Democracy in the 21st Century

Democracy by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

If you think the way we are governed isn’t going to change then you’re going to get a surprise.  New communication technologies have always changed the way we have governed ourselves and the rise of the computers and the Internet will continue changing democracy in the 21st century.

All over the world people are applying technology to the political problems of the day with the greatest of these being the problem of voter representation in our political systems. Billions of people feel they aren’t represented adequately by their government. This is going to change.

Forget electronic voting machines in polling booths. There are systems today experimenting in using blockchain  technologies to achieve complete and sometimes real time voter control of the government.

This is a roundup of some of those experiments categorised into blockchain and non-blockchain.

Blockchain

The Awaken Direct Democracy Project

Although The Awaken Direct Democracy Project isn’t up and running yet it still gets a mention as a New Zealand effort to “concept stage storyboards for a mobile web-app to enable NZ citizens cast private and secure digital votes into a public block-chain backed parliament. Vote in elections, acts and bills – on legislation past current and future!”

Democracy Earth

Democracy Earth is “building Sovereign, an open source and decentralised democratic governance protocol for any kind of organisation.” and seeks to make democracy border less for the entire planet. Fronting it is Santiago Siri who previously worked on DemocracyOS.

D-CENT

D-CENT describes itself as a “Europe-wide project creating open, secure and privacy-aware tools for direct democracy and economic empowerment” and is in use in Barcelona, Reykjavik, Helsinki and Madrid. It provides a tool kit for improved and secure participation.

Flux

Flux is an tool Australians can use to directly participate in parliament. It is also a registered political party. It promises, “you’ll be given a vote on every bill put before Federal Parliament, and can use that vote immediately on the issue at hand, give it to a trusted third party to cast on your behalf, or save it for an issue you care more passionately about later.”

Non-Blockchain

Adhocracy.de

“Adhocracy.de is a free to use participation platform which makes possible a democratic, transparent, open, and goal-oriented discussion and decision making process for all organisations and communal interest groups. This new form of discussion and decision-making is not only able to be shared with an organisation’s membership, but it can also be shared with any interested citizens if so desired.”

D21

“The D21 voting method allows you to choose multiple options and cast “minus-votes” against options you disfavour. This enables voters to express a richer range of preferences, and reveals points of consensus and controversy – a significant advantage over traditional single-vote polls, which simply show winners and losers.”

Debate Graph

“DebateGraph helps communities of any size to externalise, visualise, question, and evaluate all of the considerations that any member thinks may be relevant to the topic at hand – and by facilitating intelligent, constructive dialogue within the community around those issues.”

Democracy Lab

Democracy Lab describes itself  as “a nonprofit organisation working to create and curate civic technologies that help communities frame issues, deliberate solutions, make decisions, and take collective action.” It seeks to match people values and objectives with the policies we create.

DemocracyOS

DemocracyOS is an Argentinian online collaboration and voting platform. It allows users to propose, debate, and vote and seeks to provide a common platform for any city, state, or government to actually put proposals to a vote. It is in use in Argentina, Mexico, and Tunisia.

Liquidfeedback

“LiquidFeedback is an open-source software, powering internet platforms for proposition development and decision making.” It uses liquid democracy, collective moderation and preferential voting with a fully transparent process.

Loomio

Loomio is another New Zealand effort at enabling group collaboration and decision making. “Loomio saves time, gives clear outcomes, and keeps everything in one place.” It is used by many communities, companies and by the Internet Parties of New Zealand, Australia, and USA.

Reasonwell

“Reasonwell helps people to engage in productive debate, by making it easy to map out arguments, assumptions and evidence. You’ll be able to find the best arguments for and against any proposition, have your say and give your reasoning. Reasonwell is not a forum or a wiki, it’s something new: a collaborative argument map.”

Voteflow

Voteflow is another implementation of liquid democracy. It states, “Rather than one person representing you for everything, you can pick representatives for topics. You can also pick someone you know and trust as a representative for you on a topic. Representatives can pick people to represent them in the same or subtopics and this means you get Chains, or trees of representation.  Particularly as you get deeper into sub-topics, a person may be able to represent a massive number of people. You are always able see what your representatives do, override their decisions – or pick someone else.”

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