[Election-Methods] RE : Is this Condorcet method reasonable?

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Tue Dec 4 19:24:49 PST 2007

At 12:29 AM 12/4/2007, Juho wrote:
>Withdrawal option has both positive and negative impact. The positive
>side was already discussed. On the negative side there are problems
>like candidates deciding the outcome of the election instead of the
>voters and risk of corruption. Also in the case of a natural loop
>there is the possibility to buy the withdrawal of one of the

I've seen this kind of argument against Asset Voting, which puts even 
more power, of course, into the hands of those holding votes. In the 
case of Asset, if the rules are as needed, though, the entire 
political structure could change; in particular, anyone could 
register and, if nothing else, vote for himself or herself; more to 
the point, candidates could and, I predict, would collect votes on a 
very small scale. People would end up voting for someone they know or 
at least can communicate personally with.

Here, though, we'd have something much more like a traditional 
election. What is missed by these arguments is that elections are 
held for a purpose, and the purpose is not (both from the voter and 
the candidate's perspective, as well as from the perspective of one 
who would attempt to corrupt the process) to get elected, per se, but 
to exercise power.

If someone can buy a candidate's withdrawal, they could presumably 
also buy the candidate if the candidate wins, and the latter is 
actually more dangerous!

There seems to be some kind of automatic reaction to the idea of 
candidates deciding election outcomes, even if those candidates have 
specifically been given that power by voters deciding to trust them 
with their votes. Again, if we can't trust the judgement of a 
candidate in how he or she would transfer votes, why would we trust 
the candidate in office? For many offices, and certainly for major 
ones, the ability to make good choices in the delegation of power is 
crucial. Someone not good at it, someone corruptible in it, will be 
corruptible in either position: as an "elector" or as a winner holding office.

There is an endemic and deep distrust of politicians. While it's 
certainly understandable, it's also abusive. Power corrupts, we 
definitely need to understand that, but it also corrupts through 
specific mechanisms; when power is concentrated on a mass scale with 
no close responsibility, it becomes easily corrupted.

Consider an asset system where the electors maintain the right of 
recall -- essentially vote reassignment. If an office holder were 
responsible to -- and recallable by -- say, twenty electors who had, 
directly and indirectly, assembled the votes to elect him or her, the 
responsibility, the connection with the source of power, i.e., the 
people, would be immediate and effective. One who would corrupt by 
exerting influence over a power node could easily find that they 
succeed in influencing the official, who then loses office because of 
losing the trust of the twenty. So, then, the effort would be focused 
on the twenty. Besides becoming many times as expensive, each of 
those twenty has been assigned votes by, say, twenty.

The one corrupted is going to have to come up with some very good 
arguments in order to be able to convince those who maintain his or 
her power. And if those arguments exist, why not just use the 
arguments instead of trying to buy compliance? Not only is it 
cheaper, it's also legal and not risky.

On the other hand, trying to buy influence in such a system is only a 
problem if it is concealed and focused (this is necessary when it's 
truly corruption, i.e., the influence is contrary to the interests of 
whose power is being corrupted, but who do not receive the benefit of 
the payoff). If it is open, it is not corruption, it is mitigation 
and negotiation.

These benefits become, I expect, quite clear when terms of office are 
abolished, that is, officers serve, as in a parliamentary system, 
only with the maintained consent of those they serve. Terms are 
typically long enough that a great deal of damage can be done before 
a miscreant who simply loses trust -- which might be a matter of 
intuition -- can be removed. Only if the misbehavior is blatant can 
recall, a cumbersome, difficult and expensive process in itself, 
possibly succeed, unless proof of criminal activity can be found. 
(Recall is also used abusively by well-funded political interests who 
can sometimes capitalize on weaknesses in the public perception of 
some officeholders.)

I think we need to start looking at how to realize, much more fully, 
efficiently, and effectively, the promise of democracy: government by 
the consent of the governed. And we can do even better than that; it 
may be possible to remove much or even most of the coercive nature of 
government, when people begin to truly trust it as an institution 
that serves them, listens to them, is responsible and responsive to 
them, personally as well as collectively.

And it's possible to get from here to there, one step at a time.

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