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Why You Probably Shouldn't Vote Flux

Monday, 27 February 2017 09:03AM Rants

Flux is a political party running in this year's state election. Here's why you shouldn't vote for them.

Flux is not giving power back to the people.

Flux claims they will be giving power back to the people, by asking them to vote on how their member should vote on any given bit of legislation. Unfortunately, that's not what they actually plan on doing.

In order to claim a seat in the Legislative Council in the first place, Flux has traded large numbers of their internal votes to other minor parties. In return, those minor parties will preference Flux higher on their voting ticket. Because of the way Flux votes accumulate more weight when they're not used, on the issues those parties care about they will essentially control the member's vote.

There is no indication of how much influence Flux has traded to minor parties - although there's some evidence that the proportion of power left for members of the public is as low as 30%:

"They had initially proposed a kind of minor party coalition, where each party gets X votes based on how highly they preference the NVB/Flux Party at elections."

This is still the proposal, just the site is angled differently to attract members instead of provide some grand, detailed, philosophical vision (much less sexy). We anticipate Flux members would probably control 20-30% of the bloc.


Flux's constitution makes reference to "Facilitat[ing] minor parties and independents' productive participation without winning a seat", and has "…no requirement that the voting system for members is the same as the voting system for minor parties.

This isn't actually a bad idea. Our parliamentary democracy allows and encourages single-issue parties to get involved in parliament, but as Senator Ricky Muir of the Motoring Enthusiast's Party discovered, there's a lot more to parliament than your single issues of choice. Banding together to have essentially a time-share senator seems like an excellent way of solving this problem.

Unfortunately, that's not how Flux is campaigning. They're keeping these associations a secret, and handing out voting rights to parties with quite frankly terrible policies (like Fluoride Free WA) with seemingly no considerations other than what will get them elected. They're not redistributing power to the public. They're redistributing it to a handful of randomly-chosen minor parties with little support and no chance of being elected on their own.

Flux is not the kind of party you're looking for - and they're deliberately obtuse about the kind of party they are.

Flux is not open to everyone.

A fundamental principle of democracy is that everyone should be able to participate, regardless of ethnicity, gender, wealth, or religion. Flux claims to be allowing greater participation in democracy, by opening parliament up to the entire public.

But take a look at that again. Democracy is supposed to be open to everyone - but Flux requires a smartphone app to participate. Those without the money, knowledge, or inclination to own a smartphone are barred from participation in government. This is called the digital divide, and it means that those with the least power, who need representation the most, are locked out of participating in the system.

You can't run government like a startup, because government has to work for everybody. That's why we vote on weekends, and have provisions for early and absentee voting, and make allowances for those who might have difficulty voting. Our democracy is designed to work for everybody - at the very least, as many people as possible. Perhaps it makes things slower, but it also makes them fairer.

The other fundamental principle of democracy is that the process is open and accountable. Elections are audited and scrutinised by impartial officials and by all the parties that hope to be elected. The proceedings of our parliament, with a few exceptions, are made publicly available, as are the documents and legislation it produces.

Flux has not released the source code of their app. It is not possible to examine the code responsible for controlling the actions of this elected member. There is no way to audit the vote, to determine that the vote in parliament represented the votes of the public. And Flux's constitution says that "The parameters and design choices of the system are left to the Leader, and not within the scope of this document" - they could change at any time.

Unlike the rest of our democracy, Flux is a black box, with no way of understanding the processes at work inside.

Flux is not ready.

Even if Flux was a good idea in the first place, they're not yet ready to potentially take up a Legislative Council seat come the result of the March 11 election less than two weeks from now.

There is, as yet, no sign of an app in the app store - on Android or iPhone. There is no information on whether other operating systems, like Windows or Blackberry, will be supported. There is no detail on how vote-swapping, or vote-accruing, will work in practice. No detail on how your votes can be assigned to 'experts', or who those 'experts' even are.

There is no information on how votes will be authenticated or secured, beyond vague references to 'blockchains' - a technology which even if implemented correctly is not necessarily anonymous - if this is implemented wrong, votes could be compromised, falsified, or identifiable.

There is no plan for how this representative will participate in parliament beyond voting. What about proposing legislation? What about participating in debates on the floor? What about the oversight that the upper house of parliament provides, on committees and inquiries? Will the Flux representative just… not? For a platform that is supposedly about participating in the system of democracy, that's an awful lot of not participating.

Admittedly, all of this is based only on what information could be found publicly - but isn't that the point? If you're planning to dismantle representative democracy one bit at a time, shouldn't you be clear that you have a plan to replace it, and about what that plan is? The fact that you can't find good answers to these questions says that either Flux have no plan, or that they don't want to share their plan with you - and neither of these is a particularly good sign.

Government is serious business. Lives and livelihoods really are at stake. As frustrating as the system might be, it is not to be 'disrupted' lightly, and Flux shows no signs - yet - that they are treating your vote with the respect it deserves.


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