Saturday, June 27, 2009

Our Response to the Iranian Election Crisis

Wouldn't it be nice if there was no way to cheat the citizens of any nation out of their vote?

I want Obama to immediately call for the formation of an independent international agency to conduct the elections of every participating nation.

He should invite every nation that holds elections to come together to craft a treaty that defines and empowers such an agency. It shouldn't just conduct elections, but prove to each voter and the electorate as a whole that the results are genuine. It should prevent governments from ever knowing how any given citizen voted and undermine their ability to gerrymander. And it should incorporate many safeguards that can actually detect when anomalies indicate coercion, or other kinds of fraud to have occurred upwind of the election.

I think this leverages the situation in Iran to encourage the most nations possible to endorse such a convention if only as a significant statement to Iran about their recent election fraud. It opens up the possibility of exploring alternative strategies for voting itself (and mathematics suggests there are many better ways, like ranking the candidates for a position rather than just indicating your first choice.) It gives us the option of eventually voting globally about global issues as a fringe benefit.

No nation wants to give up control of anything if it doesn't have to. But in this one case there really is a conflict of interest in allowing any government to have anything to do with conducting its own elections. Certainly a nation that actually wants a genuine electorate will acknowledge this and endorse the approach.

I like this as a response to the Iranian crisis because it brings the most legitimate pressure possible to bear on the Iranian government, allows the entire world to focus behind a single response, and focuses the issue squarely where it belongs without even mentioning a side in the conflict. It would be nice if they named it after Neda. I think this is the most effective blow we could deliver to the Iranian leadership.

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