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Democracy Engineering Task Force
Request For Comments: v1001
Obsoletes: None (First Draft)
Category: Experimental
ISSN: Unassigned

A. Nonymous
Independent
September 2016

 

DemocracyPlus Specification & RFC

 

Abstract

This document introduces, describes and specifies a more functional democratic system. The good bits start at Section 4 – you MAY safely skip ahead to that if you like, and then come back to the beginning of this document later.

Status of This Memo

This document is not an IETF/RFC-Editor specification; it is published for democratic purposes.

The status of this RFC is draft/experimental. Comments are requested, and will be integrated for the next draft, which will replace this document.

The style of this RFC is modelled on the series of Internet Engineering Task Force RFCs that specify the core technologies of the internet.

The RFC style has been adopted as the Document concerns Democracy as Technology, rather than Democracy as Politics.

This Document therefore aims to comply with the style guidelines of IETF RFC7322.

This document does not describe a specific technical protocol, and is only tangentially relevant to the internet. It has therefore not been submitted to the RFC Editor, though that could conceivably happen if the RFC Editor requests submission at later date, or if new technical protocols emerge.

Copyright Notice

This document is free from copyright, and MAY be distributed in whole or in part, with or without modification. The authors accept NO responsibility or liability for dissatisfaction with current democratic systems that reading this document MAY cause, or any other form of responsibility or liability of any kind.

Any comments you make MAY be included in whole or in part, with or without modification, and most likely without attribution in future versions of this document. By commenting you waive any copyright or other ownership claims of your comments.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Requirements Language
3. Discussion
4. Process: Old Rules
5. Process: Intermediate Rules
6. Process: New Rules
7. Scope
8. Pros and Cons
9. Multi-Member Constituencies
10. IANA Considerations
11. Internationalisation Considerations
12. Security Considerations
13. References
   13.1 Normative References
   13.2 Informative References
Appendix A: Definition of Terms
Acknowledgements
Contributors
Comments

1. Introduction

Democracy is defined as a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state or other group of people (hereafter referred to simply as the State).

Two forms of Democracy are in historical and current use.

The original form of democracy, as practiced in Athens in classical times, is a form of Direct Democracy. In Direct Democracy, people vote on issues directly. Government officials were selected by sortition, i.e. at random from the pool of Voters. Today only the Swiss Canton system is considered to embody Direct Democracy.

Conversely, other modern democracies are Representative Democracies. In Representative Democracies, the eligible people (hereafter referred to as Voters) select by election a group of representatives (hereafter referred to as Members) to discuss and vote on issues on their behalf in one or more bodies (hereafter referred to as Houses). A collection of Houses is referred to as a Parliament in this document.

The secondary motivation of this document is to provide discussion of these systems, the tensions between them, and problems arising. The primary aim of this document is to develop and describe a system that resolves these issues.

For clarity, this document does not address democracy as politics; it is about democracy as the technology whereby the will of the population is expressed as decisions of government.

2. Requirements Language

In this document, MUST/REQUIRED/SHALL, SHOULD/RECOMMENDED and MAY/OPTIONAL take the standard form of RFC2119, as do their negations.

The word MUST is only used where it is actually required to limit behaviour which has the potential for causing harm. The specific harm(s) avoided MUST be listed whenever this keyword is used.

In the above paragraph, the first use avoids the harm of developing an an overly restrictive or inflexible specification, and the second use ensures potential harms are well understood and continue to be avoided in future versions of this RFC.

3. Discussion

Direct Democracy can work well for smaller bodies, however when applied to an entire state, two problems occur:

a) The process of tallying votes and discussion of issues to reach consensus becomes unmanageable due to the sheer number of Voters and voices, and

b) Individual Voters are too busy with their own lives to research and vote on each and every issue that faces the state (Voter Fatigue).

For these reasons, Representative Democracy is often presented as the only form of democracy possible in mass societies.

Representative Democracies have their historical origin within the UK parliamentary system, which is considered to have developed over many centuries. The Magna Carta is frequently cited as a start date in 1215.

Representative Democracies were therefore primarily developed to satisfy the requirements of monarchy and aristocracy without bloodshed, with little reference to the needs of the great mass of people. It is a testament to the strength of the representative democratic system that it has remained fit for purpose for so long, and with increased enfranchisement has successfully addressed the needs of the great mass of people in many regards, at least historically.

However, tensions have now arisen between the great mass of people and the political elite that become Members in many nations.

Typically, Voters select Members on a four or five year timescale (hereafter referred to as a Term). Members typically group themselves into power blocks (hereafter referred to as Parties) with common interests (hereafter referred to as Policy). The Parties typically have methods of enforcement to ensure that Members normally vote with the Party. It is normal for two and sometimes three parties to dominate elected Houses. It is not normally possible for any Party to completely satisfy the wishes of all Voters on all issues that may be discussed within the Term. The dominating Parties also change very infrequently.

Thus, the reality of the Representative Democratic system is that Voters are faced with a single choice of which group of a**holes they are least likely to disagree with for the next five years, and only get that choice once every five years.

This is not enough. We can do better.

The question becomes: How can we continue to benefit from the strengths of Representative Democracy whilst giving Voters more Direct choice?

One answer is the rest of this document. It’s called DemocracyPlus. It’s a hybrid model combining the best features of Representative and Direct democracies that also eliminates their drawbacks. To fully describe it, we’ll explain the process of moving from the current system to DemocracyPlus in the next three sections.

4. Process: Old Rules

This section summarises the rules of current Representative Democracies.

Members are elected on a Constituency basis. A constituency is a particular group of people, usually defined geographically, that is responsible for the election of one (or more) Members to the House.

Members usually have a single vote within the House. So, in order to facilitate the principle of one-person-one-vote, Constituencies SHOULD have roughly equal numbers of Voters within them.

Members MAY be selected on a First-Past-The-Post system, or by Alternative Vote, or by Proportional Representation or by any other means – the system by which constituencies select Members is considered beyond the scope of this document.

It should be noted that adoption of the New Rules described later in this document provides a practical pathway towards Proportional Representation in terms of the results of votes in the House, without requiring change to the way in which Members are elected.

5. Process: Intermediate Rules

The first step towards New Rules is the adoption of a Bill of Rights or Constitution.

The purpose of the Constitution is to prevent the harm of Mob Rule (aka Ochlocracy), whereby the majority of Voters harm or infringe the liberty or other rights of any minority. This is one of the two potential harms of democracy that were identified in the classical period. The other, Demagoguery, is dealt with later in this document.

So, the Bill of Rights MUST be adopted before proceeding to New Rules, and MUST only be modified under Old Rules.

It MAY be beneficial that any changes to the Bill of Rights are applied with a majority-threshold of Member votes that is higher than the conventional 50%, in order to provide further protection for minorities living within the State.

TODO: Provide minimal reference implementation Bill of Rights.

The second step towards New Rules is a slight change in the way that votes within the House are conducted and/or evaluated.

Typically, a House votes on laws, regulations or other matters (hereafter referred to as Legislation) with a simple Yes/No (equivalently Ayes/Noes) count of the attending Members (who MAY also abstain by not attending). These MAY be counted using a show of hands, ballot papers, passing through doors into lobbies or other methods.

The results are tallied according to the principle that each Member has ONE vote, and are then read out according to the example formula (UK):

The Ayes to the right, 291. The Noes to the left, 161. The Ayes have it, the Ayes have it.

The second, necessary step towards New Rules is that instead of counting and announcing House votes according to one-Member-one-Vote, these are counted and announced according to one-Member-X-Votes, where X is the number of people eligible to vote within that Member’s Constituency. For the avoidance of doubt, the weight factor X takes no account of the number of votes the Member achieved within that constituency when elected; it is instead the total number of constituents within that Member’s constituency.

As a practical measure, the number X MAY be frozen at the number that was on the electoral roll at the time that the Member was elected. Alternatively, X MAY reflect the number of Voters on the electoral roll on the day of the vote, or at the exact time of the vote, as this number will change over the Term as people move about and/or reach the age of majority.

The results MAY then be announced according to the formula:

The Ayes to the right, 16,256,372. The Noes to the left, 8,473,483. The Ayes have it, the Ayes have it.

This change has the immediate benefit of reconnecting the operation of the House with the legitimate source of each Member’s mandate: the Voters, and can immediately be seen to be fairer.

So long as Constituencies contain nearly equal numbers of Voters, the actual results of all but the closest House votes remain unchanged within this system. For the very close votes, the results will better reflect the desires of the Voters, which is desirable.

6. Process: New Rules

(aka Rolling Referendum, aka DemocracyPlus)

This is where things get interesting. We now introduce the notion that during the Term, any Voter MAY Transfer his/her vote to any other Member, at any time, and MAY transfer his/her vote as many times as he/she wishes. This is the defining feature of DemocracyPlus.

When a Voter transfers his/her vote, the number X that counts in House votes for the Member who has lost that Voter is decremented by one.

When a Voter transfers his/her vote, the number X that counts in House votes for the Member who has gained that Voter is incremented by one.

A body will be required to process the vote transfers and update the number X that is then used by the House to tally the results of House votes (the Transfer Body). Voters MAY interact with the body by post, by automated telephone system, by internet or other suitable means. Further discussion is available within the Security section of this RFC. In all cases, alternative arrangements SHOULD be available for Voters with impairments – no Voter should be excluded.

Voters MUST NOT be required to use the Transfer system. As under Old Rules, a Voter MAY simply anonymously vote for a single candidate at the beginning of each Term (or choose not to vote), and then be represented by whichever candidate wins that constituency for the duration of the Term. So, no Voter is obliged to participate within the New Rules system, and their vote will continue to count just as much as any other Voter’s.

The Transfer system allows a Voter to essentially ‘vote with’ any Member of the House, and to move their vote around at will.

There MAY be practical reasons to disable transfers for a short time period immediately preceding each House vote, such that the number X can be accurately and definitively calculated for each Member.

It MAY be beneficial to place a maximum value on X of (say) two or three times the number of electors on the electoral roll of that Member’s constituency, and that if that value is reached, no further votes may be transferred to that specific Member until such time as the threshold is not exceeded. Where such a system is adopted, any limits on transferred votes SHOULD be inversely proportional to the number of Members within each party, such that Members of small parties and Independents can accept more Voters.

In any case, the system MUST avoid any single Member acquiring more than 10% of the votes in the House (this limit borrowed from Plato).

This is to avoid the potential harm of demagoguery by preventing any specific individual Member from accumulating too much power.

This system addresses the need currently addressed by Proportional Representation, without the requirement of having additional Members with no geographic constituency. Voters who wish to live in a state that makes decisions on a Proportional basis are free to transfer their votes to any Member that better represents their views.

Voters that choose to transfer their votes SHOULD transfer their vote to the closest geographical Member that aligns with their voting preferences, in order to best strengthen their regional interests within the House. The Transfer Body SHOULD facilitate this choice by providing appropriate location-based information when Voters are using it.

It is RECOMMENDED that the transfer system gives scope for Voters to message both the Member that has lost the Voter, and the Member that has gained the Voter, to indicate WHY the Voter has transferred his/her vote. Such notification MAY be anonymous, but SHOULD indicate whether the Voter is originally from that Member’s constituency or not. Voters SHOULD also have the option for these messages to be displayed publicly should they wish, with or without attribution. This will help Members more accurately reflect the collective will of their constituents, which is desirable for Members seeking re-election.

It MAY be desirable that if a specific Member loses a certain percentage of his/her constituency Voters, a by-election is held.

It MAY be desirable that some issues continue to be voted on and decided under Old Rules, or Intermediate Rules.

This system maintains and strengthens the role of the political elite in terms of providing public discussion and measured decision making by providing them with an continuously renewed mandate for the whole Term. It assists them in their ability to accurately reflect the views of the public. It reconnects the public with the processes of the House. It makes every vote a referendum, without every Voter having to vote on all legislation. DemocracyPlus means having one’s democratic cake and eating it.

For the avoidance of doubt, at the end of the Term, or during By-elections, Members continue to be re-elected (or not) by their constituents in the normal way. Thus, although Members MAY increase their vote-share within the House by benefiting from votes that have been transferred to them from other constituencies, they MUST continue to focus on representing the interests of their constituents if they seek re-election, just as within the current system, as it is only by being a good constituency MP that they will be re-elected. Indeed, the relationship between Members and their constituents is strengthened by the transfer system, as Members will be able to gauge more accurately – and throughout the Term – what actions win and lose local votes.

Once a Member is elected, all the Member’s constituent votes MAY be automatically transferred (back) to the winning Member. This reflects the realities of the current first-past-the-post system. Voters who wish to transfer their votes away again MAY do so. Votes from other constituencies that had been transferred TO the outgoing Member MAY be automatically transferred back to their original constituencies too, or they MAY continue to reside with the new Member. The latter MAY be more appropriate in the case where the same Member is re-elected, or a Member of the same party is elected. This is considered an implementation detail, and beyond the scope of this specification.

Thus in a general election, the whole thing can be reset. This MAY be beneficial in terms of forming a government after the general election.

7. Scope

DemocracyPlus concerns itself solely with the way in which votes within the House are decided.

The source of Legislation and the process for deciding the timetable on which it is discussed and decided by the House is beyond the scope of this document.

The process by which constituencies select Members is beyond the scope of this document.

The process by which a House and/or electorate forms an Executive/Government or Judiciary, or selects an actual or functional Head of State (where appropriate) is also beyond the scope of this document.

Executive legislation/orders (such as the Budget in the UK, or Presidential Orders elsewhere) that are NOT voted on by the House are beyond the scope of this document.

If an elected government loses votes by the Transfer mechanism to the point where it no longer enjoys a majority, it MAY be desirable for that government to form a coalition, to hold a fresh election, or to continue as a minority government. It MAY also be desirable to enshrine the notion that fresh elections are called in these circumstances as part of normal legislation or as part of the Bill of Rights. In any case, if a government no longer acts in accordance of the wishes of its people, it will need to change. This is desirable.

This document takes no position on the desirability or role of unelected Houses that MAY form part of a Parliament, save to say that elected Houses SHOULD ultimately be sovereign over unelected Houses (see the UK Parliament Act for a working example). It MAY be that situations where unelected Houses or other bodies that can delay, or force review of legislation, are desirable in providing a check-and-balance to prevent knee-jerk legislation from passing through a DemocracyPlus House too quickly (see below).

8. Pros and Cons

This discussion contains the pros and cons of Direct and Old Rules representative democracy, and shows how New Rules addresses any issues arising. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Comments regarding any particular pitfalls of New Rules are actively sought.

Pro:
DemocracyPlus gives the people more direct control over the results of votes within the House. The Old Rules system only allows people the chance to affect their government, or hold them to account, once every four to five years. DemocracyPlus increases the ability for people to enact new laws, or perhaps more importantly, stop their enaction, throughout the term.

Con:
Giving people more direct control over the results of votes within the House could make it more difficult for a government to push forward with necessary but controversial legislation. However, if legislation is sufficiently controversial that a majority of people disagree with it, then it is undemocratic to pass it, and will probably be repealed by future governments. Governments that seek to pass controversial legislation will therefore need to make effort to persuade the populace that it is necessary.

Pro:
DemocracyPlus makes the government more responsive (in terms of reaction time) to the will of the people, as their will at any time is assessed and acted on automatically by the system. Political processes can be sped up, and real change enacted sooner.

Con:
The increased responsiveness could cause the House to ‘flip-flop’ on legislation that only passes with a small majority. This MAY be beneficial in many cases. In cases where the desired effects of the legislation could take several years to manifest, it MAY be appropriate to specify that the legislation can only be repealed under an Old Rules or Intermediate Rules votes within the House, at least for a certain period of years.

Slow political processes are often necessary to ensure that laws are properly written, and to help prevent over-reaction to specific circumstances (for instance: introducing the death penalty in response to a sudden atrocity). The former can be addressed by looking at the source of the legislation (considered beyond the scope of this document), and/or through the use of a second House that passes poorly drafted legislation back to the DemocracyPlus House for reconsideration. The latter issue can be addressed in both these ways, and also through the necessary Bill of Rights introduced at the Intermediate Rules stage.

Pro:
DemocracyPlus prefers the will of the great mass of people over the will of the political elite. The House will make better decisions by virtue of the Wisdom of Crowds.

Con:
While the Wisdom of Crowds is a real phenomenon (whereby the average of the guesses of a large number of people is likely to be more accurate than any single guess), it is known to be prone to systematic error in some cases (where people consistently overestimate or underestimate for some reason). In the case of democracy, it is a sad reality that the political elite is likely to be better educated than the great mass of people, and may be capable of making more rational and wise decisions than the ‘man on the street’. However, democracy of all forms has always relied on a bedrock of educated citizens making rational choices, so this is an issue faced by any democracy.

That is why it is important to emphasise that in DemocracyPlus, the votes in the House are still made by the Members, not the people directly – they are simply weighted by the people’s votes – so in any issue to which the overwhelming majority of Members are opposed, it is likely that there will be insufficient Members left for enough Voters to transfer their votes to in order to affect the outcome, particularly where caps on the number of transferred votes each Member may receive are in place. For situations where the House is more evenly divided, the will of the people will be more accurately expressed, which could be helpful in preventing unjust wars, for example.

Pro:
DemocracyPlus prefers issue-by-issue consideration over party policy and ideology, making cross-party and intra-party infighting redundant.

Con:
The role of party conference and leadership hierarchy in forming and enforcing policy could be subtly altered, as using the whip may no longer ensure that a vote goes through. Parties could be pushed more towards the centre ground in order to pass legislation. Ideologies may be necessary for ensuring that different pieces of legislation are self-consistent, and that entire programs of legislation can be put through. However, the whip currently does not ensure that votes go through. Parties are already pushed towards the centre ground to win elections. Ideologies are already espoused by parties and transmitted to the party members and electorate in campaigns, so there is actually little change here. Parties will need to focus on getting their message across not just at election time, but during the Term too if they wish to continue to pass legislation. The increased interaction between Parties and the electorate is seen as a good thing.

Pro:
DemocracyPlus re-engages Voters with and increases interest in the political process. Feelings of dis-enfranchisement engendered by the current once-every-four-or-five-year choice cease. Apathy diminishes as people have the power to make their vote count all the time. Governments elected under DemocracyPlus enjoy a continuous, ever-renewed and moral mandate. Voters within DemocracyPlus are incentivised to be educated about and to be actively vocal about the issues that affect them.

Con:
If people are uninterested or uninformed about politics, it is debatable whether giving them more control over it is a good idea. However, within DemocracyPlus, it will only be the Voters that are interested in politics that will use the Transfer system. Uninterested constituents will continue to be represented by whichever Member wins their constituency – and their vote will count just as much as anyone else’s (even if they chose not to vote in their constituency election), just as they do now. The risks of an uninformed populace to democracy are already present and well documented; this does not change in DemocracyPlus; however it is likely that increases in political interest and awareness are contagious, so more people will be well informed. It MAY none the less be appropriate to ensure that media companies have a legal responsibility to report the truth, and to limit spending on political advertising by any body, in order to prevent powerful media or other interests from subverting the democratic process. It should be emphasised that these risks exist within current democracies too.

Furthermore, the role of people who are on the electoral register but chose not to vote in elections is subtly changed by DemocracyPlus, in that under DemocracyPlus the non-voter’s vote is counted towards the Member that is elected for his/her constituency, as before, but now the non-voter has the ability to move his/her vote at any time, and therefore has enhanced responsibility for the actions of his/her constituency MP over the course of the term. Non-voters that choose not to move their vote will be aware that they are still contributing to decisions in the House. Full engagement with politics and collective responsibility is therefore achieved without requiring constituents to vote by law.

Pro:
DemocracyPlus diminishes the power of lobbyists and other unelected interests that currently have influence over government, as the great mass of people have the ultimate say.

Con:
Businesses, unions and charities etc. do not currently enjoy a vote, however their opinions and interests may be very important. They may have a unique view or expertise on particular issues that is not shared with the great mass of people. In many cases, what is good for these organisations is good for society too. It would therefore be damaging to exclude them from the political process. However, under DemocracyPlus, they are NOT excluded, and would continue to be able to influence Members in the current way – and remember it’s still the Members that vote in the House. Their role could also be enhanced as they would naturally seek to educate the great mass of people in the benefits of their proposals, as well as the Members, to ensure the greatest chance of achieving their aims. This would have the knock-on benefit of encouraging Voters to be better informed and interested in issues that affect them.

It should be noted that some countries have restrictions on spending by Parties in the run up to general elections, to prevent the Party with the deepest pockets from ‘buying’ the vote with advertising. In these cases, such restrictions SHOULD be applied over the entire term of the government under DemocracyPlus.

Pro:
DemocracyPlus ensures that everyone’s opinion is equal, so the opinions of Members are not treated as more important than everyone else.

Con:
While everyone does have an equal vote within DemocracyPlus, in fact the opinions of Members are treated as more important as only Members can decide how blocks of votes count within the House. Members would continue to benefit from the additional research resources that they currently do in reaching their decisions. The increased necessity for Members to carefully consider, listen to different views, and then explain their voting intentions to their constituents is seen as beneficial as it increases accountability, and also interaction with constituents.

Pro:
DemocracyPlus moves us towards a more proportional system, with the results of House votes more accurately reflecting the proportion of Voters that align with the different parties.

Con:
This could be an issue in terms of the ability to vote out bad governments, which is seen as the major benefit of pure first-past-the-post systems, however it is important to bear in mind that a) It is likely that only a minority of Voters will make use of the Transfer system, and that many of them will choose to do so on specific issues, and then move their vote back again afterwards to ensure their local interests are represented, so DemocracyPlus may not necessarily give the same results as systems whereby the Members themselves are selected via a traditional PR system, and b) the abilty for Voters to prevent bad governments from passing bad legislation is greatly enhanced under DemocracyPlus, far beyond what is delivered with fixed-term-first-past-the-post.

Pro:
DemocracyPlus is clearly more democratic than current Representative Democracy arrangements, and is clearly in the best interests of the great mass of people…

Con:
…but the lobbyists and political elite that actually control the system will never allow it to happen.

Lets deal with these two groups separately:

The Political Elite does gain from DemocracyPlus. Their role as Voters within the House is enhanced, as each Member controls an entire block of votes, each of which is directly connected with a real Voter. They gain a channel by which to communicate with the constituents that are the source of their power. They get to litmus-test their actions throughout the course of a term, thus making it easier for them to be re-elected. They find out when they are losing constituents, and why. They also get to find out which policies are resonating with the nation as a whole. They get to show that they are demonstrably doing their job. They get increased legitimacy. They significantly reduce the risk of violent replacement and/or revolution. Individual Members get the chance to be more influential House votes than they would otherwise be. They get to show that the system they control really does work. They lose nothing, and have everything to gain from DemocracyPlus.

Lobbyists continue to influence the Members, who are the ones that are actually voting in the House. They still have the same level of control and influence that they always did in regard to that. They gain a whole new arena – the arena of public debate – in which to influence the outcomes of House Votes too. They lose nothing, and have everything to gain from DemocracyPlus.

9. Multi-Member Constituencies

In some democracies, a single constituency can elect multiple Members (e.g. some forms of Proportional Representation are implemented in this way).

DemocracyPlus can be applied fairly in such circumstances as follows:

1) At the conclusion of an election, Members are elected by the constituency via whatever means is currently used, or is desirable.
The Transfer system then immediately, automatically and randomly assigns EVERY Voter from that constituency to a Member for that constituency. Normally it would be expected that the number of Voters automatically assigned by the randomiser to each Member would reflect the number of votes received by that Member (i.e. proportionality).

2) The first time any particular Voter interacts with the Transfer system, the system would ask the Voter to choose a Member to vote with. If that Member is not the same as the one to whom the Voter had been randomly assigned, then the decrement-and-increment procedure described as above would apply.

Other fair ways of applying DemocracyPlus to multi-Member constituencies MAY be possible; the above is simply an example.

10. IANA Considerations

None at the time of writing. This section required by RFC7322.

11. Internationalisation Considerations

This document has been designed to have applicability to and interoperability with a wide variety of current democratic systems, inluding single and multi-cameral parliaments, first past the post, alternative vote and proportional representation.

The British parliamentary system is used as the canonical example of representative democracy throughout the document due to its status as the ‘mother of parliaments’.

DemocracyPlus can equally be applied to a National House, to a local Assembly or Council, or to a House that represents a Federation of Nations; indeed it can be applied anywhere that constituents vote for representatives.

Readers are warmly encouraged to both comment upon and act upon how this specification might be applied or, if necessary, adapted to their own democratic environment.

12. Security Considerations

This section is intended to document the steps necessary to prevent voter fraud and/or government manipulation of the system. It is a skeleton section.

a) The harm of having fake Voters, or single Voters having more than one account at the transfer system MUST be avoided. This MAY be satisfied with a country’s current Electoral Roll requirements and processes (possibly).

b) The harm of one user subverting another Voter’s account MUST also be militated against. Assuming a) has been achieved, then this MAY be achieved by sending notification texts, emails and/or letters to the Voter when the status of a vote is changed.

c) The systems used to administer the process SHOULD be run by an external/independent body that is at ‘arms length’ from the government, and SHOULD maintain the highest standards of security and public trust possible. Ideally, the body SHOULD be funded by donation direct from the public, to avoid the taint of receiving government funding.

To avoid the harm of system subversion, an entirely separate auditing body MUST also be created and/or employed to hold the managers of the system to account. It MUST be ensured that NO individual or organisation owns, controls or influences BOTH the administration body and the auditing body.

d) The harm of public distrust of the transfer system MUST be avoided. The system therefore SHOULD be fully transparent, such that any member of the public may fully audit all transactions within it. It MAY be appropriate that data for auditing purposes is released in anonymised form, such that the effective voting patterns of individual Voters cannot be established. Conversely, it MAY be more desirable for the purposes of fostering trust that the voting records and identities of all Voters that use the Transfer system are fully disclosed, and that this is a condition of using Transfer/New Rules.

13. References

13.1 Normative References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_democracy#Ancient_Athens
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Representative_democracy
http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/evolutionofparliament/originsofparliament/birthofparliament/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ochlocracy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acts_of_Parliament_in_the_United_Kingdom
http://debatewise.org/debates/3009-direct-vs-representative-democracy/
http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/critias.html

13.2 Informative References

Inventing the Future – Nick Srnicek & Alex Williams

Appendix A: Definition of Terms

Constituency: A group of people that elects one or more Members of a House
Member: A representative that votes on issues within a House.
House: A group of Members that vote on issues.
Electoral Register: A managed/verified list of Constituents.

Acknowledgements

The Authors would like to acknowledge the Athenian democrats, and the hard work of members of the public and Members of Houses over hundreds of years that forms the basis on which DemocracyPlus is built.

Contributors

The original Author(s) have chosen to keep their identities private for the time being, pending a safety review. The reason for this is that some democracies have become or are becoming oligarchies. Though DemocracyPlus is designed to maintain, enhance and support the role and existence of the political class, it is possible that some powerful people may NOT consider DemocracyPlus as aligning with their own personal interests. We therefore ask that all readers respect this desire for privacy. For the avoidance of doubt, the Author(s) have had no contact with the hacktivist group Anonymous, though members of this group are of course welcome to give comments and feedback along with everyone else.

This is the FIRST DRAFT of this specification. The Author(s) are requesting comments from all interested parties (i.e. everyone). Please think carefully about a) what this document needs, but doesn’t have, and b) what this document has, but doesn’t need. We ask that you keep your comments truthful, factual and beneficial.

You are therefore warmly invited to join the Democracy Engineering Task Force by submitting a comment below.

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