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Australians Running On-Line Poll Based Senators

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the crowds-are-right-half-the-time dept.

The Internet 293

exeme writes "The 2007 Australian election was recently announced and a new completely on-line based political party is running for election to the Australian Senate. Senator On-Line will give Australian residents eligible to vote a chance to vote in on-line polls for every piece of legislation that comes to the Senate. The senator will then blindly vote in accordance with the majority. The party has no position on anything until it is voted on and has been approved by the Australian Electoral Commission as a legitimate party. The party will be running two candidates in each Australian state." I imagine this could have a huge impact on CowboyNeal related legislation down under.

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Democracy? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20983377)

How do you expect the people's will to be subverted by corrupt politicians in such a system?

Re:Democracy? (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983673)

How do you expect the people's will to be subverted by corrupt politicians in such a system?

By sucking around for unwise votes in response to well-groomed populist or alarmist nonsense. If all it takes is a mouseclick to "agree" with a position that's been slickly presented to you in a nice Flash-based web site that you just visited while reading your e-mail at home and having your fourth beer, then this makes matters worse, not better. If you can get a Nobel Peace Price for slickly packaging semi-truthy rhetoric, you can certainly get your pet legislation passed that way too - and even more quickly using this new bots-using-Senatorial-bots method. You want less corruption? Elect people with integrity and good judgement. Is that just too much work, compared to complaining? Then quit complaining.

Re:Democracy? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983863)

Elect people with integrity and good judgement.

I would. I really would. I'm serious, I would.

If I just could.

Re:Democracy? (2, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984209)

I agree with you. People often forget, that the Democracy — in its original, direct-governing fashion — is what condemned Socrates to death.

However, it is possible, that the described system can be perfected. For example, to cut out the "on-the-whim" decisions influenced by inebriation, etc., a voter may be required to reaffirm their decision again — a few days later.

In the famous game of Civilization (at least, in the "Call To Power" version of it), there is a government called "Virtual Democracy", which seems to be similar to what is described here. The role of the elected law-makers may be reduced to that of the Electoral College delegates of today — mostly ceremonial.

You are right, that the populists, alarmists, and other demagogues will still thrive, but they thrive today too — as you also point out. The only real hope against them is the activity of other like them on the other side(s) of every issue.

It may be an interesting experiment the Australians got... I'm just wondering, how they are going to enforce the promise — I don't think, the party's senators will be legally bound to obey the voters' wishes.

Re:Democracy? (1)

bdr529 (1063398) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983741)

The "people's will" is enough to subvert itself. "The People" (tm) are far more willing to act selfishly and in ignorance of the repercussions of their actions than representatives who are held accountable BY "The People" (tm) -- once time has passed. The People won't punish themselves, but they ARE willing to punish their representatives. Try reading "The Myth of the Rational Voter".

Digital Divide (2, Insightful)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983885)

I don't know what the rate of internet access is in Australia, but I'm absolutely certain it's not 100%. While I applaud the idea, there needs to be some sort of free access for those that either don't own a computer or or don't have an internet connection. Maybe 5 free minutes at the internet cafe so that people can read and vote on their legislation.

2 cents,


Re:Digital Divide (2, Informative)

munrom (853142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983969)

Every Library afaik has internet access these days

Re:Democracy? (1)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983989)

With a system of One IP Address, One Vote, these senators' votes will be rigged to those with access to multiple computers--i.e, corrupt politicians.

I highly doubt that whatever security they impose to restrict each individual person to one vote each will prove more effective than the efforts of politicians and lobbyists who see the opportunity to buy a vote at the cost of nothing more than a bunch of computers(reusable).

Missing Option (2, Interesting)

MicktheMech (697533) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983399)

So will the missing option meme suddenly create a massive influx of amendments onto the Australian Senate floor?

Interesting approach (4, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983409)

but there is a danger here too - unless you can actually verify that vote-spamming doesn't occur. Another catch is the cross-section of society that is different when it comes to online-voting than regular voting, but that isn't necessarily a problem.

But in all - this seems to be the next step in democracy.

Re:Interesting approach (2, Informative)

kcbnac (854015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983439)

Per their FAQ: []

2. Who can vote on each Bill or Issue?

Every person recorded on the Australian Electoral roll is entitled to join SOL, without any membership fees, as a 'poll member'.

Re:Interesting approach (1)

apt142 (574425) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983731)

3. What's to stop a non-Australian from signing up?

Another thought that occurs to me: Will there be any attempt at discussion or education regarding bills in relation to this website? I took a quick look but failed to see anything like that. They encourage the masses to give their opinion, but do they arm them with any information on the issue at hand? Even an aggregation of other news sites and a slashdot style forum would be sufficient, IMHO.

I could see this party being a worthwhile one in the sense that voters will likely get involved more in day to day legislature. Though I expect this party will be greatly effected by fads and political issues of the week. That is, if they even make it into office.

Re:Interesting approach (2, Informative)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983559)

The next step? Come on, the Swiss have been doing this for centuries. They may do it the old-fashioned pen and paper way but it is more sophisticated since a referendum is only strictly required for constitutional changes but optional for changes in law unless at least 50.000 (I think) people request a referendum on this change in law. So they only ask the entire population if at least a sizeable minority actually cares about the topic under discussion.

This is not new and definitely not a new step in democracy - if anything it's a step backwards from the representative democracies we have now to direct democracies the Athenians (I think) had when they invented the entire thing ages ago.

Re:Interesting approach (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983915)

Step back or forward, both have their ups and downs.

Yes, a representative democracy has its advantages. If, and only if, the person who is supposed to represent you does actually represent you. If he's just a slick bastard who gets the lowbrows to vote for him because he promises easy solutions to problems that have none, he's worse than any direct democracy could be.

Now, show me one politician who isn't such a slick bastard (one that actually has some power, not some wannabe, trying to get somewhere), and we'll talk.

Nice one... (0, Flamebait)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983427)

So expect public floggings, the execution of homosexuals, explusion of darkies, enforced christianity, etc. to make a big come back down under, then?

There's a good reason why civilised countries don't dance to the tune of the lowest common denominator.

Re:Nice one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20983449)

I would like:

A strong armed forces
lots of support for businesses
a full National Health system
a comprehensive Social Security package
free education up to post-grad level
a strong currency
no tarrifs to external trade
full employment

and no taxes..........

Re:Nice one... (4, Funny)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983525)

And a pony?

Re:Nice one... (1)

klingens (147173) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983473)

Switzerland isn't civilized anymore? We Germans better close our borders then.

Re:Nice one... (5, Informative)

thelamecamel (561865) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983545)

No, actually! According to their FAQ they're only running for the Senate, our house of review. So they won't be proposing any bills and effectively give the public a veto. Looks surprisingly well done

Re:Nice one... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20983591)

What you are basically saying is that the entire concept of 'democracy' as the will of the people is a sham joke, and that a minority elite is busy in every modern country "fighting the good fight" by repressing and finding ways to counteract and block what the majority would like to do. Am I right?

Re:Nice one... (5, Insightful)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983889)

It's not a sham joke, it's simply misguided. Like communism and anarchy, it relies on the flawed axiom that humans are, at their core, good. Nearly all evidence points to the contrary, as shown by how the other political ideaologies based on the same axiom have played out.

Re:Nice one... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984091)

That has some interesting implications for the moral authority of democracies. People living in a democracy usually see themselves as 1) able to take part in shaping the laws of that, and 2) submitting their own desires to the judgement of the majority will (e.g. 'I wish to buy sex but the majority has decided this is wrong, hence I submit my desires to their judgement').

With regards to number one, this means it's evident that regardless of your will and thoughts, they are never going to be represented regardless of how many share them, due to the aforementioned "enlightened elite" that you posit the existence of (by definition they must exist, as you say direct polls would let the evil mob take over). It should mean that for a large number of people trying to even act within the political system or gather public support for their views is plainly meaningless, as they will be considered evil and every method employed against them by aforementioned enlighteneds regardless of how widely their opinions are held.

With regards to number 2, it means that democracies do not have the moral authority to demand submission on behalf of their people - because they by definition do not represent the will of the people (your own definition), they only represent the view of a minority. Submitting yourself to democractic laws is thus simply a matter of fitting into the world view of a minority that they enforce with punishments and rewards contrary to the majority view. The equivalent to this would be adhering to the rules of a dictatorship that you disagree with but argues strongly for their benevolence.

Is there anything I have written here that are not logical neccessities and guaranteed outcomes of what you have said? I am genuinely curious.

Re:Nice one... (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983601)

Agreed. This kind of thing scares me, especially if I've been listening to radio phone-in shows. The idea of democracy is that we elect the kind of government that we want, who roughly agree with our principles and ideals. Democracy is not about the 'people' making every single decision. The only people that will vote in each case here are people who are either (a) bored and unemployed (b) fanatic about a particular issue (c) generally believe they are right about everything. These are not the people who should be making decisions. I work hard at my job, and there's no way I have the time or resources to get all the information and insight I need in order to make major policy decisions.

Our democracies (I'm from the UK) aren't perfect, but its better than handing the lunatics the keys to the asylum.

Re:Nice one... (1)

swalker42 (944794) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983805)

I'm probably picking nits here but the more democratic you are the more direct control the 'people' have over decisions. That is the reason the US is not a democracy. It is a democratically elected republic. In a pure democracy the polls rule, every decision is made by the whim of the people. In our information saturated world, that means that the media determines the outcome. Our fate would then be in the hands of Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh or even more disturbing - Al Sharpton. Personally, I like the idea of a Republic over a Democracy.
Of course, our (the US) elections are strongly influenced by special interests now anyway. But becoming more democratic would make that worse, not better.

Re:Nice one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20983875)

You could always find a group you trust and vote what they recommend. You'd probably do better that way, because they'd research the bills in far more detail than a single person ever could.

Re:Nice one... (1)

ThomasFlip (669988) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984007)

I wouldn't necessarily call online voters lunatics. For example, Ron Paul supporters are some of the most well informed voters out there, and they are exactly the people who would make use of this. Quite frankly, I would call any voter who didn't vote for Ron Paul a complete idiot as they clearly don't understand how bad their country is doing, and whats driving the problems.

As far as the parliamentary system, I doubt every seat will be represented in this fashion, just some, or maybe none.

I think its a great way to lend support to issues that politicians are to cowardly to oppose such as the the war on drugs, censorship, wars with other countries, and expanding defense/security issues, loss of sovereignty to the UN.

I do agree though that certain issues shouldn't be represented in this way as it would get carried away.

Re:Nice one... (2, Insightful)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984069)

You're thinking of the wrong demographics. All the assorted pressure groups will mobilise their armies of members, and get them voting on line.

Re:Nice one... (1)

BornAgainSlakr (1007419) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984095)

No, actually, that's the idea of a Republic. A true Democracy IS about the people making every decision.

Re:Nice one... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984143)

Our democracies (I'm from the UK) aren't perfect, but its better than handing the lunatics the keys to the asylum.

Actually, I honestly don't think it is at the moment.

Today, we have a Prime Minister, complete with new Cabinet, who has never been voted into that office by the electorate, and indeed who just backed down from holding an election to get a mandate. (Anyone who is about to bleat about a party political system where the Labour Party was elected would do well to remember that they were elected after Blair said he would serve a full third term. There is no rational way you can argue that the Brown administration has a mandate based on party politics. And even if they had been elected without that promise, our first-past-the-post system is so broken that you could hardly call it representative.)

Many of the less popular acts of government in our country are now coming down from above. At national level, we have the unelected European Commission running the show, despite the presence of the directly elected European Parliament, and imposing legislation on national governments. I find it sadly ironic that the government is desperately trying to wriggle out of a referendum on the big European treaty on the basis that it has certain key safeguards for national sovereignty in place, when those "safeguards" basically mean they can ignore the few bits of European law that actually serve the interests of the people: human rights, protection for workers, etc. Meanwhile, the government imposes all sorts of unpopular nonsense on the basis that Europe told it that it had to. Remember that our own European Commissioner is serial ministerial resigner and locally politically uncredible screw-up Peter Mandelson — so when they say "Europe told us to", this is the sort of person they're taking orders from!

This happens at more local levels, too. I live in Cambridge, where right now our County Council are pretty obviously setting up a hugely unpopular congestion charge in the city. This is being done despite widespread opposition among city residents and their elected City Council, who aren't even being shown the models from the consultants. It's also being done by much the same crowd who are already screwing up local transport because of a pet scheme of theirs, which can't possibly be enough to solve the problems they claim we're going to have a few years down the line even according to their own laughably physics-defying models, yet which is being implemented right now at vast cost in both taxpayers' money and disruption to local residents and businesses, even after thousands of local residents opposed the scheme and basically no-one without a vested interest supported it.

In other words, right now the basic decisions that are going to affect me as an everyday guy, at local, national and international levels, are all being made by people I have had no chance to vote for or against. And a great many of the big decisions they are making are in the face of overwhelming popular opposition, which would probably be enough not just to get rid of the legislation but to outright finish political careers in some cases if any remotely democratic form of voting were in place.

I do not believe in a 100% "one adult, one vote" type of system for every little decision, for the simple, pragmatic reason that no-one has enough time to consider all the issues deeply enough to make a sensible, informed choice. I believe in a representative government elected according to the basic principles of the people, where those in the civil service can do the detailed investigation where appropriate and decisions are made by the elected representatives on the basis of the information and any expert advice available to them. I also believe in checks and balances, and in particular that if interest in a particular issue is sufficiently widespread, it should be possible for the people to override the government on that specific issue immediately, rather than waiting for another election in several years and voting them out entirely. But right now, we're nowhere close to this, and there is simply no way my government is working as a representative body at any level. Frankly, I would rather the "lunatics took over the asylum" than what we have now; at least that might get the answer that most of the population wants sometimes.

Re:Nice one... (1, Interesting)

alta (1263) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983781)

Hmm, if they'd say no ILLEGAL imigrants, instead of no darkies, I'd move there. Oh, and anyone who comes first, then asks to stay is illegal. Apply first, then you're accepted, and we're golden.

Re:Nice one... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983953)

That's a tricky one, for often it's a hen and egg problem. Many people who could work abroad and would actually be a meaningful addition to the workforce there (compared to "let me in and where's the social office" people) face exactly this problem. They can't come without having a job, and they can't get a job because they can't even come for an interview.

Mmm, the darkies would like that (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983973)

They were first, everyone else came later and NEVER got permission. Only problem, I am not sure the rest of the world wants to take back the australians, or the americans for that matter, there is reason we got you off to the colonies.

It always amazes me that illegal immigrants dare to complain about illegal immigrants just because they been scewing the people who always been there for longer.

Re:Mmm, the darkies would like that (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984213)

And it amazes me that people who claim to care about indigenous peoples often complain when a population in someone else's country actually decides to up and go reclaim our indigenous homeland.

Re:Nice one... (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984141)

By definition they have said "no ILLEGAL immigrants" since it's the legislative body and the fact that they are called "ILLEGAL" means that body has declared them to be. Assuming you are using the term "illegal" in the normal manner.

Re:Nice one... (2, Insightful)

FiveLights (1012605) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983899)

If based on majority vote, it isn't the lowest common denominator, it's the largest common denominator. A thing to be marveled at!

Re:Nice one... (2, Insightful)

commernie (1141297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983997)

There's a good reason why civilised countries don't dance to the tune of the lowest common denominator.
Gee, that sounds familiar. Where have I heard it before? Oh, yes:

Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number...
-Benito Mussolini (emphasis mine)
Despite what you (and Mussolini) think, I think that most common people are quite capable of making decisions that affect their lives.

Re:Nice one... (3, Insightful)

Rogue974 (657982) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984087)

Only read a couple comments before posting...

Before you debate about this, clear up your vocabulary. Democracy is everyone votes on everything. A Republic is where everyone votes to put Senators, Republicans etc, in power and then they vote on the issues. The United States, is NOT a democracy, Austrailia, is NOT a democracy, etc..etc... If you question my vocabluary, look it up. Most people don't get the difference between a Democracy and Republic and think voting in officals who make the law is a Democracy, which it isn't.

The SOL party appears to be truely pushing a Democracy, i.e. everyone votes on everything for their one vote. One of the problems with a Democracy is if the majority of the people voting (or the population majority if you have 100% voting population) are pushing one particular issue, be it racial issue, public floggings, etc., that issues wins, no questions.

So, make your statement about Democracy failing, public floggings, etc., if you are in a true democracy and the voters want that, you get it. It can be scary if the population in the democracy is scary, or if they are so ambivilent they just don't care and don't vote and you could get crazyness.

Re:Nice one... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984191)

Before you debate about this, clear up your vocabulary. Democracy is everyone votes on everything. A Republic is where everyone votes to put Senators, Republicans etc, in power and then they vote on the issues.

No, I think you need to clear up your vocabulary.

Your definition of democracy is correct.

What you call a "republic" is actually "representative democracy [] ". A representative democracy is where we elect people to vote on bills for us instead of us voting on everything.

The real definition of "republic [] " is an entity where the head of state is not a monarch and the people have input into their government.

Re:Nice one... (1)

wsherman (154283) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984199)

So expect public floggings, the execution of homosexuals, explusion of darkies, enforced christianity, etc. to make a big come back down under, then?

If these things were really supported by the majority of the population in Australia then one would expect Australians to elect senators who held these positions. That is, there is no general reason to think that indirect democracy is less susceptible to tyranny of the majority than direct democracy.

In theory, the rights of minorities are guaranteed by the concepts of "rights" - such as equal protection under law. As the practice of slavery in the USA demonstrated, even having constitutionally guaranteed rights does not prevent tyranny of the majority.

There's a good reason why civilised countries don't dance to the tune of the lowest common denominator.

The only situation where the least common denominator would be disproportionally represented would be on obscure issues that most people didn't have time to understand or care about.

For that reason, I would propose a modified system where the default is that the senator makes the choice but where there is a mechanism for people to override the senator on issues that they cared about. In the ideal system, a senator would have as many votes as the number of his constituents. For the issues that a constituent cared about the constituent would be able to specify his vote directly but for other issues the constituent would simply let the senator decide on his behalf.

So when the white majority votes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20983437) exterminate everyone that isn't wite, what happens?

Re:So when the white majority votes... (1)

CloneBot (554877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983619)

They get kicked out the country for grievous spelling errors.

Re:So when the white majority votes... (2, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983641)

Hopefully they have checks and balances built in to prevent such abuse. Here in the States, we call it the Constitution. YMMV.

Re:So when the white majority votes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20983833)

Unless you're the President. Then you call it a "f*cking piece of paper."

A unique concept (4, Interesting)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983469)

Australia seems to have this "blindly voting senators" idea a bit better than the rest of us.


Australian residents eligible to vote a chance to vote in on-line polls for every piece of legislation that comes to the Senate. The senator will then blindly vote in accordance with the majority. The party has no position on anything until it is voted on.

Rest of capitalist, democratic world:

Large corporations who have enough money can buy votes for every piece of legislation that comes to the Senate. The senator will then blindly vote in accordance with the money. The party has no position on anything until it is bought.

Perhaps a bit of a cynical view?

Re:A unique concept (3, Insightful)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983613)

You left out the part where the senator turns down things that would make them extremely unpopular with the voting public. Sure they get some slimy stuff passed anyway, but they're careful enough about it that it's hard to pin them to it. Also don't forget the last minute additions to bills that are totally unrelated to that bill, that's one of their favorite tricks. Can pass an anti-poison in the food bill, or something equally stupid everyone would be in favor of, but tack in a little extra clause that say makes it legal for megacorps to dump excess hazardous waste into the ocean or some equally evil piece of legislation. Senator looks good because who wants poison in their food, and still collects a fat check from the mega-corps because he got their legislation passed at the same time.

Re:A unique concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20983845)

I'm curious - why do you assign such an enormous weight to the influence of company buying power, while not seeing any influence of nonprofit pressure groups?

E.g. you might say that Microsoft are paying people to spread incorrect and biased information about an issue in their favour, or trying to game the system to get votes in their favour. But I could also see a lot of people simply due to an ideological choice spreading incorrect and biased information, or trying to use the rules of the system to impede MS. Hence not only a measure of "to what degree does the political system contain poor predictions and misinformation as a result of money? 0-100", but rather "to what degree does the political system have, and what are the positions and motivations of, those actors that are willing to use every means at their disposal to win?" I'd be interested in your views on that.

Wisdom of the Mob? (5, Insightful)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983475)

I'm all for people getting involved in their political system, but this kind of system is exactly what the authors of the American Constitution were trying to moderate because they understood a government that is strictly Democratic doesn't work.

Some non-political example is slashdot versus digg. Moderation is required.

Re:Wisdom of the Mob? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983583)

I think one could just as easily argue that the constitutional authors made that choice due to their lack of trust for the commoner.

Also consider the differences in communication between today and 250 years ago - it was extremely difficult to even get democratic information from Virginia to Philadelphia or New York back then. Now getting information across the continent is trivial in terms of time elapsed.

Re:Wisdom of the Mob? (4, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983727)

Some non-political example is slashdot versus digg. Moderation is required.

Actually that's a pretty good example; it even covers the fact that slashdot, while better than digg, is itself pretty far from perfect.

Re:Wisdom of the Mob? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983749)

Some non-political example is slashdot versus digg. Moderation is required.
except that on slashdot a large number of the moderations are done by other slashdotters, not editors. you then have meta-moderation which keeps the moderaters in check. most of the time it does a fairly good job of moderating out the idiot posts while lifting up fairly intelligent posts. it isn't perfect but it is certainly better than a dictatorship or pure mob rule.

Re:Wisdom of the Mob? (2, Interesting)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983865)

Poppycock. They feared those who didn't own land, because their interests were not their own. Don't hide your elitism in lame, unsupported platitudes.

In case you haven't noticed, the editorial influence of slashdot isn't exactly something to brag about. Digg fails because the only people who select stories are those whose time is the last valuable. If there were an incentive system to make it worth ones while, you'd find a higher quality of moderators.

America fails because the only people with direct access to the government are those with money to throw around. The system is already gamed by special interests, but a direct vote would make it extremely difficult for special interests to exert undue weight. For every interest group that swarms the polls, its opponents would do so also.

Indeed? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984227)

I posted this somewhere else as well but your argument is so flawed I feel I must repeat myself.

Commericial radio in holland got its frequencies through a public auction that gave them a license of a set number of years. When that license ran out the goverment wanted to hold another OPEN PUBLIC auction. Commercial radio was bigger then everyone thought and the goverment was sure that they could raise a lot of money through this because more bidders would now want take part.

They were right, and the current license holders were scared, they had gotten the original licenses on the cheap and now had to compete with big internatinal players, paying way more for their new license and that would eat into their massive profits.

Cue the license holders complaining very loudly over the radio about how this was going to ruin radio, destroy freedom and bring about the end of the world. They used a bloody air-raid siren in their ads. All because the goverment was doingexactly what it had said it would do originally and commericial radio stations would have to bid with ther commericial radio stations.

The point? How do you prevent people with ready acess to the voter from making their voice heard? Do you think any of these commercial radio stations gave airtime to people defending the goverments action?

It is well known that big media is controlled by a handfull of super wealthy individuals. Check the british elections and how Labour suddenly became acceptable when several right wing newspaper suddenly started supporting Blair.

Take the current media companies case with filesharing. In this world you got two sources of big money, the media companies on the one hand and the hardware makers on the other. Before Sony became a media company they were PRO-consumer. Harddisk makers and others actively lobby against media lobbyists against things like a mediatax on harddisks.

In your world, the media companies would still get their voice out through the businesses they own, but how would the hardware makers let themselves be heard? Through buying ad time from the media companies? We saw how that works recently, with Google refusing to sell ad space to an opposition campaign.

Our current system is far from perfect, but a pure voter controlled system would give the media companies FAR too much direct power. At least right now we get the occasional balance because big bucks doesn't always agree with big bucks. Just the media forming the opinion of the people controlling the law? No thanks.

First you would need to ensure that you got a way for ALL concerned to have an equal voice. That can't work unless the state control the media, another horror in itself.

The current system ain't perfect, but it might be the least bad we can come up with.

Good luck (2, Funny)

Daishiman (698845) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983493)

Hope you've got some strong crypto to make sure voting is done fairly. You wouldn't want to have a million people voting the CowboyNeal option.

Re:Good luck (1)

apt142 (574425) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983783)

Chair: All those in favor.
27 Hands Raise
Chair: All those against.
72 Hands Raise
Chair: All those Cowboy Neal.
1 Hand Raised

Re:Good luck (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984173)

Hmm... Does Slashdotting an entire government constitute an act of war, I wonder? :-/

What a terrible idea. (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983495)

You elect people to have judgement in complex legislative matters, and you replace them if they exhibit bad judgement. And many legislative matters, especially as related to defense or other security issues, can require a legislator to have an understanding of information that isn't (well, can't be) widely known. That's why you send a human to do that job, not a robot. Many legislators are not, in useful terms, human, of course. But net-based polling systems strike me as a crazy way to handle lawmaking. Simple majorities are often simply wrong about things.

Re:What a terrible idea. (2, Insightful)

tomee (792877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983633)

That may be true, but as has been demonstrated more than once, elected people also exhibit bad judgment. The question is whether this works better than the current norm, and I think it is worth the experiment. If it doesn't work, vote for a regular senator again.

Re:What a terrible idea. (2, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983767)

elected people also exhibit bad judgment

But people who can't or shouldn't personally access or assess the information that a Senator is supposed to analyze FOR her constituents will have to make poor judgements, by definition. A Senator may make poor decisions (and can lose their job for doing so), but a robot Senator must make decisions badly, because the people pushing his buttons aren't in a position to make good decisions. On some broad things - like, should the country raise such-and-such a tax on imports from North Korea, etc - this seems fairly straightforward. But on granular matters related to issues like security/defense spending, or specific intel programs - the very stuff that people bitch the most about and which makes certain camps most want this sort of robo-voting power - that's exactly where the judgement-by-proxy will most certainly go the most badly wrong.

Re:What a terrible idea. (1)

apt142 (574425) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983925)

I agree that the judgement-by-proxy voting will certainly be an issue, but, I disagree on the Senator analyst point.

Most Senators, at least in the US, don't read the very bills they are voting on. They know the information on there based on conversations around the proverbial water cooler with other politicians. However accurate those conversations are with the reality of the bill is another issue. Having a couple of thousand voters looking over a bill directly would be very handy. Now, the question is, does that information become available to the voters? And do the voters get to discuss the finer points of it before voting? Can voters change their votes if they learn more?

Re:What a terrible idea. (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984231)

Another interesting question: would the results of votes be different if all laws had to be short enough and clearly enough written for people to understand, with the voters deciding to vote "no" on principle if asked to accept dozens of pages of legal weaselry?

Re:What a terrible idea. (0, Troll)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983809)

You elect people to have judgement in complex legislative matters, and you replace them if they exhibit bad judgement.

Because that's worked SOO well in the US.

Mod Parent Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984201)

Stop defending American politicians. The Iraq occupation is an extremely complex matter. The solution isn't. GTF out! I don't need a PhD to tell me that!

Re:What a terrible idea. (1)

jrmcc (703725) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984171)

"complex legislative matters" - like condemning or Rush Limbaugh (or give him a medal!)

Depends on definition of majority (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983531)

This will depend a lot on what definition of majority they're using. If it's a simple majority something like this could be very unpopular. Get 50.1% of the population to vote for something and you've suddenly got 49.9% very unhappy. A good system might require say 75% in favor to pass, with anything less than say 25% being tossed out. If it runs in between those two then it needs to be modified and resubmitted. Would be good if in addition to voting they provided a section for comments. Could say something like "I voted against this because of clause 2, if you removed that I'd vote for it", then at least whoever proposed the legislation would have some clue on how to change it to make it more acceptable.

Re:Depends on definition of majority (3, Informative)

thelamecamel (561865) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983579)

their FAQ says 70%. And they'll be on the watch for lobby groups manipulating results, unless there are over 100,000 votes cast for that piece of legislation (which will almost never happen). There's some space for them to stuff it up in the implementation, but this could be a lot worse.

What's Next? (3, Funny)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983603)

I suppose the next iteration will be text messaging the way you want your senator to vote.

Text "Aye" to 73628 to vote YES.

Text "Nay" to 73628 to vote NO.

(Standard messaging charges apply.)

Re:What's Next? (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983999)

And you can vote as many times as you want, as long as you pay for the messages. Hey, that's a great idea! Selling democracy back to the people, piece by piece!

Superdemocracy is a terrible idea. (4, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983609)

Democracy doesn't work. We've had them for thousands of years, and they always fail as the majority learns they can just vote to steal from the minority. Superdemocracy is even worse.

The United States Beta that was started in the late 1700's had a great idea: let there be a pseudo-democracy at the Federal level, but limit is greatly. Don't let there be an easy way for the majority to steal from the minority. It worked for a while, until the People slowly upset the restrictions provided for in the Constitution. It was a sad day when Lincoln was elected, the first tyrant of many.

The idea of voting en masse online sounds like a good idea. I recall that MajorBBS founder, the late Tim Stryker (a man I knew personally) was a big proponent of a Superdemocracy. Back then I agreed with him, until I started to realize that the failings of a nation/society generally happen because the People want more without giving more.

My own political thought is what I call a Unanimocracy: a law doesn't get passed without unanimous consent. If you can't get it at the National level, try at the State level. Keep going down the ladder of size until you might end up with a law passed only in a home, or even only by an individual who restricts themselves. Sure, it's a grandious idea, but I feel it is the only fair way to set legislation. The Internet is a great Unanimocracy, with individuals deciding what limitations they'll accept, and others forming relationships based on agreeing to those limitation. You could say that the dreaded click-contracts are similar, although they're covered by "laws" rather that voluntary contracts that can be broken by either party.

The only way I'd accept a Democracy of any kind is if there was an agreement that 10% of any voting bloc can veto any legislation they disagree with. Let 50.1% say "We want to tax tall black men to pay for education of short asian women." Let the legislation be unless 10% of the population votes VETO. That's three ways to vote: Yes, I want it. No, but I don't really care. Veto, this is bad. A 10% veto requirement would get me to support government again, because the minority has power to stop a crazy, and theft-prone, majority.

Re:Superdemocracy is a terrible idea. (2, Insightful)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983793)

It's a neat idea, but in practice it couldn't be done. You'd have no one of knowing from location to location what set of laws are in effect. What if say a neighborhood passes a law that makes it illegal to wear blue on Tuesdays, and you go to visit your friend on Tuesday wearing blue and get chucked in jail for it. Also, I would expect you'd want the state or city police to enforce these local laws, or will everyone have to provide their own police for at every level? Assuming that you'll use the city or state police, what happens if some small voting unit decides to ban use of firearms for police and only allow things like tasers, would you have a check point at the "border" where the cops coming in need to exchange their guns for tasers? What happens if one of the smaller units violates a law of a larger unit? I suppose that couldn't happen because you'd need a unanimous vote, and if a sub-unit is against it it wouldn't pass, but what happens if you pass a law in the super-unit, then a sub-unit decides they don't like it and passes a law in contradiction to the law of the super-unit?

There's a kernel of a good idea there I think, but it needs more fleshing out.

Re:Superdemocracy is a terrible idea. (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984153)

I've dedicated a good portion of my life and future to fleshing it out. Voluntary government IS a great idea, and one that I think can work as society progresses in a direction of freedom rather than force.

First of all, there is absolutely no reason for you to care what a given person's laws are. Maybe your neighbor believes that killing women over the age of 50 is legal. If you're a woman (or a man) over 50 (or under 50), the law has no purpose for you unless you actively try to enter their property. The decision to enter a person's land would be based on your knowledge of their rules. I believe that in a Unanimocracy, we'd have rule-bases of varying degrees. Go to Burger King, and they'll notify you of the rule-bases they believe in. I truly believe that some of the most important "laws" would be set up as a standard rule base: don't kill without warning, don't steal without informing, don't yell fire without there being smoke. The most important property rules would be fleshed out as a rule-base, whereas some less popular rules may end up in a smaller rule-base for you to peruse (online?) before entering the property of another.

Secondly, the process of following rules on a given person's property would be easy to rate for each individual. I believe in mutual-rating systems, a la eBay, where two individuals who have entered into an agreement would rate each other's actions for the world to see. A public "credit report" if you will. If you come to my property for lunch, you could rate me instantly via your cell phone, and I could rate you as well (Good customer, paid his bill, tipped well). Not all interactions could be rated, but is available if both parties consent to being rated on a publicly-accessible rating service. Feedback is key to knowing if you should interact with someone else. If someone does you harm (Food was bad, price was different than quoted, they tried to kill you, etc), you could leave them negative feedback and details of what they did, for future service-buyers to see.

It sounds complicated, but in reality we all know the basics of property rights, we just forget them in some situations. In a unanimocracy, what happens if someone kills you? You're dead. You can't leave feedback. The person gets off "scott free." But how does it differ from murders in today's legislative system? How many murderers get caught? What is the penalty for the majority of murders? How does the current legal system prevent murders from taking place, and how successful is it from preventing them? The law seems to do more harm than good, preventing you and I from defending ourselves, from enforcing the rules of our property, and from securing our own liberties by accepting personal responsibility for our actions.

Re:Superdemocracy is a terrible idea. (1)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984237)

Well, you addressed one of my points, but none of the others. Something I'd also be concerned about is proving acceptance of a rule-base. If I enter your property and you show me a set of rules, but it's been doctored and doesn't cover some of your rules, how do I prove after the fact that I wasn't entirely informed as such?

Re:Superdemocracy is a terrible idea. (1)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983821)

I think Churchill agrees with you, but only in part. "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." We will see how this trial goes for Australia. In regards to your ideas, I highly doubt any new laws would get passed at all. I know families of 5 that can't figure out what place to go for dinner, how would a city, state, or nation be able to always pass 90% and actually have the law be enforceable?

Re:Superdemocracy is a terrible idea. (4, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983941)

You do understand that absolutely nothing would ever get done, right? I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, but if you want your government to ever do anything, your ideas won't really work. No matter how great an idea is, you'd probably find 10% who would be willing to vote "veto".

Of course, the traditional American theory of government is that deadlock is good, government "getting things done" was bad. (Don't believe me? Read the Federalist Papers.) Now that we have a two-party system, that idea has been subverted. You need a 50% vote to get something done, and usually one single political party controls at least 50%. The original Federalist idea was that there would be many different factions, so that reaching 50% would require getting people from different factions to agree. To that end, I think it might be worth considering that we could raise the percentage needed to pass legislation to something like 60%, making it difficult for a single party to force legislation through. But a 10% veto would happen all the time.

Re:Superdemocracy is a terrible idea. (1)

wsherman (154283) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983965)

Let 50.1% say "We want to tax tall black men to pay for education of short asian women." Let the legislation be unless 10% of the population votes VETO.

The 10% number sounds kind of arbitrary to me but there's a more general way to achieve something similar to what you're proposing.

Require that the law treat everyone equally unless each of the unequal parties separately approve of the law. In your example, tall black men would only have to pay for the education of short Asian women if the majority of tall black men, the majority of short Asian women and the majority of everyone else each separately approved of the law.

A more realistic example would be the general population providing assistance to a disabled segment of the population.

Re:Superdemocracy is a terrible idea. (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983983)

My own political thought is what I call a Unanimocracy: a law doesn't get passed without unanimous consent. If you can't get it at the National level, try at the State level. Keep going down the ladder of size until you might end up with a law passed only in a home, or even only by an individual who restricts themselves.
Oh dear, this is severely flawed in so many ways. First, if people could actually agree with each other unanimously at a national or even world-wide level, heck, we would be living in a completely different society and I doubt there'd even be governments in the form we have them. You don't need a law if everyone agrees this is the right thing anyway.

Second, this going down until you find consent is just stupid. Not every law is about restricting yourself, some are about restricting other groups of people, others are about giving you rights - basically, laws regulate human relations. In your system, what will happen is that every individual will propose laws as he pleases and they will then always be unanimously adopted by at least himself. As a result, everyone will live by their own laws. There is a name for such a system: it is called Anarchy.

so SICK of this crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984163)

for crying out loud, I'm sick of people invoking Lincoln as the reason for the downfall of america, and calling him a tyrant. What, you still upset at the the weakening of Federalism? Okay, you disagree with that. Fine. But a tyrant? Unconstitutional? I find this funny that to people like you it is SUCH a travesty that he prevented secession by force--for the ostensible reason that it was unconstitutional--but then you seem nonplussed that the states that wanted to secede were violating fundamental human rights by permitting slavery. That travesty doesn't seem to particularly upset you. As far as I'm concerned--and I don't care about the other economic motivations for the civil war--if the "victims" of Lincoln are states that support a violation of human rights and dignity like slavery, then hell with 'em. And don't give me that bs line about how "slavery was going to be made illegal eventually anyway." Again, you show a hypocrisy: the unconstitutional indignity toward slaves doesn't really bother you, but yet you dwell on the unconstitutional weakening of Federalism as so awful. You know, even permitting for a second longer the institution of slavery for reasons of "economic necessity" is IMMORAL, unconstitutional, and a disgrace. But why doesn't that bother you as much as forbidding secession? What lingering domestic tyranny is left from the era that makes you think america is worse off?

If it came over here... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983643)

The Senator On-Line party would meet the voter apathy parry. I predict not much would happen.

The real question is how the results of this would then actually differ from our current establishment.

Not sure if this is good or bad except in minority (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983647)

Because it gives the people a direct voice in the legislative process. I also think that overall I wouldn't want to be in a country where the idea worked completely because at a certain level, the populace has no conscience and pure democracy can be manipulated to violate human rights of minorities SO SO SO easy, i.e. populist legislation without moral direction is a dangerous dangerous course.

Also, it seems like the process can be controlled or at least subverted by the major parties simply by the leaders of the legislative bodies not bringing up any legislation for a vote where the "population driven" senators would tip the balance.


Excellent (1)

LA-it-Guy (1174135) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983657)

I'm moving to Australia... Wait, I'm not a citizen...

Direct Democracy = Tyranny of the Majority (4, Insightful)

E++99 (880734) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983691)

The beauty of republicanism is that even though the people may only elect a representative by a majority, the representative is then the representative of ALL the people. The social contract is that the people agree to be represented by a representative chosen by the majority. Thus, at least in theory, republicanism is government by the People, by consent of the People, not government by the majority.

A direct-democracy candidate is by definition only and always the representative of the majority, leaving the minority unrepresented. Direct democracy is, both in theory and practice, government by the majority and only the majority. It is therefore arguably the worst possible form of government, as all other forms of tyranny involve a tyranny of a minority, which inherently gives the majority the potential power to forcibly overthrow the tyrants. One cannot overthrow a tyranny of the majority.

Information Overload (4, Insightful)

kevmatic (1133523) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983705)

Governing bodies make dozens of votes on bills a day. Do they expect people to read, understand, and vote intelligently on, dozens of bills dozens of pages long a week? There's reasons we have people that work do this crap (nearly) full-time.

Voter turnout for everyday things is gonna suck.

Senators do more than just vote, too. They talk about bills, argue them, control things in committees, and introduce bills themselves. How are you going to do that if you are supposed to be a puppet of the people without any ideas of your own?

I wouldn't vote this party in.

Ron Paul? (1)

tesmar (1033054) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983709)

The party has no position on anything...
This might be the better position to take for any party down under...

Too gamable (1)

sholden (12227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983797)

If they ever managed to get enough votes to get a seat - and the Australian Senate has quite low requirements due to it being a multi-seat proportional system but they'd be better of running for state government, in the NSW Upper House for example you only need 4.55% to get quota for a seat. They're more restricted on the preference deals they can make than other parties - the only thing they can offer is to swap preferences they can't make policy tweaks obviously - so they have basically no hope.

However, if you expected them to win a seat you would be better off voting for someone else, since then you get two dips - one for the person you vote for, and a second one if they win a seat since you can still use their online voting thing even if you didn't vote for them (and with secret ballots that's essential anyway). Making it so that people are better off voting for someone else is not a good way to win elections...

Excellent to see (1)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983803)

I've always dreamed of doing something like this in my own country. It's good to see some people actually getting together and doing it. I'll be watching (and hoping someone gets elected) and see how it turns out.

I like the idea of direct democracy quite a bit in a country which has a strong constitution. Probably most countries with a strong constitution could even stand to strengthen their constitutions more before going to direct democracy in a really strong way, to prevent tyranny of the majority and all that. But if I have to choose between trusting my wife-beating welfare-abusing neighbour and my Member of Parliament...well..I'd guess my neighbour has infinitely better judgement and ethics ;)

Some things I'm wondering how they'll deal with:

  1. What if people change their minds? Can the populous initiate legislation in any way? If the populous vote in favour of legislation X and, after a year sees it's a total muck-up, can they put in a motion to get the legislation repealed?
  2. Is there any risk in having an "MP" holding contradictory views, or impossible views? What if the populous votes in favour of increasing social spending, in favour of decreasing taxes, and in favour of paying off government debt?

Thats it ! (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983807)

well i have been thinking why such a thing wasnt undertaken somewhere. apparently it is being done now. DIRECT DEMOCRACY - the next step in human civilization's evolution, and the next function of internet.

Double representation? (1)

ExtraT (704420) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983819)

I'm not familiar with Australian political system, but wouldn't this mean that some poeple would get double representation? That doesn't seem legal.

The good ol' Soviet times will come again (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983837)

I'm fairly sure we'll see voter participation rise to around 120%.

Finally (1)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983839)

I have been waiting 11 long years for something like this. Goes to register to vote.

SOL? (1)

zentinal (602572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983847)

Umm, correct me if I'm mistaken, but...

Isn't SOL a common acronym for (depending upon your cultural variant), "Shit Out of Luck," "Sadly Out of Luck," "Soldier Out of Luck," or "Solely Out of Luck."

True democracy but can it work? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983869)

In a true democracy you don't vote for people, you vote for ideas. In an ideal world, every decision would be done by consulting the people. Sounds nice.

Except can it work? How would anything be done unless it is popular? How do you do anything that the major opinion makers do not want to?

In holland we had a bit of trouble with commercial radio, years ago frequencies were auctioned off, then when the contract ran out the goverment wanted to auction it off again, this lead to complaints from the previous winners because they might not win a new bid now that it had been shown how big the market had become. They argued that it was them that had made commercial radio big, had made the risky investment and should be given special consideration.

The details however do not matter, what matters is that these radio stations have a very easy time to influence the voter/listener. They aired constant commercials stating their case, pretending this was the end of the world, a blow against freedom etc etc etc, when what they really were upset about was not being able to make huge profits anymore.

What if the dutch goverment had done something that say Philips did not not like (dutch electronics giant), Philips to get the same amount of publicity would actually have to pay for it. And what if a goverment action hurt say corner grocery stores? How they hell are they going to get their message across?

Just as politicians often seem way to easily influenced by lobyist, the average voters has the same problem with popular media. Oh sure, you are different, we all like to think that and perhaps for you it is true, the rest of us are fed our thoughts by the glowbox.

This is extremely relevant, what do ALL people who work in tv got in common? Right wingers? Lefties? Liberals? No you idiot, the answer is in the question, THEY ALL GOT JOBS.

Doesn't matter how right or left they are, they all got paying jobs, and the fast majority extremely well paying jobs.

Daily public opinion is formed by people earning far above the average wage level. Do you really think the news presented by a millionaire, edited by someone making 5x average, owned by billionaire is going to be unbiased on reporting on economics?

These people would gain the power to influence every referendum, as they now do the elections by simply reporting from their world. This isn't about corruption, it is about simply not knowing what it is like to be poor. I once had a very "intresting" discussion with someone about a project by the dutch city of Arnhem, which was to give people on welfare a free washing machine. Her idea was that you could always just get the one from your parents and be really carefull with it, it did not fit in her minds that poor families might not be able to give their old washing machine to their childeren going out of the house because they still needed it themselves. She got all her first gear from her parents and just could not get the idea that this might not happen for all people.

Do you really want people like that, influenced by millionaire media to vote on every bit of goverment regulation?

It sounds like a nice idea, but you would first have to get a truly independent media going that can honestly a fully report on every issue AND then get people to watch it.

For the liberals, just follow the witch hunts that emerge after a child murder, would you really want it to be possible for someone to get a vote going banking on public sentement?

The current system is far from perfect, but perhaps it is the best we can get as long as we remain imperfect human beings.

Sweet! (2, Funny)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20983961)

Instead of buying senators, you just can put those funds into figuring out how to game the voting system.

May the bast hacker win!

Thats what we pay the senators to do (1)

iceco2 (703132) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984009)

We pay senators to do important work, we pay them to learn all about
many important and unimportant issues.
Some mentioned security concerns but this is not the point, practically all
sensitive issues are resolved in the executive branch and not the legislative.

However, anyone voting for such a party is in fact committing himself to take care
in the many votes to follow. Should he not take interest we are again letting small interest
groups who happen to care about some minor piece of legislation pass silly self-serving laws,
simply because nobody else noticed.

Most laws are not interesting, ant not in public debate, however I would still like someone
to think about all these issues, thats why we pay the senators.
The important issues and general policies are campaigned on, a candidate who doesn't stick to
his campaign promises is less likely to get re-elected.

Thats indirect democracy, and it's the best system we found so far.


Easy salary... (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984031)

It looks like an Australian senator makes between $108,000 and $126,000. For only running a website, this is a cush job. And one assumes the senatorial priviledges like office space and going on overseas "fact finding missions" and whatnot can get claimed by the webmaster. Pure genius - money, travel, lunches, etc, all on the public tab for running a website.

The cardinal flaw: Lack of total information (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984099)

That's what this (and all similar) projects require but is simply not feasible: Informing everyone who wants to (or even can) vote about the matter, unbiased and without prejudice, so s/he can make his or her own decision.

First of all, too many people don't even want that. They don't want their own opinion. They enjoy being told what to think. They get their opinion from TV or maybe even newspapers. Though the latter is hard to verify, since you'd have to be able to read.

Then, nobody knows everything. Let's take "Net neutrality" as an example. It is a big issue amongst geeks, but can you faithfully say you know ALL implications? You know EVERY possible position? You know everything that is to know about the pros and cons of it? Now imagine you're not a geek, but this is the topic at hand, you should vote for or against it, and you should make a sensible decision about it.

What will happen? Well, either you simply don't care. Or you feel like your input is valuable and so you want to know what's cooking.

In comes the spin doctors and PR goons from every company that could possibly or remotely deal with the issue, who tell you that your kids will all go to hell and you of course too if you don't vote in their favor, not to mention that your job is going to be shipped overseas and the dollar gets weaker too, your house will collapse and your dog will die, all because you didn't vote the way you "should".

Is that better or worse than simply directly bribing a politician? I don't know. What I know is that the separation of church and state was a good start. Next step should be the separation of business and state.

New Political Party! What's in a name?!! (1)

martyb (196687) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984113)

From the summary:

Senator On-Line [CC] will give Australian residents eligible to vote a chance to vote in on-line polls for every piece of legislation that comes to the Senate. The senator will then blindly vote in accordance with the majority. The party has no position on anything until it is voted on and has been approved by the Australian Electoral Commission as a legitimate party.

So, this would be the Senator On-Line party? Where have I heard SOL [] before? ;^)

Not off to the most auspicious start, are they?

Re:New Political Party! What's in a name?!! (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984283)

Hey, I for one would be *glad* to vote for the ol' Satellite of Love...

Chris Mattern

Been there, done that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20984131)

Here in the USA we voters been SOL for a long time.

done before (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984135)

I seem to remember hearing about a group who wanted to do something like this in the UK, but as far as I remember it was illegal. It could well be in Australia as well. The idea is that we have a representative democracy, things like this go against the fundamental ideals of our democracies.

Representative democracies are valuable because they are a good way to avoid the tyranny of the majority whilst still allowing people to express a preference every (4/5-ish) years if the representatives express poor judgment or are corrupt...

Australian Senate Are (1)

ptelligence (685287) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984197)

All your senate are belong to us.

Today's Tom Sawyer? (3, Interesting)

fygment (444210) | more than 6 years ago | (#20984203)

Some thoughts:

a) Homogenization of the vote? Any other senator would be wise, in the absence of strong constituency lobbying, to simply vote with the Senator Online. How could you go wrong if the Online vote is a reflection of the public desire?

b) What is the likely demographic of those who would use Senator Online? The hard working middle-class type isn't likely to want the added burden of being a defacto senator added to the existing job, parenting, soccer mom'ing, etc. Maybe the Senator Online would reflect the will of those with time to spare eg. retirees, welfare abusers, other politcal candidates with an agenda to push, Slashdotters wanting to comment on something different?

c) What platform would a Senator Online candidate use? Great to be a candidate if all you do is vote as told. Who could find fault with your performance? A job for life if you could get it. But what's your election platform? "Vote for me. I'll do exactly what you want ... uh ... better than the other guy who wants to do the same thing. Umm ... I'll do it naked!"

Doesn't this almost seem like Tom Sawyer? Get someone else to do the work (assume researchers/collaters are hired), get someone else to take responsibility (the online voters) but you take the perks (and pay). Does this seem like a scam to anyone else?
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