FAQ

Do you vote with the people?

A:

Yes. PD politicians are contracted to vote with you on bills (laws) and decisions in parliaments and councils. PD politicians are legally bound to vote with the majority of voters in their electorate, this makes them transparent and accountable.

Can anyone vote and is it free?

A:

Yes. If you are on the Australian Electoral Roll you can vote or choose not to vote on bills (laws) and decisions in parliaments and councils at peopledecide.org. It does not cost anything to vote. You need to access an internet point at the time you want to vote or have a mobile device.

One vote per person, per bill or decision?

A:

Yes. We automatically cross-check voters with the Australian Electoral Roll.

Is voting compulsory and how do I choose what to vote on?

A:

No. You decide which bills and decisions you want to vote on. In Federal Parliament, there may be an average of one bill per day. You will not want to vote on all of them. You will likely vote on bills and decisions that interest you or you have experience in. For example, nurses will likely vote on health bills. You can search or set up notifications for the bills and decision that interest you on our system. PD politicians will vote with the people even if only one person votes so if you wish to support or block a bill your vote is important.

Please remember, many bills do not proceed past the first or second readings or senate hearings. In the beginning, you also can't vote on appropriation, supply and confidence bills, and tariffs. So the number of bills you can vote on may be much less.

How long do I have to vote?

A:

Anytime while bills and decisions are in parliament or council, and you don’t have to vote. Bills can sit in parliaments for months even years. You can start voting after the 1st reading of bills in parliaments. PD politicians will vote with the people on the 3rd reading of bills in parliaments.

If governments or councils try to push through a bill or decision in less than 6 weeks. PD politicians will automatically vote no on them unless a sunset clause has been put in the bill or decision that it expires within maximum 90 days. This means if you don’t get at least 6 weeks to vote the law won’t be around for long. 

How do I vote?

A:

To vote on bills and decisions being debated in parliaments and councils it is as easy as clicking a button. However, make sure you register with PD now to avoid any delays in the future.

Step 1.

Register your email address on peopledecide.org

Confirm your email address by clicking the activation link in the confirmation email you receive.

Step 2.

Verify yourself with the electoral roll.

If you have trouble, make sure your enrolment is up to date with the Australian Electoral Commission.

Step 3.

Vote on the laws that interest you on peopledecide.org.

Your Independent PD representative is contracted to vote with you in parliaments and councils.

Can I change my vote?

A:

Yes. Your latest vote on a bill or decision will be counted as your vote.

When and how do PD politicians vote with the people?

A:

PD politicians vote with the majority votes from voters in their electorate. If only one person votes they will vote with them so if you wish to support or block a bill your vote is important. If no one votes and they don’t feel they have the experience to vote on the bill they vote with the majority of votes in their state or Australia.

PD politicians vote with the people on the 3rd reading of bills in parliaments. 

How will I understand what I am voting on?

A:

a) You must read an unbiased summary developed by the people using wiki technology on the bill or decision before you vote;

b) When you are voting on an issue rather than a personality there is more opportunity to understand how the vote will affect your life;

c) You have a long time to educate yourself, listen to senate hearing committees, discuss and consider bills and decisions. Bills can sit in parliaments for months even years. See How long do I have to vote?;

d) If you make a mistake you can change your vote;

e) The total result of the people is published in real-time, providing you with a sense of reality and allowing you to ask yourself if you have really thought about it. It also gives people who live busy lives time to mobilise if it is not going the way they expect and they haven’t voted yet. Unlike Brexit, where 1.2 million regret their choice;

f) It is an experiment, we are doing it one step at a time. The first step is voting on single issue bills and decisions. This will reduce the number of complex bills and decisions. For example, not included in the first step are appropriation (budget) bills, tariffs and rates. PD politicians also automatically vote yes on supply and confidence bills to ensure a stable parliament and council, and no on pre-emptive strikes of war to ensure greater peace. When voting on issues becomes part of our culture, like in Switzerland, people have voted to both increase and decrease taxes, depending on what is needed at the time;

g) BEST thing! This is a learning experience, sometimes you and the majority of people will get it wrong but unlike politics now we won’t be able to blame the politicians because we voted for it. That creates self-awareness, understanding and learning. If you voted the wrong way it will force you to consider more carefully next time; if you are apathetic and don’t vote it may encourage you to vote next time. If allowed enough time and voting on bills become part of culture it can increase awareness, education and engagement in society which can only be a good thing ;) and

h) Get in there and do it. When you take responsibility for a decision you are forced to raise your consciousness to make it. This lifts society up.

What safeguards are in place?

A:

a) The Australian and state constitutions, judiciaries and executives remain untouched. For example, freedom of religion is protected in the Australian Constitution, and ministers and mayors will continue to exercise their executive powers. PD does recommend a human right charter enshrined into the constitution to protects more rights;

b) We are doing it one step at a time. [See our plan] The first step is voting on single issue bills and decisions. This will reduce the number of complex bills and decisions. For example, not included in the first step are appropriation (budget) bills, tariffs and rates. PD politicians also automatically vote yes on supply and confidence bills to ensure a stable parliament and council, and no on pre-emptive strikes of war to ensure greater peace;

c) No rushed bills and decisions are ensured. See How long do I have to vote?;

d) In the Federal Parliament and most state parliaments, there are two houses. This means there needs to be two votes. One vote safeguards the other if something goes wrong;

e) We will only have one or two politicians in parliaments and councils in the beginning. This will allow us to test it, put pressure on the other politicians and increase transparency and accountability in parliaments and councils. It will not effectively change law until we get a number of politicians elected in the balance of power or majority;

f) Voting over a long period allows us to monitor for irregularities and intervene if need be; and

g) The software is open-source, so it is transparent and can be studied by anyone.

Please read FAQs

Is the technology secure and what about the 2016 Census?

A:

Everything is done online these days, including banking. PD uses standard security techniques. 

Voting is anonymous and we cross-check voters with the Australian Electoral Roll. If you leave your phone unlocked, logged in to PD (we recommend not allowing your device to automatically save your passwords) and someone votes on a bill or decision as you, next time you log in it will show you have voted when you have not. You will be able to change your password and vote again. 

Voting is over a long period of time, making is easier to detect voting irregularities. Algorithms will be used to analyse and identify irregularities allowing us to mitigate issues. In addition, voting results are transparent and the software is open-source enabling independent analysis. We also plan to use a network of independent electronic scrutineers.

On August 9th the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Census websites were attacked by a Denial of Service (DoS) attack.

This is basically a process where many computers send signals to one website and overload it, forcing it to shut down, pretty much like a traffic jam.

People Decide is different from the Census. It holds much less personal data and voting is over a long period of time. It is hard for DoS attacks to last a long period of time because they have to employ a large amount of computing power which costs money.

What if I don’t have access to or can't use technology?

A:

In 2015 nearly 80% of Australians had access to a smartphone(1). You can vote over a long period of time and will likely want to vote on things that interest you or you have experience in, which may only be a few times a year. On those occasions, you can access the internet in community centres, libraries, get help from family, friends or carers who have a smartphone. 

1. Mobile Consumer Survey 2015 - Deloitte Australia

What happens if there is a divide in public opinion?

A:

When there is a divide in public opinion PD politicians need to consider submitting a bill or decision that we can all accept. It means compromising on both sides but we get a sustainable solution that is there for the long term. No more uncertainty or political football. It can also produce additional benefits not previously foreseen because there is more community consultation.

See our case study Asylum Seekers.

What about minority groups?

A:

PD is for all levels of government. Federal, state and local. This is important for representing minority groups. 

Minority groups often live in particular geographical areas. They will likely be able to make small changes in the local area at a council level to make them feel more welcome.

For example, a Jewish community may be able to get an Eruv around their community, and a Muslim community a public prayer room in their local shopping area.

In addition, all Australians are protected by the Australian Constitution and common law. PD believes it will be helpful to get a human rights charter enshrined in the Australian Constitution for this model. In Federal and most state governments there are two houses of parliament. This means bills need to be voted on at least twice to become law, providing an additional layer of protection.

Is it being done anywhere else?

A:

Yes.

Participatory democracy has been in Switzerland since the later Middle Ages. Two cantons Glarus and Appenzell Innerrhoden continue to use the Landsgemeinde. Citizens come together in the town square to vote on issues by putting put up their hands. Other cantons abandoned it because federal law made it impractical.

Positive lessons learned from Switzerland include the people being able to vote to increase taxes when needed. A negative result occurred when the people banned minarets on mosques with a slight majority. This was arguably against international law and human rights. However, it would not have happened under the Australian Constitution with its freedom of religion clause, Switzerland has a relatively weak Constitution. This is one of the reasons PD recommends making our Constitution even stronger.

The world’s first direct democracy internet party was Demoex in Sweden, it had a seat in local government from 2002 - 2013. It lost its seat when it focussed on trying to win a federal seat.

How is it different to referendums, plebiscites or Brexit?

A:

Very different.

Referendums and plebiscites are expensive, one-off, seldom, the questions and how they are implemented are decided by the politicians and it is hard to turn them around or revive a failed attempt. 

The public is also not used to them. Therefore, the public level of understanding of the process and the issues trying to be solved may be limited.

They can have a low feeling of public engagement.

In summary, referendums and plebiscites try to appease disaffected voters while keeping the political system the way it is.

This can lead to the community venting frustration and anger at the political process through the vote.

This happened with Brexit! 1.2 million people regret their choice.

Instead of making a considered vote on the issue (informed vote), some voters voted in protest against the government (protest vote). It was also used to force a change of prime minister for political purposes.

People Decide

PD is participatory democracy, a combination of representative, deliberative and direct democracyYou can study and vote on all bills and decisions, gage the way voting is going, assess what you really want and change your vote. PD is an ongoing, voluntary and transparent process, where:

a) You get to vote on the bills and decisions tabled in parliaments and councils, not the Constitution or selected issues;

b) PD politicians are contracted to vote with you. They are bound to vote with the majority of voters in your electorate on bills and decisions in parliaments and councils;

c) You get a minimum 6 weeks to consider and vote on bills and decisions; and

d) You can see the total vote change in real-time as voters vote and are able to reconsider and change your vote.

You feel real engagement in the political process.

What is a Referendum?

At a federal level, a referendum generally refers to votes to amend the Constitution under Section 128 of the Constitution. So it is only to change the Constitution, many issues we face day-to-day are not considered constitutional. States also run referendums but they are generally considered plebiscites under the federal understanding.

What is a Plebiscite?

A plebiscite is a vote on an important public question, the question, the terms and conditions of how the vote will be held is decided by parliament not voters. The vote is also non-binding, politicians may interpret the result differently to voters and can decide how or not to implement it.

How was People Decide founded? Does it have any affiliations?

A:

Karel Boele started PD to form a real alternative to government. To make it more representative, effective, efficient and stable. Participatory democracy has been a passion of his for decades.

The first known attempt in Australia at internet direct democracy was the Real Democracy Byron Shire (RDBS) group who designed a prototype system and tried to convince local council to adopt it in the early-2000s. Karel became friends with some of the original members of RDBS in the mid-2000s. After receiving his Masters in Strategic Affairs at ANU, Karel founded and is director of Jnana Australia, Australia’s first consultancy specialising in complementary currency and participatory democracy.

Separately and with no association to RDBS, Berge Sarkissian started Senator Online, now Online Direct Democracy for the 2007 federal election. Coincidently, Berge and Karel met and Berge engaged Karel to be campaign director for Senator Online in the lead-up to the 2013 election.

Feeling the need for a participatory democracy group interested in increasing peoples’ responsibilities in life, to create more awareness, education and engagement in society. A strong focus on ensuring an informed vote and funded by the people, Karel started PD with the help of some of the founding members of RDBS. The aim is to develop participatory democracy in Australia in a strategic and well-thought out way. PD and Senator Online are not associated in any way.

PD has no political affiliations. Individual candidates have their own views, you may feel Karel comes across as a pragmatic idealist if there is such a thing, but they are contracted to vote with the people.

How does it work legally?

A:

PD politicians sign a Deed Poll with their electorate. PD representatives are also bound by the Software Terms and Conditions of the PD voting system.

What is participatory, representative, direct and deliberative democracy?

A:

Participatory democracy is the process of emphasising broad participation of voters in the direction and operation of government. It could be considered a combination of representative, direct and deliberative democracy. We believe all are important.

Representative democracy allows you to elect leaders whose job it is to keep an eye on the bigger picture, provide insight and direction, consult experts, and assist when there is a divide in public opinion. Your PD politicians have to communicate, develop and submit bills and decisions to parliaments and councils.

Direct democracy allows you to vote on bills and decisions being debated in parliaments and councils. If voters vote with a majority, PD politicians are contracted to vote with you on bills and decisions.

Deliberative democracy allows you to debate and discuss bills and decisions before voting. You have to read and can contribute to summaries developed collaboratively by voters on bills and decisions before you vote.

What is difference between PD and other participatory democracy groups?

A:

With the advent of the Internet, there has been a renewed interest in participatory democracy worldwide. Be wary of many participatory democracy groups.

We are aiming to develop a new form of government, not just a party or sexy idea that is not well-thought out and could ruin participatory democracy’s chance for the short term.

We are focused on increasing peoples’ responsibilities in life, to create more awareness, education and engagement in society.

Have a strong focus on ensuring an informed vote.

We are grassroots and funded by the people. There is no significant funding behind us or support from any particular organisation or individual.

We have no intention of making money out of participatory democracy or running an opinion polling organisation.

We have built the technology and are the first to. We use open-source software.

Have links to the original and have experience with numerous participatory democracy initiatives in Australia.

We are doing it as an experiment with a step-by-step plan. As the model is tested, refined and proven we move to the next step.

We are strategic and well-thought out. We did our research before we started.

Other participatory democracy groups may not actually offer politicians contracted to vote with you. They may call an initiative a peoples’ assembly or other name but at the end of the day, the politicians or committees can still vote the way they want. There may be money and/or ulterior motives behind them. They may be trying to commoditise democracy by incorporating it with trading or a currency. They may not be focused on increasing peoples’ responsibility.

Please also read How was People Decide founded? Does it have any affiliations?

Will you vote no on pre-emptive strikes of war?

A:

Yes. PD politicians vote against bills and decisions to pre-emptively enter war where there is no mandate to only use the Australian Armed Forces in self-defence.

There are only two things PD politicians automatically vote on. Yes on supply and confidence bills and decisions to ensure stable parliaments and councils, and no on pre-emptive strikes of war. The second is because the greatest catastrophe in the world are wars and they can start in a short space of time. To provide protection against this PD politicians automatically vote no on them. To have a governance system that automatically stands by nonviolence is an asset. Peace-keeping missions and self-defence are exempt.

PD is about the people making the decisions and we stand by nonviolence.