Limitations of Democratic Delegation-optional Voting

In yesterday’s snippet I introduced the idea of democratic delegation-optional voting. If you haven’t yet, read that first. Today, we’re going to be looking at its strengths and limitations.

Strengths

People can choose which issues matter most to them. If an issue matters to you, you can vote on it directly. And so can all the people you convince to support your cause. You can do this even if your representatives disagree with you.

Representatives don’t need to be experts on everything. If an issue is highly technical, representatives can delegate their constituents' votes to someone who is a subject matter expert with similar values to the representative. If a voter doesn’t like the choice, they can make a different choice.

Residents don’t need to be experts on everything. For most issues, most voters will delegate their votes to a Delegate. Residents can choose how much or how little time they want to spend researching individual issues.

Residents don’t need to trust their representatives for multiple years. If a resident disagrees with their representative on even a single issue, they can make their vote and their voice count for that issue. They’re not stuck with a representative that only half represents them.

Power propagates to those who are trusted. If people don’t like the way you’re voting, they can delegate their votes elsewhere. So, in order for a Delegate to keep their power, they need to keep the trust of their constituents.

The system can be implemented incrementally, even for as little as a single issue. It can be implemented incrementally on top of existing forms of governance such as the US government. Democratic Delegation-optional Voting doesn’t require explicit elected representatives for matters that require voting (elected representatives have other important responsibilities, so they aren’t going away entirely with this system!)

DDoV can be used whenever the population of voters is well defined. This makes it well suited both for running states and country legislatures, and for running school government or Prom Royalty elections.

The system is compatible with many existing forms of voting. It works well with winner-take-all voting, ranked choice voting, approval voting, and proportional representation systems, for example.

Limitations

DDoV requires a mechanism for Delegate’s votes to be made public. This isn’t so hard to do, but it does need to be done in a timely manner in order to give people the opportunity to change their vote in the 48 hour period following the election deadline.

A poor implementation could be prone to abuse of power by small Delegates. How could this happen? If Delegates know how many ballots have been delegated to them, then a small Delegate could figure out whether or not a particular individual has delegated their votes to them. Of course, pressuring someone to delegate their vote to you is against the rules, but in many cases this would be hard to detect or enforce. To avoid this issue, a signature requirement (e.g. of 10 signatures from supporters who would use you as a default Delegate) could be required to become a Delegate. Once there’s this modest amount of public support for someone to become a Delegate, it shouldn’t be possible for a Delegate to determine if an individual is delegating votes to them or not. Alternatively, information about how many ballots each Delegate has delegated to them could be only provided in an approximate form.

Reduces the capacity for backroom deals and compromises. Okay, so this might actually be a strength. Since power is more in the hands of the people, it becomes far more difficult for one party to exchange favors with another (“if you support xyz in bill A, I’ll support qrs in bill B.") I think this strength and/or limitation requires further study.

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