“Voter Discrimination and Deliberative Democracy in the Technological Era”

Benjamin Wilson has posted this draft on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

In structuring its constitution, the United States (“US”) put tremendous weight into the idea of giving future generations a government whose form and function can meet societal challenges. Thomas Jefferson, in one of his famous letters concerning the longevity of governance structures, said, “each generation” should be granted the “solemn opportunity” to update government with “periodic repairs, from generation to generation, until the end of time.” For much of US history, this has meant creating voter protections, improving access to polls, and keeping an eye on gerrymandering. However, generations of political passivity has caused democracy in the United States to stagnate.

Currently, countries around the world, in all stages of development, are experimenting with ways to update their democratic institutions to provide deliberative structures that actualize their citizens’ contributions by taking advantage of cutting-edge information and communications technology (“ICT”). Updating governance structures to meet modern challenges is accomplished by re-imagining citizens’ relationship with their government from one based on dominance and subservience to one that enshrines impartiality, accountability, transparency, and deliberation–the four basic functions of democracy. This paper lays out the theoretical and philosophical argument for updating US democracy to take advantage of ICT and lays out practical steps that can be taken, with limitations and power dynamics in mind.


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