[EM] Public elections are the ones that matter.

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Tue Nov 15 14:30:08 PST 2005

On Tue, 15 Nov 2005 11:15:53 -0500 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:

> 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?

Have you lived, always, where needed secrecy was maintained?

Have you avoided serious thought about the secrecy problem?

I remember, many years ago, being a member of the Grange, a farmers' 
      Most voting was open.
      Approval/rejection of proposed new members was SECRET - I think 
three NOs was enough - and those voting NO could care MUCH about secrecy.

In public elections, you have to do them all alike - while it only happens 
occasionally that secrecy matters (actually, there can be classes of 
voting with different rules):
      Near a tie, so each solicited vote counts.
      Somebody cares MUCH.

Coercion and extortion are interesting labels - when they happen those 
doing do not volunteer to admit it - but may be prepared to punish 

Back to corporations - ONLY those who choose to, get involved in such.

> 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 
> trustworthy.

Unless I miss something, FA/DP is voluntary membership.  Also, there could 
be classes of election topics that it is forbidden to vote on.

> 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.

Of course, if we attend to the details properly, we assert control over 

> 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.

  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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