in determining rank, rings require special treatment. I've 
written about that in the paper. Some loops will be moot with regard to 
qualifying membership; these are rings where all the members qualify 
regardless of the loop. (This should be obvious, but members of a loop may 
represent other members who are not in the loop, thus loop members may be 
of varying rank). Where all members of the loop are not independently 
qualified for membership in the "council", the loop members will have to 
make a choice as to which one of them is the "primary proxy" for the loop. 
That person would then, if of sufficient rank, be admitted to full 
membership, and would be encouraged, but not required, to give his or her 
proxy to another council member.

Because all members are encouraged to give proxy to someone, to act in 
their absence, at least one loop is inevitable. It is as if a superproxy 
designates a vice-superproxy, to act in his or her absence. In the absence 
of the superproxy, the vice-superproxy, by proxy assignment rules, acts to 
exercise the same number of votes as the superproxy, i.e., all of them.

I see no reason to limit the creation of superproxies; however, the rights 
of superproxies may be restrained by absolute quorum rules, reconsideration 
rules allowing any member whose vote was cast for a motion, directly or 
indirectly, to move for reconsideration of the motion, and the like. A 
superproxy would be a total consensus president. Not terribly likely. More 
likely there would be a number of top-level proxies in a meeting of the 
college and each of them would contain a loop, assuming that all top-level 
proxies each name a proxy, presumably within their own group. (If they name 
a proxy outside their own group, they just merged two groups, with the top 
of the second group being the new top-level proxy.)

Note that when a person giving proxy is present, the proxy is inactive. If 
voting is allowed by all electors, including those not meeting-qualified, a 
vote cast by the non-qualified member reduces the vote count of the 
qualified member by one. (This does not affect the rank of the qualified 
member, for which presence is irrelevant, just the effective vote cast by 
the member).

Then the electoral college proceeds to carry out the election process. It 
may use any election method. I'd suggest that it might start with an 
approval poll, but my purpose here is not to choose the optimal election 
method to be used by the college itself. It would choose that. It's a 
deliberative body. But I'd think that one very simple method would be an 
Approval Poll, followed by a motion to elect the winner of that poll. The 
motion might require a simple majority to pass. However, the college need 
not be restricted to any specific method, and the college may develop its 
own standing and special rules. It may also recommend overall election 
rules (including the first, secret-ballot phase) for referendum.

>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.

We currently have election means of recording how many voters voted for 
candidate X. That's enough. It is not necessary to know who those voters 
are. (I claim it is generally desirable to know, at least for the proxy to 
know whom he or she represents, for the giver of the proxy in any case 
knows to whom it is given, but conditions, for a society in general -- 
Iraq, for example -- or for individuals, may require secrecy, to confine 
danger to those who have voluntarily accepted the danger. You should not 
have to be willing to accept a danger of retaliation in order to vote. No 
voter is required to join a political party, you do not lose your vote in 
the actual election if you do not join, only your vote, under some rules, 
in party primaries or other party process.

Proxies are not political parties. They do not need to have any platform. 
In the system proposed, all they need to do is to be identifiable and 
registered. If people don't trust them, they won't vote for them.

>>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.

There are two phases, about which I may not have been clear. There is the 
secret ballot phase, which assigns proxies which cannot be revoked (until 
the next election). This is undesirable, in general, but any person who 
desires, who wishes to be able to revoke his or her proxy at any time, may 
register as a proxy and thus participate in the second phase. In the second 
phase, which takes place publicly and where proxy assignments are public 
record, proxies may be revoked at any time, though there might be some 
practical limit to this.

Yes, there is the "election" of proxies. The term is a little confusing, 
because proxies are not elected. Proxies, in the system described, 
volunteer. Their voting power is amplified if they are chosen, and if 
enough people choose them in a system which has restricted membership in 
the electoral college, they qualify for that college based on the number of 
"votes" they receive, directly and indirectly.

I would prefer to leave proxy assignments to be as fluid as possible. When 
I wrote of freezing proxy assignments, this would be a concession to 
expediency, to be avoided if possible. I cannot possibly anticipate all 

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

Indeed. In Iraq, as in many other places in the world, you publicly name 
the wrong person as the one you trust, and you can't afford bodyguards, you 
are dead. Secret ballot was invented for this.

I'm grateful for this exercise. For some strange reason, having an initial 
secret ballot phase, creating an initial set of variable-vote electors, had 
not previously occurred to me. This is because most of my thinking has been 
about non-electoral systems; I'd worried about how to use delegable proxy 
under unsafe conditions, and, before this, I hadn't seen how, except by 
imposition of a trusted external authority. Which is problematic, to be 
sure. (It is still necessary to some extent. Ballot boxes can be stuffed, 
ballot destroyed, voter identities betrayed, etc. Still, secret ballots are 
a pretty well-established solution to the problem.)

I've also thought a bit about how to prevent the implied betrayal of a 
voter to a proxy who was expecting to get at least one vote.... but I'll 
leave describing that for another day.

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

I think the secrecy problem is solved, with the exception of the detail 

>Where do you find an agency that deserves trust?

As I said, it's not easy. But we do it all the time. You do the best you 
can. Fully public systems don't have the problem, I'd expect. But they then 
have another problem, coercion and intimidation. So which problem is the 
more serious one?

I actually think that a secret ballot phase could be a safeguard in any 

>>(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.

If you can verify votes, then, as I said, there may be a way to abuse it.

>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.

This assumes that all members of committees are what I've been calling 
"fully qualified members." That is not a necessary restriction. You could 
have a central council which has a relatively small number of members, 
which can debate thoroughly, and a committee system around it which has 
representatives, some of who would be of lower level. Acting in committee, 
members would not necessarily be exercising proxies. Committees, ideally, 
are places where a consensus is developed prior to going for full debate 
and vote. So votes need not count in committees as much as they count on 
the main floor. Committees, in my view, should never make decisions, they 
rather make reports. The decisions are made by the body as a whole.

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

I'm concerned about what size does to an assembly. It makes it impossible 
for every member to be heard, really. A body should be able to create 
working committees which include appointed external members, if more hands 
are needed, or hired staff.

>      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.

Yes. Of course. However, they might be organized into subtrees, each from 
one village.

Mr. Ketchum conceives of proxy democracy being organized around issues. I 
conceive of it being organized around relationships of trust. In the 
latter, issues are tests, perhaps, but not the actual thing. The standard 
for proxy that I would suggest is "Would you trust this person to handle 
your affairs -- related to the activity of the organization involved -- in 
your absence?"

With delegable proxy, you don't have to know the person who will be a 
member, say, of a high-level council. You just have to know someone who 
knows someone who....

Yes, there might be different proxy trees for different governmental 
levels. But I think it need not be that complex. In the end, people will 
make what they want. Proxy democracy will allow them to do that...

>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.

I think this is backwards, actually. But certainly Mr. Ketchum's view is 
the common one. I think of the proxy in a proxy democracy as a leader, not 
as a follower. The proxy is not a rubber-stamp for the voter. Rather, the 
voter chooses a proxy as one trusted. This includes trusting the proxy to 
change his or her mind if convinced by deliberation and debate. It also 
includes explaining why, back to the voter.

So when government doesn't do what you think it should, at least you will 
know *why*. And it will not be a dead end. If you know why the arguments 
used to accept a motion were invalid, you only have to present them to your 
proxy. You should choose someone who you would trust to listen to you and 
give your ideas a fair hearing.

But part of the job of the proxy is to protect the generality from you, 
from all your hare-brained ideas. I mean "me," of course. I really wish I 
had a proxy I could present these ideas to, and he or she could tell me why 
it is such a bad idea.... But I don't, so I have to keep plugging away.

>>>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.

I'm not sure how Mr. Ketchum could be so sure about "no value." I don't 
even know what I was trying to say.... :-)

Yes, if a "tip proxy" doesn't want to participate in a body, but does want 
to be represented there, together with all those represented by him or her, 
it is only necessary to name someone else as proxy, delegable proxy 
automatically transfers all the proxies. Indeed, one can name someone else 
and instantly invalidate the assignments, simply by showing up.

>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.

Sure. But I was not proposing it as a *necessity*, only as a *possibility.*

We could sidestep a lot of this discussion by realizing that it is still 
pie in the sky. We'll be lucky to see a Town Meeting adopt delegable proxy, 
or even ordinary proxy; I'd really like to see some experiments, and with 
these experiments, most of these complex questions are going to be moot.

You *could* have a single political DP organization that managed all the 
bodies. (Strictly speaking, the "single" organization is a collection of 
mini-organizations, with different tip proxies. I'll define a single 
organization, however, as one in which you may, at any time, name one and 
only one proxy. Yes, for different organizational purposes, you will need 
different organizations. But government might possibly be seen as a single 
organizational purpose.... thus it *might* only require one organization, 
but with levels, geographically organized. From the collection of proxies 
which make up a town council, proxies are given to other persons who form a 
county council; from the collection making up the county council, proxies 
are given to persons who make up the state legislature, from the collection 
of proxies which make up the state legislature, proxies are given to 
persons who serve in the national legislature, and beyond to an 
international organization.

This system would essentially require that direct proxies be given locally; 
however, on reflection, I think Mr. Ketchum may be right, in that if I'm in 
a town, I would want to name another person as my proxy to serve on the 
town council in my absence (perhaps it is Town Meeting...). If everyone 
does this, no proxies leave the town. But it is desirable that everyone do 
this. So there must be a separate proxy structure to go above the town 
level, that is, proxies which are active on a different level. Essentially, 
a separate election for the various "offices".

However, the secret ballot phase need only be one phase, a local one.... 
Succeeding levels are built from the local phase.

>>(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?

The independent structure has the power to advise the people who retain the 
power, the individual members. The people do have the power in our 
societies, but they are not organized. Special interests are organized. 
FA/DP is an organizational tool, a means of creating an organization which 
can be trusted, and which must continually earn that trust, or it loses 
most of its power.

FA structures don't collect money for unappropriated purpose. They don't 
have independent income; if they want to do something that requires money, 
they must convince their members to contribute to that specific cause. Pure 
FAs don't ask members to pay dues or fees which may then be spent contrary 
to the member's beliefs or desires; rather FAs to be effective, must 
develop internal consensus. However, the FA does not restrain caucuses 
within it from acting independently.

Essentially, there is no reason not to join an FA, if you are interested in 
what the organization addresses. Yes, it is true that the FA can't, by 
itself, do anything. That's the good news!

Hey, you asked! :-)

>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).

Some shareholders do. There are companies which do nothing but represent 
and exercise proxies for large institutional shareholders.

The problem with the corporate system is that shareholders are not 
independently organized. FA/DP could reform the whole corporate structure. 
All it takes is shareholders forming an organization to facilitate 
corporate oversight, to advise the shareholders regarding proxy assignments.

Yes, shareholders at present have very limited voting rights. That's 
because they have not asserted their rights. If they were organized, the 
rules would allow them to do pretty much whatever they pleased. All it 
takes is a majority of proxies. And if they can't do it at one company, 
they can sell their stock in that company and move to another. Share 
corporations are close to Free Associations of capital. (But they hold 
property, so they can't be true FA; the independent shareholder 
associations would be, though, that could effectively run the corporations, 
not directly, but by controlling the choice of directors.)

>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.

Which, to me, is not the proxy I would choose. Rather, I would choose a 
proxy who, I thought, was able to understand the Bush proposal and what is 
right and wrong with it, and able to make better proposals, and able to 
make compromises if politically necessary, to generally act with balance 
and wisdom.

Some who is eager to make promises, I wouldn't trust. What Mr. Ketchum is 
suggesting as a standard for choosing proxies is exactly what we have been 
using for two centuries. I'd say that part of democracy hasn't worked very 

Delegable proxy is a mechanism to make direct democracy scalable while 
remaining deliberative. It is representative democracy without elections, 
and it will work best when proxy choices are based on trust, and direct 
proxy assignments are made at a low level, person to person, where the 
giver knows the receiver and they can have a chat.

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

Yes. And the NGO trials don't require any laws, they only require a few 
people deciding to organize on this basis. If it works, it will be imitated.

One of the realizations has been that FA/DP as applied to, say, a small 
town, could create an independent organization of town voters. I think this 
may actually happen in our town, there is starting to be some interest, 
some realization that it need not be complicated, and it need not take a 
lot of effort, and yet it could be quite effective in improving 
communication between the town and the town citizens, between Town Meeting 
and the majority of voters who are unable to attend.

>>>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.

This concept is one which assumes a maintained distance between voters and 
government. But the proxy is a bidirectional communications link. If direct 
proxy assignments are generally limited, to communicate to the voters the 
reasoning behind a governmental decision only requires that proxies 
communicate back to their direct proxy-givers, to explain why they voted as 
they did. Then those give the explanation down the tree, each one only 
handling a relatively small number of communications. Thus someone you 
trust contacts you to explain why the Town Meeting voted to have a tax 
override, and why he or she thinks you should support it.

You are still free. Here in Mass, tax overrides must be presented for 
secret ballot...

>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.

Which, as I've said, is not the best criterion for choosing a proxy. A good 
proxy will essentially enhance communication between the member and the 
organization, which might or might not advance a preconceived agenda.

However, people will be free to use whatever criteria they choose in 
selecting proxies; sometimes I think, however, that direct proxies might be 
limited to a certain number. And other times I think this is unnecessary, 
and it does limit the freedom of members to make that restriction, so on 
principle I'm inclined against it.

>>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?

There is the possibility of damage; however, FAs, in order to do much 
damage, must convince their members to do the damage, and that conviction 
must arise in a process which is constitutionally open to full debate. I 
simply think it quite unlikely that FAs will be destructive, unless 
destructiveness is a consensus position among members. In which case it is 
likely to take place anyway.

What we are missing is a way to coordinate our activity with efficiency and 
in such a way as to encourage the development of consensus. FA/DP is an 
organizational techology which could do it. And if we can do that, we could 
then apply our collective power. It is this power which will accomplish 
things; the FA/DP organization is only a means which could make it possible 
for that power to be focused.

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

Platform is a collection of fixed positions. Politicians use platforms, as 
do political parties. To my mind, platforms simply confuse issues, 
especially because they conflate various issues that are not intrinsically 
connected. I'm interested in what ideas a candidate has, how they think 
about the issues of the day, but I'm not interested in promises. Platforms, 
generally, consist of promises. And the norm is that those promises are broken.

And, quite often, the breaking of the promises is the salvation of society. 
And that is crazy. We shouldn't push our servants, which is what officials 
should be, into making promises. We should insure that they are educated 
and prepared for the challenges they will face, we should certainly have 
some idea about how they will proceed, but we should not nail them to their 
promises. And, as I said, promises carry, for me, a slightly bad taste.

When someone says "I will never lie to you," I start to wonder about 
everything they have said.... But there are people that I think will never 
lie to me, but they never have to say that. They simply show, again and 
again, that they tell the truth, even when it is inconvenient and 
uncomfortable and it means admitting error.

>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.

Dozens of changes have been made in a system which is reeking with 
difficulties. I'm not proposing radical and sudden change, which generally 
does more harm than good, but the Constitution represented many compromises 
made for the conditions of the time, which conditions passed and we are 
largely stuck with the consequences.

There is a tension between the need for stability and gradualness in change 
and the effective dictatorship of the minority which is created by 
supermajority requirements. We have a very quirky system, however, where a 
small majority evenly distributed can act as a supermajority. If we fix 
that, we are going to run into a problem, it will become much more 
difficult to amend the Constitution. That, I think, will not be good.... 
This is a big issue I'm not even going to begin to address today.

>[Dividing the electoral vote]
>Exists, to a limited extent in a couple small states, if I remember right.

Yes, I just forget the exact number and which states.

>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?

No. Because the change requires the majority party in every state to 
transfer votes in the national election to minority parties. It is against 
their interest, or, at least, in the short term it is. Come a shift in 
party loyalties, it could help them in the future.

But it is clearly an equitable change, and this was my point. Institutions 
resist equitable changes when those changes deflate the artificially 
inflated power of a subset of members.

>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?

Obviously, it will be a hard sell. Not impossible, but it is not the first 
project to tackle. The first project is simply to test delegable proxy (and 
the same thing is true for the various election methods; from my point of 
view, any application of any of them is a step in the right direction. The 
more people realize that there is more than one way to run an election, the 
more they will start to consider alternatives. But the basic thing I think 
that needs to be taught is the power of consensus. It really is 
shortsighted for a mere majority to impose itself on a substantial 
minority; absent necessity, it weakens society to some extent whenever even 
one person is coerced. When society is weakened, we are all hurt.

(However, I'm generally opposed to rigid supermajority or consensus rules, 
for they can result in the tyranny of the minority, which is clearly worse 
than the tyranny of the majority. Essentially, the majority must retain the 
right of decision; but the process should clearly provide for full hearing 
and response to minority views, and for amendment, where possible, to widen 
consensus. I.e., Approval Voting, as an example of something that tends in 
this direction.)

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