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Communications Government United States Politics

Ask Candidate Jeremy Hansen About Direct Democracy in Vermont 245

Posted by timothy
from the bat-signal-for-poll-bombing dept.
We mentioned yesterday Jeremy Hansen's run for the Vermont Senate. There are a lot of political races currently active in the U.S.; what makes Hansen's interesting (besides his background in computer science) is his pledge to use modern communication technology to provide a taste of direct representation within a representative democracy. He makes a claim not many candidates (and probably even fewer elected officials) ever will: "A representative should be elected who would work strictly as an advisor and make all policy and voting decisions based on the will of his or her constituents, regardless of personal opinion." To that end, Hansen says that if he's elected, he'll employ "an accessible online voting platform to allow discussion and voting on bills" for his constituents. He's agreed to answer questions about how such a system could work, and the nature of democracy in today's ultra-connected world, in which distance and communication delays are much smaller than they were even 20 years ago, never mind 200. So ask Hansen whatever questions you'd like about his plans and philosophy; as always, ask as many questions as you please, but please separate them into separate posts, lest ye be modded down.
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Ask Candidate Jeremy Hansen About Direct Democracy in Vermont

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  • Security? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:05PM (#40158595) Journal

    To that end, Hansen says that if he's elected, he'll employ "an accessible online voting platform to allow discussion and voting on bills" for his constituents.

    How are you going to stop someone from hacking this system? How will accountability be implemented while protecting voter's anonymity (so that employers or other interested parties with leverage can't influence their vote)?

    • And also (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:16PM (#40158785)

      People are too stupid to govern themselves. The will of the majority can actually be quite harmful, unjust, or simply unmaintainable, which is why a representative democracy works better than a direct democracy.

      Of course, the more power you give to one person, however competent he may be, the more evil he becomes. There really isn't a solution to that problem. But disempowering evil by empowering stupid is jumping from the frying pan into the eternal flaming abyss.

      • Of course, the more power you give to one person, however competent he may be, the more evil he becomes. There really isn't a solution to that problem.

        Sure there is. Vote him out.

      • by torkus (1133985)

        I will agree that there are a lot of stupid people out there. But our representative democracy is a big part of that reason. Despite what we're 'taught' about democracy you quickly learn that "normal people" have essentially no voice excluding exceptions like the Streisand effect and the lucky viral video.

        Flip that around. Give people - individual people - the power and responsibility. They also get the consequences. At least when the town budget comes up they can decide to vote out the subsidy for the

      • People are too stupid to govern themselves. The will of the majority can actually be quite harmful, unjust, or simply unmaintainable, which is why a representative democracy works better than a direct democracy.

        I love how it's modded insightful. I wonder if the mods also consider themselves to be too stupid to govern themselves, or whether it's always some abstract "people" that they aren't personally a part of.

        The will of the majority can certainly be unjust, but so can be the will of the representatives of that majority, as amply demonstrated by any modern representative democracy - and especially the USA. You also failed to give any references for your claim that "representative democracy works better than a di

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What will you do to hear the will of those who aren't on the Web? Many seniors aren't (e.g. my father): will their thoughts be selectively excluded from the voting?

      • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:59PM (#40159449) Journal

        What will you do to hear the will of those who aren't on the Web? Many seniors aren't (e.g. my father): will their thoughts be selectively excluded from the voting?

        It's simple, we solve that problem with the solution. Our first online vote will be on a bill that will solve this very problem. Interestingly enough, over 100% of the population turned out to vote on this particular issue with a surprisingly large number of referral clicks coming from 4chan. As it turns out, the resolution is to grind up individuals who do not have internet connections (like your father) and feed them to the web savvy users and their "lulled cats" in a nice pink slurry. I'm sorry for your loss but the populace has spoken in so strong a voice that it was statically impossible.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:07PM (#40158631) Journal

    So ask Hansen whatever questions you'd like about his plans and philosophy;

    Throughout history many leaders -- Abraham Lincoln, Harry S. Truman and even George W. Bush -- have made decisions that they felt were "right" but were definitely unpopular. Post hoc, we can see the effects and judge those actions. Now these were all high level actions but similar things do happen at the state and county level. Example: Your county's schools are failing horribly and need money but the only place you have money is vehicle tax that is supposed to go to your roads. You propose (if you are even going to take such actions) to move some money from the road fund to the schools -- sacrificing potential traffic problems in the name of education and staying above backwater Mississippi standards. Your populace (who have completed high school and already make long commutes) disagree with you when their vote fails to pass the proposition. What do you do? Maybe an example closer to home: With soaring copper prices, someone proposes to reopen The Elizabeth Mine [wikipedia.org] but the EPA warns you that clean up from 150 years of abuse hasn't even concluded yet. Unfortunately your populace votes for their jobs and temporary income over the environment, what do you do?

    • by Tailhook (98486)

      your populace votes for their jobs and temporary income over the environment, what do you do?

      Have pressure groups file suit and direct the case to a friendly judge who issues an indefinite injunction. No stink on you. Then, call your broker and put your money in foreign manufacturing where your wealth grows unimpeded by such problems. Then, have the 'community' where your mcmansion is being built zoned for a nice high brick wall all the way around so working class riff raff the use to do stuff like mine copper don't bother you or yours. Finally, attend lots of "non-profit" dinner parties and ba

    • by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:38PM (#40159095) Homepage Journal

      The thing is, the people of the county have a right to decide whether their education or their roads are more important. The purpose of indirect democracy is not to protect the people from bad decisions, but to ensure that no group of people can unjustly oppress another merely because of their quantity. In order for such an unpopular decision to be appropriate, you would have to show that there was a group of people who were going to be severely harmed by the continued operation of the schools in such a manner who did not agree with the decision, and that those people had no other options (private schools, homeschooling, etc.). That's actually a pretty high bar because it only takes one stay-at-home parent out of said group of households to provide an alternative for the kids whose parents want them to learn.

      Regarding the mine, operating under modern regulations, I wouldn't expect the mine to pose substantially greater threat to the environment while operating than it does just sitting there idle. The burden of proof should be on the environmentalists that this is not the case. This is a relatively high bar, because if reopening the mine were not relatively harmless, the environmentalists would have pushed for (and gotten) more regulations over the proper operation of mines years ago.

      In other words, both of those are poor examples of why we should not have direct democracy. Good (recent) examples include California's prop 8, where the majority clearly denied the rights of significant minority groups.

      Finally, although I agree in principle that tyranny of the majority is not that much better than our current plutocracy, in the absence of limits on paid political speech, it will inevitably devolve back into a plutocracy eventually anyway. The problem is not the form of government, but rather the fact that campaign finance laws have not been enhanced to mitigate the power imbalance caused by the growing disparity in wealth between big corporations/unions/PACs/political parties and the average member of the general public.

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:09PM (#40158669)
    In effect, isn't there a risk that following your idea will simply mean that you will vote according to who buys the most online votes, whether by advertising or direct corruption? In this country (the UK) there is a long history of people voting for extreme parties or positions in elections that do not seem to matter. We believe that our representatives have not only the right, but the duty, to identify what is best for their constituents rather than simply to follow whoever shouts loudest.
    • by icebike (68054) *

      This isn't a vote. Its a suggestion to a Representative on how he should vote.

      Some states vote entirely by mail. (Washington). Vote buying has not been proven or even alleged over the years,
      yet its easy to do.

      Why would anyone pay someone to cast their opinion a certain way when they know the voter could log back in and change their vote as soon as the $20 bill is in the wallet and the payer is out the door?

      There is no reason to limit the number of times a voter could change their vote right up to the time

  • Campaign Confusion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:10PM (#40158689) Journal
    Why would someone who feels that their important issue views are a minority ever vote for you? Clearly an opponent of yours could approach the LBGT community and say "Hey, Hansen's going to ask the population if you guys can get married and you're the minority so don't plan on that ever passing." Or the Atheists, the rich businessmen, the greens, the unions, any very specific religious group, etc (the list goes on). And by the time they're done pointing out how the majority are going to "oppress" the minority for all these interest groups, they've covered a large part of the population. How are you going campaign against something like this? Surely you can't even run on a position in response to any of these questions? Your answer will always be "Whatever the most people want." So how will you combat such a strategy?
    • by lpp (115405)

      Isn't that already ostensibly an issue? If a candidate states that he will vote according to such-and-such values, including supporting or opposing same-gender marriage, then voters will turn out in support of or opposition to that candidates election, according to their motivation on the subject.

      Those with a minority view that have a favorite candidate rarely ever get them elected. Certainly not without gaining support from outside their base in some way.

      How is this different?

    • by Galestar (1473827)
      The optimist in me hopes it might be possible to educate people on the idea of tyranny of the majority [wikipedia.org].

      The pessimist in me knows people are ignorant, have no desire to learn, and even understanding the concept they will still vote for what serves their own interests best.
  • Civil Rights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:12PM (#40158709)

    How will you vote if "the will of [your] constituents" is to pass a law making homosexuality or teaching evolution a capital offense? How about implementing a Shirley Jackson-style "lottery?" I.e., should basic civil/human rights be subject to mob rule?

    • The Bill of Rights.

      • The bill of rights is a poor example - it does not prohibit slavery, give blacks rights, or allow them to vote. The US Constitution (with all amendments) would be a better reason, but unfortunately even it does not guarantee equality under the law - ask any gay couple.

        I think the question for Mr. Hansen is a good one. If "the will of the constituents" was the law of the land, slavery would never have been abolished, and being a Muslim would have been outlawed on 9/12/2001.

        • by 0111 1110 (518466)

          So you believe that a representative democracy where the people often don't get what they want because they voted for a person instead of a specific issue is better than a pure democracy precisely because the representative democracy is less democratic? Then perhaps you would prefer a monarchy. The king would not have to listen to any special interest groups. He could just do whatever he wanted, perhaps only (theoretically) limited by a constitution in violating human rights.

          I personally think either a cons

      • by tverbeek (457094)

        The Bill of Rights doesn't prohibit (for example) slavery, disenfranchisement of women, or the outlawing of homosexuality. Later Amendments (e.g. 13th, 14th, 19th) corrected some of the oversights we now consider "basic civil/human rights", but not all of them.

        • by 0111 1110 (518466)

          The constitution itself was intended to protect against all such human rights violations. The ninth amendment should protect against whatever rights violations were not specifically mentioned in the constitution. Remember that the constitution is mostly a list of things that the government is allowed to do, combined with a very short list of things it is not allowed to do, just to be certain that those particular rights are not violated. The constitution doesn't specifically mention grinding up babies and s

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:13PM (#40158739) Journal
    At the prospect of going from a professor of deterministic systems to someone who will be a part of and responding to an inherently chaotic and non-deterministic system?
  • Security (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macaran (766186) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:14PM (#40158757)
    How will you ensure that only your constituents vote on the topic, and that they vote only once?
  • Constitution? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) <myfirstnameispaul@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:15PM (#40158759) Homepage Journal

    What will you do when your constituents want you to violate the Constitution?

    • by windcask (1795642)

      He's a Democrat. Democrats view the Constitution as an outmoded, unjust document anyway.

      • by Jeng (926980)

        The laws that are the most unconstitutional are the drug seizure laws from Reagan.

        What laws did Democrats pass that you think are unconstitutional?

        • Ronald Reagan was the President, and as such was only granted semi-veto powers over Congress. It was the Democratic controlled Congress that wrote and passed those drug laws.
        • Well there is the Healthcare Mandate. I'm a flaming liberal and I say it's unconstitutional.

          I don't want the gov't granted the ability to make me buy services. Tax me and provide the services, i.e. single payer, is absolutely constitutional and that would be the right choice.

          But yes, the GOP has a nice long track record of unconstitutional laws...like the 'Mandate' for instance ;-)
          • by Jeng (926980)

            I'll agree that the Healthcare Mandate is troubling, but which portion of the Constitution specifically forbids it?

            Unconstitutional doesn't mean that you are against it, it means that there is specific language in the Constitution that forbids it.

            The drug seizure laws are a good example of an unconstitutional law since it directly goes against Fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court got around that by saying it applies to in-animate objects, not their owners.

            • by 0111 1110 (518466)

              Unconstitutional doesn't mean that you are against it, it means that there is specific language in the Constitution that forbids it.

              I'd like to hope you are not an American. Go read the ninth amendment [cornell.edu] and get back to us. By your logic the government has the right to put a gun to your head and pull the trigger because that is not mentioned in the bill of rights.

              The first 10 amendments are as follows:
              1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the gover

              • by Jeng (926980)

                The ninth amendment is very vague, but what it says is that you retain your god given rights and the government can't take them away from you.

                Basically the bill of rights listed a number of rights that they have specifically said you have, what the ninth amendment says is that you retain any rights they forgot to list.

        • by windcask (1795642)

          The laws that are the most unconstitutional are the drug seizure laws from Reagan.

          What laws did Democrats pass that you think are unconstitutional?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/111th_United_States_Congress#Enacted [wikipedia.org]

        • by 0111 1110 (518466)

          What laws did Democrats pass that you think are unconstitutional?

          Recently? The DMCA. Also many Democrats have voted for many unconstitutional laws. Are you seriously arguing that Democrats are pro-constitution? The document that was written to limit the government to essentially be Libertarian? The tyrannical police state we now live in was brought to us by both parties. Both are evil and anti-freedom, just in slightly different ways.

      • [citation fucking needed]
        • by windcask (1795642)

          [citation fucking needed]

          http://greenmountainscribes.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/scotus-justice-ginsburg-calls-u-s-constitution-a-bad-example/ [wordpress.com]

          “I would not look to the US Constitution if I were drafting a Constitution in the year 2012.” Instead, Justice Ginsburg referred to the constitutions of more supposedly progressive countries, like South Africa, Canada, and the European Convention on Human Rights. She stated, “I can’t speak about what the Egyptian experience should be, because I’m operating under a rather old constitution.”

          • Yes, because Justice Ginsburg makes a stupid comment, now all Democrats are defined by it.

            If that's the game we're playing, the Republican Party is fucking screwed: George W. Bush. 'Nuff said.

            • by windcask (1795642)

              How is it stupid? I think it sums up the Democrat platform quite nicely. They believe in a proactive approach to social justice with weights and balances to favor minority groups deeply entrenched in government. Are you telling me you disagree with this? Because if you do, I'd think long and hard about the party you're supporting.

              • I don't support the Democrats, I just oppose ridiculously broad generalizations, especially as concerns political ideology. If you don't want to be defined by the worst of your own political persuasion, than I would refrain from doing so as concerns the political persuasions of others.

      • by BlueStrat (756137)

        He's a Democrat. Democrats view the Constitution as an outmoded, unjust document anyway.

        Well, to be fair, it's Progressives that want to "progress" past/beyond the Constitution, not necessarily all Democrats. Of course, most current Democrats holding office are Progressives, along with a large number of Republicans as well.

        It's one of the major reasons why many of those in government from both parties pretty much ignore or end-run the Constitution when it's restrictions are inconvenient to their political agendas. They simply do not believe that government should have any restrictions placed o

  • by bws111 (1216812)

    If you are a mere puppet of the polls, and never use your own judgement or have the courage to take an unpopular position, what value are you providing to your constituents?

  • Mob Rule (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KermodeBear (738243)

    Do you worry that rule by direct election would lead to a "Mob Rule" mentality? Too often the public gets very angry over an issue and makes an emotional decision instead of an informed decision. And then, one must worry about the public basing their decisions on propaganda instead of information.

    This can result in very poor policy - what is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular.

  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:24PM (#40158883)

    I like the concept of taking direction directly from the will of your constituents, but how do you plan on handling...politics? More specifically, when the party needs votes and deals have been made, how will you stand up to the leadership and refuse to take part? Will that not render you an outsider and remove valuable (perhaps necessary) political clout? It seems like the Washington political machine is incompatible with direct democracy.

  • is why we have a representative democracy. This guy must have missed those classes in school.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:28PM (#40158929) Homepage

    How do you ensure the poll is representative?

    If you let everyone vote on a web page, you're self selecting for technology literate, able to afford an internet connection, and politically engaged enough to care to vote.

    If the same 10% or so vote on every issue, you might end up with skewed results.

    And, as has been pointed out, you'd need to be sure the system was secure and had some validation in it -- otherwise you have no idea if you can trust the votes. Then of course, all of your voters are essentially on record for having voted for/against something.

    It sounds like a good idea in theory, but the devil is always in the details.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:30PM (#40158961)
    In addition to the questions about authentication and authorization, how do you intend on dealing with the following critical issue:

    1. Access to "voting" by people who aren't online. How do you keep from disenfranchising those who are not electronically capable, either because of cost or because of ability?

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:31PM (#40158981) Homepage

    California has been running an ongoing experiment with direct democracy for many years, and here IMHO it's mostly been an abysmal failure.

    What happens is that all kinds of budget earmarks get put on the ballot. Well-meaning voters think, "Well gosh, of course we should have funding for after school sports programs!" Next thing you know, there's a law on the books that earmarks X percent of the school budget for after-school sports programs -- whether or not the students have textbooks.

    Or just as often, the bills are put on the ballots by special interests with hidden agendas. Here in San Francisco, a group operating out of San Diego -- some 450 miles away, in Southern California -- seemed close to getting a bill on the local city ballot that would have banned the practice of male circumcision in the City. You can debate whether circumcision is "torture" all you want (for both my father and I it was a medical necessity, due to a congenital defect). But the bill's supporters' real agenda became painfully apparent when they advertised the bill using a comic book featuring "Foreskin Man," a blonde, blue-eyed superhero who saved blonde, blue-eyed boys from forced circumcision by leering, demonic Jews with glowing eyes, pointed teeth, and Hassidic dress.

    Of course, the classic example of direct democracy gone wrong in California is Proposition 13, which put strict limits on property taxes, and as a result, impoverished school districts, libraries, fire departments, and other community services in many areas. Debate over the bill was so contentious at the time, and continues to be to this day, that to even approach the idea of repealing it is considered a political death sentence, so no representative has the will to do it.

    So to repeat my question: Are you really sure this is a good idea?

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>California is Proposition 13, which put strict limits on property taxes, and as a result, impoverished school districts, libraries, fire departments, and other community services
      My state has a separate school tax. Couldn't California politicians enact a similar tax in order to avoid the Prop13 property tax restriction?

      • by nhavar (115351)

        Property tax or school tax or sales tax, it all has to go on the ballot just the same.

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        My state has a separate school tax. Couldn't California politicians enact a similar tax in order to avoid the Prop13 property tax restriction?

        They kind of did that, only it was with another direct-democracy measure, Proposition 98, which mandates that a certain amount of the state budget be spent on education. The downside of that is that, once again, it ties the representatives' hands a little more when it comes to allocating the budget. Instead of taking personal responsibility for the budget, all the representatives can do is follow the rules. "Not my fault!" It's all a big mess.

    • PCM2 has a point - but his question is non starter - so let me try to ask 2 questions.

      First, how will you frame questions? Decsion Theroy, a branch of Psychology and used by Economist, has shown that we can manipulate results by how you frame questions. i.e. "Do you want to increase taxes for spending on roads" gets a lower result then "How much do you think we should spend on roads"

      Second, how will you balance you a passionate minority vs. a passive majority? I will use building a new road as an example (a

    • by kwerle (39371)

      Prop 13 is why people who bought their homes when they were $75K (or less) can still afford to live in them now that they're worth $1M+(or much more) and they're living on retirement. I'm a big fan of rolling back prop 13 protection for businesses, which I think SHOULD need to keep up economically with their neighbors.

      But toward the partent poster's point that we elect these folks to govern and not just tally their constituent's opinions, I sure agree.

  • At long last, we have a candidate that isn't a doctor, lawyer, MBA, or poly sci major. It is amazingly refreshing to have someone with a computer science background running. Perhaps technology will leapfrog in Vermont because technology decisions could be made by someone that - perish the thought - actually knows what they are talking about.
  • What do you plan to do when your voters want something impossible or utterly disastrous for the state, such as lowering taxes and raising spending at the same time?

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @03:35PM (#40159043)
    How do you ensure that the voters are educated on the issues and not just voting because it's 'leet and kewl" and they can 'vote no on everything just because they can'? I.e., you have money to hire a staff, and have access to background information that most people do not, and are expected to "do your homework" and cast informed votes because that is what you are elected to do in the current system. How do you make sure your proxy votes are cast with the same care and attention?

    This is related to the question about keeping advertising from swaying the votes, but different. How do you get people who may be busy trying to make enough money to get by to spend the time doing the research that you were elected to do? And in that latter vein, does this change to the process not violate the "equal protection" clause of the Constitution? You are, after all, giving your constituents a much bigger voice in the vote of your elected body than those in other districts. Don't those other people deserve the kind of government that they are voting for, and which you are seeking to change?

  • Remember when Obama made similar promises about having open government and shining all sorts of sunshine on government matters, then behaved more like GW II in office? Fool me once...

  • Voter ID laws, despite the hyper-partisan rhetoric about disenfranchisement, are all about the voter proving they are who they say they are.

    If advocating for Voter ID laws are portrayed now as tantamount to KKK level Racism, how will internet participation be policed so that only those who should be voting (as in a legal resident of the jurisdiction) actually vote?

    If anything, the complaints about electronic voting system now will only be upped by an order of magnitude if elections and plebiscites a

  • OK so you've got the tail end of democracy or whatever it is handled, that being the online voting on bills thing.
    Whats your plan on the head end of the legislative process, that being writing and submitting bills? Thats a bit more complicated.

    One example of a failure mode is to never submit legislation, which doesn't scale too well.
    Another failure mode is 1000 people vote for or demand or whatever 100 bills each bill requiring say 1/10th your term to ram thru whoops thats 10 times more work than you can t

  • I don't know about your state, but the fed congressmen get to select two young people for the military service academies.
    All congresspeople at the fed level get more requests than they can possibly handle.
    Are you planning on votes for non-legislative "tasks" in your position?

    Pitiful example: City A in your district wants you to attend their county fair and its at the same exact moment as City B wants you to attend their fire station grand opening. Do you put this up to a vote or ?

  • I am a Vermont resident (although not in your district). Vermont is a state with a citizen legislature, meaning that it is comprised primarily of citizens who have jobs outside of being a legislator. From a citizen legislature, direct democracy a logical next step on the continuum of representational democracy. However, is direct democracy too much of a leap for legislative bodies that are currently made up of professional legislators? Aren't there some benefits to having a professional legislature? For exa
  • I live next door in Bolton, so this is particularly interesting. One thing I know about the area is that at Town meeting much of the most interesting and cogent points are made by older folks that are the least likely to have an internet connection. How are you going to represent people that do not have an internet connection?
  • Being an effective representative isn't simply about yes or no votes. He or she also needs to effectively argue and influence his fellow representatives. Simply being a pass-thru for online polls when the rest of the districts do not operate that way does not seem to work. If all districts worked this way and the job of the representative was solely to push a button when a vote comes up, sure, but why elect someone at that point, just let the online polls do all the work.

    I wouldn't vote for this person.

  • I am not sure this is a great thing. Maybe it is. I am conflicted, I admit. I am not sure that direct democracy is not subject to intemperate and ignorant decision making on the part of , say, scientific illiterates.

    OTOH clearly our current system is pathetically broken with WORSE than "average" decisions being made by venal, near idiots.

    I admit I am stumped and seek the wise consul of people who are actual learned specialist - academics who study this or whose work in, say psychology , especially the

  • by vlm (69642)

    OK so you've answered the voting, I've asked about submitting new legislation, and I've asked about your time off / non-legislative tasks.
    That leaves one remaining area.. procedural.
    For example, you get 10 minutes to speak. Do you put that time up for vote, or just recite vote totals, or try an honest attempt at a debate following the will of the majority, or try to influence people to vote for you as per your personal beliefs.
    Or are you assuming you'll be frozen out of the debate process and not allowed t

  • What if you're involved in closed door sessions / classified stuff? A really vague vote? Or in your position is that simply not relevant?

  • Traditionally, the average citizen looks at the possible candidates and chooses one whose beliefs and policy preferences line up with their own. The system you suggest would require instead that a citizen become well-informed not only on a wide range of issues, but also on legislative procedure and language, competing amendments, legislative strategy (horse-trading, or voting against one version of a bill with language one favors in order to allow another, better version to pass in its place) &c.

    As some

  • Will the voting system be plurality or a preferential system like Instant Runoff or Condorcet?

  • For those who have questions of how such an e-voting type system could work, watch this TED talk:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/david_bismark_e_voting_without_fraud.html [ted.com]


  • It seems like in a lot of national security matters, citizens would not have access to the same information that members of Congress would due to some or all of it being classified. However, this lack of access would not stop some citizens from forming a strong opinion. A perfect example of this is the 2003 invasion of Iraq. There were people who were vehemently for and against it, but neither group had access to the same information that the members of Congress had. How would you weigh popular support
  • A representative should be elected who would work strictly as an advisor and make all policy and voting decisions based on the will of his or her constituents, regardless of personal opinion.

    Where does the Vermont Constitution and the U.S. Constitution enter into this? Are you saying you'll support blatantly unconstitutional laws if that be the will of your constituents?

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @04:06PM (#40159557) Homepage

    Should people who work in Washington County but do not reside there (e.g. somebody who works at Ben and Jerry's but lives near Burlington) get an online vote to determine how you vote? What about seasonal residents and workers?

  • Would this system be a secret ballot sort of approach where the representative would not know who expressed the opinion that the vote should go a certain way, or would it be more like a letter to the representatives office, where staff would at least check for unsigned, anonymous letters and shuffle them aside?

    With an authenticated system, constituents could express their opinion Yea/Nay, and change it as they learn more about the issue under debate, right up to the time of the floor vote.

    Without authentica

  • by Burz (138833) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @04:22PM (#40159813) Journal

    It is conceivable there would be many bills that do not have popular attention, but which are still critically important to a functioning society. Will you require a minimum number of votes on an issue before going against your own better judgement, or will any amount of citizen input suffice to direct you?

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Wednesday May 30, 2012 @04:29PM (#40159923)

    Will such votes also be counted by SOE, a vote-tabulation/counting company tasked with counting a large portion of the US Presidential popular vote, which is owned by Scytl, a foreign company that is owned by a major Obama campaign contributor?

    What is Jeremy's stance on the SOE/Scytl/Obama-contributor issue regarding vote counting and the conflict of interest and foreign influence possibilities inherent to this situation?


  • Then tell government where they are going to spend your taxes, me regarding mine, your regarding yours. This simple core change fixes a great many problems not least of which is removing failures of government to budget and do correct accounting..... We'll do it for them and they can take more vacations until their vacation is permanent, like a rigged lottery for a free lunch.

    No Taxation without representation! Do Lying Politicians represent you?

    Representation is not about some person claiming to represent

The perversity of nature is nowhere better demonstrated by the fact that, when exposed to the same atmosphere, bread becomes hard while crackers become soft.