All Party Forum For
A Better Election Model
Anytime Voting, Indefinite Terms, Multiple Votes and Trust Bases
Read (pdf) Review

It has been over seven decades since we became a sovereign independent nation, espousing democracy as our political system. In these seven decades the world has changed greatly, advancing from paper age to electronic age. Taking advantage of these advances, we have made our lives simpler and better in many areas, such as in communications, banking, commerce, education, healthcare, hospitality, entertainment, and even agriculture. But we have left out one important area behind in the paper age. It is the election process. The use of electronic voting machines is a small step in bringing the election process into the electronic age. But, there is much more that can be and should be done to make the election process better using the advances of electronic age.

Democracy is about people governing themselves through their trusted leaders. But the election model that is currently in place, with the five year election cycle and the FPTP (First Past The Post) method to determine the winning candidate, has many flaws and is depleting our faith in democracy by engendering a lose and uneasy rather than strong and healthy relationship among the voters, leaders, parties and governments.

The first major flaw in the current model is that the relationship between leaders and voters is not symmetric. Leaders get to decide the fate of the voters every single day, but voters get to decide the fate of the leaders only once in five years. Voters do not know what leaders would do, and leaders do not know what voters think of them till the next election. There is no mechanism for voters to express their approval or disapproval of the policies or actions or performance of the leaders and the governments on a regular basis. There is also no mechanism to express approval or disapproval of each individual policy or action. Voters have to accept or reject the policies and actions of the leaders and parties as a whole.

The second major flaw in the current model is that it divides the elected leaders into ruling and opposition parties, and expects the opposition to act as a watchdog on the government. But the problem is that opposition, by definition, is a minority. The ruling party has no strong reason to care about what the opposition says. More importantly, the ruling vs. opposition dichotomy engenders polarization, setting up one half of the population against the other half, and creating deep divisions that can never be reconciled. What we need is a system in which all the elected leaders work together as one team, sorting out the differences among themselves and collaborating with each other.

The third major flaw of the current model is that even though there are many capable, knowledgeable, innovative, honest and committed leaders in the society, the voters are forced to choose from just two or three candidates, who has the money power, muscle power and political capital to win a major political party nomination, and win the election by hook or crook. A vote for anyone else, essentially, becomes a wasted vote. People often have to vote the same leaders and parties into power whom they have rejected in the previous election, for lack of other viable choices. What we need is a system that works like Indian cricket team or ISRO engineering team or the board of directors of a publicly traded company. The team stays constant and never gets dissolved. Only the individuals come and go, each one lasting on the scene from a couple of years to a couple of decades based on their performance and what they bring to the table. There is no ‘ruling’ and ‘opposition’ dichotomy. The team is a single unit, in which everyone is required to collaborate and work together with the others.

The fourth major flaw in the current model is that voters are forced to choose just one leader to address all their issues, concerns and problems. But it is not possible for any single individual leader to be conversant with every single issue or problem of the voters. Each voter should be able to choose multiple leaders who are experts on various areas. It is just like people choosing multiple professionals like doctors, accountants, lawyers, barbers, plumbers, carpenters, etc. for their multiple needs.

The fifth major flaw in the current model is that political parties could lose a disproportionately higher percentage of seats for losing a small percentage of votes, and could gain a disproportionately higher percentage of seats for gaining a small percentage of votes. It creates an unfairly advantageous or disadvantageous position for the political parties. And more importantly, it undermines the spirit of democracy, which calls for the elected leadership to be an accurate reflection of the choices of the electorate.

The sixth major flaw in the current model is that minorities are not represented in proportion to their numbers. The ‘reserved constituencies’ solution is simplistic and rudimentary. In forces a minority leader to represent the majority population in the reserved constituencies and the minority population represented by a majority leader in all other constituencies. We need a model in which minorities are represented exactly in proportion to their numbers, through their trusted leaders.

There are many other issues like these in the current model. The leaders, the parties, the election machinery and the government have to waste a lot of time, money, resources and effort every five years. The election season rises emotions everywhere and causes a great deal of disruption to the public life. Government programs and projects face an uncertain future every five years. During the five years, the hearts and minds of the leaders are set more on winning the next elections than on solving the people’s issues.

In the current model, we expect the media and activists, besides the opposition, to act as watchdogs over the governments. But there are two problems with it. Firstly, there is no guarantee that opposition, media and activists do not pursue their own agendas, without working in the best interest of the people. Secondly, none of them wield any true power over the government. At best, they can call for street demonstrations and public protests, which disrupt public life, and which usually die down after the initial enthusiasm and energy. Even if an agreement is reached at the end of demonstrations and protests, there is no guarantee that it would reflect the true needs of the people. Further, it is simply not possible to organize public protests on every single issue. What we need is a mechanism for voters to officially withdraw their support to the leaders who are not addressing their needs and concerns properly, and officially give support to the leaders who are addressing their needs and concerns properly, even before something becomes a major issue.

Here, we present a new and better election model, which we call ‘belmodel’ for short, that is designed from the ground up taking advantage of the advances of electronic age, to addresses all these and many other major and minor flaws of the current model. This new model makes participating in the election process meaningful, simpler and better for everyone, the voters, the leaders, the political parties, the election commission and the governments in many ways. It engenders a stronger and healthier relationship relationship among all these constituents integral to democracy. It would serve as a vital ingredient in restoring and strengthening everyone’s trust in democracy.

12. This new model incorporates the best features of the commonly known election models1, in addition to introducing many novel and unique features. This model is scalable and can be implemented in larger as well as smaller contexts. It can be implemented at the national level, state level, and local bodies level, independently from each other.

We present this new model, its benefits and ideas for its implementation in detail in belmodel.pdf