What if the members of committees in legislatures could only vote on committee decisions with proxies given them by citizens?
Marylander last edited by
It would rather depend on how the committee members were selected. If we implemented this system for the US Congress right now, for example, there would be considerable tension between a legislator's obligations to their district, their party, which is responsible for seating them on committees, and to the people who chose them as proxies. They would need to be concerned with all 3.
@Marylander Is that a problem for the voters?
Suppose the strength of legislators' votes on legislative questions depended on how many citizens had given their proxy to each legislator. Further suppose the count of legislators must be limited. Then the question arises of how to choose them. Here are some ideas.
- Every two years is an election year. The half of the legislators who have the most proxies remain in office. The others are up for re-election.
- The barriers to running for the open seats should be fairly low. Maybe a few petition signatures and a filing fee, and not convicted of antidemocratic terrorism.
- If the number of candidates did not exceed the number of open seats, all candidates would be elected.
- Voters would cast Approval-style ballots to determine which candidates to elect.
- Any candidate receiving zero approvals would be eliminated.
- The candidate receiving the most approvals would be elected, and every ballot that approved that candidate thrown out for subsequent rounds.
- Repeat until all seats filled.
- The voters would return to the polls to give proxy. Each voter would name a single legislator.
This seems a lot like liquid democracy, which is basically a compromise between representative government and direct democracy. Voters can vote their proxy directly, or they can assign their proxy to someone else to use. Whenever there is a vote, the proxy holders cast their own proxy and all others they hold. There is a delay as the owners of the proxy are informed of the intended vote, and the owners then have the right to reassign their vote to another alternative. Apparently this is being done by the Pirate Party in Germany. There is also a paper Google Votes: A Liquid Democracy Experiment on a Corporate Social Network about a three year experiment using liquid democracy internally at Google. (Some form of liquid democracy, or something like it, also showed up in a science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein called The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.) I also found six mentions of liquid democracy on the Election Science forum, but they are only references to it without explanation or examples.
This seems a lot like liquid democracy,
Schemes involving proxy power indeed resemble one another to at least that degree, that they involve proxy power. I would like readers to evaluate them separately, and not tar one with the drawbacks they see in another. And in particular, I live in the US, and am concerned about the effect on the world of US politics, and I would like other US residents to weigh in on my suggestions.
I propose that proxy would only be given in voting booths, with the same ballot secrecy as US people are accustomed to for voting on who can serve in office. And the opportunity would only come up every two years. Proxy could not be revoked except on those opportunities. This would limit the overhead costs of communication and certification of the expressed wills of the citizens. It would limit the risk of votes and proxies being coerced out of citizens.
Here is another variant of my proposal, which could reduce overhead. Instead of having to go to the polls once to allocate space in the legislative chamber to representatives and returning to the polls to give proxy to someone from among those seated, with this variation, only one visit to the polls per election season would be necessary. Voters would fill out two sections on the ballot. The top section would list the candidates and invite approval or disapproval of each for seating. In the bottom section, the voter would list candidates in order of that voter's decision about giving proxy. The highest candidate on the voter's list who is seated would receive that proxy.