[EM] Implementing a democratic electoral process (once it is conceived)

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Sun Jul 29 13:33:20 PDT 2012

If it is not too early, then I have some questions about the practical
problem of actually implementing a reformed electoral process.

Fred Gohlke said on July 27:
> re [Juho]: "If the second phase is a traditional election,
>       traditional financing practices may apply."
> That is one of several reasons for having the [official] election on
> the day after the [selected] candidates are announced - it will
> limit the deception and obfuscations of campaigning.

I guess we can safely assume that reforms (whatever they are) will not
begin with the official electoral process.  It is too difficult to
change and too easy to circumvent.  What matters is the selection of
candidates, namely the primary electoral process.  Right?  *

Assume that primary reform is at least possible.  Consider a point in
the future at which there are five main primary processes in operation
at varying levels of turnout, with at least two being reformed
processes (your choice which).

    Process  Turnout
    -------  -------
       P       20 %
       Q       15        (at least two are
       R        5        reformed processes)
       S        2
       T        1

Is this expectation more-or-less reasonable?  Anyone?

When you speak (Fred) of controlling the time at which "candidates are
announced", do you mean only for the process that you and Juho are
mooting, say one of P-T?  Or all processes P-T?  Your purpose would
seem to require control of all the major primaries.

 * Primary electoral reforms accompanied the historical rise of the
   modern party system.  Selection of candidates used to be in local
   hands, but it was centralized it in the latter 1800s.  The most
   important reform for this purpose was the secret ballot.  It was
   promoted for laudible reasons (ending corruption) and less laudable
   (disenfranchising the negro), but the real motivation behind it was
   the concentration of power in political parties, which were then
   gearing up for a newly enfranchised mass electorate.  The secret
   ballot helped them because it eliminated the local hustings in
   which candidates were openly nominated and affirmed (in Britain),
   and eroded the power of the local political machines such as
   Tammany Hall (US).  Political power turns out to be based on
   control of primary elections and little else.  So it happened that
   the parties (as we know them) rose to power.

Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528

Fred Gohlke said:
> Good Afternoon, Juho
> re: "Ok, two phases then. One to elect the party candidates (by
>       voters, by party members, or by nominees?) and then the
>       final election."
> Although we've approached this idea from a party perspective, there's no 
> reason we can't have nominees who don't identify with any of the 
> existing parties.  They will form a separate group.  In terms of phases, 
> we may have:
> 1) Nominations.
> 2) A filtering period of some length so the nominees can decide
>     which of their number are the best able to proclaim the
>     group's position and the best able to engage the other groups
>     during the candidate selection phase.  In short, those the
>     nominees think the best advocates for their groups.
> 3) An open competition between the advocates of the various
>     groups spanning several weeks during which the nominees for
>     the groups advance their perspective and respond to challenges
>     from the public, the media, and the other groups, while
>     contending with each other for selection as candidates for
>     specific public offices.
> 4) The public election.
> re: "The proportions may be manageable if there are e.g.
>       1,000,000 voters, 10 parties, 1000 nominees per party, that
>       elect 10 candidates per party. I wonder if you want some
>       proportionality (e.g. betwee two wings of a party) or not.
>       That would influence also the first phase."
> The number of parties and the number of nominees will depend on the 
> public sentiment at the time of the election and the rules (if any) set 
> by those who implement the process.  Proportionality will occur 
> naturally, depending on each party's ability to attract supporters, 
> nominees, and, ultimately, candidates.
> The decision to form 'wings' rather than separate parties depends on the 
> dynamics perceived by those who share the separate view. If they feel 
> they can be more effective trying to influence the party, they'll form a 
> wing; if they think they'll be more effective trying to influence the 
> public, they'll form a party.
> re: "If the second phase is a traditional election, traditional
>       financing practices may apply."
> That is one of several reasons for having the election on the day after 
> the candidates are announced - it will limit the deception and 
> obfuscations of campaigning.
> The concept we are discussing assumes a public election in which the 
> people vote for their choices among the candidates.  The competition 
> between the nominees will give the people the most accurate information 
> possible about each of the candidates because it is developed by their 
> adversaries.  On the day following the selection of candidates, the 
> information is fresh in the public's mind.  The people gain nothing if 
> the election is delayed to allow the candidates to campaign.
> The parties may campaign during the competition phase, primarily for 
> platform issues because the candidates are not yet known, but possibly 
> in an effort to influence the choice of candidates, too.  If so, their 
> efforts will be less fruitful than at present because the party's 
> adversaries can refute the campaign rhetoric during the open 
> competition, when the public is most apt to be attentive.
> Fred

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list