Shadow Elections as a Strategy toward Instituting Democracy

Motivation

US citizens have every reason to change the electoral system so it will better represent the people and work for satisfaction of their needs. A big question is how to achieve a more democratic system, since we are not in power to start with.

Basic Suggestion

How about, start a coalition of organizations to run shadow elections for all State- and Federal-level elective offices?

The member organizations of the coalition could be pro-democratic-republic groups (i. e., groups that advocate for a republic, but a more democratic kind of republic than the 1787 regime), pro-democracy groups that are willing to help form a democratic republic as what they would see as an intermediate step in the right direction, peace and justice groups, political parties, and advocacy groups who realise that what they are advocating is unobtainable without first instituting democracy or at least a more democratic republic.

The shadow elections would  would be run over the Internet.

The shadow elections would use a voting system that allows the voter to give more information than the plurality election system so widely used currently in the US.  There is room for discussion about what system to use exactly.  Score voting systems (also called range voting systems), or perhaps ranked voting systems, might be worth considering.

Once the information-processing aspects of the shadow election system are drafted and tested, effort would shift toward publicity and getting as many US eligible voters as possible to participate. After there is a critical mass of participation, we can ask the people who voted for each shadow winner to sign petitions to get that shadow winner into the legal election in the relevant State or States or district. Well-intentioned voters would then vote in the legal election for the winner of the shadow election, and so in many cases maybe the shadow winner would get elected to the office in the legal election.  Ideally, the voters would view the results of the shadow election as predicting the behavior of other voters in the legal election.  Their viewing them that way might dispel the fear of a worse candidate winning the plurality election because of the opposition votes being split between two or more better candidates.

Once we get sufficient count of pro-democratic-republic and pro-democratic candidates (not pro “Democratic Party”) into all State legislatures and into the US House and Senate, we can get the election laws changed so the shadow elections will no longer be necessary.

The logistics and software design of the shadow election should be guided by the paper “Electronic Voting: An All-Purpose Platform” (PDF)  by Ricardo André CostaMário Jorge Leitão, and Isidro Vila Verde so that anyone can check the vote count, and privacy of voters can be preserved.

Once the country that I live in has a democratic voting system, then it will be possible for me to argue to my fellow citizens for the end of torture and aggressive war, and my listeners will be able to take an interest in the issues on grounds that, among other grounds, they will have the power to do something about them.  Until then, it is hard to draw much attention to policy matters from people who know that they have no power.  Why would anyone listen to repeated harangues about matters about which they cannot do anything?

Elaboration

Once the electoral environment includes the shadow elections and they become popular, I can see the environment supporting at least two very distinct types of political party:

  • A party of pretty much the traditional type could organize around agreement on one or more values.  For example, the Green party emphasizes conservation.  These parties could have platforms and could endorse candidates.
  • Parties of a type that I suggest to call “Blank”, Blank Parties, could be established in all the States.  A blank party would never adopt a platform nor endorse any candidates (prior to said candidates winning shadow elections).  It would not espouse any particular values about governmental policy or law, other than concerning elections and other mechanisms related to democracy.  It would try to get itself on the ballots for all offices voted on in the State in which it is organized.  It would commit to run as its candidates, the winners of the shadow elections, and no one else.  Blank parties would be registered with the coalition running the shadow elections and there would never be more than one in a given State.  They could be named such as Blank Party of New Jersey, Blank Party of Virginia, and so on.  The point of having blank parties is that they could start work to get on the ballots before it is known who shall win the shadow elections.  AmericansElect demonstrated that this can be done.

The by-laws of the coalition for shadow elections should provide that parties that are members must exhibit internal democracy up to some level that can be determined either by objective criteria to be voted on for the coalition, or perhaps by surviving any challenge from the other parties members to be voted on by all such parties.  There should be ultimately a way to deny voting status to parties that don’t exhibit internal democracy.  Alternatively, the policies and actions of the coalition could be determined by individuals instead of through the politics internal to each party.  In that case, lack of democracy internal to a member party would not be of concern for democracy of the coalition.

Appendix — Blurb with Link

Before US citizens can care about policy, they must have grounds to believe they can influence it.  Let’s make it so.  http://wp.me/p23U97-8w

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10 Responses to Shadow Elections as a Strategy toward Instituting Democracy

  1. I’ve been talking about a very similar idea, but why restrict this shadow voting to a small group of people? Isn’t that where we are now with the electoral college? If you want to have the results known for a well meaning “representative group” fine, but why not let the general public participate if they want also and publish both sets of results in realtime with the ability for anyone to changetheir “current intended vote” at any time and a graph showing the record of results along a timeline? In other words, demonstrate what an election, or any kind of vote should look like. While you’re at it, how about a FAIR election system such as #WeightedNewApproval voting.

    Donald Arthur Kronos, Ph.D.
    @DonaldKronos

    • Thank you for your comment.

      How do you get the impression from my write-up that I want to restrict participation? To the contrary, my idea is to invite and encourage and cajole as wide participation as possible from among those who have the right to vote in the corresponding legal elections.

      In regard to #WeightedNewApproval voting, what is the algorithm for determining the winners, once the ballots are voted?

      • James Ogle says:

        The great thing about RCV in multi-winner elections is that by using numbers instead of “Xs” (like approval voting?) there are fewer chances for ties. But maybe I’m wrong, is there approval voting using consecutively ranked numbers beginning with the number one where no number may be used twice on the same ballot?

        • There’s a list of some (maybe not all) proposed voting systems with their respective virtues at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_system#Compliance_of_selected_systems_.28table.29 .

          Some discussion of voting systems happens at https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!forum/electionscience . There may be other fora for that subject as well.

          I’m thinking that with regard to my proposal here, I’d like to see the coalition established and its internal political mechanism established before trying to fix on the voting system.

          • James Ogle says:

            William, that’s why you’re so far out of the 9th USA Parliament’s sphere. We’re already 17 years ahead of you. You’re still kicking around the idea of trying figure out which lessor system to settle on, while our team is already setting up video conferences, electing corp. BoDs and writing movies in different regions and platforms.

            • My dear comrade,

              17 years seems like long enough to build a voting platform for the masses to address the State legislative seats. Where is it?

              Also, I think I have good reason in proposing a coalition instead of an independent organization. Have you proposed coalition in all the 17 years that you are ahead of me?

              When you say “ahead”, that sort of implicitly suggests that we are on the same path. But it’s not clear to me that we are.

              For USA Parliament, what is the proposed roadmap to separating the warriors and torturers from power? I offer such a roadmap. Or, at least one road for the map (and I would love to hear about other roads to add to the map). The road I suggest goes through the city of the building of shadow elections, then it proceeds to the city where the voters in the government elections are in such good communication with each other that they no longer fall for the prisoner’s dilemma, then to the city where democrats (not Democrats) win office, then to the cities where the legal elections are improved, the shadow elections are no longer necessary, and peace and justice people are in office, thence finally to the city of no war and no torture.

              Where does your road go? What cities does it pass through on its way?

              • James Ogle says:

                William, I don’t like the format of this forum, because the amount of time it takes to travel from my email box to the forum.

                If you’d like to see more about the parliament…the 350+ names who are connected via email, the volunteer vote counters who are trying to learn, etc., then you’ll just have to come on over and sign up.

                I’ll be happy to spar in facebook, and don’t take my leaving this forum as a personally issue with our conversations. On the contrary, I relish the debate.

                it’s just too much of a hassle with my limited time, to monitor the email from this forum, and I don’t feel the need to engage in this forum with so much going on in other forums.

  2. Harlan Johnson says:

    I liked your video. Great goal – my entry shows one focused strategy to help accomplish more informed participation. I believe it will increase voter turnout, and it provides a greater opportunity for anyone with no vast money backing to win. Look at my submission. “Elections Clarified” https://vimeo.com/64616892 or
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQZSII6C3- I’d love to hear from you.

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