One flaw in the current democratic system is once the politicians convinced the voters to vote for them and won, the voter really don’t have much say until the next election. You will often not hear from your representative again until then. The internet can change that through online voting and polling. Here is a possible mechanism for regular consultation.
Once an MP wins an election, a voting or polling system can be used to give voters in his/her constituency a voice on all matters before the legislature. The program will be developed using open source so that everyone can scrutinize the code. To encourage increased participation, the system should be straightforward and easy to use requiring minimal effort with simple registration. It should involve minimal cost to administer. The department or independent body administering the polling system would provide a personal access code to each eligible voter. This access code can be used to create a new user id and password for accessing the discussion forum and voting system.
The leadership role of the MP will be to make sure the voters are well informed by providing information that might not have been easily available to the voters. Disagreement and opposition to a policy usually results from fear or lack of information. The MP needs to participate actively (or through a proxy/admin) in open forum and ongoing debate such as the message board. A town hall meeting could also be called for major policy issues.
After the discussion and information phase is over, the voter then get to vote on the voting/polling system. The vote/poll could act as an indicator of how your constituency feel. The MP can still vote against the majority sentiment since it is non-binding (especially during initial roll-out). However, the MP will be under pressure to explain why he/she is voting against the majority of his constituency. If the MP is constantly seen to be defying his constituent’s voices and his/her explanation is not satisfactory, the voters are more likely to remember the slight on the effort they’ve put in to debate and discuss the issues. In this model, the voters becomes active participants rather than remaining totally oblivious until the next election. Personal insults and bullying will be banned on online forum.
How does online auditing works? After voting, a confirmation number is generated by the system. After the voting has closed, tabulated vote results are displayed with the confirmation code and that voter’s vote. Voter are asked to keep the confirmation code private if they want to keep their anonymity. Anyone can see the tabulated results and other information such as the number of voters who voted. But there should be no personally identifiable information on the publicly displayed tabulated results.
What about Seniors or non-computer savvy voters? Library access and assisted voting by trusted relative or friends will be an option. Moderator of debate/discussion forum is also obligated to compile mail-in letters or call-in comments and present them online if they have not been covered yet.
All records will be made available permanently (or retained over long period of time) and can be referenced in the next election.