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What about doing away with politicians and voting online for all issues?

With ubiquitous Internet connectivity, isn't it possible by now to represent our own votes on issues online? Do we even need elected officials anymore to represent our voice? These "representatives" aren't even guaranteed to show up to vote and our true vote may get diluted or aggregated once it is brought to the floor of a House of "Representatives" by mechanisms none of us understand.

What if there was a public site that had multiple translations of municipal to national issues on the table.
- Advocates / critics have ONE page each to describe their sides & risk lack of support if too jargon-y.
- People log in & vote. (There is a window of 2 months to vote).
- Registered voters can only vote once on each issue.
- There's a mediated forum of debate in a related link. Each registered voter has a total of 500 characters to spend in the debate forum--forcing them to be succinct.
- Activists on the street are busy encouraging people to get online and vote in that window and to inform the public of their side.
- There is a quorum, or minimum number of total voters needed to validate a vote (voting periods can be extended until quorum is met)
- Politicians are only needed to enact the passing of the laws after they are validated.
- If people are unhappy with the results of a vote, then they go through a process of applying for a new referendum--which would require 30% of registered voters agreeing to a re-vote.
- Anyone can apply for a new law to happen provided that 30% of the registered voters elect for it to be put up for vote.

Basically, a referendum on everything. And each registered voter can pursue the issues that he/she is interested in. Thus, a whole country of voters looking into all issues, I'm certain, is more effective in producing democratic results than an elected official who cannot possibly be an expert on everything.

Perhaps this can be tried with a neighborhood, condo community, company or small town to see how it would play out. :)


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    Apr 19 2011: I'm thinking that this would definitely get people to participate in politics. If a law is enacted that they didn't log in and vote for, individuals can clearly see their relationship to the outcome of a vote. It would get people to read up on and discuss fervently issues of the day.
    • Apr 22 2011: Unfortunately, since politicians would be involved in the decision to get rid of 'politicians', it just isn't going to happen. We really do have to eliminate partisan party politics though, and in Canada, an electoral system (first past the post), that generally misrepresents the way the electorate actually votes. And we need a proportional voting system so that we don't have a minority government that actually only garners less than 38% of the popular vote. We have two mainstream political parties (as they do in the USA), one marginal party, one mainly provincial party in Quebec that simply wants to separate from Canada, and one party that has no elected members of parliament. In the 2008 federal election Harper's conservatives formed a minority government with only 37.6% of the vote and that gave them 143 out of 308 seats. The lowly Green Party garnered close to a million votes but elected nobody. The separatist Bloc Quebecois received 1.4 million votes taking 49 seats, while the New Democrats got 1.1 million votes more than the BQ but won only 37 seats. This is wrong, unfair and absurd from every approach. And the results? -- low voter turnouts, apathy and cynicism, and a disfunctional system of governance. Oops, forgot to mention another result -- our fourth federal election in seven years at about $300 million a pop.But there is hope -- Switzerland. Google it, I urge you. They also have five political parties but they have a system of participatory democracy. Their political structure allows and encourages citizens to actively participate in government, and even in the creation of legislation. The Swiss federation and their idea of direct democracy reflects the importance the country attaches to freedom of choice and self determination. A decentralized division of power and attempts to solve issues at their lowest level, called the subsidiarity principle, are the cornerstones of the Swiss confederation. They use a lot of referendums.
      • Jul 20 2011: While your arguments in favour of proportional representation (PR) are valid, PR would not solve the democratic deficit in Canada.

        What is being proposed here, by Genevieve Tran and others on TED, is a true model of e-democracy, one which would be far more efficient than the traditional direct democracy model (e.g. Referendum, Initiative, Recall) used in Switzerland, British Columbia and many States in the US (most famously, California).

        And fortunately, this statement could not be further from the truth: "since politicians would be involved in the decision to get rid of 'politicians', it just isn't going to happen."

        In fact, ONLY citizens would be involved in that decision via Elections!

        Let me explain.

        We are starting a new political party called the Online Party of Canada (http://www.onlineparty.ca/ ) founded on the principles of electronic direct democracy. Through this website, every eligible Canadian citizen may to vote directly on legislation and even propose new Bills which could then be tabled in the House of Commons.

        At this point, you might say: “But you haven’t done away with politicians, which was the main topic of this TED Conversation!”

        Not quite, but let’s see how it would work in practice.

        Members of the Online Party of Canada (OPC) may only become Candidates to run in elections after signing a Promissory Letter of Resignation -- implicitly stating that IF they are elected as Members of Parliament (MP), they must always vote according to the Will of the People, no matter their personal agenda or belief. If they don’t, members can automatically withdraw their support and ask them to step down, making way for their successor.

        So you see, we don't even need to change the Constitution or even ask politicians to introduce e-Democracy in Canada... all we need is to win seats via free elections and enter the legislature with a virtual Trojan Horse filled with ALL citizens (even members of other parties!). Now THAT would be true democracy!

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