So we’re all going to Mars. Well, maybe not all of us, but enough of us to get attention. Mars is millions of miles away from Earth at its closest (no, it never gets close enough to look as big as the Moon to the naked eye). That leads to interesting questions of exactly what we’re going to do about a government on Mars. Considering the fact that just getting there is expensive and difficult if you go by the number of probes that have failed over the years, it’s very probable that most Earth governments won’t even bother trying to enforce their will at first. Besides, Mars One is going to be an international effort, so the Russians in our settlement probably won’t take it very well if some outside American people show up and try to boss us around. So an independent Mars could be pretty much a habit by the time travel between the two planets becomes reliable and routine enough to make governing the planet an issue.
Which means we’ll be on our own. At first, our community will be small enough that it won’t be too difficult to call everybody together to hash out issues that affect the entire colony. Everybody gets one vote, and everybody should be responsible for their own vote so they take their share of the blame for a decision that went wrong. You don’t get out of being the dick who bullied everybody into voting a certain way, either. That kind of coercion should have immediate and strict consequences. If you’re such a spoiled brat that you have to have everything your own way, you don’t belong on Mars anyway.
Such direct voting should become another habit that becomes ingrained into the settlement as it grows. However, like most good things in life, it shouldn’t be a matter of, “My ignorance is as good as your knowledge.” If the Martian electrician tells us that our lights are flickering because somebody needs to go out and dust off the solar panels, the dimwit who tries to call a vote on whether they really need cleaned even though he can’t come up with a better option could just annoy the other colonists enough that the only vote that happens is him being voted the designated person who goes out with a broom.
When the colony grows large enough, do we vote for representation or do we continue with direct voting? Imagine having an auditorium big enough to hold hundreds or thousands of people. It might make more sense to have people remote in through videoconferencing. Of course, debating could take ages when everybody wants to have their say, although we could cut down on the filibusters by limiting the time that each person has to speak. Then we can just get on with it because nobody wants to be sitting around all day when each of us has work to do.
And then there’s the issue of voter fraud. To me, the whole debate in America over requiring a photo ID to vote shouldn’t even be happening. The generally accepted rule is one person, one vote, and it’s not racism to require people to prove that they are who they say they are. Say what you want about the DMV, but it shouldn’t be impossible to get a driver’s license or at least a state ID if you’re an American citizen. On Mars, proving your identity should be as simple as setting up some biometrics. It would only take a second to press your thumb against a thumbprint reader before you vote, and your entirely unique thumbprint would be your credentials. I’m sure somebody would notice if you cut off somebody else’s thumb and bring it to the meeting.
Direct voting works best if we can keep people honest. It can also cut down on complaints about our elected representatives not keeping their campaign promises simply because any elected representatives will only be people who were assigned to do a specific job and then fade back into the general population.