Online voting has big implications

The Internet offers the state opportunities for surveillance and control. It also offers opportunities to control the state

For about the past two weeks members of the Raft River Elementary School PAC (parents’ advisory council) have been promoting on Facebook and elsewhere a contest sponsored by Aviva Insurance to get funding for a new intermediate playground.

During the two weeks of voting for the first qualifying round, Clearwater’s entry traded first place back and forth with one from Souris, PEI. On the first round’s final day of voting on Monday, Souris pulled ahead but Clearwater was still comfortably within the group of 30 from its price group to move onto the next level of the competition.

In order to vote, a person needed to sign in with Aviva. Once signed in, he or she was given up to 15 votes to cast. A person could vote several times for a project, but only once per day. Clearwater’s entry, for example, ended up with over 17,000 votes but had less than 3,500 individual supporters.

The contest is an interesting process in its own right but it also points to the larger possibilities of the Internet to expand and reform democracy.

We need only look south of the border to see how a minority within a minority has hijacked the American House of Representatives and effectively shut down their federal government, and to realize that democratic institutions designed 100 or 200 years ago no longer are adequate.

The Aviva contest is an example of weighted voting. If you care enough about an issue to come back and vote for it day after day, then your opinion counts more than someone who only votes once or twice.

Other examples of weighted voting would work more like how skating is judged at the Olympics.

Instead of giving one vote to one candidate in an election, voters would grade them on a scale of, say, one to 10.

Political scientists and people who study such things have demonstrated, pretty convincingly, that this type of weighted voting (also called range voting) gives outcomes more in line with that the electorate wants than any other system.

The Internet offers the state unprecedented opportunities for surveillance and control. It also offers the general population unprecedented opportunities to control the state.

We need to take advantage of the opportunities the Internet offers for election reform and direct democracy.

 

In the meantime, voting for the second qualifying round in the Aviva contest will start Oct. 21.