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Australians Running On-Line Poll Based Senators 293

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the crowds-are-right-half-the-time dept.
exeme writes "The 2007 Australian election was recently announced and a new completely on-line based political party is running for election to the Australian Senate. Senator On-Line will give Australian residents eligible to vote a chance to vote in on-line polls for every piece of legislation that comes to the Senate. The senator will then blindly vote in accordance with the majority. The party has no position on anything until it is voted on and has been approved by the Australian Electoral Commission as a legitimate party. The party will be running two candidates in each Australian state." I imagine this could have a huge impact on CowboyNeal related legislation down under.
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Australians Running On-Line Poll Based Senators

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  • Democracy? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How do you expect the people's will to be subverted by corrupt politicians in such a system?
    • Re:Democracy? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScentCone (795499) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:37AM (#20983673)
      How do you expect the people's will to be subverted by corrupt politicians in such a system?

      By sucking around for unwise votes in response to well-groomed populist or alarmist nonsense. If all it takes is a mouseclick to "agree" with a position that's been slickly presented to you in a nice Flash-based web site that you just visited while reading your e-mail at home and having your fourth beer, then this makes matters worse, not better. If you can get a Nobel Peace Price for slickly packaging semi-truthy rhetoric, you can certainly get your pet legislation passed that way too - and even more quickly using this new bots-using-Senatorial-bots method. You want less corruption? Elect people with integrity and good judgement. Is that just too much work, compared to complaining? Then quit complaining.
      • Re:Democracy? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist (166417) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:50AM (#20983863)
        Elect people with integrity and good judgement.

        I would. I really would. I'm serious, I would.

        If I just could.
        • by Colin Smith (2679)
          Millions disagree with your extreme and unpopular position.

           
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Opportunist (166417)
            And billions of flies eat sh...

            Just because everyone does it doesn't make it right. The reverse conclusion is equally valid, btw.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mi (197448)

        I agree with you. People often forget, that the Democracy — in its original, direct-governing fashion — is what condemned Socrates to death.

        However, it is possible, that the described system can be perfected. For example, to cut out the "on-the-whim" decisions influenced by inebriation, etc., a voter may be required to reaffirm their decision again — a few days later.

        In the famous game of Civilization (at least, in the "Call To Power" version of it), there is a government called "Virtu

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Unordained (262962) *
          Is there a system within the law whereby a politician could make a promise and *ask* to be bound to that promise, by law? It's not really contract law, as the votes are anonymous, so that'd be hard to prove. It's not really a false-advertising law, as you're not selling a product or service (at least not in the traditional sense.) What does that leave? A contract with yourself? Seems like a problem we should have solved earlier, given the system of governance in use. But then we always assumed that:
          a) we'd
        • Re:Democracy? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SkelVA (1055970) <winhamwr.gmail@com> on Monday October 15, 2007 @03:51PM (#20987565) Homepage

          Democracy is two Wolves and a Sheep deciding what's for dinner
          -Thomas Jefferson
        • by Mr2001 (90979)

          People often forget, that the Democracy -- in its original, direct-governing fashion -- is what condemned Socrates to death.

          It's a mistake to blame direct governance for that, though. The same thing could happen in a republic, if it had the support of the representatives (which is much easier to get than the support of the population, since there are only a few representatives).

          The solution isn't to condemn direct democracy. It's to have a written constitution that makes certain issues off-limits, like the Bill of Rights, and make it more difficult to amend the constitution than to pass an average law. You can still put the vot

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wsherman (154283) *

        If all it takes is a mouseclick to "agree" with a position that's been slickly presented to you in a nice Flash-based web site that you just visited while reading your e-mail at home and having your fourth beer, then this makes matters worse, not better.

        As you allude to indirectly, most people simply don't have time to make fully informed decisions on most issues. If a direct democracy system did become widespread, I would expect to see a "free market" of organizations that would issue a series of "vote re

      • Re:Democracy? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by timeOday (582209) on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:45PM (#20985635)
        Everything you said applies just as much to voting for a representative as it does voting on individual issues. Can I think of many ways direct Democracy would fail? Sure. But in most every case, representative Democracy is already failing the same way. Vote buying? Check. Uninformed ballots cast? Check. Pork? Double-check!
    • Digital Divide (Score:3, Insightful)

      by queenb**ch (446380)
      I don't know what the rate of internet access is in Australia, but I'm absolutely certain it's not 100%. While I applaud the idea, there needs to be some sort of free access for those that either don't own a computer or or don't have an internet connection. Maybe 5 free minutes at the internet cafe so that people can read and vote on their legislation.

      2 cents,

      QueenB.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by munrom (853142)
        Every Library afaik has internet access these days
    • by Belacgod (1103921)
      With a system of One IP Address, One Vote, these senators' votes will be rigged to those with access to multiple computers--i.e, corrupt politicians.

      I highly doubt that whatever security they impose to restrict each individual person to one vote each will prove more effective than the efforts of politicians and lobbyists who see the opportunity to buy a vote at the cost of nothing more than a bunch of computers(reusable).

  • Missing Option (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MicktheMech (697533) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:18AM (#20983399) Homepage
    So will the missing option meme suddenly create a massive influx of amendments onto the Australian Senate floor?
    • Re:Missing Option (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HarvardAce (771954) on Monday October 15, 2007 @12:23PM (#20984311) Homepage
      While you were probably joking, this brings up a very important point -- elected officials do more than just vote "yea" or "nay," and I'm not talking about all the subversive stuff like accepting bribes and getting wined and dined...

      A good elected official will take a piece of legislation that has good parts and bad parts, strip out the bad parts, and add more good parts to it. If all you can do is simply vote yes or no, you're losing quite a bit of power there. Would they allow you to vote on a particular bill and say "yes if you strike out this one provision" or "yes as long as we add x, y, or z." What about creating legislation from scratch? If you rely on the other senators to do so, you are really at their mercy in terms of what legislation the "voting mass" ever gets to vote on.
  • Interesting approach (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:19AM (#20983409) Homepage
    but there is a danger here too - unless you can actually verify that vote-spamming doesn't occur. Another catch is the cross-section of society that is different when it comes to online-voting than regular voting, but that isn't necessarily a problem.

    But in all - this seems to be the next step in democracy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by kcbnac (854015)
      Per their FAQ:

      http://senatoronline.com.au/faq [senatoronline.com.au]

      2. Who can vote on each Bill or Issue?

      Every person recorded on the Australian Electoral roll is entitled to join SOL, without any membership fees, as a 'poll member'.
      • by apt142 (574425)
        3. What's to stop a non-Australian from signing up?

        Another thought that occurs to me: Will there be any attempt at discussion or education regarding bills in relation to this website? I took a quick look but failed to see anything like that. They encourage the masses to give their opinion, but do they arm them with any information on the issue at hand? Even an aggregation of other news sites and a slashdot style forum would be sufficient, IMHO.

        I could see this party being a worthwhile one in the se
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by teslar (706653)
      The next step? Come on, the Swiss have been doing this for centuries. They may do it the old-fashioned pen and paper way but it is more sophisticated since a referendum is only strictly required for constitutional changes but optional for changes in law unless at least 50.000 (I think) people request a referendum on this change in law. So they only ask the entire population if at least a sizeable minority actually cares about the topic under discussion.

      This is not new and definitely not a new step in democr
      • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:53AM (#20983915)
        Step back or forward, both have their ups and downs.

        Yes, a representative democracy has its advantages. If, and only if, the person who is supposed to represent you does actually represent you. If he's just a slick bastard who gets the lowbrows to vote for him because he promises easy solutions to problems that have none, he's worse than any direct democracy could be.

        Now, show me one politician who isn't such a slick bastard (one that actually has some power, not some wannabe, trying to get somewhere), and we'll talk.
  • A unique concept (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IBBoard (1128019) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:23AM (#20983469) Homepage
    Australia seems to have this "blindly voting senators" idea a bit better than the rest of us.

    Australia:

    Australian residents eligible to vote a chance to vote in on-line polls for every piece of legislation that comes to the Senate. The senator will then blindly vote in accordance with the majority. The party has no position on anything until it is voted on.


    Rest of capitalist, democratic world:

    Large corporations who have enough money can buy votes for every piece of legislation that comes to the Senate. The senator will then blindly vote in accordance with the money. The party has no position on anything until it is bought.


    Perhaps a bit of a cynical view?
    • by orclevegam (940336) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:32AM (#20983613) Journal
      You left out the part where the senator turns down things that would make them extremely unpopular with the voting public. Sure they get some slimy stuff passed anyway, but they're careful enough about it that it's hard to pin them to it. Also don't forget the last minute additions to bills that are totally unrelated to that bill, that's one of their favorite tricks. Can pass an anti-poison in the food bill, or something equally stupid everyone would be in favor of, but tack in a little extra clause that say makes it legal for megacorps to dump excess hazardous waste into the ocean or some equally evil piece of legislation. Senator looks good because who wants poison in their food, and still collects a fat check from the mega-corps because he got their legislation passed at the same time.
  • Wisdom of the Mob? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by asphaltjesus (978804) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:23AM (#20983475)
    I'm all for people getting involved in their political system, but this kind of system is exactly what the authors of the American Constitution were trying to moderate because they understood a government that is strictly Democratic doesn't work.

    Some non-political example is slashdot versus digg. Moderation is required.
    • by Tim C (15259) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:40AM (#20983727)
      Some non-political example is slashdot versus digg. Moderation is required.

      Actually that's a pretty good example; it even covers the fact that slashdot, while better than digg, is itself pretty far from perfect.
    • Some non-political example is slashdot versus digg. Moderation is required.
      except that on slashdot a large number of the moderations are done by other slashdotters, not editors. you then have meta-moderation which keeps the moderaters in check. most of the time it does a fairly good job of moderating out the idiot posts while lifting up fairly intelligent posts. it isn't perfect but it is certainly better than a dictatorship or pure mob rule.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 0xdeadbeef (28836)
      Poppycock. They feared those who didn't own land, because their interests were not their own. Don't hide your elitism in lame, unsupported platitudes.

      In case you haven't noticed, the editorial influence of slashdot isn't exactly something to brag about. Digg fails because the only people who select stories are those whose time is the last valuable. If there were an incentive system to make it worth ones while, you'd find a higher quality of moderators.

      America fails because the only people with direct access
      • I posted this somewhere else as well but your argument is so flawed I feel I must repeat myself.

        Commericial radio in holland got its frequencies through a public auction that gave them a license of a set number of years. When that license ran out the goverment wanted to hold another OPEN PUBLIC auction. Commercial radio was bigger then everyone thought and the goverment was sure that they could raise a lot of money through this because more bidders would now want take part.

        They were right, and the current

  • Good luck (Score:3, Funny)

    by Daishiman (698845) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:25AM (#20983493)
    Hope you've got some strong crypto to make sure voting is done fairly. You wouldn't want to have a million people voting the CowboyNeal option.
    • by apt142 (574425)
      Chair: All those in favor.
      27 Hands Raise
      Chair: All those against.
      72 Hands Raise
      Chair: All those Cowboy Neal.
      1 Hand Raised
    • Hmm... Does Slashdotting an entire government constitute an act of war, I wonder? :-/

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:25AM (#20983495)
    You elect people to have judgement in complex legislative matters, and you replace them if they exhibit bad judgement. And many legislative matters, especially as related to defense or other security issues, can require a legislator to have an understanding of information that isn't (well, can't be) widely known. That's why you send a human to do that job, not a robot. Many legislators are not, in useful terms, human, of course. But net-based polling systems strike me as a crazy way to handle lawmaking. Simple majorities are often simply wrong about things.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tomee (792877)
      That may be true, but as has been demonstrated more than once, elected people also exhibit bad judgment. The question is whether this works better than the current norm, and I think it is worth the experiment. If it doesn't work, vote for a regular senator again.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ScentCone (795499)
        elected people also exhibit bad judgment

        But people who can't or shouldn't personally access or assess the information that a Senator is supposed to analyze FOR her constituents will have to make poor judgements, by definition. A Senator may make poor decisions (and can lose their job for doing so), but a robot Senator must make decisions badly, because the people pushing his buttons aren't in a position to make good decisions. On some broad things - like, should the country raise such-and-such a tax on i
        • by apt142 (574425)
          I agree that the judgement-by-proxy voting will certainly be an issue, but, I disagree on the Senator analyst point.

          Most Senators, at least in the US, don't read the very bills they are voting on. They know the information on there based on conversations around the proverbial water cooler with other politicians. However accurate those conversations are with the reality of the bill is another issue. Having a couple of thousand voters looking over a bill directly would be very handy. Now, the question
          • Another interesting question: would the results of votes be different if all laws had to be short enough and clearly enough written for people to understand, with the voters deciding to vote "no" on principle if asked to accept dozens of pages of legal weaselry?

  • This will depend a lot on what definition of majority they're using. If it's a simple majority something like this could be very unpopular. Get 50.1% of the population to vote for something and you've suddenly got 49.9% very unhappy. A good system might require say 75% in favor to pass, with anything less than say 25% being tossed out. If it runs in between those two then it needs to be modified and resubmitted. Would be good if in addition to voting they provided a section for comments. Could say something
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by thelamecamel (561865)
      their FAQ says 70%. And they'll be on the watch for lobby groups manipulating results, unless there are over 100,000 votes cast for that piece of legislation (which will almost never happen). There's some space for them to stuff it up in the implementation, but this could be a lot worse.
  • by Radon360 (951529) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:32AM (#20983603)

    I suppose the next iteration will be text messaging the way you want your senator to vote.

    Text "Aye" to 73628 to vote YES.

    Text "Nay" to 73628 to vote NO.

    (Standard messaging charges apply.)

    • And you can vote as many times as you want, as long as you pay for the messages. Hey, that's a great idea! Selling democracy back to the people, piece by piece!
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:32AM (#20983609) Homepage Journal
    Democracy doesn't work. We've had them for thousands of years, and they always fail as the majority learns they can just vote to steal from the minority. Superdemocracy is even worse.

    The United States Beta that was started in the late 1700's had a great idea: let there be a pseudo-democracy at the Federal level, but limit is greatly. Don't let there be an easy way for the majority to steal from the minority. It worked for a while, until the People slowly upset the restrictions provided for in the Constitution. It was a sad day when Lincoln was elected, the first tyrant of many.

    The idea of voting en masse online sounds like a good idea. I recall that MajorBBS founder, the late Tim Stryker (a man I knew personally) was a big proponent of a Superdemocracy. Back then I agreed with him, until I started to realize that the failings of a nation/society generally happen because the People want more without giving more.

    My own political thought is what I call a Unanimocracy: a law doesn't get passed without unanimous consent. If you can't get it at the National level, try at the State level. Keep going down the ladder of size until you might end up with a law passed only in a home, or even only by an individual who restricts themselves. Sure, it's a grandious idea, but I feel it is the only fair way to set legislation. The Internet is a great Unanimocracy, with individuals deciding what limitations they'll accept, and others forming relationships based on agreeing to those limitation. You could say that the dreaded click-contracts are similar, although they're covered by "laws" rather that voluntary contracts that can be broken by either party.

    The only way I'd accept a Democracy of any kind is if there was an agreement that 10% of any voting bloc can veto any legislation they disagree with. Let 50.1% say "We want to tax tall black men to pay for education of short asian women." Let the legislation be unless 10% of the population votes VETO. That's three ways to vote: Yes, I want it. No, but I don't really care. Veto, this is bad. A 10% veto requirement would get me to support government again, because the minority has power to stop a crazy, and theft-prone, majority.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by orclevegam (940336)

      It's a neat idea, but in practice it couldn't be done. You'd have no one of knowing from location to location what set of laws are in effect. What if say a neighborhood passes a law that makes it illegal to wear blue on Tuesdays, and you go to visit your friend on Tuesday wearing blue and get chucked in jail for it. Also, I would expect you'd want the state or city police to enforce these local laws, or will everyone have to provide their own police for at every level? Assuming that you'll use the city or s

      • by dada21 (163177)
        I've dedicated a good portion of my life and future to fleshing it out. Voluntary government IS a great idea, and one that I think can work as society progresses in a direction of freedom rather than force.

        First of all, there is absolutely no reason for you to care what a given person's laws are. Maybe your neighbor believes that killing women over the age of 50 is legal. If you're a woman (or a man) over 50 (or under 50), the law has no purpose for you unless you actively try to enter their property. T
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:55AM (#20983941) Homepage

      You do understand that absolutely nothing would ever get done, right? I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, but if you want your government to ever do anything, your ideas won't really work. No matter how great an idea is, you'd probably find 10% who would be willing to vote "veto".

      Of course, the traditional American theory of government is that deadlock is good, government "getting things done" was bad. (Don't believe me? Read the Federalist Papers.) Now that we have a two-party system, that idea has been subverted. You need a 50% vote to get something done, and usually one single political party controls at least 50%. The original Federalist idea was that there would be many different factions, so that reaching 50% would require getting people from different factions to agree. To that end, I think it might be worth considering that we could raise the percentage needed to pass legislation to something like 60%, making it difficult for a single party to force legislation through. But a 10% veto would happen all the time.

    • by wsherman (154283) *

      Let 50.1% say "We want to tax tall black men to pay for education of short asian women." Let the legislation be unless 10% of the population votes VETO.

      The 10% number sounds kind of arbitrary to me but there's a more general way to achieve something similar to what you're proposing.

      Require that the law treat everyone equally unless each of the unequal parties separately approve of the law. In your example, tall black men would only have to pay for the education of short Asian women if the majority of tall

    • by teslar (706653)

      My own political thought is what I call a Unanimocracy: a law doesn't get passed without unanimous consent. If you can't get it at the National level, try at the State level. Keep going down the ladder of size until you might end up with a law passed only in a home, or even only by an individual who restricts themselves.

      Oh dear, this is severely flawed in so many ways. First, if people could actually agree with each other unanimously at a national or even world-wide level, heck, we would be living in a com

    • by MrSteveSD (801820)

      Democracy doesn't work. We've had them for thousands of years, and they always fail as the majority learns they can just vote to steal from the minority

      Whereas with the current system the minority steal from the majority on a massive scale. I can't think of a better example of this than the current theft of billions from the US public by corporations via Iraq. The truth is that the rich minority have not been paying their fair share of the tax burden for some time. Increasingly the taxes have been forced onto the public and away from the corporations.

      The problem with democracies (or at least the way we run them) is that the rich basically end up in

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jrp2 (458093)
      Interesting idea. I think you may have taken it to the extreme, but the concept in general is something I have pondered before. A good example is for laws that violate basic rights, but are probably the right thing to do.

      An example would be the US right to bear arms. With a literal reading, it clearly states we can possess any weapon we want. That, in most people's opinion, is preposterous as it allows anyone to own a missile or atomic weapon. We, of course, long ago made these things illegal. BUT, tha
  • Because it gives the people a direct voice in the legislative process. I also think that overall I wouldn't want to be in a country where the idea worked completely because at a certain level, the populace has no conscience and pure democracy can be manipulated to violate human rights of minorities SO SO SO easy, i.e. populist legislation without moral direction is a dangerous dangerous course.

    Also, it seems like the process can be controlled or at least subverted by the major parties simply by the leaders

  • by E++99 (880734) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:37AM (#20983691) Homepage
    The beauty of republicanism is that even though the people may only elect a representative by a majority, the representative is then the representative of ALL the people. The social contract is that the people agree to be represented by a representative chosen by the majority. Thus, at least in theory, republicanism is government by the People, by consent of the People, not government by the majority.

    A direct-democracy candidate is by definition only and always the representative of the majority, leaving the minority unrepresented. Direct democracy is, both in theory and practice, government by the majority and only the majority. It is therefore arguably the worst possible form of government, as all other forms of tyranny involve a tyranny of a minority, which inherently gives the majority the potential power to forcibly overthrow the tyrants. One cannot overthrow a tyranny of the majority.
  • by kevmatic (1133523) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:38AM (#20983705)
    Governing bodies make dozens of votes on bills a day. Do they expect people to read, understand, and vote intelligently on, dozens of bills dozens of pages long a week? There's reasons we have people that work do this crap (nearly) full-time.

    Voter turnout for everyday things is gonna suck.

    Senators do more than just vote, too. They talk about bills, argue them, control things in committees, and introduce bills themselves. How are you going to do that if you are supposed to be a puppet of the people without any ideas of your own?

    I wouldn't vote this party in.
    • Exactly. I've not seen anyone else really touch on this and am quite surprised by it. Maybe in ozzland senators dont actually DO anything, but in the US senators put forth all sorts of pork barrel legislation to help along THEIR constituency. Any idealistic community who elected one fo these robotroid senators would be selling themselves completely shrt because they would be giving up this voice in their favor. Yeah it's idealistic and looks like a noble goal, but in the real world such idealism is also qui
  • If they ever managed to get enough votes to get a seat - and the Australian Senate has quite low requirements due to it being a multi-seat proportional system but they'd be better of running for state government, in the NSW Upper House for example you only need 4.55% to get quota for a seat. They're more restricted on the preference deals they can make than other parties - the only thing they can offer is to swap preferences they can't make policy tweaks obviously - so they have basically no hope.

    However, i
  • well i have been thinking why such a thing wasnt undertaken somewhere. apparently it is being done now. DIRECT DEMOCRACY - the next step in human civilization's evolution, and the next function of internet.
  • I'm fairly sure we'll see voter participation rise to around 120%.
  • by zentinal (602572)

    Umm, correct me if I'm mistaken, but...

    Isn't SOL a common acronym for (depending upon your cultural variant), "Shit Out of Luck," "Sadly Out of Luck," "Soldier Out of Luck," or "Solely Out of Luck."
  • In a true democracy you don't vote for people, you vote for ideas. In an ideal world, every decision would be done by consulting the people. Sounds nice.

    Except can it work? How would anything be done unless it is popular? How do you do anything that the major opinion makers do not want to?

    In holland we had a bit of trouble with commercial radio, years ago frequencies were auctioned off, then when the contract ran out the goverment wanted to auction it off again, this lead to complaints from the previous w

  • Sweet! (Score:3, Funny)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday October 15, 2007 @11:57AM (#20983961)
    Instead of buying senators, you just can put those funds into figuring out how to game the voting system.

    May the bast hacker win!
  • We pay senators to do important work, we pay them to learn all about
    many important and unimportant issues.
    Some mentioned security concerns but this is not the point, practically all
    sensitive issues are resolved in the executive branch and not the legislative.

    However, anyone voting for such a party is in fact committing himself to take care
    in the many votes to follow. Should he not take interest we are again letting small interest
    groups who happen to care about some minor piece of legislation pass silly self
  • It looks like an Australian senator makes between $108,000 and $126,000. For only running a website, this is a cush job. And one assumes the senatorial priviledges like office space and going on overseas "fact finding missions" and whatnot can get claimed by the webmaster. Pure genius - money, travel, lunches, etc, all on the public tab for running a website.
  • That's what this (and all similar) projects require but is simply not feasible: Informing everyone who wants to (or even can) vote about the matter, unbiased and without prejudice, so s/he can make his or her own decision.

    First of all, too many people don't even want that. They don't want their own opinion. They enjoy being told what to think. They get their opinion from TV or maybe even newspapers. Though the latter is hard to verify, since you'd have to be able to read.

    Then, nobody knows everything. Let's
  • From the summary:

    Senator On-Line [CC] will give Australian residents eligible to vote a chance to vote in on-line polls for every piece of legislation that comes to the Senate. The senator will then blindly vote in accordance with the majority. The party has no position on anything until it is voted on and has been approved by the Australian Electoral Commission as a legitimate party.

    So, this would be the Senator On-Line party? Where have I heard SOL [acronymfinder.com] before? ;^)

    Not off to the most auspicious start, are they?

  • I seem to remember hearing about a group who wanted to do something like this in the UK, but as far as I remember it was illegal. It could well be in Australia as well. The idea is that we have a representative democracy, things like this go against the fundamental ideals of our democracies.

    Representative democracies are valuable because they are a good way to avoid the tyranny of the majority whilst still allowing people to express a preference every (4/5-ish) years if the representatives express poor
  • Today's Tom Sawyer? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fygment (444210) on Monday October 15, 2007 @12:15PM (#20984203)
    Some thoughts:

    a) Homogenization of the vote? Any other senator would be wise, in the absence of strong constituency lobbying, to simply vote with the Senator Online. How could you go wrong if the Online vote is a reflection of the public desire?

    b) What is the likely demographic of those who would use Senator Online? The hard working middle-class type isn't likely to want the added burden of being a defacto senator added to the existing job, parenting, soccer mom'ing, etc. Maybe the Senator Online would reflect the will of those with time to spare eg. retirees, welfare abusers, other politcal candidates with an agenda to push, Slashdotters wanting to comment on something different?

    c) What platform would a Senator Online candidate use? Great to be a candidate if all you do is vote as told. Who could find fault with your performance? A job for life if you could get it. But what's your election platform? "Vote for me. I'll do exactly what you want ... uh ... better than the other guy who wants to do the same thing. Umm ... I'll do it naked!"

    Doesn't this almost seem like Tom Sawyer? Get someone else to do the work (assume researchers/collaters are hired), get someone else to take responsibility (the online voters) but you take the perks (and pay). Does this seem like a scam to anyone else?
  • I, for one, welcome our new proletariat overlords.

  • wtf mate? (Score:3, Informative)

    by belg4mit (152620) on Monday October 15, 2007 @12:27PM (#20984375) Homepage
    What the hell is that subject supposed to mean?

    Here's a better title:
    New Australian Party Backs Internet Opinion-poll Driven Candidates

    Now, internet aside, how is that any different from business as usual?
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Monday October 15, 2007 @06:15PM (#20989151)
    Democracy is based upon the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How's that again? I missed something.

    Autocracy is based upon the assumption that one man is wiser than a million men. Let's play that over again, too. Who decides?

    Lazarus Long
  • by Eskarel (565631) on Monday October 15, 2007 @08:53PM (#20990337)
    Just wanted to make that one clear. The Senate down here is much more about moderating bills that are already going to go through as opposed to being directly involved with legislation. For the most part its role tends to be to bicker continuously and moderate the really terrible stuff. Folks here tend to vote pragmatically for parliament and then vote their conscience for the senate.

    Most of the time it works pretty well(though the current government is sort of suffering quite a bit because in the last election they took the senate too and there's no one there to buffer their own stupidity), but it's not composed of the same sorts of people as the US Senate and an on-line senator would fit in pretty well there.

    Add the fact that most politicians tend to just vote the way of the polls anyway.

When I left you, I was but the pupil. Now, I am the master. - Darth Vader

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