[EM] divided house problem of close vote (50%+1)

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Wed Mar 14 09:50:38 PDT 2007

At 09:32 AM 3/14/2007, Howard Swerdfeger wrote:
>[it was written]
> > In general, I dislike indefinitely repeated elections because they
> > increase voting costs for both the society and the voters in propotion
> > to the number of rounds they require.
>agreed. This would only be appropriate for situation where, the cost of
>the decision of little importance, when compared to the importance of
>the decision it self.

I think that it should be understood that in small groups, "repeated 
elections" is the normal decision-making process. Robert's Rules, or 
similar parliamentary rules, proceed with frequent votes on 
relatively minor options, including amendments, motions to table or 
refer to committee, as well as votes on whether or not the assembly 
is ready to vote on a main motion.

My own opinion is that the majority, quite properly, has the right of 
decision and that rules which prevent the majority from exercising 
this right are oppressive, in the end.

However, that the majority properly has that power does not mean that 
it should routinely exercise it. Essentially, any society benefits 
from decisions being made with general support. The experience of 
many small societies has shown that it is often possible -- in such 
small groups (perhaps up to thirty people or even more) -- to find 
total consensus, and a decision which is supported by everyone will 
almost certainly be a better decision (as long as that decision was 
sincerely supported, not merely because the rules required consensus 
and, hey, we've got to do something!)

Essentially, the desirability of consensus is a social context issue. 
I'm uncomfortable with building it into a system, unless the rule 
created is merely a warning, an alarm. I.e., this would be true if 
any decision made by mere majority vote must be accompanied by a 
finding of emergency, i.e., a finding, by the majority, that the 
society would be harmed by delay.

Now, if the majority wants to lie about this, what can we say? If we 
have a society where the majority is willing to lie to get its way, 
at the expense of a substantial miniority, we have serious problems, 
entirely aside from majoritarian rules.

(By the way, suppose the "harmed by delay" vote is sincere? This 
would point out the danger of preventing the majority from making a 
decision. This is especially clear when the status quo favors a 
minority which can block changes due to consensus rules. And I have 
seen this happen.)

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