YOURvoice Forums Consultation Frequently asked Questions about YOURvoice or `Digital Direct Democracy’

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    • Thomas Swan
      Participant
      Post count: 14

      Hello everyone,

      I’m new here but I’ve been interested in Direct Democracy for a long time. I found YOURvoice a few months ago and began promoting the party recently on youtube and hubpages. I started a discussion on one of Russell Brand’s TREWS videos that got a lot of people talking (and over 70 people +1’d!!!). I noticed there are many cynics and skeptics who latch onto a single `flaw’ in direct democracy and use it to dismiss the idea outright. This appears to be the biggest problem faced by the movement. I began thinking about a list of frequently asked questions that YOURvoice needs to answer before this rather large demographic of skeptics will take the idea seriously. The list I compiled is:

      What’s wrong with the current system?
      How do you replace the current system with a digital direct democracy?
      How can you trust someone to come up with the right questions?
      Will there be a fair selection of background information about the questions?
      How do you make sure everyone is able to vote?
      How would anything get done?
      Would anyone participate in a digital direct democracy?
      Does anyone have time to review and vote on daily lists of questions about how to run the country?
      Who would decide the format for this digital direct democracy?
      Couldn’t the same policy question be asked several times until one side gets what they want?
      How can you trust the public to make rational decisions on anything?
      Wouldn’t there be a tyranny of the majority?
      Many wise politicians have spoken against direct democracy. How can you say they’re wrong?
      Couldn’t the voting network be exploited by hackers?
      Wouldn’t this give even more power to the media?
      What if I have better ideas for how this system should work?

      I have given my answers to these questions on a Digital Direct Democracy information page that I’ve put together here: http://thomasswan.hubpages.com/hub/Would-you-like-a-Digital-Direct-Democracy

      I hope that some of the questions and/or answers will be useful. I will be reading more information about YOURvoice in the coming days/weeks, including what is on this forum. For now though, I thought it would be worth giving you my initial perspective.

      Cheers,
      Tom

    • Bill Noble
      Participant
      Post count: 34

      Hi Tom!

      Good to see someone has already drawn up a snag list and started to address the issues. I have read your excellent article and it all makes good sense to me. Perhaps we could merge my list of questions (posted elsewhere on this forum) and your snag list to create a growing list of questions that need addressing.

      Working collectively on an agreed set of answers to the questions could be a good way to evaluate a voting platform!

      With respect to your snag: “Does anyone have time to review and vote on daily lists of questions about how to run the country?” this needs a very careful response and depends of course on what the YOURvoice party’s eventual offering is. My view is that vote delegation is essential to avoid the vocal minority taking control of the issues. Vote delegation can also be used to encourage the many potential voters who will not wish to be involved at all and will just want the view of their favourite political party to be used in their place. This is one of the benefits of the LiquidFeedback voting system currently used by the Pirate Parties. LiquidFeedback has many flaws (as do all of the proposed offerings) but it does have a very good system for either taking part or delegating votes (albeit shrouded in an appalling user interface!).

      In talking about D3 to others I have found one universal response which is to look for problems. This is a natural human reaction I think. It is going to be a massive challenge persuading people to choose D3. We need to make the offering as simple and as all inclusive as possible. Our answers to the list of questions we compile will need to be clear, concise, and complete. If our D3 offerinf is only for people comfortable with computers it will not succeed. If it is only for people who actively want to engage in decision making it will not succeed.

      Cheers,
      Bill

    • Thomas Swan
      Participant
      Post count: 14

      Hi Bill, I’m definitely up for merging the questions.

      Perhaps allowing vote delegation (liquid democracy) would be useful. However, it’s dangerous because the more votes someone gets, the more powerful they become. For starters, celebrities will acquire a huge amount of power. We’ll also get a `funnel effect’ where the media give attention to individuals with large voting power, causing even more people to delegate votes to them. Not only would this bring back politicians, but we could end up with a few individuals having a large slice of the power. I can think of some counter-measures.

      1. Place a limit on the number of votes that someone can have delegated to them. Perhaps 10,000?
      2. Allow people to claim back their vote on any issue at any time.
      3. To prevent deception, anyone with votes delegated to them will have their voting record publicly available. To keep a private voting record, they would have to opt out of having voted delegated to them.

    • Bill Noble
      Participant
      Post count: 34

      Great! I will merge your list with mine and add to this thread as it is better named than mine was 🙂

      Vote delegation is dangerous. Absolutely. This has been shown with the current system where an MP has effectively ALL of the votes of their constituency and can vote however they want irrespective of what they told the electorate when campaigning. They are open to voting on a whim and being bribed (implicitly or explicitly). We currently have a system clearly being abused by some MPs. The advantage of liquid democracy is that the constituents can take away their votes from the people they have temporarily delegated them to. With liquid democracy votes can be delegated as and when required (from permanently to occasionally) on a variety of issues to a variety of people.

      Certainly vote delegation has its risks but I believe with liquid democracy they would be far less than is currently the case. We should also try to put in place some checks and measures to help ensure people with a large number of votes delegated to them do not abuse that power.

      Your first point seems fair but what then do you say to the voter who says: “I have been a labour voter all my life, I support the labour party and always will, I want to delegate my votes permanently to a labour representative”. Would there have to be several labour people voters could delegate to? How would this be any better than one person representing all labour voters (they would after all both be expected to follow the labour whip in parliament).

      Your points 2 and 3 are absolutely essential.

    • Thomas Swan
      Participant
      Post count: 14

      I could accept liquid democracy or direct democracy to be honest.

      I believe point 1 is also absolutely essential for avoiding the aforementioned `funnel effect’ in a liquid democracy though. Your point about it is a good one. Possible solution: If the voting history of all delegates is publicly available, then it can also be used used to establish where they lie on the political spectrum. So, we’d have overall left/right, libertarian/authoritarian, level of environmentalism, etc. With each vote, the ratings will get more precise. They could be used to aid people who just want to search for a “labour” or “conservative” style delegate. Each delegate could also be given the opportunity to write a bio if they want to.

      So they would max out at 10k votes, but it would be easy to find a number of alternative, similar delegates.

      Of course, another problem is that these delegates might come together to form voting blocs, or (god forbid) powerful political parties. So I still think liquid democracy is fraught with danger.

    • Bill Noble
      Participant
      Post count: 34

      Everybody seems scared about the dangers of delegating but that is exactly what we do right now! And with no option for constituents to withdraw their delegated vote.

      Sadly it is not possible to remove all sources of corruption. It is everywhere! Newspapers lie to us about the issues, politicians lie to us about what they will do, communities, friends and family put pressure on us to vote a certain way, the electorate are bribed with offers of reduced income tax etc. It is simply not possible to have a system without undue influence.

      We need to ensure that the system we propose is not open to more fraud than the existing system (and is preferably a lot better). If everyone wanting to take delegations in excess of x votes was required to state openly how they vote and declare all affiliations, subsidies, grants, gifts, and relations (just as MPs currently do) then that is better than what we currently have because constituents can also withdraw their delegated vote at any time.

      I don’t though have a fundamental problem with putting a cap on the number of delegated votes an individual can handle. I just need convincing that it doesn’t add significant user interface problems for constituents who simply want to hand their vote over to the Conservative delegate, for example.

      I am convinced that without delegated votes we won’t have a truly representative offering. Only the few who are motivated to be actively engaged will be taken note of. The vocal minority will rule. The many constituents who don’t want to be involved will be ignored. D3 needs to represent those who are active AND those who are not. Those who feel able to be involved AND those who do not. To have any chance of success at all we need to cater for the many constituents who want their vote to be cast the Conservative way, the Labour way, the UKIP way etc.

      If you don’t allow delegated votes how do you decide what number of votes needs to be cast to carry a motion? Could a vote be carried on just 5 votes if 3 vote in favour and 2 against? If not what it the minimum number of votes needed? 50% of the electorate, 30%, 20%, 10%?

      The only way I can see this working is if either a vote is delegated OR it is used by the constituent themselves.

      By enabling delegation we may well be able to engage, at some level or another, more of the electorate. Some of the 40% of people who don’t vote at an election may well be interested in delegating their vote to a friend or to a fringe party.

    • Julian James
      Keymaster
      Post count: 25

      Most of your answers to the questions that you raised in your article Tom are pretty much the same as those we were pushing in April and May. I am very pleased that both you and Bill have decided to combine your efforts to work towards the comprehensive D3 / YOURvoice FAQs. Hopefully you won’t feel that I am hyjacking your efforts if I add to the list now and then as well! You may find it useful to trawl back through the YOURvoice Facebook page and Twitter page to see if there were issues raised during the election that are worth adding.

      The FAQs section of this website is currently offline as it was put together during the mayhem of the campaign so the answers were not necessarily as clear as I would have wanted them to be. Also, it was far from comprehensive although I admit that some of that was by design as we simply did not have answers to some of the questions being asked. Would you like to take the lead on repopulating the FAQs as we agree on answers to key questions in this forum?

    • Bill Noble
      Participant
      Post count: 34

      A combined list of FAQs so far. In no particular order. These could probably be divided into What, Why, and How questions:

      1. How can an online voting system be made secure – we all know how unreliable and hackable computers are? / Couldn’t the voting network be exploited by hackers?
      2. How do you protect the anonymity of voters so they can’t be pressured to vote a particular way?
      3. How can you prevent vote buying?
      4. What if I don’t want to be involved in all of the decisions? / Does anyone have time to review and vote on daily lists of questions about how to run the country?
      5. Won’t you be ruled by the vocal minority?
      6. What about people who do not have access to or are not comfortable with computers/smartphones? / How do you make sure everyone is able to vote?
      7. Would you still run face to face constituency surgeries?
      8. If every MP was a YOURvoice MP who would be PM, who would run the departments, who would propose the policies and bills? Where would the ideas come from?
      9. How would emergency short notice decisions be made? E.g. in the case of a war.
      10. How does your voting system work? / How do you replace the current system with a digital direct democracy?
      11. What’s wrong with the current system?
      12. How can you trust someone to come up with the right questions?
      13. Will there be a fair selection of background information about the questions?
      14. How would anything get done?
      15. Would anyone participate in a digital direct democracy?
      16. Who would decide the format for this digital direct democracy?
      17. Couldn’t the same policy question be asked several times until one side gets what they want?
      18. How can you trust the public to make rational decisions on anything?
      19. Wouldn’t there be a tyranny of the majority/minority?
      20. Many wise politicians have spoken against direct democracy. How can you say they’re wrong?
      21. Wouldn’t this give even more power to the media?
      22. What if I have better ideas for how this system should work?

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