Different uses for voting
need different types of voting.
Voting systems and election rules for Accurate Democracy

Political Philosophies

Humorous Quotations

Tools Between People

Voting systems are "tools between people." They define a very public model showing us the way to treat each other.  Thus voting affects our quality of life, not only in setting our policies but in setting the mixture of conflict and cooperation, the respect we give and receive.  Do unto others...

On Election Rules

Here are two views on the purpose of electing decision makers:
A) "An election should give representation to the major opinion groups in the electorate.  Give them a forum to debate and refine policies for the common good." This view emphasizes the integrating or networking purpose of elections and representative committees.

B) "The goal of an election is to give one group the power to rule.  Give them a clear mandate to resolve necessary choices." We could call that the dominance purpose of an election.  This path risks turning to dictatorship: If the biggest party should dominate a government, should the biggest subgroup control the biggest party? And should the biggest sub-subgroup...  1 side, 1 party, 1 faction, 1 leader.

Compromises must be made at some level, even if that is in the mind of one person.  One-party states have many compromise policies, although the process is hidden.  Democrats believe that political decisions are better when many minds work together, when the options are debated in public from many points of view, and when power is distributed fairly.  This web site shows that inclusive decisions can be more stable.

Why Take a Vote
Underlying Concerns In Legislative Voting

    Jane Mansbridge's insightful book Beyond Adversarial Democracy contrasts adversarial and consensual methods of group decision making.  She observed town meetings that used each method.
  • Conflicting interests that are greater than common interests push groups to use discussion and voting rather than discussion for consensus.
  • Choice ballots let us speedup meetings. Large groups or those with many issues may use voting to save time, at least in the short run.
  • Anonymous straw polls help focus long discussions.
  • The anonymity of secret ballots reduces common social pressures and coercion; it even protects dissidents.
  • Voting assures equality, because even busy or unassertive people can cast a full vote.
  • Most importantly, some issues allow decisions that are neither adversarial nor consensual: Multi-winner rules to fund projects can give majorities and big minorities their fair shares of power — without letting anyone block action.

Voting cannot research the issues, dream up proposals or implement decisions.  It cannot prevent a majority from systematically treating minorities less well than it treats itself.  But casting ballots can teach members about setting budgets and priorities (FS).  A tally can find the major opinion groups and focus a discussion on the strongest idea from each group (STV) or on the most central options (Condorcet Series) or both (LER).

The chief goal of democratic government is still as Socrates said, "the greatest happiness for the greatest population." The best chance for that is in a system which tends toward political moderation with balanced polices.

Voting is sometimes accused of polarizing electorates.  If many voters feel they are playing their cards to oppose other voters, then the community does indeed have a problem.  Good rules by themselves cannot heal social rifts, but accurately showing all opinions can move the process forward.  Bad rules exacerbate real and contrived conflicts.

Yes-no ballots and plurality rules count cards placed in direct opposition.  Full-choice ballots and the rules explained in this ebook do not, so they do not encourage that way of thinking.  These rules may change our fundamental concepts and expectations of voting and government from tools of cultural war between interest groups to tools giving institutional support to diversity and its freedoms.

Ultimately, voting cannot satisfy people with opposing values.  Emigration, "voting with your feet," is the surest way to arrive at the policies you want.  When that is not practical, build democratic organizations with democrats.

The next page asks, “Are there democratic personality types? ”   Q&A game

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