I can recommend reading this proposal: http://www.context.org/iclib/ic11/calnbach/
The clear benefit of this approach is that it would be a much simpler and more transparent process, with far less opportunity for the emergence of career politicians and corruption. People would also feel that they were far closer to the democratic process, when they were represented by others just like themselves, and the actual decision makers may be enticed to make better decisions when they are ordinary people that will have to live with the result of their choices afterwards.
That is why I said it was similar to a trial-by-jury. The jury isn't versed in law or in the details of the case, so they get all the information they need to make a decision from the lawyers presenting the case. That leads to situations like one we had in my home country: A woman was sentenced to life in prison for a murder without any evidence. None at all. She had motive and was 'an asshole', and that was enough for the jury to be sure she did it.
If there was a way to objectively give them the facts of the case and the knowledge they need, the system would be perfect, but unfortunately that's not possible. And until it is, i would rather have people making decisions based on their own badly informed opinions than people making decisions based on others' opinions with a veneer of legitimacy.
There is the question of writing laws in the appropriate legalese. In practice, at least in France, most laws come from the executive branch, and the Parliament examines them in a commission, "patches" them by adding amendments, and votes. I'm sure the legalese part could be taught or handled by specialists. Apart from that, I don't see why it would function in a worse fashion that what we currently have.
In the case of a randomized group, that power isn't with the group, it's with the people who educate them on the matters and who frame the issue. There are a million ways to present any matter, and none of them are objective. You're putting the power to influence and even determine a nation's decisions in the hands of the experts that inform them, rather than the randomly selected people. It would become very efficient to buy those people instead of the voters.
The problem of the matter isn't whether it would function worse. The problem is that it would function less transparently. It would ostensibly be a fair and completely unbiased system, but that could be manipulated behind the scenes in far more insidious ways. That's very dangerous. Personally, I would rather have a more unfair but more transparent system.
Whilst theoretically not having any inclination towards achieving a particular outcome is a distinct advantage in the latter situation, I can't see how that's the case when it comes to actually governing.
An alternative idea is to follow the jury duty model. At every district, you randomly select a small group of citizens(the electors). They are brought together and isolated. Every candidate presents their proposals, background, arguments, counter arguments, etc. The electors listen, and each of them casts a secret vote. You eliminate the candidate with the least number of votes and do another round. You do that until you have a winner. At that moment you have elected a member of congress and the electors are dismissed.
- It is very inexpensive. Easy to set up.
- Campaigns are short and you don't need donors.
- Lesser-known candidates would have better odds of winning.
- Campaigns will not be based on simple slogans that can be said in less than 30 seconds.
- Transparent. The process can be televised. Like a trial.
- The electors can choose their preferred candidate without throwing their votes away.
- It would make third parties viable.
The drawback is that people may feel like they are not participating.
(I thought I'd seen one from this year, but it didn't come up.)
I worry that letting people delegate their vote to their favorite outspoken political ideologue would make things even worse, because it would give those people real and direct power. Imagine Rush Limbaugh having the power to vote on behalf of millions of people.
Representative democracy was put in place when regular people were presumably MUCH more ignorant. And giving citizens power through proxy likely spurred us to become more aware as citizenry. But I imagine it was pretty jarring at first.
Delegative democracy puts us in uncomfortable territory yet again, and I think that's a good thing.
Ok, I present to you:
Climate change denial: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial
Creation Science: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_science
> so we can confront it head-on as the destructive force that it is.
That hasn't been working so well...
If his vote is identical to what they'd vote on their own, what difference does it make?
That sounds exactly like the current system. A lot of people voted for/against Obama/Bush for similar reasons.
There's also not the barrier of having to actually be a politician. Someone could make a YouTube video arguing why everyone else is an idiot and they are the only person you should trust with your vote, and the next day have incredible amounts of political power.
For example, if this system were in place right now, how many pro/anti-GamerGate ideologues would overnight go from nothing to having thousands or millions of votes?
If those casting the delegated votes get secret ballots too, you can throw in a new problem: undetectable and potentially indefinite subterfuge...
We are running 50 congressmen in 2016 on this platform.
Often times, it's called Liquid Democracy.
You may face problems with those delegates still leaking sensitive information, but then again, Congressional staff is already notorious for doing that both willfully and accidentally.
This is absolutely what's going to happen if such system is implemented.
Appearing to delegate one way, but having their votes counted another way? Seriously? It is way too complicated for an average voter. Even if you implement some sort of plausible deniability scheme (so that aforesaid someone can't just login with your credentials and set it up the way they want) - imagine explaining plausible deniability to a 90-years-old grandma or some uneducated farm worker, or a drug addict...
Elections are rigged this way even in countries with supposedly secret votes: bad guys might ask you to prove your vote by, say, snapping a picture of "correctly" filled ballot alongside your ID, but even that is not necessary - enough people will do what someone with power tells them to on a vague threat "if you try to fool us we will find out", or because it's a "patriotic" thing to do, or simply because they are told to and don't know better.
Not to mention that a huge number of people just couldn't care less. Half of population simply don't show up at the polls. How many of them will simply sell their right to vote for a token sum of money?
The current system is bad in many ways , but this proposal is even worse - way too much potential for abuse.
 Some reasons why - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-past-the-post_voting
There are established ways around the percieved problem, even before you start thinking on cryptographic solutions
EDIT: sorry, voting digitally isnt addressed in those links :/
And of course, a lot of people are still falling for the "if you try to fool us we will find out" nonsense. The election commission has curbed it to a huge extent. Yet the scale at which such a scam is happening is simply mind boggling.
When I see "delegative democracy", all I see are holes.
But it is very much still pervertable, and the devil is in the details as always.
It would be nice to see a thorough analysis of the ways DD can fail, and mitigations. Andrew hinted as some (including privacy and coercion) but most discussions are this are light on critique.
If you dismiss these concerns, what you'll get are a bunch of people easily manipulated by aides, staffers, lobbyists, etc. And those people certainly are self-selected and ready to work.
But the idea to do away with traditional elections isn't so bad. A bunch of people throw their hat into the ring with a fairly low barrier to entry (some number of signatures, say), and you choose randomly among them. It would be difficult to pick a term length, though.
Lobbyists, special interest groups, etc. would have no power, since they can't help you win an election. People are most easily manipulated for casual decisions with low value. If they had the responsibility, I think most people would rise to the challenge. If they can't, we need to end juries immediately.
There is discussion on Reddit.
They're focusing on getting the cryptographic underpinnings going correctly, whixh is awesome. They are also extremely interested in decentralizing the system via blockchain tech, which is a really good sign.
I try to follow their mailing lists, but unfortunately much of it is still in Spanish.
I came across it because for the past couple of months I've been thinking and writing down some thoughts on building an application that applied "Delegative Democracy" towards the goal of allowing large groups of people to make important decisions. I didn't realize there was even a term for this concept until this blog post.
* http://liquidfeedback.org (used by Pirate Parties in several countries as well as the M5S movement in Italy)
A related US-based project is https://makeyourlaws.org
I have lots of reading material for tonight it seems.
On the other hand, I do have some faith my my fellow citizen. Ask a group of us to set aside some time, do some research, sit down with some others, and make the best decision we can... and it wouldn't surprise me if we did a better job than either the legislature (not having to constantly think about how X will play with Y in the next election) or the broader mass of voters (having the time to focus on one particular issue, and knowing we have the responsibility of having our voice matter).
Oh, and pay us a high rate for our time. It would still be cheaper than running a campaign.
Rather Than governmental Democracy. Have a system where people can communicate information and ideas to large non-governmental entities.
Run a tree of delegates who feed information based upon its quality up to a higher level. Anyone may listen to anyone and speak to anyone but you can also choose to ignore anyone. You choose delegates for each individual case by picking someone receptive to your comment. People higher up the tree will generally only listen to people they know and trust.
This system would provide a useful middle ground to the current situation that people find themselves in when they need to communicate. Their main point of contact are automated systems or de-facto automated humans following processes. To get action on some significant issues, you need to win the publicity lottery and have you case become virally popular to the point where someone who can actually help makes contact.
It isn't as ambitious as running a government, but would serve a real need. As an example of the sort of thing where this may help, there have been numerous instances of Obvious Malware on the Google Play store that have managed to acquire a significant number of downloads. When these instances have been noticed and appear on reddit /r/android, they are swiftly removed from the store. I'm sure similar instances have happened where a company has taken the action they needed to take only after the problem has reached the front page of HN. Rather than having to make a big public noise (which only really works for a few), people should have an avenue to get information where it is needed.
As a business model I would aim to have companies pay to have their top tiers of the tree managed by full-time staff.
Wouldn't it be subject to the same limitations of the electoral college, that future laws could restrict how delegates vote based on popular election results, etc.?
It had obvious scaling problems, and the total number of districts was fixed at 435 in 1910 ... yeah, in the period where the GooGoos (Good Government) types were smashing most everything in sight about our system, like Senate elections. They sure improved things :-(.
I actually think this change was a large part of what led to consolidation of power at the federal level.
If a citizen wanting X is deciding between Senate candidate A promising X, and B not promising X, why wouldn't they just pick candidate A?
If a legislator is trying to decide between A and B, why wouldn't they just do X and keep the credit?
I figured that software programmers would immediately latch onto the concept, because they are familiar with the concept of inheritance. You elect a legislator to vote on your behalf, and in many situations that legislator's vote is the same as your own, yet you retain the right to cast your own vote on any given issue.
But there are several objections that I could not overcome:
1) In our free, open, representative-style government, each legislator's voting record is a matter of public record, but each individual citizen's voting record is confidential. If we were to switch to augmented representative democracy, the question arises: Do we make each citizen's voting record public or private? Both options come with potential problems. For instance, if all votes are private, we lose out on transparency, and anonymity tends to embolden people to make some pretty nasty choices. (Exhibit A: Any online forum.) But if all votes are public, it could invite retribution that the average citizen is not equipped to handle.
2) It's hard enough to monitor roughly 535 federal legislators, to make sure they're not taking bribes or kickbacks in exchange for their votes on particular pieces of legislation. Could you imagine if you had to instead monitor all 207.6 million eligible voters? True, it also becomes more difficult to influence a significant number of them through nefarious means. (Suppose you need to bribe five senators to tip the scale in your favor on a particular piece of legislation. So you offer them each $1 million. Now suppose every eligible voter got to weigh in. You'd need to bribe more than 10 million of them, assuming they all voted. And a $1 bribe isn't nearly as attractive as a $1 million bribe.) But on bills where the vote is really, really close ... there is really no viable way to keep everybody honest.
3) A legislator's workload is (or should be) a full-time job. It takes a lot of time to read through bills and understand them. It takes even more time to fully consider its broader implications and its potential unintended consequences. As part of that process, you'll likely have to engage in discourse with fellow legislators; evaluate expert testimony; listen to the concerns of constituents, trade groups, lobbyists, and other organizations; and weigh the potential for the law to be challenged as unconstitutional. All of that takes time, and it's unrealistic to expect every eligible voter to assume that responsibility for the purpose of voting on policy directly.
4) In practice, the cases in which this augmented representative democracy would result in a vote different from the legislator's would be relatively few -- and yet there would be a whole lot of extra effort required to support the system. Basically, you would need an issue where the legislator's vote is different than what the people who elected him would expect (and the legislator, if he wants to be re-elected, is only going to do that sparingly), and you would need a substantial turnout of people willing to overrule him. Considering how few people vote in general elections, that's a tall order.
5) When you break it down, augmented representative democracy is really direct democracy, and not true representative democracy. And one objection to direct democracy -- take it for what it's worth -- is that there's a danger of mob-mentality policy decisions. If you look at some historic decisions, at least here in the U.S., the legislature was a bit ahead of the curve, compared with the population at large. So ... I guess the question is ... could direct democracy have derailed or delayed something like the civil rights legislation of the mid-20th century?
re:1) For any individual exercising a proxy-power <10, all votes are explicitly private. For any individual exercising proxy-power >=10, all votes are explicitly public.
re:2) Monitoring, transparency, ethics rules, etc increase in proportion with proxy-power.
re:3) Budget and staffing increase in proportion with proxy-power.
Additionally: Proxy-power is capped (e.g. 0.5% of national population). If you try to assign proxy-power to someone who has met the cap, then the assignment is rejected.
2. Nope, but there are ways of analyzing voting patterns for fraud / tampering after the fact. Especially if some algorithms are used - I'm thinking specifically a form of collaborative filtering. 'For citizens who have a similar voting record..'
3. Definitely. It's a tough nut to crack. A tool like github could actually be part of the answer. What happens when industry trade groups and lobbyists have a closer ear to an individual representative than their constituents do (and they almost always do)? What happens when those groups' interest conflicts with their constituents (see also: the environment; the internet)? You'd hope that the representative/senator would vote in the interest of their constituents, keeping in mind the input of the special interests... But how often is that actually the case? Seeing a commit log laid out with the reasoning behind each change could lead not only to smaller & more comprehensive bills, but to better and more effective citizen input as well.
4. How much do people look into the voting history of their elected official now? Not very often, I'd wager. Something like this might actually be prophylactic to legislators voting in a different manner than people would expect though, if you're alerted when your delegate votes and you have the chance to cast a different one.
5. It's representative democracy except when representative democracy would vote against a person's interest. The more people against whose interest the prevailing representative vote consensus is, the more direct it is. Things that have a wide consensus would be delegated - and things that don't would probably be hammered out more. This isn't about what system would have been best for the 1960s or the 1850s, though, so I'm uncomfortable talking about it in context of the civil rights movements. What new systems of government are enabled by the availability of technology today? Which of those would be better equipped for the digital era than the ones we have available to us now? Which ones would lead to more freedom instead of less?
The trouble then becomes figuring out who's qualified to chime in on certain issues - a free-for-all could mean anyone with a vested interest could form these groups and we lose the ability to put in checks and balances to help stop feedback loops due to mob mentality. Proving you even read the article in question could be difficult.
The number of people who were spouting outright mis-information over the obamacare documents was mindblowing.
Perhaps the first step is to reduce the scope of these laws and stop bundling everything together.
So any representative wouldn't have a single "score" that represents how many followers they have but a number of individual scores as they pertain to the focus that individual has chosen for themselves.
In the most benign way it creates a legislative environment of favors. "If you promise to allocate more funds to my district's naval base, I promise to vote on your education bill".
It is the reason why unionization drives are wholly secret on votes. However if you really really want proof, revealing those who supported a recent prop in California that revealed people's support when it was previously guaranteed private is all we need.
Take away privacy of vote is the same as taking away the right to vote.
* The problem of the majority "choking" the minority in each district in the ordinary majoritarian system
* The problem of partisanship tending towards mergers and eventually a dual-party equilibrium in the proportional electoral system
I'm pretty sure this idea is not new and even has a name. And I'm wondering what potential drawbacks such a system could have.
Another might be that a delegate could present a popular set of views in public for the purposes of gaining a large number of delegate votes but then they could privately vote for their real beliefs which might be much more fringe, or perhaps they might change their mind close to the election.
Whereas now a rich company/individual can just buy a politician.
2. make any aggregate votes with greater than block size x (e.g. 100) public?
2. The ballot is no longer secret and subject to the problems of bribery etc.
Besides, people already vote with their dollars in the private sector, which should be the first place to attempt to solve problems.
Who writes the legislation? Do we still have representatives for that? What does the Senate do? Seems to require a massive re-write of the constitiution. A non-starter.
In a delegative democracy, decision making is a lot more fluid than in the current system. You can buy or coerce someone for one specific issue, but the impact of that will be lower than buying a Senator. That makes intimidation and bribery less effective from the onset, and it can be mitigated further depending on the exact implementation. Either way, just like in the current system, there can be checks and balances to reduce the likelihood of it happening.
A technical solution might help. Andrew describes one. I think modern cryptography may have better solutions for this problem.
"No one person can represent more than 20% of the total voters" or something like that. That way you have at least 5 big fish in the pond.
Buy newspapers and TVs for hundreds of millions, control tens of billions...
While I agree, it would be interesting, in practice the only country you might be able to convince to adopt it would be Iceland (because they're awesome) and yet, they have probably the least disfunctional democracy in the world so have no need to adopt it.
Might be worth exploring for steering open source projects, or prioritising objectives within a company.
Here's what I said previously. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2936365
I'd say something approximately as arrogantly today.