Democracy’s Missing Business Case

There are overall proponents and opponents to any system of social representation in national governance. I am not getting into that.

Over many years I have come across many arguments, all good ones, in support of voting. I also agree, if you are in a democratic environment, then you should vote to select a candidate for an office.

Here’s my drill-down on the problem as I see it.

  1. There are candidates for an office.
  2. The candidates have an agenda, a manifesto.
  3. They reach out and try to convince the people on why they are the right choice.
  4. On voting day, the people go out to their designated centers and submit a secret ballot. (Yes for their favorite Candidate)
  5. The ballot is counted and the winner declared.

We all know how this works. It’s wonderfully simple, but a nightmare to organize and maintain a high quality of vote.

Generally the voting is structured to allow for selecting one of the given candidates. I strongly believe that there should also be an abstain option (non-of-the-above). This option is a direct reflection on the confidence in the candidates.

Sometime ago in Pakistan, we had our Prime Minister walking into office with a 2/3 majority win. That’s like wow! Never heard of such land-slide wins. What no body bothered to mention that the voter turn out was the lowest ever. The opposition supporters had lost faith in their candidate, though strongly believed in their agenda, so did not show up on voting day.

Putting this in business perspective:

I am a stakeholder in a large organization which has interests across the industrial verticals. It is a huge organization. I am interested in hiring a president and vice president for this company. What I will do is:

  1. Set job description
  2. Set qualifications and pre-requisite experience
  3. Post the job opening on the job sites and set a apply before date
  4. Wait for resumes and filter them, short list them, send out invitations for interviews
  5. Maybe have multiple rounds of interviews and a test or two
  6. Finally, award the job to the “BEST” candidate

In case through this process, I do not feel that I’ve found an appropriate resource, I’ll put out a second round of ad(s) and go through the process till I find someone who is the absolute “BEST” resource for the position.

Now, if this was a daily run-o-the-mill organization, it’s totally understandable, we as stakeholders need to keep an eye on the ROI, profitability, growth of the organization, we’ll go through the due dilligence and detailed analysis of every person, verify the education, past employers, recommendations, achievments and skills.

This brings me to the missing use case in democracy.

Standard Business Case: Select only one of the candidates listed.

This assumes that I have some level of confidence in the capabilities and potential of all the candidates. What happens when I actually do not have that confidence. I feel that all the candidates put forward are actually not up to my expectations and the job’s expectations. What do I do then? Do I check all of them, which I’m not allowed to? Do I leave it blank, this is equivalent to me not showing up? Or do I tell the electorial board that, I came and deliberately am saying that all these candidates are not up to the mark?

So, the candidates will get disqualified for this round of “employment” if no-show-voters + abstain-count > 50% (just pulling a number).

In a situation when 40% of the voting population shows  up, and then the winner claims 2/3 majority, land-slide win. It is incorrect and improper implementation of equal representation.