There are many democratic procedures like recall elections which don’t need to take place within a fixed period of time, i.e. they can be continuously held until the replacement candidate gets a higher vote-count than the existing person in the office.

Most democracies which have a provision for recall have a 2-3 step procedure for holding recall elections:

  1. A signature gathering phase: in which one has to gather signatures of some 10-20% of the voters on a petition to recall the official.
  2. Recall election phase: in which the whole electorate votes on whether the person should continue office or not.
  3. Special election / By-election: an interim election to elect a new person for the office.

Some combine the 2nd & 3rd phase, eg California, Arizona, Wisconsin etc, where the incumbent & the challengers both appear on the same ballot.

Now, there is an issue with this system: In most cases, people win a race for an office with some 40-60% of the votes. So, some 40-60% of the voters didn’t want him in office anyways. Gathering signatures of 10-20% of the electorate to recall the incumbent won’t be a very difficult task. It is imperative that if a challenging candidate runs a lot of campaigns asking his supporters to sign on a recall petition, he will face backlash and after 2-3 failed attempts people will be very reluctant to sign on such petitions. However, such dishonest failed attempts to recall can make voters reluctant to vote in a genuine case of recall wherein the challenger might genuinely be more popular than the incumbent.

In order to solve this problem, Rahul Mehta (an Indian politician) has come up with an alternate procedure.

Draft of the law he has proposed for recalling a District Education Officer: https://www.mygov.in/newindia/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/newindia388604_1508825388.pdf

His system in a nutshell (for those who don’t want to read the full text):

  1. A person who fits in eligibility criteria for running for an office can register himself as a challenger to the incumbent with the government.

  2. Any voter can visit a nearby govt office or use a web portal / mobile application (I’ll later explain why there won’t be any fraud with an online system) to register his approvals / disapprovals for the incumbent & his challengers

  3. The vote counts of the incumbent and challengers will be published on a website.

  4. Provision to avoid fraud: The name of the voter, his Voter ID number (which isn’t confidential) and the names of the candidates he has approved / disapproved will also be published on the same website.

  5. Since voting isn’t anonymous, there’s a provision to avoid forestall attempts of influencing voters by intimidation, blackmailing and vote buying: the voters will be allowed to change their approvals / disapprovals anytime. If a person has bribed or threatened a person to vote for a particular candidate, the person may take the bribe or avoid the threat, file his approval and later change the approval as per his wish. (*)

  6. If the approval count of the challenger surpass the incumbent by a certain threshold (say 2% of the total voters in that district), he/she will replace the incumbent.

This solves the problem with the current procedure I had described earlier.

(*) It is impractical for anyone to regularly bribe a person because he can change his vote anytime and soon anyone will run out of money. However, I’m not so sure of how efficient would this system be to avoid threats. What can be some PRACTICAL attempts of intimidation/threatening which could surpass the “vote changing” feature of this system?

  • The system can't prevent the voter's partner(s), family and friends from influencing them, and it can't prevent repercussions in the workplace. If your boss (or someone from your trade union) regularly checks how employees/members vote, there can be significant pressure to vote for the "correct" candidate.
    – Hulk
    Feb 17, 2021 at 12:43
  • @Hulk I had the same contention with it. How do you think these things weight wrt each other: trouble such cases will cause vs the problem it solves? Feb 17, 2021 at 12:46
  • There was a discussion about this topic on this site in autumn (around the time of the US presidential election), where the focus was on online voting systems and the impossibility of having both privacy and traceability. How to weigh these concerns depends on a lot of factors, and different societies have come up with different answers over the years. It is a matter of culture - how deeply ingrained is democracy in the society? How unacceptable, exactly, would it be for a boss to be known (or just suspected) to pressure his employees to support the same ideas? What about husband and wife?
    – Hulk
    Feb 17, 2021 at 12:58
  • 2
    I'll see if I find it. Meanwhile, you could also look at Switzerland, where traditionally voting happened by the electorate gathering in one place and vote by raising hands. Meanwhile, only a few cantons still do this, but you can find lots of discussions about public vs. private ballots there.
    – Hulk
    Feb 17, 2021 at 13:03
  • 1
    @Philipp Correct. Do you know any? Any subreddit? r/politics is just for sharing US news. Don’t know of any which are focused on discussing political ideas. Edit: found r/PoliticalDiscussion. Feb 17, 2021 at 14:10


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