[EM] Public elections are the ones that matter.

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Sun Nov 13 16:28:21 PST 2005

At 01:38 AM 11/13/2005, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>I wonder if this exchange misses the point.
>When these other organizations want, essentially, the services public
>elections provide - then they properly join in EM.

I see the EM list as being about election methods, not about public 
elections or private elections specifically. Some of the discussion 
here does seem to presume that an election is for public office, but 
much is relevant both in the public and private arenas.

>However, for most of them Robert's Rules has spent much effort doing well
>what they need, and EM is not into their view of those topics.

Election methods are a detail for Robert's Rules, which is mostly 
about deliberative procedure. When full deliberative process is 
possible, election methods become much less important; the rules of 
deliberation loom and decision loom much larger.

>Corporations are off in their own corner - each share of stock owns a
>vote, to be voted by its owner.

I think that this may miss the point regarding corporate elections. 
Public elections would be similar to corporate elections if the state 
is considered as a corporation with each citizen owning one share.

However, at common law, where an individual has a right, that right 
can ordinarily be exercised by an attorney-in-fact, otherwise in this 
context called a proxy. Were it not for legislation prohibiting it, 
proxy voting would be allowed in public elections. (In some countries 
voters who are unable to come to the polls may designate a proxy to 
vote for them, but this is not the same kind of voting as takes place 
in corporations.)

The obstacle is the tradition of secret ballot, considered necessary 
to safeguard against coercion. However, it is my suspicion that the 
dangers of open voting in a society functioning with rule of law are 
drastically overstated, and, indeed, the use of secret ballot may 
allow more abuse than it prevents.

In the corporate world, with huge asset values at stake (more than in 
many public elections), votes are a matter of record. And most votes 
are cast by proxy.

(But the structures of corporate governance were developed when 
corporations were small in the sense of having relatively few 
shareholders. These shareholders were sophisticated and knew the 
situation with the various players and board candidates, or if they 
did not, they hired proxies who did. Modern corporations now have 
large numbers of essentially clueless shareholders who sign off on 
proxy solicitations sent by existing management. Delegable proxy is a 
solution to the problem of scale in corporate governance, just as it 
could be a solution to the problem of scale in democracy in general.)

However, I'm not proposing delegable proxy for governmental bodies at 
the present time, not until there is sufficient experience with them 
to understand how they work in practice, not merely in theory. But 
there is plenty of work that can be done outside of government, and, 
in particular, in free associations, which are doubly protected 
against corruption and abuse.

Free associations leave all the power in the hands of the members, 
they do not collect money, they have no authority to command 
obedience; their power consists solely of the power to communicate, 
to facilitate voluntary cooperation and coordination. That is quite 
enough power, if we but knew!

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