Democracy without Elections

Real time democracy

Real time democracy is a system based around transforming the vote from a single use ticket issued once every four years, to a permanent possession of the voter – something that is lent (in part or full) to a representative the voter trusts to defend their interests and their vision of society (while they focus on their daily lives) and which can be withdrawn without notice.

The system is most easily conceived as an online voting system in which each voter would have a personal homepage. The most important feature on this page would be the voters “pot”. Upon the first log in, this pot would contain their entire vote. They would then be able to break this vote into portions of whatever size they liked, called tokens, and proceed to distribute them to representatives. A voter could, for example, give a third of their vote to a candidate who shared their economic views, another third to one with a position on the environment they shared, a sixth to a candidate advocating for a persecuted minority, and the final sixth to a candidate advocating for their local community.

This last option is significant, as while such a system would be, by its nature, inimical to district based voting, it would allow for local representation where it was desired – something very difficult in current models of proportional representation where people have one vote, once every four years, which they can dedicate to local or national issues: but not both. Indeed one can imagine a community that felt it had been abandoned by the broader political class quickly pooling a substantial chunk of its votes behind a candidate standing for the sole purpose of advocating on its behalf.

The representatives’ voting power would increase and decrease in proportion with their share of active vote tokens. A representative with a total of 10% of active vote tokens would cast a vote that counts for twice that of her colleague with 5% of active tokens, and half of that of a representative with 20%. Percentages of active tokens would also be important in allocating speaking time, and the number of opportunities a representative would have to introduce a motion.

Importantly, representatives would be required to announce their position on upcoming motions in advance, giving the voter a chance to withdraw their token before it is used against their wishes.

There would be strong arguments for a maximum for the amount of voting power a single representative could wield, (somewhere around 40 percent for example). Also, while it seems necessary that any voter would be able to stand as a representative instantly and at will, it may be decided that a minimum threshold for support must be reached before voting or speaking rights are granted (and certainly before a salary is paid to allow the representative to dedicate themselves to politics full time). Alternatively the system could allow for micro-representatives, people charged with care of the votes of their friends and neighbors, or of fellow followers of a niche political position. Voters who had the time and inclination could also decide to keep all their tokens and vote directly. Alternatively (or as well) this body could not be paired, in a bicameral system with a direct popular referendum on each motion passed, thereby allowing for a body of professionals who could dedicate themselves to detailed public debate of issues, without handing over power to them completely.

Also, for simplicity's sake, rather than being infinitely flexible the vote could be permanently broken into a set number of tokens (ten, a hundred, whatever), which the voter would allocate in the same manner – though my inclination is to give people as much control as possible. Such details however, are probably best worked out through practice.

Every day election day

The most obvious advantage of such a system is increased accountability. In a sense this is a model of democracy without elections

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34 Comments

  • There is a certain logic to this, and it maybe a peek at the way of the distant future. If a certain number of people got behind this idea, there would be no reason why a pilot study could not be done on a small community to see how it ( or something like it) works. You would think that technology would have to reach a point where it is available to and used by virtually everybody in that community ( and Carrington event proof electronics, meaning breakdown proof). But this type of new thinking is what we need. Mechanisms for participation by people in decision making that affects them is a tricky but worthy pursuit. Keep working on it I say.

  • For people voting on a website called "globaldemocracy" you're all a bit snooty about imminent applicability... :P

  • good spot to launch an idea like this - plenty of people interested in the subject will see it, in time!

  • I object because you trying to manipulate the real democracy , fragmenting the one's vote to whatever portions , just to have a system running to ruin everything and to get the people not voted for directly because they ARE SO BAD , you are getting these people " indirectly " using back doors again to rule.. so buddy try another idea with no dividing the one's vote.
    NOTE : i'm sick form the term persecuted minority , this is BS, and this is the backdoor.

  • by useing the tools of the age,phones,s.i.n., t.v. we can see ideas and then imeadiatly vote on or even voice opinion, this idea can go right down to the town lvl, and right up to national or even global lvl, takeing the idea or thought with it. and the generation of the vote, but again makeing it manditory so everyones voice is herd ,and vote counted.

  • well to put it in terms this could be uesd to manipulat votes!

  • @ ron... how? it gives people MORE control of their vote than current systems...

  • I think Ron means "hacked" or manipulated online somehow. But it should be able to be easily monitored. This is a huge idea.

  • By the way, I didn't realise the post would be clipped by a character limit. It is an exerpt from an essay I had published at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/austin-gerassimos-mackell/fumbling-for-change - As was noted at the bottom of the full text I intended to post here.

  • Noted. It's a huge idea. You could re-post a simplified version incorporating comments as required, perhaps.

  • I think it's a good Idea but Im just saying corp. with billion could use this for personal gain and I think People world wide should have a say not big Corp!

  • This system can be manipulated. If one candidate were to drop out, for example - the sum of the new portions can actually create a new frontrunner. You can imagine candidates being bribed to drop out in order to flip the math in another candidate's favor. Although this won't be a perfect system, it is very interesting.

  • @ JasonJotted... If someone dropped out the vote tokens that had been assigned to them would revert to the voters who had assigned them... does that solve your concern? (not saying the system is foolproof)

  • I object because democracy is not all that good. we need a republic

  • A republic seems a lot better than a democracy but this is still a fairly good idea

  • I very sorry to say you have lost the idea what democracy is all about, one person one vote, then gone the lines of a software programer that's forgot the problem of viruses, worms and the clever hackers that would love to bring such a system down. Systems such as this could be fixed by the IT corporations its best not to trust corporations nor politicians. Then those that will quote the software was fixed.

    However i must admit yo have done a great job and its a great essay. My suggestion is that its the governing system that needs changing to cull corruption. The media stopped in spreading political propaganda and the multinational corporation kept out of global politics.

    However you have great material to write a damn good political software game.

    It would not be good for any nation globally to take on such a software project, corruption has been used already concerning computerized voting systems. One was in the Philippines not so long ago. As an experienced software writer I can see the problems as someone that writes about politics and loves the one man one vote systems to me its what democracy is all about

  • i believe this type of flowing living government is an excellent idea, if it can be executed correctly, politician's are representatives, voices for the people, if that voice does not coincide with the people then the politician should be affected, it introduces accountability into politics, something that has become lost i believe.

  • I object because real time democracy is a foolish idea, people who are representing you will not have enough time to carry out policies that can have long term benefits, and make politicians to act like actors and media stars instead of making those hard tough and long term policies.

  • I LOVE the idea of abolishing termed elections, and even terms in general. If someone is doing a bad job, they're not fired 4 years later, they're FIRED. The same should be true of our representatives. We do need a real-time voting practice. Periodic polls revealing presidential approval ratings already serve as a primitive model. I didn't rate this idea AS high as I would have though, because it's just too complex of a system for Americans, who are a materialistic and intellectually apathetic culture as a whole, indicated by the embarrassingly low percentage of the population that actually does utilize their right to vote.

  • I object because It is overly complicated, demanding, and would increase the chances of voter apathy. Also, it appears to be voting for parties based on each and every topic and issue. I am sure there are better ways to go about addressing these issues than using party systems. I also disagree with splitting your vote in such a manner. In that case I prefer the ranking voting system.

  • I object because tho this (in some manner) wold be a very good way to bring relevant issues to the attention of actual elected officias, this specific practice would lead to political chaos : a varient of another of my 'valid rejections' entered elsewhere.

  • great, but doesn't have to be real time could, have some time restriction to give people time to decide.

  • I agree with a few people on here that a Real Time solution might not be feasible... People have jobs and other daily duties to take care of...

    However... If the votes were cast monthly, and each proposal had to be published two months in advance of voting, I think that would give most people not only the chance to vote / withdraw vote, but also plenty of time to get to know the proposals before casting their votes.

    Dictatorships, Monarchies, Republics... all have flaws...
    This is a very interesting idea! It just might hold the key to a better and more equal society of the future!

  • I agree with Sebbie above. And this idea does hold potential, especialy because such system would by pass media opinion manipulation and allow common people to hava a voice out in the open, besides it, the system can acurately gauge peoples opinion on a given issue. this idea has a bit of connection with what im proposing, the difference is i suggest giving POLITICAL POWER AND INFLUENCE TO POW. good idea, got my
    vote !!!

  • I commented above but came out as anonymous. And I wud like to add that people still have that fear that this system cud be corrupted, but with todays technology that cud be looked after.

  • major decision making could be implemented in such away, like health care in the states. Instead though of continuously replacing the political figure, lets give him some job security here, and put major concerns to vote in such a manner.

  • Interesting idea, it is "liquid democracy" - which is a great idea but we need to make it as simple as possible and keep it that way.. And we need checks and balances to ensure that the system is not abused or not used, perhaps a social media site for users to congregate and verify their votes as per The System that I have been thinking of:
    http://www.globaldemocracy.com/idea/show/853

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