Provisional charter for the organization.
Originally published 2004
The Organization exists to give citizens the information they need to vote intelligently. The first way of doing that is with an advisory newsfeed that provides topical information with respect to politics, economics, corporations, and health.
The second way of providing that information is by administering and running a voting-advice system that makes it easy for citizens to inform themselves. That system provides a number of benefits:
- For Voters: The voting information system makes it easy for individual citizens to find experts and organizations they trust, select them as advisors, and get their recommendations.
- For Advisors: The voting information system makes it easy for individual analysts and advisory organizations to deliver their recommendations to people who trust them. And, while the anonymity of individuals is carefully preserved, the aggregate number of people who trust a particular advisor or organization is public information. Widespread listenership can therefore provide a degree of political influence that rivals, and eventually surpasses, the influence of money. So thoughtful analysts and organizations gain a larger political voice, directly proportional to the number of people who trust them.
- For Politicians: The voting information system makes it possible to campaign with a minimum of money, and it serves to make them truly accountable to their constituents.
- For Society: The voting information system helps to establish and/or restore a thoughtful democracy.
The Citizens’ Advisory Organization must be, and must always remain, a non-profit organization:
- Excess income over and above the amount needed to carry out the organization’s activities will be shared among advisors in proportion to their listenership. When a citizen decides to trust an advisor, therefore, not only is that advisor’s ranking incremented, but the advisor’s potential financial compensation is incrementally increased, as well.
- At inception, it will focus on delivery of inexpensive online services. But as it grows, it must reach out to all citizens, nationwide, by whatever means necessary — for example, by using the U.S. Mail, in order to get as close to 100% participation as is humanly possible..
- To further advance the goal of 100% participation, the Citizens’ Advisory Organization will engage in as much advertising and publicity activities as time, funding, and organizational capabilities allow.
- Iindividual subscriber information will always be kept completely confidential. The only information that will be made publically available will be a subscriber’s aggregate number of listeners.
- In local districts, the smallest number reported will be “less than 100”. That number will be reported whether the number is zero or greater than zero, to preclude the identification of citizens who support an unpopular cause in a small geographic area.
- The ongoing activities of the organization will be funded by payments from its subscribers. No paid advertising or other financial support will be accepted from commercial organizations. Foundation grants may be employed to develop new services, but all services it delivers must be self-sustaining, funded by the subscribers themselves, in order to ensure complete and total objectivity.
- An advisor’s ranking will always depend on the number of people who have independently decided to trust an advisor. The order in which advisors are listed may be alphabetical, random, or by ranking, but it will never be influenced by payments or other activities of external agencies.
- The administrators of the system must remain alert to attempts to “game” the system in any way that manipulates it for political advantage or any other practice that subverts the goals of the system or distorts the picture it presents of voter’s choices so that it is no longer a true reflection of the electorate’s desires.
So long as those goals are being met, the Citizens’ Advisory Organization may undertake or support other activities that aim to improve democracy, our political processes, and our quality of life, so long as they do not conflict with the goals and ideals stated above. Ideally, however, at least ten percent of the organization’s income will be divided among the advisors, and preferably more.
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