[EM] The structuring of power and the composition of norms by communicative assent

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Jan 17 14:56:55 PST 2009

--- On Sat, 17/1/09, Michael Allan <mike at zelea.com> wrote:

> Juho Laatu wrote:
> > 1) Most countries of the world have
> > decided to base their democratic
> > processes on secret votes. It would
> > be difficult to change their current
> > principles.
> It's true that most of them decided to use *private*
> voting in the
> state's electoral systems.  On the other hand, they
> also decided to
> use *public* voting in the legislative assemblies.

OK. That's why I drafted the version where
"low level" votes are secret and "high
level" votes public.

> (These are not "principles", in any case. 
> Principles are usually not
> open to decision.  These are "practices".)
> I do not suggest that state practices ought to be changed. 
> The
> changes I suggest are entirely in the public sphere (among
> ordinary
> people) and leave untouched the practices of voting in
> state elections
> and legislative assemblies. 

What would be a typical case where you
recommend public votes to be used?

> (They will not affect
> "how" we vote at
> state facilities, but they could affect "who and
> what" we vote for.)
> My experience so far is that people are somewhat reluctant
> to consider
> the possibility of voting openly in primary elections.  I
> can't say
> whether this stems from the novelty of casting public
> votes, or an
> unfamiliarity with the purpose of primaries, or some other
> factor - I
> lack the data.
> Based on this experience, though, I decided to postpone
> alpha trials
> of the medium until after I've added normative voting. 
> People may
> have a different reaction to the possibility of drafting
> and voting on
> legislative bills.  They can't do *that*, even in
> private.  And the
> traditional practice is that legislators vote publicly, so
> there
> shouldn't be any gut reactions against it.  I will know
> more, soon...
> > 2) The biggest problems may not be in
> > large coercion/buying campaigns and
> > explicit coercion/buying but in small
> > scale and voters' own independent
> > decisions. There may be intentional or
> > imagined pressure at homes, work and
> > many types of communities (village,
> > friends, religious, professional).
> Yes, it's an important point.  But I did answer to it
> in the post you
> quote, which I also quote in this footnote:
>   http://zelea.com/project/votorola/d/theory.xht#fn-2
> The general observation is that private opionion and public
> opinion
> are not equivalents.  In the original post (and link
> above), I propose
> a medium for the expression of *public* opinion.  I also
> describe how
> it will (as best I can forsee) relate to other media for
> the
> expression of both *private* opinion in party primaries and
> state
> electoral systems, and *public* opinion in state
> legislatures, city
> councils, and so forth.  You see a problem in this, but
> what exactly?

I believe the practice/principle of having
secret votes also often implies interest
in allowing people to vote as they
privately think. Difference between public
and private opinions is thus often seen to
mean some sort of unwanted pressure that
makes people vote some other way than they
really would like to vote.

> I understand that you are concerned that *some* people
> cannot
> participate in public politics, or cannot participate as
> honestly as
> they would like. 

Yes. Or actually I was talked about that
being a common attitude in societies in

> You and Kristopher went on to discuss how
> you might
> solve this problem by precluding the possibility of public
> expression
> entirely (as far as votes go), and falling back to a medium
> of private
> expression. 

Yes. Or at least by keeping the lowest
layers secret.

> But that does not solve the problem of public
> participation.  It can only contribute to it.  If we
> preclude public
> voting, then it's no longer just a fraction of the
> population that is
> intimidated, silenced and excluded from the public sphere -
> all are
> silenced and excluded.

I don't see how secret voting would
particularly limit public participation.
Public voting maybe automatically
forces/encourages public participation but
secret votes allow that too. People are
also free to tell how they voted even if
their vote was secret. One limitation is
that the voter can not prove to the
candidate that she voted that she really
voter for her. But that also does not
limit public participation.

> On the other hand, if we facilitate public voting, then we
> enable the
> vast majority of people to participate in the public
> sphere, to
> discuss problems such as this, and to come up with real
> solutions.

I guess there are also other more
common reasons to why people do not
actively participate in public sphere
(lack of time, lack of interest, risk of
disagreements with others, not knowing
enough, higher interest in some other


> -- 
> Michael Allan
> Toronto, 647-436-4521
> http://zelea.com/
> ----
> Election-Methods mailing list - see
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