Newsletter of the Society for Democracy including Random Selection (SDRS)
incorporating updates for the Campaign to Defend the Right to a Secret Ballot (CDRSB)
4th December 2007 Issue No. 4
ISSN 1756-4964 (Print)
Since the Conference on International Electoral Standards held at the UN on 15th February 2006 and the CDRSB briefing to the Convening Group of the Community of Democratic Nations on 25th July 2006 progress in defending the right to a secret ballot has been made in two main areas: first, outreach among the general public; second, our formulation of global conflict resolution proposals for sponsorship by the Community of Democratic Nations through the United Nations Democracy Fund.
Outreach work among the general public has centred on the CDRSB pamphlet ‘Postal Ballots on Demand: the Democratic Alternative.’ This was first published in June 2007 and the edited, extended version of the pamphlet can be viewed on www.sortition.com. The extended edition of the pamphlet was distributed in October and November 2007 among members of the public canvassed in accordance with transparently predictive, automated schedules of random selection who are signatories to our petition expressing concern about the use of postal ballots on demand. Results so far are encouraging. About 140 petition signatories agreed to examine the pamphlet. While a minority of these subsequently contacted have refused to discuss the pamphlet any further, either through lack of time, inability to cope with the complexity of the subject or for unclarified reasons, the great majority since contacted have expressed agreement, at least in broad terms, with the basic truths of common sense concerning democracy posited in the work. Our contention is that at the least a great majority of this majority will continue to uphold agreement with the said truths even subsequent to receiving adversarial written work or participating in adversarial focus group debate.
The inclusion in the pamphlet of self defence as a fundamental democratic issue has since been vindicated in its particular application to the unlimited use of postal ballots during legal proceedings in Birmingham concerning allegations of electoral fraud. As the Times of the 1st December 2007 reported, evidence of criminal intimidation against jurors by Labour activists accused of electoral fraud using postal ballots during the court hearings has emerged, including arson.
Below are the chief points which have been included in the CDRSB grant application to the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) submitted on 25th November 2007. They are derived from the theoretical basis of understanding presented in the international electoral standards conference report and the pamphlet “Postal Ballots on Demand: the Democratic Alternative.’
Type of Applicant: Civil Society Organisation or Non-Governmental Organisation
Internet site: www.sortition.com
Name of Key Contact: Dr Keith Nilsen
Please indicate prior experience working in the same sector, country or region
We have conducted trials using the analysis and canvassing methods indicated which are explained for this purpose in our pamphlet 'Postal Ballots on Demand: the Democratic Alternative' (see www.sortition.com). Dr Nilsen worked in Russia for Moscow News from 1978-1980. On July 1 2003 he presented CDRSB proposals for using sortition in democratic development and security force recruitment to help contain deleterious factional influences in Iraq at the USAID Iraq Conference in Washington DC.
Operational budget: $250.000- $500.000
Please indicate prior experience working with the United Nations
Dr Nilsen organised and chaired the Conference on International Electoral Standards sponsored by the Nigeria Permanent Mission held at the UN in New York on 15 February 2006 and was invited to present a briefing to the Convening Group of the Community of Democratic Nations in Washington DC on 25 July 2006. In 1999 Kofi Annan sent a letter of support welcoming the establishment of the committee Research 210, a forerunner of the CDRSB which Dr Keith Nilsen also chaired.
Affiliation: A provisional international forum on democratic standards was formed at the Conference on International Electoral Standards held at the UN in 2006.
Project Title: Global Conflict Resolution Project
Project Location: Global.
The project will foster cooperation between radicalism and conservatism by promoting constitutional reforms indicated in the report of the February 2006 Conference on International Electoral Standards held at the UN and the CDRSB briefing to the Community of Democratic Nations (see www.sortition.com). Sortition is advocated to promote citizen participation and help contain deleterious factional influences in electoral and recruitment practices. Canvassing operations regarding electoral practice can help verify self evident truths of common sense including Jefferson's principle that "the earth belongs to the living" and enable recruitment of randomly selected independent volunteers to develop the project in the USA, then Russia and thereafter as an international constitutional reform unit for deployment in conflict zones such as Iraq and to promote global outreach activities. A supporting recruitment enterprise specialising in random selection will similarly be developed.
Requested Amount: $138,000
Activity Line: Democratic Dialogue and Constitutional Processes
Addressing gender inequality is a key objective of the project
Unlimited postal voting threatens the right to a secret ballot especially among poor women. With payment for citizen participation sortition as alternative means to address falling voter turn out enhances gender equality without positive discrimination since it is based on random selection, not election by 'choice' in which candidates compete to assert special skills, such as oratory. Sortition will not threaten the right to a secret ballot or include competition among or between women and men.
Marginalized or Vulnerable Groups
Addressing the needs of marginalized or vulnerable groups is a key objective of the project.
Our strategy to resolve conflict between radicalism and conservatism can ultimately bring incalculable benefits for marginalised groups. Unlimited postal voting threatens the right to a secret ballot in poor regions where electoral intimidation is common. Sortition with payment for citizen participation can enhance equality for marginalised groups especially in highly stratified societies since random selection precludes competition between candidates and nullifies fundraising powers.
Problem being addressed
This project addresses two related problems. The first is deleterious factional influences arising from conflict between radicalism and conservatism, including both those associated with its general context and those associated with the unrestricted use of postal ballots to address falling voter turnout in developed states. This practice threatens the right to a secret ballot and the integrity of electoral process. The second problem is that of falling voter turnout itself. We advocate developing use of sortition in conformity with Jeffersonian aspirations both as means to preserve the integrity of democratic process while improving citizen participation and in order to moderate polarisation of factions upholding sharply opposed monosystemic beliefs. In this way distinct macroeconomic policies may be tested and amended or changed without conflict by means of long term cycles of fundamental review on the basis of constitutional reforms which seek to accommodate multisystemic options.
To resolve conflict between radicalism and conservatism, increase citizen participation and contain deleterious factional influences by creating a consensus for constitutional reform based on Jeffersonian democratic principles incorporating sortition in electoral and recruitment practices.
Key activities are first, canvassing by random selection concerning dangers posed by postal ballots to form volunteer networks and focus groups to study by adversarial methods and so verify the self evident truths of common sense which best inform constitutional reform. Second, to develop a recruitment agency utilising these networks specialising in the use of preliminary vetting through random selection. Third, outreach among academic and political circles to promote project aims.
Predicted output products will be canvassing, survey and volunteer recruitment figures, together with adversarial focus group deliberation minutes and votes which provide statistical verification of those self evident truths of common sense which support our constitutional reform aims together with a successfully executed business plan to establish a not for profit recruitment agency specialising in using transparent random selection procedures for preliminary vetting purposes.
Results will be newly established, verifiably independent organisations in America and Russia together with an international unit for global outreach and deployment which seek to reconcile conflict between radicalism and conservatism through the project's common platform of constitutional reform.
Monitoring and Evaluation
US, Russian, academic, business and wider diplomatic interest is established and can be further developed and given organisational expression alongside international state agency representation by forming a project monitoring sub-committee to advise on method, measure results and evaluate outcomes.
Project innovation includes the first strategy to resolve conflict between radicalism and conservatism using common sense realist analysis of Jeffersonian principles and sortition through transparently predictive automated schedules of random selection for electoral and recruitment practices.
Financial support will continue through a not for profit recruitment agency using random selection as a preliminary vetting procedure in e.g. banking, security and child care employment and also through project membership growth which our UK experience and trials indicate can be sustainable.
UNDEF was suggested at our Conference held at the UN sponsored by the Nigeria Mission and at the July 2006 Community of Democratic Nations meeting to which we were invited by the hosting Washington DC Mali Embassy. UNDEF is the most suitable funding authority for Global Conflict Resolution.
SDRS 27 Old Gloucester Street
© Dr. Keith Nilsen