[EM] Election via Proxies

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Sat May 28 21:36:07 PDT 2005

On Tue, 24 May 2005 02:03:57 -0400 Abd ulRahman Lomax wrote:

> 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.

Seems we have TWO ideas, which I am convinced, need to be kept separate:
      A delegable proxy chain, which has been the center of this 
discussion, needs to have a top proxy in each chain, which becomes a 
member of the body being created, and is responsible to those who 
"elected" him.
      What I will call an absence proxy may be included in the rules of 
some bodies.  These give the proxy holder whatever authority the rules, 
and the proxy giver, choose to permit - but, generally, expect the holder 
to act in the interests of the giver - rather than getting extra power to 
advance the holder's interests.  These have no effect on membership in, or 
responsibility to, the body.  I do not see value in these extending into 
loops, but would not object if others see value in such.

>>      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.

Turning this the other way, permitting a loop and then identifying one 
member to represent the loop in the governing body, would require rules 
designed to solve that problem.

As I have said, each member of a body has a weighted vote, according to 
how many voter proxies the member holds, directly or indirectly.  There 
are many possible ways to set this up.  There need to be limits on how 
many members may exist, forcing small groups of voters with unique 
interests to share a member - to have some voice together, rather than no 
voice individually.  There also need to be limits on the voting power of 
individual members - preventing a single person from being too close to a 

My picture is each voter, V, enrolling as giving proxy to Y, much as the 
voter enrolls in a political party.  Could be that Y gives his proxy to Z, 
who thus inherits all that such as Y possess.  This is flexible in that V 
and Y can update their enrollments at any time.  It also is public, in 
that enrollment books cannot be dependably kept secret, even should this 
be attempted.

Could do some variation of PR elections.  No actual proxies here, but 
secrecy is doable.  Preparing for weighted voting changes the requirements 
a bit.  I propose that, after the election, those with too few votes to 
become members combine forces to share a member.  I have not studied PR 
enough to get into more detail.  Write-in candidates make sense, though 
they might be required to register willingness.

> 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.

My previous paragraph is compatible with this one, except they lose all 
excuse for using the word "proxy".  Agreed the ballot could be long, for 
each voter gets to choose among ALL the prospective members.  Might be 
that a popular position could attract more votes than a single member 
should be allowed - perhaps slates of candidates could run for such 
> (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.)

Somebody only representing themselves has been shown by the election to be 
unpopular, thus not deserving to be a member of the body.
> 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.)

I choke on use of the phrase "electoral college" here - that body is off 
in its own world.
> 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.)

Disagreed - I say above only that the remainder may combine forces, to get 
representation of themselves by true body members (either by those inside 
the quota, or by combining into a new member to displace a weak previous 

Again I choke on loops, but have some words earlier.
> 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.)

Do not understand superproxy as used here.  The bodies would operate the 
same as bodies elected by other methods.

See no merit in next paragraph.
> 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.
Earlier I now discuss proxies, whose selection is public, and PR 
elections, for which secrecy is normal.  What follows seems to mix the two.
> 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 conditions!
>> 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 
> mentioned.
>> 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 
> system....
>>> (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.

I am thinking of the work a Senate or Assembly has to accomplish.  
Certainly they must have a staff, but the committee members must put in 
enough time for the output to be valid.
>> 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?"

Trust is important but, thinking of defining marriage or right to life, 
you want to be able to trust your proxy to fight for what you believe in.
> 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.

Seems to me the U S Senate represents a rejection of this paragraph:
     Originally, state government elected senators.
     Now the voters elect senators.
> 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.

"power to advise" does not sound like much muscle.
> 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 well....
> 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.)
> ----
> Election-methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info

  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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