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  • Showing only topics with the tag "reform". Back to normal view
    1. Could "fuzzing" voting, election, and judicial process improve decisionmaking and democratic outcomes?

      Voting is determinative, especially where the constituency is precisely known, as with a legislature, executive council, panel of judges, gerrymandered electoral district, defined organisational...

      Voting is determinative, especially where the constituency is precisely known, as with a legislature, executive council, panel of judges, gerrymandered electoral district, defined organisational membership. If you know, with high precision, who is voting, then you can determine or influence how they vote, or what the outcome will be. Which lends a certain amount of predictability (often considered as good), but also of a tyranny of the majority. This is especially true where long-standing majorities can be assured: legislatures, boards of directors, courts, ethnic or cultural majorities.

      The result is a very high-stakes game in establishing majorities, influencing critical constituencies, packing courts, and gaming parliamentary and organisational procedures. But is this the best method --- both in terms of representational eqquity and of decision and goverrnance quality?

      Hands down the most fascinating article I've read over the past decade is Michael Schulson's "How to choose? When your reasons are worse than useless, sometimes the most rational choice is a random stab in the dark", in Aeon. The essay, drawing heavily on Peter Stone, The Luck of the Draw: The Role of Lotteries in Decision Making (2011), which I've not read, mostly concerns decisions under uncertainty and of the risk of bad decisions. It seems to me that it also applies to periods of extreme political partisanship and division. An unlikely but possible circumstance, I'm sure....

      Under many political systems, control is binary and discrete. A party with a majority in a legislature or judiciary, or control of the executive, has absolute control, barring procedural exceptions. Moreover, what results is a politics of veto power, where the bloc defining a controlling share of votes effectively controls the entire organisation. It may not be able to get its way, but it can determine which of two pluralities can reach a majority. Often in favour of its own considerations, overtly or covertly --- this is an obvious engine of corruption.

      (This is why "political flexibility" often translates to more effective power than a hardline orthodoxy.)

      One inspiration is a suggestion for US Supreme Court reform: greatly expand the court, hear more cases, but randomly assign a subset of judges to each case.[1] A litigant cannot know what specific magistrates will hear a case, and even a highly-packed court could produce minority-majority panels.

      Where voting can be fuzzed, the majority's power is made less absolute, more uncertain, and considerations which presume that such a majority cannot be assured, one hopes, would lead to a more inclusive decisionmaking process. Some specific mechanisms;

      • All members vote, but a subset of votes are considered at random. The larger the subset, the more reliably the true majority wins.
      • A subset of members votes. As in the court example above.
      • An executive role (presidency, leader, chairmanship) is rotated over time.
      • For ranged decisions (quantitative, rather than yes/no), a value is selected randomly based on weighted support.

      Concensus/majority decisionmaking tends to locked and unrepresentitive states. Fuzzing might better unlock these and increase representation.


      1. A selection of articles on Supreme Court reforms and expansion, from an earlier G+ post: https://web.archive.org/web/20190117114110/https://plus.google.com/104092656004159577193/posts/9btDjFcNhg1 Also, notably, court restructuring or resizing has been practiced: "Republicans Oppose Court Packing (Except When They Support It)".
      14 votes