11th November 2006
ONLINE ELECTORATE FEEDBACK SYSTEM.
This system is designed to provide secure advice to an elected
the weight of voter opinion in their electorate on nominated
issues. It is designed to allow electors to participate securely
and anonymously in
the legislative process, by casting a vote in a poll that will
influence their representative's vote on legislation pending before the
Both the voter and the representative need security and feedback.
The representative needs certainty that the votes cast are genuine and
individual and from members of the representative's electoral
roll. The voters need to be able to confirm that their vote has
registered, that nobody can "steal" their vote, and that it is
A member of
the representative's electorate whose name appears on the electoral
The legislation on which electors are requested to vote. Issues
would be published on the website.
This is the
proportion of votes cast that is either for or against the issue.
The elected representative who sits in parliament.
Each elector has a username and password for use
on the website.
The representative provides a website into which electors can "login"
This is the
proportion of eligible voters who have voted on an issue.
Each participating voter would be provided with an unique username and
The username and password would be obtained in the first instance by
an elector emailing a request to the representative.
The representative's office would provide the elector with a username
and password which would be posted (via snail mail) to the elector's
Participating electors would be able to log in to the representative's
website and cast their vote using
public key encryption technology (similar to the system that is in use
online banking.) The results would be polled in real time,
in a similar fashion to newspaper polls. Electors would be able
to view their history of voting by issue, and also be able to view the
cumulative total of votes on any issue.
Anybody viewing the representatives website would be able to query
whether a particular elector was registered on the system.
- Voters would obtain the satisfaction of being
able to register
their approval or disapproval of proposed legislation.
- Voters would be able to observe that their
the weight of opinion within the electorate, rather than for reason of
party or deals.
- Representatives would be able to assess their
opinion on legislation before the parliament. Their vote in
parliament would carry greater moral weight if it were known that their
vote had the
approval of (say) 10,000 voters in their electorate.
- Internet illiterate and unconnected people
would have difficulty
using the system.
- It would range from difficult to impossible for
to make secret political
In designing this system I was only too well aware of the issues raised
by "The rise and rise of
The representative should retain discretion in their parliamentary
vote. For instance, if 1% of electors registered a vote on an
issue, then even though 95% of those electors favoured the issue, the
representative should not feel bound by that majority.
Contrariwise, if 95% of electors registered a vote on an issue, then a
60% majority should bind the representative to their will.
It should be possible for the representative to organize a blog,
(similar, for instance, to this one on science blog)
on which the representative could take a position and allow moderated
comment by electors.