Direct Democracy… a Possibility?

I received this tweet yesterday, after slagging off Meg Hillier MP and posting my rant reply to her group email:

@Saronimo Hi – I’m your local independent candidate.
Fed up with an MP who ignores her constituents?
Check out my site: http://getavote.org

So naturally I decided to check out the website of a local independent, Denny de la Haye. Seems quite interesting: he pledges to implement a constituency wide ‘referendum’ for each instance where he is called to vote in Parliament with 3 exceptions: he will always vote for laws that 1. Improve equality, 2. Improve civil liberties and 3. Improve democracy.  Well who wouldn’t, right? *Cough* #DeBill *cough*.

This greatly improves on the current voter power of the constituency to which I belong which is, according to this website 0.039% and, assuming that I’m either voting with the mobile vulgus or Denny de la Haye himself (in the case of the mob voting against democracy, equality or civil liberties), would mean being part of a Shoreditch-wide ‘direct democracy’.  How very Bohemian.

This got me thinking. With the prevalence of the Internet in the second decade of the 21st century, this kind of electoral reform could work – the kind that utilises the power of this world-wide, instantaneous, ubiquitous communication tool.

There would be an issue, of course, of proving your identity when it came to casting your vote. No more, in reality, than there is currently. (Turning up to the polling station with your voting card is hardly foolproof!) Just as an example,  we could all be provided with a polling identity number which we would use to log onto our local MP’s secure server along with, say, passport number (NOT ‘ID card’ number – let’s keep cost to a minimum!) as a double layer of entry and voila! cast your vote. [Caveat: possibly not foolproof either, but I’m writing this in my lunchbreak!]

I’m sure every generation say this, but times have changed. Whereas the #Trafigura super-injunction against The Guardian was reported, (wiki)leaked and posted, re-tweeted, blogged about and generally disdained just in time for elevenses, a Parliamentary debate can last hours and predominantly consists of personal attacks and farmyard animal noises (the irony of which I’m sure escapes them). In other words 20 years ago it would have been impossible to undertake referenda in a country our size because of timing issues, but now: definitely not.

In short: we need electoral reform. Direct democracy should not be discounted.

Please feel free to comment and share thoughts on the practicalities/technical side of anything I have written!

I should probably say that, along with my (in hindsight) clear preference in my views on the ‘Science in the General Election’, I am not aligning myself with a particular candidate here. The search continues…

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2 thoughts on “Direct Democracy… a Possibility?

  1. The problem with internet, phone and SMS voting systems (and also postal systems) is that the vote cannot be guaranteed to be secret: at a polling station, you are obliged to go alone into the booth, so it is impossible to prove your voting preference. This almost completely ensures that it isn’t possible for someone to influence, by bribery or coercion, your vote.

    It’s not difficult to imagine a situation where people are forced or paid to use communal computers to register their votes in return for some reward or in response to a threat. Large rooms full of networked computers could actually enable electoral corruption on a massive scale.

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