[EM] Democracy Chronicles, answers to interview questions

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Thu Apr 5 14:52:01 PDT 2012

Dear Richard and Adrian,

Richard Fobes said:
> Below are the questions that editor Adrian Tawfik is inviting us to
> answer.  Clarifications follow the questions.
> Question 1.  Your name and the city and country you work in.

Michael Allan, Toronto

> Question 2.  What is your Company or Organization?

independent software engineer

> Question 3.  Any contact info you wish to give to be published with 
> article for readers (for example your email or website.)

(see sig below)

> Question 4. If you have signed the Declaration, is there any additional 
> information, beyond what's in your signature, that you feel is important 
> to mention?
> Question 5. If you have not signed the Declaration, why?

Unfortunately the proposed reforms do not address what I consider the
most important requirements, namely that (a) the elector must actually
have a vote, and (b) the vote must have a meaningful effect.

> Question 6. Briefly explain what characteristics you think are most 
> important for a voting method to have?

(a) The elector must actually have a vote in the sense of its form and
content being under the elector's control at all times, much as one's
voice is under one's control, for example.  Neither the traditional
methods of voting nor the proposed reforms meet this requirement.  In
both cases the form of the vote is prescribed by force and the vote
itself is witheld for long periods.  Most crucially it is witheld
during those periods in which electoral decisions are made, which is
always well before the ballots are printed.

(b) The vote must have some meaningful effect in the real world.  In
particular it ought to afford a reasonable possibility of influencing
the outcome of the election.  Again, neither the traditional methods
nor the proposed reforms meet this requirement.  In both cases one's
vote has no effect whatsoever on the outcome of the election.

> Question 7. What do you think is the most important election reform 
> needed where you live (either locally or nationally)?  Why is this 
> reform important?

I think the most important requirement is (a).  Gaining control of the
vote would give our electors immediate influence over the elections;
that's one thing.  In due course, it would also open the possibility
of voting on laws and other norms, which would entail efforts at
reaching consensus or mutual understanding on the shape of society.
With that, we would arrive at the possibility of political freedom.

> Question 8. What is your opinion on other aspects of election reform
> such as reforming money's role in politics or redistricting
> (particularly in the US but very interested as well concerning
> election reforms internationally)?

In my opinion, if we each possess a vote (a) with an effect (b), then
there is little opportunity for money and/or gerrymandering to fill
that role.  Those forces come into play only because the voter (as
such) is absent from the decision process, which again is one that
unfolds well before the ballots are printed.

Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528

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