INTERVIEW: Reformer Seeks Radical Changes Asking if a More Direct Form of Democracy be Built in Canada or the US?
Democracy Chronicles founder Adrian Tawfik conducted an exclusive interview series with an international group of election method proponents including prominent signers of the Declaration of Election-Method Reform Advocates. The best place to start off is the Democracy Chronicles introduction and then take a look at each of these interviews:
- Richard Fobes – Election Method Reformer Speaks With DC
- Aaron Hamlin – Interview With President of Center for Election Science
- Andrew Jennings – Redistricting, Vote Splitting and Honest Voting
- augustin – Writer Discusses Election Reform and New Website
- Michael Allen – Election Method Reformer Seeks Radical Changes
- Jameson Quinn – Election Expert Discusses Reform in US and Guatemala
- Michael Ossipoff – Democracy Chronicles Author Discusses Approval Voting
- Robert Bristow-Johnson – Expert Demands Reducing Money in Elections
Also see the DC Interview With Creator of Wooden Models of Voting Methods with artist Peter A. Taylor.
In continuation of Democracy Chronicles’ series of interviews with prominent members involved with “The Declaration of Election-Method Reform Advocates“, we now turn to our first internationally based election method expert, Michael Allan an independent software engineer.
Toronto based Michael Allan is an important member of the unique online forum of election-method experts where fascinating discussions of democratic reform are taking place. He is also one of the members of the forum who has not signed the Declaration for reasons he explains below.
Mr. Allan works in collaborative and social media through his website Zelea.com. He also is a main contributor at the Votorola website that builds “social software in support of non-party primary elections and public rule making”. Mr. Allan works with his collegues at Votorola to “develop the tools to enable a radically free democracy based on unrestricted voting, drafting and discussion.” The website supports a wide range of fascinating activity “everything from voter registration in electoral districts to consensus making” and has produced original voting technology not seen anywhere else.
INTERVIEW with Michael Allan:
DEMOCRACY CHRONICLES: You have not signed the Declaration, why?
Unfortunately the proposed reforms do not address what I consider the most important requirements, namely that the elector must actually have a vote, and the vote must have a meaningful effect.
DEMOCRACY CHRONICLES: Briefly explain what characteristics you think are most important for a voting method to have?
(a) The elector must actually have a vote in the sense of its form and content being under the elector’s control at all times, much as ones voice is under ones control, for example. Neither the traditional methods of voting nor the proposed reforms meet this requirement. In both cases the form of the vote is prescribed by force and the vote itself is withheld for long periods. Most crucially it is withheld during those periods in which electoral decisions are made, which is always well before the ballots are printed.
(b) The vote must have some meaningful effect in the real world. In particular it ought to afford a reasonable possibility of influencing the outcome of the election. Again, neither the traditional methods nor the proposed reforms meet this requirement. In both cases ones vote has no effect whatsoever on the outcome of the election.
DEMOCRACY CHRONICLES: What do you think is the most important election reform needed where you live (either locally or nationally)? Why is this reform important?
I think the most important requirement is that the elector must actually have a vote. Gaining control of the vote would give our electors immediate influence over the elections; that’s one thing. In due course, it would also open the possibility of voting on laws and other norms, which would entail efforts at reaching consensus or mutual understanding on the shape of society.
With that, we would arrive at the possibility of political freedom.
DEMOCRACY CHRONICLES: What is your opinion on other aspects of election reform such as reforming money’s role in politics or redistricting (particularly in the US but very interested as well concerning election reforms internationally)?
In my opinion, if we each possess a vote with an effect, then there is little opportunity for money and/or gerrymandering to fill that role. Those forces come into play only because the voter (as such) is absent from the decision process, which again is one that unfolds well before the ballots are printed.
Also see our entire section called Voting Methods Central.