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 â€“ 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trusts to defend their interests and their vision of society (while they focus on their daily lives) and which can be withdrawn without notice.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 â€œpotâ€. 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 â€“ 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 representativesâ€™ 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 â€“ 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