[EM] Public elections are the ones that matter.

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Tue Nov 15 08:15:53 PST 2005

At 11:31 PM 11/13/2005, Dave Ketchum wrote:

>One important detail is NEED for voter secrecy in public elections - 
>and little if any need for such for corporations

The "need" for secrecy in public elections is, in my view, not 
established. In a small town, for example, there may be far less at 
stake than in a corporate election, at least in terms of assets. 
Coercion and extortion are already illegal, in both cases. It seems 
that this restriction is sufficient in the case of corporate 
elections, why would it not be in public elections?

However, it would be simple enough to have, at least, a periodic 
secret-ballot confirmation of what might routinely be done publicly.

Besides, what I'm recommending, starting with small towns, is an 
independent FA/DP (Free Association with Delegable Proxy) 
organization tasked with improving communication among citizens and 
others interested in the town, and between the town and its citizens 
and voters. This organization, by its nature, would be public in its 
proxy structure. It would, I presume, sometimes communicate with its 
members who are registered voters in the town as to how to vote. As a 
Free Association, the association itself would not make a 
recommendation; rather it would report the results of polls, any 
recommendations made would be the personal recommendation of the 
proxy to the one who gave the proxy; but because of the structure, if 
the poll showed broad consensus, and if the poll had not been 
corrupted, the recommendations would probably be generally considered 

If there *had* been corruption, the *actual* vote, where the town 
members vote secretly, according to current law, would show this.

We have Town Meeting government; so many decisions are made directly 
by the voters who show up at Town Meeting. If everyone showed up, the 
whole thing would break down. There isn't a place in town where every 
registered voter could participate.... and the meetings would be 
intractable. But more often it is hard to get a quorum, which I think 
is about five percent of the voters.

So Town Meeting voted to present a tax override to the voters to 
build a new public safety complex. The Board of Selectmen was in 
favor. And the voters rejected it. Why the gap? Well, it's not about 
corruption, it is simply that there is no mechanism in place for 
voters to actively participate in the pre-election process, except by 
personally going to meetings, which is impossible for many. Single 
mothers, as just one example. Town Meeting is direct democracy, but 
many are effectively disenfranchised. But they can and do vote in 
public elections, which takes only a few minutes in our small town.

Even though, without changes in law, proxy voting would not be 
possible at Town Meeting, a proxy structure existing in the town, 
where people effectively designate proxies to represent them to the 
town, and where it was clear public record as to who represented how 
many voters, would create a means for these people to participate; 
simply by deciding whom to trust they will have contributed to the process.

And, come the next tax override that has been discussed broadly 
through the DP structure, and I've received a phone call from my 
proxy suggesting that I vote for it, that override will pass. If it 
was not going to pass, it wouldn't have gotten that far....

As it is, nobody called me to suggest I vote for the override, and I 
wasn't personally at the meetings where it was discussed and decided. 
Too busy writing on the internet, I suppose.... So I abstained. And 
many others either did the same, or voted against it, as many will do 
on tax issues if they don't know better.

I've seen quite a few examples where the town would have benefited 
from better communication back and forth with the entire citizenry. 
It already happens, to some degree, hearings are held, etc. But, 
quite simply, it could be better.

>Proxies are important for corporations.  Delegable proxies are worth 
>thought for public elections - but need CAREFUL THOUGHT to avoid 
>making more trouble than they are worth.

Indeed. I'm not proposing the use of delegable proxy, per se, in 
public elections, until there is more experience with it in other 
applications. Asset Voting, however, would be just fine, I think; 
used for proportional representation, it would create a peer assembly 
where every representative has one vote, which is what we are 
accustomed to. Asset Voting is quite close to delegable proxy; the 
form I favor I call FAAV, Fractional Approval Asset Voting, where one 
votes for one or more candidates, as in Approval, except that the 
votes are divided among the recipients in the form 1/N, where N is 
the number of "approved" candidates.

Because of the revoting process, where candidates may reassign the 
votes they received to create winners who did not win ab initio, no 
votes are wasted (except by neglect or intransigency on the part of 
candidates). Dividing the votes in ordinary approval voting would be 
unjust, but it works in asset.

>We can choose whether to be active in the corporate world.

Yes. This is one reason why corporations mostly do function as share 
democracies. If they didn't, many investors would, quite rightfully, 
not trust them and would move their investments elsewhere.

>We have NO CHOICE as to whether we live in the public world and 
>under its rules.

It's not that black and white. We can choose, to some degree, where 
to live, and thus what government has jurisdiction for us. But, yes, 
this is the basic difference between a voluntary association and a 
government. Governments assert authority over us whether or not we consent.

Whether or not that is necessary is debatable. The position that 
authority without consent is illegitimate is essentially libertarian. 
I personally abstain from that debate. The fact is that we have 
government without consent, to a large degree in some ways, and in 
other ways, we do generally consent. I'd rather not attempt to 
drastically change the government itself, the rule of law, the other 
structures that are currently functioning, for better or worse, 
because I see a way around it. The existing structures are 
manipulable by special interests. Many consider this a problem! -- 
but I see it as a solution. When there are opposing special 
interests, the bigger one tends to win, doesn't it? And what is the 
largest special interest group?

The people.

The problem is not that the system is manipulable by special 
interests, the problem is that the most important "special" interest 
is not organized, whereas smaller ones are. We tend to think of the 
government itself as the organization of the people, but that isn't 
quite correct. The government is an instrument of power, which is 
wielded according to the interests of those who control it. The 
people only indirectly control the government, and not terribly 
effectively. What is needed is an organization or organizations which 
organize the power of the people *voluntarily*, for the purpose of 
managing government. The actual exercise of the management power 
would remain with the people individually, through their power to 
vote as well as their power to contribute to causes. Moveon.org has 
half of this right. What Moveon.org is missing is democratic process 
within its own structure.

It also is organized around a particular political bias. (That I 
happen to personally agree with much of that bias is not relevant, it 
is still bias.) But if it created an open structure that just 
happened to start with progressives as members, it would be seeding 
the creation of something much broader than what it currently is. It 
could essentially be creating the government of the government.

Without removing any of the existing safeguards.

>  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.

Yes. And if you want justice, work for peace.

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