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What do we want? Finding out the People's demands. (Ref: p1601)

Some of the difficulty with our present institutions rests on the problem of electing a government whose job is to govern, but whose mandate is settled by one vote every few years by an electorate who usually have only two packages of policies to choose from.

This whole concept invites a great deal more participation by the People and its efficiency in reflecting the general wish is directly proportional to how much participation there is. It also allows for non-participation to be a choice. It could be argued that people do not want all this effort but I contend this would change as soon as the new system reveals that participation actually matters, whereas today it is increasingly felt that it does not matter. Additionally the operation of the process is not hindered or degraded by a low degree of participation. Low participation affects the degree to which the picture is true and complete, as it does in today's system. This new system is based on continuous appraisal of what the People want and how those wishes are being implemented.

Each function of government is self-contained so there is no overall control, and eventually no monolithic government at all. Each function has three parts :

  1. A continuous assessment of what the People want.
  2. The implementing civil servants, split into two groups, a large one to do the work, a smaller one to be Devil's Advocates.
  3. The monitoring function which watches how well the people's wishes are being carried out.

The wishes of the People, which the government is duty and legally bound to attempt to satisfy, are to be continuously and continually expressed. This is to be achieved by means of voting mechanisms set up to be accessible to all via the Internet. Every government department and function will have any number of votes and polls running simultaneously through which the People would inform the government of its demands. Access to these facilities would be made available freely any time and free of any kind of charge so that maximum participation can be encouraged and achieved. Access would be enabled via home computers, public terminals, mobile phones, any internet connected computer system and through a government interactive television station. If specialised equipment is necessary to enable access from home via television then this would be supplied at a nominal price, but not free as access to democracy should require explicit, deliberate, conscious input. All eligible voters would be allocated an id and password for voting purposes. Voting would be via 'government' web sites, at least one for each department or function. An attempt to vote would result in a validation of id by means of a database which tracks only which ids have voted on which issues. The vote itself, once approved, would be totally secret.

(Ref: p1602)

Votes and polls will be of several kinds :

  1. One-off votes with a discrete and final yes or no answer.(1190)
  2. One-off votes with discrete yes or no answers where one or more changes of vote are permitted until a deadline when a vote closes finally.
  3. Single questions with multiple choice answers.
  4. Single questions with multiple choice answers where one or more changes of vote are permitted until a deadline when a vote closes finally.
  5. Polls, with a closing date, where the purpose is to establish a ranking, the voters deciding from a list which are more and which are less important or urgent.
  6. Polls, with a closing date, where the purpose is to establish from a list whether an entry should or should not be on the list.
  7. Polls, which establish rankings or presence on a list, which run effectively forever, closing if at all at some time to be determined at some later date.
  8. Polls which establish rankings within a pre-defined list of say ten entries.
  9. A special category of vote which is one-off, final and instantly legally binding on the government.
(Ref: p1603)

To make the system safe against fraud, hacking, spoofing and negative feedback there would be restraints on numbers and timings of vote castings, each of these being stated when the vote or poll is set up. Single votes would be final and irrevocable, like today's X on a ballot paper. Changes of votes would be constrained by a combination of frequency limits such as once per hour, per day or per month and total change limits such as only one change of mind, only ten changes of mind per month. Polls measuring rankings would take into account total numbers of voters and total numbers of vote changes. Polls and votes would display both real-time and batch statistics about themselves. Polls measuring rankings would explicitly take into account the bottom of the rankings as well as the top, establishing continuous weightings. Polls measuring rankings would have built into them time delays such that today's final view only becomes a 'legal' fact after say a week or a month.

Any decision or opinion on which the public is consulted would be available for inspection via another web site where all current and past votes and polls would be posted with all their statistics. In addition to statistics presented by default there would be analytical functions available on each site to enable any viewer with the right style of connection to conduct their own analysis of the figures.

(Ref: p1604)

Except in the special case noted above, votes and polls would all be non-binding, their function only to record the People's wishes. This is deliberate and necessary. Those doing 'government' must be put under pressure but not forced. If the People decide that one of their 'wishes' should indeed be, or now become, a direct order then a 'special case' of a binding vote is available for implementation. But this should be a great exception not a default and should therefore demand much more effort by all concerned to put into effect.

The executive department would 'govern', making decisions that will be implemented, using the votes and polls as guidelines for what to do. The monitoring department would cross-check what is actually done against what the People asked for. The monitoring department also has a website on which the People can register approval or disapproval. When either people or the People or the department decides something is unsatisfactory they can demand a review of any matter.

The system should prevent undesirable feedback in voting processes but there are two features which will mitigate the consequences of such feedback or runaway effects if somehow they do occur anyway. One, the executive department does have the option of refusing to implement or support the wishes of the People, but can only do this with complete disclosure of the reasoning behind doing so. Second, the exact methods by which voting and polling occur, on every individual vote and poll, will be published before and during the vote or poll, on the web site conducting the vote or poll. This will enable anyone anywhere anytime to argue that the methods and algorithms are incorrect, illogical, mathematically unsound, wrong, unsafe, fallible, unjust, biased or in some other way unsatisfactory. A challenge to a vote or poll would be replied to, publicly, by the Monitoring department immediately it occurs. No vote or poll would have legitimacy until outstanding challenges have been answered, if necessary by a court.


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