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Should communities use internet to vote on policy recommendations to our elected leadership and should it have a greater weight of influence

Given the technological advances in computing and social media it would appear that we are poised to leverage it to have public vote on policy that is being proposed in any given electoral community. Would we be closer to a purer democratic system? Do you know of a community that has implemented this capability and what are they seeing as the benefit or challenges? Would we even use this to vote or would it empower us to understand what we are allowing our community/society/government (local, regional and federal) policy to be influenced. What would the scoring model be and how to incorporate it into our framework?

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    Oct 18 2011: Charity, this is one of the best ideas I've read so far! This is startlingly simple and easy to implement. In fact, I think that this could be used not just to inform elected leaders of the concerns of the public, but to replace voting, and maybe even to replace the need for elected representatives entirely.

    The reason for having elected leaders is basically because of limitations on travel and communication within a large nation. In hunter gatherer societies all members could easily have a say because there were few people in a small enough space to get together and discuss political issues. In a larger group like a country it would be inefficient to get everyone together every time a descision had to be made so we opted to elect leaders we trusted to be our spokesmen/women and act on our behalf. Perhaps the internet could allow us to change back to a more truly democratic system by having on-line polls and discussions for ALL decisions?
    • Oct 19 2011: Hi Letitia,

      It appears to me that it could be that simple. I am sure we would have the right security and reporting features to see right away what your vote is changing the direction and if you were particularly concerned about a policy you would gather up your community members for or against the policy. You could log in and be "accepted" in that community for voting capabilities which would monitor the unique IP addresses that were in the voting pool. It would appear relatively simple to ensure that the number of IP address in a said community would be a known factor and any discrepancies followed up on so that there is no outside voting influence. I agree with you last point, and I believe a truly evolved community would feel comfortable with the concept. Then our elected members would be enablers of our voted policies and administrate the facilities and services we need in place to enable our community to function with our democratic voted policy direction. I wonder who would be the first community to be evolved enough to prove out the concept and make it reality?
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        Oct 20 2011: I put some research into this and realized that my University uses and on-line voting system for electing student union members! They keep track by student numbers but presumably the same thing could be done with SIN numbers.
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        Oct 20 2011: There is already digital certificates and signature mechanics, that is as secure as the paper/plastic ones.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_signature

        this technology has long been used by servers and online banking systems.There is no rational reason not to have electronic elections. My guess is the politicians do not trust electronic ballot boxes or they fear they are obsolete.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_voting
        • Oct 20 2011: Perhaps their fear is rightly placed, it may ensure respect for the process they represent. Although a political system without people may not be the right blend for a truly democratic environment. Perhaps we the people need to enable it to happen so that it becomes something that is implemented because to not do it would make the whole system obsolete, much like online banking.

          Thank you for the site references!
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    Oct 20 2011: I recomend you read an article on wikipedia about it. Technology is already way beyond, but society is way behind your proposal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_voting
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    Oct 20 2011: Another (Canadain lol) with a similar idea: http://www.ted.com/conversations/6464/open_sourced_governance_anybod.html
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    Oct 19 2011: I absolutely agree with this idea Charity. I particularly like the way that you have framed it.

    On a side note that might be interesting to you, I recently watched an old movie from the 1950s I think with a star of the day called Doris Day. It was called 'It happened to Jane' and in it the small town on the eastern seaboard of the USA was one of the last to have direct democracy. (She also fought a major railroad corporation with media and protest). I was absolutely surprised to see this sort of sentiment and leadership back then!)
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      Oct 19 2011: I was thinking that most small towns probably have a failrly direct democracy. I am thinking more of a village size rather than something with 100,000 people. I know we have towns as small as 30 people in California in the rural areas and I imagine it might be true in other parts of the world also. Direct democracy through the internet would work assuming there was internet support that had a reasonable cost and people could see the impact of their votes and have some one track them and keep people up to date on the progress and ongoing impact. I am watching a presentation on line that comes out monthly on California's budget progress and how it will impact schools and it is very informative. I wish I knew if my ideas about really small towns were true in other places.James
  • Oct 19 2011: Hi Lynn, I agree about the time factor. I think there would be an incremental learning curve at first much like the use of all new technology tools like Facebook and Tweeter. However once you are connected I would think that we would vote as readily as we Tweet or respond to notifications. Perhaps a community would need to have the first vote be a compelling policy to ignite the interest and the rest would be word of mouth. Thoughts?
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    Oct 19 2011: Interesting. The one thing of I thought of as I read your proposal, besides "Good Idea!", was whether or not the general public has the time to put into studying specific issues. Most likely special interests will distort information thus requiring study. I would not like to be ruled by 'one liners'. Is there a solution for this?
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      Oct 19 2011: The voting pamphlets I usually receive have both pro and con arguments at least in California. I am not sure that would be enough for most people but if they could then project the impact on a couple of levels like on the individual, a couple, a city, a county, a state it might give people more information to make wise decisions. I like the idea of direct input to legislators and maybe the votes for legislators could be more informed if their record was electronically available before you voted.
      Just some thoughts