IDEA: How would America really vote?

Idea

Image by annais via Flickr

DISCLAIMER: I post ideas here as they come to me with the thought that somebody else may see them and express an interest in developing them or working with me to develop them. Of course, there’s nothing to keep you from going off and developing an idea on your own, but you should know that this blog tracks the times and dates of my posts and updates to them, which could be considered my copyright. All I ask is that if you like an idea you read about on my site and you want to pursue it, you make an effort to include me in the development as much as I want to be –which may be not at all. If I had time to develop every idea that came to me, I would do so instead of posting them here. 😉

Background…

Technology has come to a point where it would be possible to create a true democracy: one without representatives, one in which every person has a vote on every issue. Obviously, there are a number of reasons why this is not practical even if it is possible, but don’t you sometimes find yourself looking at how our representatives vote on something and catch yourself thinking “there is no way that vote represents the feelings of the bulk of the people in my state”?

You can’t trust polling services because their sample population is always too small. You can’t trust politicians because the surest way to know someone in Washington, D.C. is lying is to hear them speak a number. Jon Kyl‘s recent proving of this was both horrifying and hilarious.

So here’s what I propose…

  • Let’s create a website that anybody can join. Most information on the site would be available to all members, some would be only available to paying members as a bonus for their contribution.
  • On this site, we will have a daily posting of all of the issues being discussed in the House and Senate with special attention being paid to anything being voted upon that day. Each issue will have it’s own thread that will include a summary of the proposed legislation, links to the legislation for site viewers to review and a count of each of the members of congress and how they voted on the bill.
  • Members of the site will be able to enter their own vote (Yes/No/Abstain/Put this aside until later), which they will be able to change up until voting is finished in the House and Senate for the bill.
  • As site members vote, their votes will be compared to the members of congress and site members will be able to see how their representatives stack up against them personally.
  • Similarly, site members will be able to see stats on how often the actual vote was similar or different from that of the site members; how individual congress member’s votes stack up next to the votes of the site members.
  • We will invite essays from pundits on all sides of an issue for consideration by the site members.
  • There will also be daily polls for issues not being discussed in either branch of congress (What do you think the yearly salary of a senator/representative should be? What do you think is the most important issue for congress to address today? etc.)

What do you think? What would you change/add? Want to help me build it? Please comment below. I have been thinking about this project for a long time and would have done it myself if I had 1/8 of the technical skill needed to pull off something this complex. My intent would be to invite donations from site members to keep it going plus some limited advertising (like if one of the essayists has a book out, we would link to it on Amazon so we could get a cut of sales from our members), and I would gladly split any profits with any and all team members for the time they are involved in the project.

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3 comments so far

  1. Phil fischer on

    Hi Mat, interesting idea, but there are a couple of premises involved you assume to be true. 1) a true democracy is good and 2) the vast majority if the population can use computers. Another minor point is that many people have strong opinions about things political but don’t wish to follow it on a daily basis, trusting their representative to vote appropriately – there are already sites and paper publications that track voting records. Our representative form of government was designed to protect the individual from the “tyranny of the majority”, which is what a true democracy produces. With true democracy the minority loses its voice, not a good thing.

    By the way. Thank you for all your help building my house.

    • matweller on

      Building your house? Forgive me, I don’t get the joke.

    • matweller on

      We can debate the strengths or weaknesses of true democracy another time, that’s not what this post is about.

      While having a majority of all citizens using the website would be great, it’s not required. Just leveraging the existing active online population would be enough to sample a much larger population than any poll you see on the news that claims to represent American feelings.

      I think you miss the point of the site I propose, and that may be my fault for being unclear. There are places to view voting records, but a site like this would take those statistics and figure out which politicians you’re most in line with. It would be something between an online dating service and one of those media sites that predicts things you might like based on what you tell it about your preferences. It wouldn’t be an answer in and of itself, it would be a tool for people that are otherwise too busy to give the attention they would like to political issues and at the same time, it would give folks a chance to engage daily for as much time as they can afford.


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