TED Conversations

Austin Mackell

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A divisible real time mandate system for representative democracy.

REAL TIME VOTING is a system based around transforming the vote from a single use token issued every 4 years into a permanent possession of the voter – something that is lent (in part or full) to a representative the voter trusts to defend their interests and which can be withdrawn without notice.

It would be an online voting system in which each voter would have a personal homepage. Here would be the voters “pot”. Upon the first log in, this pot would contain their entire vote. They would then be able to break this vote into portions of whatever size they liked, called tokens, and proceed to distribute them to representatives. A voter could, for example, give a third of their vote to a candidate who shared their economic views, another third to one with a position on the environment they shared, a sixth to a candidate advocating for a persecuted minority, and the final sixth to a candidate advocating for their local community.

This last option is significant, as while such a system would be, by its nature, inimical to district based voting, it would allow for local representation where it was desired – difficult in current models of proportional representation where people have one vote, once every four years. Indeed one can imagine a community that felt it had been abandoned by the broader political class quickly pooling a substantial chunk of its votes behind a candidate.

The representatives’ voting power would increase and decrease in proportion with their share of active vote tokens. A representative with a total of 10% of active vote tokens would cast a vote that counts for twice that of her colleague with 5% of active tokens. representatives announce their position in advance, giving the voter a chance to withdraw support.

Percentages of active tokens would also be important in allocating speaking time, and the number of opportunities a representative would have to introduce a motion New reps could collect votes from friends and neighbors to start.


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  • Oct 19 2012: This model well worthy of consideration. But Direct Democracy would allow unlimited DIRECT VOTING on each and every issue . I favour a model where voters are only eligible within their direct sphere of interest.For example, why should Perth residents vote on Sydney local issues- but we all have the right to vote on national and global issues.

    A big but not insurmountable question mark is illiteracy
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      Oct 19 2012: Hi Occupy :). This model does allow people to participate directly where and how they like. You just click "Stand" and then you can vote directly on issues (whether or not you still have a pot for supporting other reps, or using it all to back yourself or whatever is a question i've not wrinkled out.) I also agree about having people voting on what effects them, but don't see why that can't be modelled by a global, regional, national, state, local structure, each with their own assemblies. People could stand in all, or in some, or just one, and delegate to people they trusted in the others. Staying atop the issues at five different levels would be too hard even as a full time job it seems to me. What I don't like is what activists traditionally go for which is the federated structure, where the local level chooses a rep, who goes to a state level council, where they choose a state rep, and on and up. This model seems to be fallen back on by default, but it puts more distance between people and the decisions than is necessary. I think something like this could help the generalised global uprising crystalise into a far more potent and permanent force.
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      Oct 19 2012: good point about illiteracy. Also computer literacy and internet access. These are the things we should be working on helping people with any how.

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