[EM] Public elections are the ones that matter.

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Wed Nov 16 20:07:37 PST 2005

At 05:30 PM 11/15/2005, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>On Tue, 15 Nov 2005 11:15:53 -0500 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>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?

Yes. As they say, I'm a mushroom, they keep me in the dark and feed 
me cow manure.

>Have you avoided serious thought about the secrecy problem?

I always avoid serious thought. It's been shown to cause dementia.

>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.

Wow, now we know one of the reasons why the Grange is dying. I've 
known a few organizations where as few as one member can blackball 
applicants, but I don't know one where I think it was a good idea. 
Maybe a purely social club. Maybe, maybe not.

>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 complainers.

My point is simply that there can be fortunes at state in corporate 
elections, yet somehow they seem to bumble through without secrecy. 
Citizens vote at Town Meeting on issues which are sometimes hotly 
contested. Town Meeting governments convert to Mayor/Council quite 
frequently, but because of size, not because of a need for secret ballot.

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

Yes. But I don't see what this has to do with coercion. It is one 
reason why corporations allow proxy voting: because shareholders 
expect it, a corporation which did not allow it (assuming that this 
was legal) might see capital flight.

>>[...] 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.

Yes. Voluntary membership. However, I don't think that any topic 
would be forbidden, per se. I'd expect Robert's Rules to be followed, 
though, and those rules do allow an Objection to Consideration of the 
Question. If a majority don't want to allow the consideration of an 
issue, it can be suppressed within the meeting where there is that 
majority, but there is nothing to prevent a caucus from forming and 
voting and reporting that vote.

>>>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 government.

Theoretically. Locally and on a small scale, yes, it is not that 
difficult. On a large scale, we have not figured out how to do it, 
I'd assert. I have an idea, but it is unproven in practice.

We can *affect* government, we can "throw the bums out," with a lot 
of effort. But that is not control, it is merely making a difference. 
I would reserve the word control for something much closer and finer, 
in terms of detail and speed. Even if I *could* control the outcome 
of the next election, I would not feel much in control if I have to 
wait for four years....

An employer, generally, is in control. The board of trustees of a 
corporation can fire a corporate officer at any time, just as a 
parliament can remove a prime minister. That looks much more like 
control to me. Fixed terms clearly interfere with control.

Once again, I'm sure that someone would argue that fixed terms are 
necessary for stability, blah blah blah. Last time I looked, 
stability was important in business, too, but corporate officers 
*never* have fixed terms, they serve at will. Fixed terms are really 
a holdover from royal government, a shortening of the term-for-life 
of the king.

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