The Referendum Site
DirectVotes.ca is to be a web site where anyone can
initiate a referendum on any subject, of any geographical scope, with a
specified time period such as two weeks to a year allocated for further
input and voting. Anyone may vote
on a global
issue. Continental, national, regional or local issues are voted on by
those living in the indicated regions. Divisions of society other
than geographic may be inaugurated at a future date.
Simply handing off power and
control to those we elect to represent us doesn't always give results
agreeable to the majority.
Referendums are an essential part of democratic government, and for the
first time, they can in principle be easily and freely effected by the
ready communications of the internet: we the people voicing our
thoughts and opinions to direct
our own affairs. Referendums give "the silent majority" a voice.
Naturally, a web site initiated and run by an individual
or an independent group won't have
binding authority over governments. But if it becomes widely used and
accepted, if there are thousands or million of votes on a subject, it
will be a powerful indicator of public opinions and preferences. We
elect governments to represent us, and those who would take
governing actions obviously contrary to the will of the people must do
so in full knowledge that they are
not doing what they were elected to do.
In order that DirectVotes.ca should reflect the diversity of opinion
that exists on most any subject, the site will use an interactive form
choice ranking voting. ("CRV") Here is a little background to describe
the reasons for this and how it works.
The single "Illiterate's 'X'" vote, while a definite
improvement over changing governments by intrigue, coups, wars and
strife, has never been fair when there are more than two choices on a
ballot. For example, if there are two or more similar choices and one
quite different, the majority of voters may cast their "X" for either
or any of the similar choices with little preferment between them. A
minority of voters, who prefer the different option, all cast their
votes for the only choice in that direction. The majority "split the
vote" and the minority vote wins the election. We see this over and
over in elections, and countless examples of these unfair outcomes
be given, from the most recent elections going back even for centuries
to the beginnings of democracy.
Many realize that the winner won because of
the unfair voting system. What is generally unrecognized is just how
badly that system distorts, politicizes and polarizes the whole of our
public life. It animates and gives power to permanently organized
political partisan factions ("parties") and their adherents over and
above gifted and worthy individuals - real leaders and legislators. It
turns legislatures from bodies that represent a good cross section of
the electorate where public policy is proposed, debated and enacted,
into a body of "yes men" who rubber stamp decisions already made behind
closed partisan doors - and lately often by unelected power brokers
representing corrupt vested interests, who gain control over the head
'leaders' of the partisan groups.
One remedy for this dysfunctional voting system is
multiple ballot voting. In multiple ballot voting, successive "X"
ballots are cast, with the least popular choice(s) being dropped as
appropriate from each ballot, until one choice has over 50% of the
final vote. In some cases voters are mostly agreed and only one ballot
is required. In other cases, opinion is diverse and several ballots may
be required to determine a clear winner and prevent the unfair "vote
It is usually considered "impractical" to have
the public repeatedly return to the polls to effect a fair election,
but there's a simple way to do exactly the same thing with
a single balloting: Choice Ranking Voting. Voters simply rank all the
choices (in an election, the candidates) with a digit in the order they
prefer them: 1 - 2 - 3 for first, second and third choice. In the event
of diverse opinion, the least chosen is dropped and the ballots of
those who chose him are re-counted for their second choice. This is
repeated as necessary until one choice has over 50% of the votes.
Instead of several ballots, there are several countings of the one
ballot. Naturally with computers counting, all the intermediate and
final results are available
Multiple ballot and choice ranking are
the only voting systems I'm aware of in which the voter is always free
to rank his first choice as #1 without being afraid that he is "wasting
his vote". They're positive systems that allow freely voting for
what you want most, instead of trying to vote to prevent what you want
least. The negative, fear driven system inherent in the single 'X'
ballot should be relegated to history. If your first choice is dropped
yet no one has 50%, your second choice becomes your effective vote and
contributes equally to the final result.
Choice ranking voting has been known under various more or
confusing names such as "STV" ("single transferable vote"), "instant
run-off", and "the one-two vote". Especially the first of these terms
has simply made the system sound complex and contrived.
The interactive aspect of the system involves what might
be loosely termed "amendments" to the original proposal. In traditional
debating, when an amended choice is offered, debate must shift to
whether or not to change to the amended version of the proposal, and
that must be voted on before discussion can return to whether or not to
adopt the proposal, original or amended, at all. The choice ranking
vote allows the debate to stay on the main track, because all the
various proposals for modification can be included on the one and only
In the context of DirectVotes, people may not exactly like
the proposed answers to a proposal, and so others besides the original
proposer may add an amended answer. Ideally those who have already
voted will receive notice by e-mail that there's a new choice. In
practice multiple notices will probably be send periodically, or
according to the preference of each voter, ideally on each issue (s)he
has participated in.
There may be a number of choices by the time the debate or
vote period is concluded, some quite similar and one or more quite
contrary or different. But if most of the voters choose between four
similar proposals as their first, second, third and fourth choices, the
final vote will be for the most liked of those related "amendment"
choices, with the different and contrary choices having been eliminated
in the first round.
At this point, I have
rather vague ideas of how to proceed and what software to use to implement DirectVotes.ca . The Yahoo
Groups polling system is much too limited. Someone has suggested
"Google forms". I've been thinking in terms of a relational database
(which is likely to eventually grow very large) and web browser tools
Useful suggestions will be appreciated.
thanks, craig saers com @.
Victoria BC Canada