[MG] Secret Ballots

Ed Pastore epastore at metagovernment.org
Wed Jun 2 15:02:23 EDT 2010

On Jun 2, 2010, at 2:45 PM, Owen Ambur wrote:

> It is kinda ironic to see the apparent disagreement on this point on  
> a listserv that places high value on synthesis.  It also seems to  
> assume a false either/or choice, when it would seem that both/and  
> should be the obvious aim, depending upon the wishes of each voter  
> him or herself.

I think we're gradually working through synthesis. Nobody ever said  
synthesis is easy :). So as we dialog, we being to find opportunities  
for shared ground.

>  However, for whatever it may be worth, here’s Wikipedia’s article  
> on the “Secret Ballot”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_ballot    
> See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Card_check

This just points out further the difference between elections and  
direct voting on policy. The entire article is about people making a  
choice among candidates or at best among issues which have been  
presented to them. One of the biggest obstacles to synthesis is that  
we *are* only given a yes/no choice on issues, instead of being able  
to work together to make a solution that works for everyone.

We need to break people out of the idea of voting as a black and white  
choice, so while we are doing that is as good of a time as any to also  
break them out of the antiquated and inapplicable expectation of  
privacy when making public policy.

> As one who spent many years on Capitol Hill, I’d also note that  
> while the votes of Congressmen and Senators are public on the floors  
> of their respective chambers, their votes for party leadership  
> positions are conducted in secret.

And I would put forth that that is one example of something we  
certainly don't want to preserve. Congressmen are most concerned with  
managing their power structures, and that secrecy is oriented toward  
protecting their position. We have no incentive to maintain that sort  
of anti-democratic behavior.

> From my perspective, the need for secret ballots is painfully  
> obvious in some instances (perhaps those that matter most, e.g.,  
> when disproportionate power is to be taken from some and granted to  
> others).

It depends on where the relationship between the power structure and  
the voting system. In systems which are trying to tackle national  
policy right now (as is the case with PdI), then yes, there may be  
many legacy issues of power struggles and thus a need for privacy.  
However, in systems which take the more long-term approach of starting  
in very small communities, I don't see any need for maintaining the  
sort of anonymity that is used in national elections.

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