Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Critique of Electoral Systems

Posted in response to this question on Quora:
Democracy: What is the most sophisticated voting system to have ever existed? (doesn't matter if it was/is successful)

I'm sorry, Deepak.  I don't know the most sophisticated voting system ever conceived.  However, I will respond by commenting on voting systems, in general.

First of all, one of the best places I know of to consider various voting systems is

Main Page - Electowiki

The folks on the election-methods mailing list on that site discuss a wide variety of voting systems.  If you check them out, I think you'll find that, however sophisticated they may be, they are unintelligible to the layman.  Worse, from my perspective, they fail to address the most fundamental problems of democracy:

* They do not seek a practical method of letting everyone participate in the electoral process to the full extent of each individual's desire and ability.  Instead, they seek to empower political parties, which empowers the party leaders, and is the antithesis of democracy.

* They do not recognize that political parties can not serve the public interest because the party leaders are committed to advancing the interests of only a portion of the electorate.

* They do not even address the questions of the ability and integrity of candidates for public office, when those questions should be the focus of the candidate selection process.

There are other concerns, but those of the ones I find most unsettling.

I'm not sure a democratic voting system needs to be sophisticated.  We know there are among us a multitude of individuals with the ability and the integrity to advocate our common interest.  What we lack, at the moment, is a method of seeking among ourselves to find those people and raise them to public office as our representatives.  One method you may find interesting is a proposal of mine.  You can find it at:

Practical Democracy

To me, Practical Democracy is not particularly sophisticated but I do think it both subtle and powerful.  It lets those in the electorate who do not wish to participate drop out, it ensures that those who seek public office are carefully examined by their peers before they advance, it eliminates the influence of money on the electoral process, it eliminates political campaigning, and it lets parties advance their best advocates in a way that gives the advocates ample time to explain the public benefit of their perspective.

Fred Gohlke

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