Starchild’s analysis of LP national bylaws proposals, 2012

The following is Starchild’s analysis of the proposals put forth by the LP national bylaws committee. See previous IPR posts and comments here, here, here, here and this post from the York County, PA LP for additional perspective on these proposals.



For those who haven’t heard, the handpicked national LP Bylaws Committee, filled with many of the usual suspects from past years, is surveying members on how they feel about their latest set of proposals. It’s their way of seeing what they can get the delegates at the next convention to roll over for:

http://www.lp.org/phpQ/fillsurvey.php


On first blush, some of these proposals actually sounded pretty good. Of course the committee seeks to make them sound that way, including only comments in favor of their proposals in the survey, not any arguments against them. But the more I read over them and thought about them, the worse they tended to sound. Although some of them have parts I could support, even the ones trying to accomplish legitimate goals are written in such a manner that I think we’d be better off sending them back to the drawing board and taking another stab at it.I ended up not supporting a single proposal. 
Once again, sadly, what we have here is a series of subtle attempts to centralize more authority in the national party, at the expense of the grassroots membership. Many of this year’s crop of bad ideas would make changes that would decrease the power of state affiliates relative to national (i.e. disrupt the LP’s version of the checks and balances of federalism).
I thought yesterday was the last day to complete the survey, but it still seems to be up and working. So if you haven’t filled it out already, I urge you to take a few minutes ASAP to do so while you still can, and help nip some of this stuff in the bud!  You’re welcome to crib from (or copy wholesale) my responses, which I’ve copied below along with the survey in its entirety.
Oh, and please also make sure to tell them you want your responses shared with the entire LP membership (or at least any who care to read them), and not restricted to members of the Bylaws Committee. I believe some on the committee are hoping to make the data available only to themselves, and deny the rest of us the ability to hear what our fellow party members are thinking about this stuff.
Love & Liberty,
                                           ((( starchild )))

Bylaws Committee Report 2012

INTRODUCTION:

The 2010 Bylaws and Rules Committee submitted 38 proposals, many of which focused on housekeeping measures and consumed an entire day of the convention, and even that was not enough time to consider all of them.

The response from delegates in attendance was unambiguous: “Don’t do that again. Too much time is spent on Bylaws proposals and not enough on real politics. Focus your efforts on substantive proposals that need our attention for a brief period of time and find a way to offload housekeeping matters elsewhere.”

That message came loud and clear, so the 2012 committee is submitting only 10 proposals, all of them substantive and selected as part of an overall theme that:

  • Empowers Members
  • Increases Transparency
  • Reduces Procedural Bureaucracy
  • Promotes Good Governance

We look forward to your support of this streamlined set of substantive proposals.

————————————————-

NOTES ABOUT THE SURVEY SOFTWARE: As a measure to prevent abuse of the online survey, at the end you will be asked provide a valid email address to which we can send a confirmation code. For reasons not always evident to us, sometimes due to spam filters, sometimes not, some people are not receiving the confirmation codes. If you do receive it, please use it to confirm your valid email address for us. If you do not receive it, don’t worry…your survey answers ARE still saved, and your time was not wasted. The software merely files your record in a category for manual review to make sure the system isn’t being abused before those records are added to the survey results.

————————————————-

LEGEND: Unchanged existing language – language to be added – language to be deleted



Recommendation 1 of 10

Appointment of Assistant Treasurer

Problem:
Serving as Treasurer can be a demanding job. Since 2000, four Treasurers have resigned in the middle of their terms, twice without advance notice.

Federal Election law (2 USC 432) states:

Every political committee shall have a treasurer. No contribution or expenditure shall be accepted or made by or on behalf of a political committee during any period in which the office of treasurer is vacant. No expenditure shall be made for or on behalf of a political committee without the authorization of the treasurer or his or her designated agent.

Effectively, it is illegal for the National Committee to operate while the position of Treasurer is vacant – it can not accept donations, pay vendors or even make payroll. Under such conditions, the National Committee has been forced to appoint someone to the office the day a vacancy occurred.

Solution:
For the above reason, the law allows the designation of an Assistant Treasurer to serve while the Treasurer is either incapacitated or otherwise unavailable. The bylaws should be amended to authorize and require the National Committee to appoint an Assistant Treasurer.

Benefit:
Having this language in place will allow the Party to carry on normal financial operations while conducting a search for a qualified replacement Treasurer.

Note: The Assistant Treasurer does not become a voting member of the National Committee as a result of the appointment.

——————————START OF PROPOSAL——————————

ARTICLE 10: FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING

6. The National Committee shall designate an Assistant Treasurer to temporarily serve in the event the Treasurer is incapacitated or unavailable, or vacates the position.

——————————-END OF PROPOSAL——————————-

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 
  (X)
 
Comments:
First some notes about the survey: It needs “Pro” and “Con” arguments for each proposal, like the California voters handbook has. We shouldn’t be doing a worse job at giving people the tools to make informed, balanced decisions than government! What’s written here are basically pitches to get people to respond “yes”, which biases the entire survey and casts doubt on the legitimacy of the results. Besides which, what if people fill it out more than once simply by using multiple email addresses?? I don’t see anything to prevent that.

Now on to the question at hand. If there is an Assistant Treasurer, it should be an elected position, not an appointed position. Elected = power to the grassroots; appointed = power to the national leadership. We should be empowering grassroots members in our party on stuff like this. The basic idea of an assistant treasurer makes sense, but this proposal needs to be revised before being passed. 

Another flaw of the survey — it gives only two options, “support” and “oppose”, so that the only way to communicate the nuance of my position is by writing it out as I am doing here. It would be nice to have a response button along the lines of:

( ) Support IF MODIFIED AS FOLLOWS: _____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________

One more note about the survey — it lists as one of the four themes of this year’s bylaws, “Increases Transparency”. 

It would be highly ironic, therefore, if LP members are prohibited from seeing the FULL RESULTS of this survey, including member comments!

I hereby state that I want EVERYONE to be able to view the results of my survey in their entirety, not just the Bylaws Committee, and request that these results be distributed publicly, on LP.org, and to the list of people who completed the survey.

Recommendation 2 of 10

Expedite LNC Mail Ballot Process

Problem:
The Bylaws currently specify that fifteen days shall be allowed for casting votes by mail ballot. The extensive period of time is a relic from when we used to conduct mail ballots via the United States Postal Service. With the change at the last convention to require that all mail ballots be conducted via electronic mail, we have reduced the back-and-forth time for mailing by as many as six days. It appears that fifteen days can reasonably be reduced to ten days without impacting the time required for members of the LNC to give due consideration for each question.

Solution:
Specify that voting shall close in ten days, or earlier if all members of the board have already cast their votes (or specifically communicated their desire to abstain from the question, which the Chair regularly does).

——————————START OF PROPOSAL——————————

ARTICLE 8: NATIONAL COMMITTEE

10. The National Committee may, without meeting together, transact business by electronic mail. The Secretary shall send out electronic mail ballots on any question submitted by the Chair or cosponsored by at least 1/5 of the members of the Committee. Fifteen days shall be allowed for the return of the votes cast, by electronic mail, to the Secretary. The period for voting on a question shall remain open for ten days, unless all members have cast votes, or have stated an intention to abstain, by electronic mail to the Secretary. Votes from alternate regional representatives will be counted, in accordance with the ranking procedure of the region, only if the regional representative fails to respond to the ballot. The number of votes required for passage of any motion shall be the same as that required during a meeting. The Secretary shall preserve all such votes until the next meeting of the National Committee, at which meeting the Committee shall order the disposition of such votes.

——————————-END OF PROPOSAL——————————-

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 
   (X)
 
Comments:


The problem with automatically shortening the time span for LNC email voting is that it gives LP members less time to hear about and weigh in on proposals before the body votes on them. 

If there were better communication and more TRANSPARENCY, this wouldn’t be as much of a problem, but under the current system I’d rather that voting takes longer, so I’ll have more of a chance to find out about what’s being voted on, and have a chance to lobby my LNC representatives, before the voting period has expired.

I find it rather ironic that while the U.S. Congress is under pressure from the Tea Party movement and others to *increase* the time period during which bills are made publicly available before being voted on, the Bylaws Committee is proposing to *decrease* this time period in our own organization.

Now I do realize that sometimes there is a matter to be voted on where time is really of the essence. I would be in favor of a system whereby voting can happen more quickly, if all LNC members agree that it should. If the entire body agrees, I’d be fine with making the window even less than ten days, maybe as little as 24 hours or less, but restricting the voting period should *not* happen automatically — it should only happen with the consent of the body, under unusual circumstances where a speedy vote is important enough to outweigh the need for members to have sufficient chance to hear in advance what is to be voted on.


Recommendation 3 of 10

Transparency and Access to LNC Meeting Records

Problem:
An archive of the minutes of LNC meetings from the past few terms is currently available to the membership on the Party’s website as mandated by the LNC Policy Manual. However, in a past term the archive was taken down and all historical minutes were removed.

Solution:
Increase the transparency of meetings and decrease the likelihood of records being lost by allowing sustaining members to record the proceedings while in open session and elevating the requirement for archiving LNC meeting minutes on the Party’s website from the LNC Policy Manual to the Bylaws.

——————————START OF PROPOSAL——————————

ARTICLE 8: NATIONAL COMMITTEE

15. The Secretary or a designee shall promptly post notice for each session of the National Committee; any National Committee proposed agendas; and approved minutes of each Convention and open National Committee session to a permanent archive section on the Party’s website. Any sustaining member may record the National Committee’s proceedings while in open session.

——————————-END OF PROPOSAL——————————-

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 
 
 
Comments:


Why was the archive taken down and all historical minutes removed? Where are those minutes now? Have they been lost? This was a really bad move. I would like to know who was responsible, and what the heck he/she was thinking.

Now this proposal calls for a move to divide the question. Requiring in the Bylaws that the minutes be archived and available to members is a good idea. 

Having the Bylaws formally state that meetings may be recorded is also a good idea, since there has sometimes been resistance to this type of thing. However, any LP member of any state affiliate, or the designee of such a person, should be free to record meetings. And this needs to be explicitly stated, or otherwise down the road someone is sure to argue that someone can’t record a meeting, because he or she isn’t a “sustaining member” of the national party, even though the person is obviously there as a result of being a freedom activist interested in the affairs of the LP.

So again I’d like to check a “Support if Modified” button, but since none was provided, I have to check Oppose.

Recommendation 4 of 10

Ensure Delegate Investment in LP

Problem:
The Bylaws does not require delegates to a National Convention be members of the LP, nor does it require they be members of the state affiliates in which they are seated.

This situation is analogous to a stockholder meeting at which non-stockholders are allowed to vote. Delegates should be required to have an emotional and financial investment in the organization whose leadership and policies they determine.

Solution:
Require each delegate to be a sustaining member of the National LP or a member of the affiliate party in whose delegation he or she is seated.

——————————START OF PROPOSAL——————————

ARTICLE 11: CONVENTIONS

3. Delegates:
a. Delegates shall be required to be members of either the Party or an affiliate party. Eligibility: Each delegate must be a sustaining member of the Party or a member of the affiliate party in whose delegation he or she is seated.

Proviso: This amendment shall take effect upon the final adjournment of the convention at which it is adopted.

——————————-END OF PROPOSAL——————————-

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 
   (X)
 
Comments:

The pitch for this proposal is extremely disingenuous in claiming that “This situation is analogous to a stockholder meeting at which non-stockholders are allowed to vote.” In fact it is only like that if you look at it from a narrow, LNC perspective in which only *national* party members really count — that people who are members of state LP affiliates are “outsiders”, not part of the “us”.

By taking away the power of state affiliates to seat delegates living in other states whose own state delegations may not have room for them or wish to seat them, this proposal changes the “federalism” type power balance between the national party and the state affiliate parties, at the expense of the affiliates.

A better way to fix the disorder of the existing situation where delegates are added at the last minute or have to be approved by the convention as a whole, would be to simply let each state delegation seat whomever it chooses, by whatever procedure it chooses.

Recommendation 5 of 10

Conflict of Interest

Problem:
We’ve encountered several examples in the last couple of years where members holding key positions in the Party have been members of other political parties. People who hold positions of trust in our Party should be clearly committed to supporting only our Party.

Solution:
Add a new Bylaw that prohibits individuals who choose to affiliate with other political parties from serving in positions of trust or responsibility

Note:
According to Ballot Access News, of the thirty (30) states that allow registration by political party, twenty-three (23) of them extend that franchise to the Libertarian Party. They are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

——————————START OF PROPOSAL——————————

ARTICLE 6: CONFLICT OF INTEREST

No individual enrolled as a registered voter affiliated with another political party, if he or she has the option of affiliating with the Libertarian Party, shall be eligible to serve as a Party employee, National Committee member, committee member, or delegate, or hold any other position of trust or responsibility within the Party.

Proviso: This amendment shall take effect upon the final adjournment of the convention at which it is adopted.

——————————-END OF PROPOSAL——————————-

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 
   (X)
 
Comments:

When push comes to shove, party affiliation is not what really counts. What counts is the degree to which a person upholds libertarian ideas, i.e. believes in freedom, and seeks to advance the interests of the libertarian movement.

We should be much more concerned about people active in the Libertarian Party holding and advocating non-libertarian views, than we should be about people active in the LP happening to belong to another party.

For instance, a number of Libertarians and former Libertarians have been or are involved with the Boston Tea Party, a small party that started as an offshoot of ours largely due to the LP’s failure to adhere to libertarian principles, and is quite possibly more libertarian at this point than the Libertarian Party is. BTP supporters are likely to be good *libertarians*, which matters more than whether they are good *Libertarians*. The libertarian movement is much larger than just the Libertarian Party of the United States. When we only think like a self-contained political party, rather than an arm of a larger political and social movement, we sell that movement short and fail to take advantage of all the resources available to us.

Rather than trying to dictate which organizations people belong to, I would encourage the Bylaws Committee to think about coming up with stronger ideological standards that people need to meet in order to hold office in the Libertarian Party. Requiring LP officeholders to score at least, say, 80-80 on the Nolan Chart would do a lot more to protect us from outside infiltration than just looking at superficial party labels which often tell you little or nothing about where an individual is coming from. Just look at Ron Paul (nominally a Republican) vs. Bob Barr (nominally a Libertarian) and which one seems to have a fuller understanding of and stronger commitment to the principles of liberty.

Recommendation 6 of 10

Empower Libertarian Party Members to Amend the Bylaws

Problem:
Delegates at recent conventions stated that too much time on the convention floor is spent debating bylaws and not enough time is spent on workshops, speakers, candidate training, and other activities more enjoyable for delegates.

Solution:
Empower the membership to be able to bypass the Bylaws & Rules Committee and petition changes directly with the membership. Bring our organization into the 21st Century by enabling the entire membership to sponsor amendments to the bylaws and vote for their approval by e-mail.

Benefits:

  • Less floor time needed to address housekeeping issues, freeing up time for more productive activity at the Convention with a higher likelihood of affecting positive change in America.
  • While many members pay dues and perhaps read LP News, they do not attend meetings, circulate petitions, or run for public office. Getting them involved in decision making for our Party will give them a greater sense of involvement and attachment, which will encourage some passive members to become activists.

FAQ: There was a proposal last time to consider changes to bylaws by mail. What is different about this year’s proposal?

FAQ Answer: Yes, there was a proposal at the last convention to submit bylaws changes by mail ballot. The major argument against it was that having staff mail out 15,000 paper ballots and hand tabulate the results would have been cost-prohibitive. One delegate later suggested that a worldwide scientific organization he was familiar with used an online voting service contracted out to a professional third party with no interest in the outcome – and that it was inexpensive. His advice was well-taken.

This year’s proposal is to conduct inexpensive electronic voting through an independent third party. This year’s proposal also allows Bylaws proposals to be submitted by a petition of party members, bypassing the Bylaws and Rules Committee. Proposals submitted by electronic mail ballot would require a 4/5 vote of support to pass, while proposals submitted at convention would continue to require a lower 2/3 vote of support.

——————————START OF PROPOSAL——————————

ARTICLE 17: AMENDMENT

  1. These Bylaws may be amended by a 2/3 vote of the delegates at any Regular Convention or by a 4/5 vote by electronic mail ballot of sustaining members. For an amendment to be enacted by electronic mail ballot the number participating must be greater than the number registered at the most recent Regular Convention.

  2. Article 4, Section 1, shall not be amended by a vote of less than 7/8 of all registered delegates at a Regular Convention.

ARTICLE 10: MAIL BALLOT PROCEDURES FOR AMENDING BYLAWS

  1. The Party shall contract out the election services to an independent, professional firm that conducts elections for other organizations.

  2. Proposed amendments to the Party’s Bylaws shall be sponsored by the Bylaws and Rules Committee (or by petition on an approved form signed by ten percent of the sustaining membership to the National Committee) and submitted to sustaining members for approval via electronic mail ballot no more than once per calendar year.

  3. Proposals shall be delivered together with any minority reports.

  4. Ballots shall be sent to sustaining members who have provided an e-mail address as of the end of the month immediately preceding the mailing of ballots.

  5. The period for voting shall be no less than 15 and no more than 30 days. The date and time for the close of voting shall be set prior to the commencement of voting.

  6. The Party shall provide an online forum where sustaining members may debate any pending proposal.

——————————-END OF PROPOSAL——————————-

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 
 
 
Comments:

Another disingenuous proposal. At first blush, this appears to be a move toward greater bottom-up participation and empowerment of grassroots party members, and it is advertised as such by the Committee.

But I believe it is in fact a stalking horse for a bid to eventually eliminate the ability of members to amend the Bylaws from the convention floor, and replace it with a system that requires members to proactively organize to work on Bylaws outside of conventions (how often does THAT happen?) and further requires proposals brought forward in this manner to receive a higher threshold of votes than at present, 4/5ths instead of 2/3rds, in order to pass, AND the requires number of voters participating in such electronic mail balloting be GREATER than the number registered at the most recent convention.

If this proposal is adopted, I believe we will soon see an attempt to scale back or eliminate the ability of ordinary delegates to make Bylaws changes at conventions, or further limitations on the time available to make such proposals from the floor. 

This would be one more blow to grassroots democracy in the Libertarian Party, one more step toward the consolidation of top-down power.

Not only this, but the proposal would involve hiring an outside company to conduct electronic voting. In the real world, Libertarians tend to be strongly opposed to electronic voting, as it is vulnerable to hacking and fraud, and is less transparent and understandable to voters than a simple, paper-based system where ballots are counted in full view of everyone right at polling places. For us to adopt electronic voting within our own organization would send a horrible message. 

Recommendation 7 of 10

Empower Libertarian Party Members to Elect the National Committee

Problem:
Our candidates deserve more support from the national level, but that’s difficult to achieve when National Committee terms begin in the middle of the campaign season.

Solution:
Have the entire membership elect by e-mail the National Committee shortly after each nationwide Congressional election.

Benefits:

  • Members can hold the National Committee accountable for our candidates’ performance because they will be responsible for an entire election cycle.

  • The full day currently spent on Party elections can be freed up for workshops, speakers, candidate training and other activities that help our candidates.

  • The location of conventions will no longer help or hinder particular National Committee candidates.

  • Having members participate in decision making for our Party will give them a greater sense of involvement and attachment, which will encourage some passive members to become activists.

——————————START OF PROPOSAL——————————

ARTICLE 7: OFFICERS

  1. The officers of the Party shall be:
    • Chair,
    • Vice-Chair,
    • Secretary, and
    • Treasurer.

    All of these officers shall be elected by a Regular Convention of the Party, shall take office immediately upon the close of the Convention and shall serve thereafter until the final adjournment of the next Regular Convention. No person shall serve as an officer who is not a sustaining member of the Party.

ARTICLE 8: NATIONAL COMMITTEE

  1. [no change]
  2. The National Committee shall be composed of the following members:
    1. the officers of the Party, all elected by electronic mail ballot of sustaining members;
    2. five members elected at large by the delegates at a Regular Convention by electronic mail ballot of sustaining members;and
    3. any additional members as specified below:
      Any affiliate party with 10% or more of the total national party sustaining membership within affiliate parties (as determined for delegate allocation) shall be entitled to one National Committee representative and one alternate for each 10% of national sustaining membership. Affiliate parties may, by mutual consent, band together to form “representative regions,” and each such “region” with an aggregate national party sustaining membership of 10% or more shall be entitled to one National Committee representative and one alternate for each 10% of national party sustaining membership, all elected by electronic mail ballot of sustaining members of the representative region.“Representative regions” may be formed or dissolved once every two years during a period beginning 90 days before the beginning of and ending on the second day of the National Convention, and notice of new formations or dissolutions must be given in writing to the national Secretary prior to the close of the Convention at which they take place.

  3. The National Committee shall take office immediately upon the close of the Regular Convention at which they are selected, and serve until the final adjournment of the next Regular Convention. National Committee members shall serve from February 1 of the year following a nationwide Congressional election through January 31 of the year following a nationwide Congressional election or until their successors are elected.

ARTICLE 10: MAIL BALLOT PROCEDURES FOR ELECTIONS

  1. The Party shall contract out the election services to an independent, professional firm that conducts elections for other organizations.

  2. The officers and regional representatives shall be elected by Ranked Choice Voting; at-large members shall be elected by majority vote.

  3. The ballot design shall allow for the casting of write-in votes and votes for “None of the Above.” Should “None of the Above” be selected for any Party office, that position shall be declared vacant and none of the losing candidates for that position may be selected to fill the vacancy for that term of office.

  4. Candidates shall be nominated on a standard petition form approved by the National Committee to be circulated by candidates during the period beginning the day after a nationwide Congressional election and must be received by the national office on or before December 15. The Party shall notify the membership of this deadline and of the requirements for nomination by petition on its website. Eligible candidates with petitions signed by 10 or more sustaining members shall be included on the mail ballot.

  5. Ballots shall be sent to sustaining members who have provided an e-mail address as of December 31 immediately following the nationwide Congressional election.

  6. The period for voting shall be no less than 15 and no more than 30 days. The date and time for the close of voting shall be set prior to the commencement of voting.

  7. The Party shall provide to eligible voters website links to the campaign websites of the candidates for National Committee.

ARTICLE 11: CONVENTIONS

8. Votes cast for “None of the Above” in voting on the Party’s nominees for President and Vice-President, the Party Officers, and at-large members of the National Committee,shall be considered valid. Should a majority of the votes be cast for “None of the Above” in the Presidential or Vice-Presidential balloting, no candidate shall be nominated for that office. Should “None of the Above” be selected for any Party office, that position shall be declared vacant and none of the losing candidates for that position may be selected to fill the vacancy for that term of office.

RULE 1: ORDER OF BUSINESS

The standing order of business for a Regular Convention shall be as follows:

  1. Call to order
  2. Credentials Committee report
  3. Adoption of agenda
  4. Treasurer’s report
  5. Bylaws and Rules Committee report
  6. Platform Committee report
  7. Nomination of Party candidates for President and Vice-President (in appropriate years)
  8. Election of Party Officers and at-large members of the National Committee
  9. Election of Judicial Committee
  10. Resolutions
  11. Other business

RULE 2: VOTING PROCEDURE AND MOTIONS

  1. On all matters, except the retention of platform planks, the election of Party Officers and at-large members of the National the Judicial Committee, and the nomination of Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, voting will be by either voice vote or rising vote. If any delegate objects to the Chair’s ruling on the outcome of a voice vote, a rising vote shall be conducted. If 20 or more delegates object to the Chair’s ruling on the outcome of a rising vote, a counted vote will be held.
  2. The Chair may require any motion offered from the Convention floor to be in writing, signed by the mover and submitted to the Secretary.

RULE 8: ELECTION OF OFFICERS AND NATIONAL COMMITTEE

  1. Nominations for Party Officers shall be from the floor. The election shall be conducted in the following manner:
    1. For each office, a majority vote will be necessary for election.
    2. Each delegation shall tabulate its total vote, and the delegation chair shall deliver a written total to the Secretary. When all delegations have submitted their votes, the Secretary shall declare the voting closed.
    3. For the first round of voting for Chair, an announcement of each delegation’s vote total shall be made by delegation chairs in alphabetical order beginning with a randomly selected delegation. Subsequent announcements of each delegation’s totals shall be made by the Secretary.
    4. In cases where no candidate receives a majority, runoff votes will be held, dropping the candidate with the fewest votes after each ballot.
  2. Nominations for the at-large members of the National Committee shall be from the floor. The election shall be conducted in the following manner:
    1. Each delegate may cast up to five votes, but no more than one vote for any one candidate.
    2. Each delegation shall tabulate its total vote, and the delegation chair shall deliver a written total to the Secretary. When all delegations have submitted their votes, the Secretary shall declare the voting closed.
    3. At this point, an announcement of each delegation’s vote total shall be made by delegation chairs in alphabetical order beginning with a randomly selected delegation.
    4. Those five candidates receiving the highest vote totals shall be declared elected. If a tie vote affecting the outcome of the election occurs, another ballot for the remaining offices shall be held with each delegate allowed to cast as many votes as there are offices to fill.
  3. Nominations for each candidate may be made by any delegate present on the floor, provided he or she has the candidate’s permission. Nominating speeches shall be limited in duration as follows:
    1. Chair: Total of 10 minutes;
    2. All others: Total of 5 minutes.
  4. In the event a region has not otherwise provided for the election of its regional representative to the National Committee then the delegates from the region shall elect its regional representative, provided there are at least five delegates present. Each Region’s delegates may elect their representative in whatever manner they choose, provided all delegates present from that region are given equal voice in the selection.

RULE 9: ELECTION OF JUDICIAL COMMITTEE

Nominations and elections for members of the Judicial Committee shall be conducted in the same manner as specified for at-large members of the National Committee.

Proviso:This amendment shall take effect upon the opening of the convention following the convention at which it is adopted. Those elected at this convention will be responsible for a full election cycle.

——————————-END OF PROPOSAL——————————-

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 
   (X)
 
Comments:

As mentioned in my previous response, electronic voting is a terrible idea. We should be setting a good example for politicians by showing them that such methods are unnecessary, not a bad example.

Problems with electronic voting are serious and well-documented. See for instance:


As was pointed out by Marc Montoni of the Virginia LP, the requirement for candidates seeking party office to circulate nomination forms would also impose a much more significant burden on someone who lives in a remote area with few Libertarians, than it does candidates living where there are active chapters.

There’s also plenty of room for devils in the details of this proposal. How much would it cost to pay an outside company to handle LP elections each year? Will candidates for party office who don’t have websites be denied an equal chance to communicate their views to potential voters? What’s to stop a person sending out email ballots to simply mistype a person’s email address, so that he or she never actually receives a ballot? 

Finally, I don’t buy the description of the “problem” that supposedly prompted this proposal. My understanding is that the reason LP candidates don’t get more support from national has little or nothing to do with when LNC members’ terms expire, and plenty to do with the party simply lacking resources, or LNC members choosing to spend what resources they do have at their disposal on other priorities. The implication that the turnover of a certain percentage of seats on the LNC during campaign season (which season? election campaigns vary in length and timing throughout the year) is somehow preventing the LNC from supporting candidates doesn’t pass the sniff test. I want to see the evidence that this is a significant problem!

Recommendation 8 of 10

Open Conventions

Problem:
We currently regulate Convention attendance by limiting the number of delegates from each state. However, when more people from a state arrive than there are allocated, we always find a way to seat them with the delegations of other states. This is needlessly bureaucratic.

Solution:
So long as the number of delegates in attendance is significantly fewer than the 1,050 allowed under our bylaws, dispense with the need for delegate allocation formulas and allow any member to be seated at Convention.

Benefits:

  • A simpler, faster credentialing process.
  • No more hassling for alternates – everyone gets seated.
  • More of our members will attend conventions if the process appears less intimidating. No one should needlessly fear not getting seated.

——————————START OF PROPOSAL——————————

ARTICLE 11: CONVENTIONS

6. Open Conventions:
Notwithstanding any other section of this Article, if the number of delegates registered at either of the two most recent Regular Conventions was less than ninety percent of the maximum number allowed, the requirements for delegate allocation, selection and reporting shall be waived, and any individual who is a sustaining member of the Party or a member of the affiliate party in whose delegation he or she is to be seated may register as a delegate to the Regular Convention.

Proviso: This amendment shall take effect upon the final adjournment of the convention at which it is adopted.

——————————-END OF PROPOSAL——————————-

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 
 
 
Comments:

This proposal would significantly decrease the power of the state affiliates, by removing their ability to determine who their national delegates are.

As with the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which made U.S. Senators directly elected rather than appointed by state legislators, it *superficially appears* to be a step toward greater democracy and bottom-up participation, but in fact by removing an important check-and-balance of federalism, it made the central government more powerful relative to the states, and that’s what this proposal would do with the national party relative to the state affiliates.


The California LP made this type of switch to an “open convention” system, where people could just show up and be delegates rather than signing up via their county chapter (disempowering those county affiliates relative to the state party organization), and unless I’m greatly mistaken it has *not* boosted convention attendance which generally continues to decline.

More people will attend our conventions if they are *more affordable*, delegates are *more empowered*, and there are *more different types of activities and things going on*.


If the current system is considered “needlessly bureaucratic”, it could be simplified by simply giving each state affiliate an unlimited number of delegate slots, rather than capping it artificially which results in some delegations filling up and people just getting seated with other states anyway.

Recommendation 10 of 10

Require Minimum Term as a Sustaining Member to be Seated Automatically as a Delegate at Open Conventions
(to be presented if proposal to create open conventions is enacted)

Problem:
With an Open Convention, it’s possible that a large number of individuals can join the Party as sustaining members just prior to the convention and attend as voting delegates.

Solution:
To alleviate this concern, amend the just adopted bylaw change to authorize only longer-time delegates to seat those who recently joined the Party.

The Bylaws and Rules Committee does not presume to know to what extent, if any, delegates will want someone to have been a member before being automatically seated, so we propose that the Convention vote to “fill-the-blank” in the proposal below.

The process for “fill-the-blank” works as follows. Nominations are made from the floor for different proposed durations (e.g. 365 days, 180 days, 90 days, 30 days). In order, voice votes are held in succession on each alternative, starting with the alternative with the longest duration because it is likely to have the least amount of support. The first alternative to achieve majority support of the delegates will become the main motion considered for adoption. If none of the alternatives achieves majority support, this proposal will be considered rejected, at which point delegates can propose a substitute motion from the floor.

——————————START OF PROPOSAL——————————

ARTICLE 11: CONVENTIONS

6. Open Conventions:
Notwithstanding any other section of this Article, if the number of delegates registered at either of the two most recent Regular Conventions was less than ninety percent of the maximum number allowed, the requirements for delegate allocation, selection and reporting shall be waived, and any individual who is a sustaining member of the Party or a member of the affiliate party in whose delegation he or she is to be seated may register as a delegate to the Regular Convention. However, individuals who first became eligible to register as delegates fewer than (FILL THE BLANK) days prior to the opening of the Regular Convention shall need majority approval of the Convention to be seated.

Proviso: This amendment shall take effect upon the final adjournment of the convention at which it is adopted.

——————————-END OF PROPOSAL——————————-

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 
 
 
 
 
   (X)
 
Comments:


Basically this proposal admits that it’s designed to deal with a problem that would be created by the previous proposal for conventions in which people would become delegates by going through the national office, rather than through their state affiliates.

Withdraw the previous proposal, and this one becomes unnecessary. 

Recommendation 10 of 10

Creation of a Style Committee

Problem:
A proposal quickly crafted on the floor of the most recent convention added Convention Rule 5.8, which authorizes the National Committee with a majority vote to amend the Platform and Bylaws (but not the Convention Special Rules of Order) for non-substantive stylistic changes.

The enacted change is more in the nature of a Bylaw, rather than a Convention Special Rule of Order, which is normally intended to address how we conduct business during the convention.

Solution:
Move the provision from the Convention Rules to the Bylaws, and require such changes receive a super-majority (rather than a simple majority) of the National Committee after providing advance notice on the Party’s website, and that such changes be proposed by a separate Style Committee, a majority of which is other than National Committee members.

——————————START OF PROPOSAL——————————

RULE 5: DEBATING AND VOTING — PLATFORM

8. Should changes to the bylaws or platform result in a grammatical error in accordance with the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, the LNC presiding at the time of that discovery is authorized to make those grammatical corrections provided it does not change the meaning or intent of the item edited.

ARTICLE 17: AMENDMENT


  1. These Bylaws may be amended by a 2/3 vote of the delegates at any Regular Convention.
  2. Article 4, Section 1, shall not be amended by a vote of less than 7/8 of all registered delegates at a Regular Convention.
  3. The National Committee shall appoint a Style Committee composed of three members: the Secretary and two individuals who are not members of the National Committee. The Style Committee may propose stylistic changes to the Platform, Bylaws, and Convention Rules that are non-substantive in nature, such as corrections to spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, active versus passive voice, breaking up run-on sentences, correcting references, reordering, and renumbering. Proposed changes shall be posted on the Party’s website at least 30 days prior to being submitted to the National Committee for ratification by a two-thirds vote.

——————————-END OF PROPOSAL——————————-

Would you support or oppose this proposal?

 
 
 
Comments:

ALL of the members of the proposed Style Committee should be people not on the National Committee! There are too many people serving on multiple committees while others are denied the opportunity to serve on any.

It’s also troubling that many of the same people are appointed to serve on the Bylaws Committee year after year, while others are passed over. This committee needs term limits.

Moreover, *every* member of the LNC, not just a super-majority, should have to agree that a proposed change is non-substantive, before the Style Committee or other creature of the LNC is allowed to take over from delegates the power to amend the Platform and Bylaws in any way shape or form.

If Convention Rule 5.8 needs to be made a Bylaw rather than a convention rule, let’s take this opportunity to get it right by adding stronger safeguards against more top-down control.
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19 thoughts on “Starchild’s analysis of LP national bylaws proposals, 2012

  1. starchild

    I’d like to thank Paulie for the excellent suggestion, which I incorporated in my responses, of including “Pro” and “Con” arguments in the Bylaws survey along with each proposed change.

    Libertarian National Committee member Rebecca Sink-Burris also thought this was a good idea. Indeed it does seem like the kind of basic good governance step that should be non-controversial and people of different factions should be able to support.

  2. paulie Post author

    I’d like to thank Paulie for the excellent suggestion, which I incorporated in my responses, of including “Pro” and “Con” arguments in the Bylaws survey along with each proposed change.

    As posted elsewhere:

    I did not come up with the idea. I seconded someone’s proposal; I’m not sure
    whose at this point, and I don’t want to spend any more time looking.

    I do agree that it’s a good idea, but I don’t want to take credit where it is
    not due.

    If you got the idea from me and passed it on to where it might do some good, I’m
    glad you did. But as far as I remember all I did was say something like “I
    agree” or “seconded.”

    -p

  3. Robert Capozzi

    sc: It’s their way of seeing what they can get the delegates at the next convention to roll over for:

    me: Is this fact or conjecture?

  4. Robert Capozzi

    4 p, opinion based on fact or conjecture? Did SC overhear a Bylaws Comm volunteer say, hey, let’s do this to see what the rank and file will roll over for, for ex?

  5. Robert Capozzi

    more to 4 p, that would be an opinion based on a fact, since one observation does not make for the specific characterization that SC does in his intro.

    Now, if he had a document signed by all Bylaws committee people, saying something about testing to see what the rank-and-file would roll over for, that would fall into an “actual fact” bucket.

    Instead, I get the sense that SC is imputing motives on a collective, and in so doing, disrespecting that collective of volunteers. I know I’d not want to be so treated, and so I do my best not to treat others with such disrespect.

    SC may well subscribe to a different code of behavior.

  6. Robert Capozzi

    more to 4 p, see, if SC had said in his intro, “I’m concerned about these Bylaws changes. I’ve detected a pattern from previous Bylaws Committees that the members (some of whom have served before) appear to be attempting to nationalize the LP. I think that’s a mistake,” I’d be more inclined to read the substance of what he has to say. With that lede, it appears to be a personal grievance of some sort, so I’m less interested in what he has to say.

  7. Starchild

    Robert – You’re splitting hairs. Obviously what I said is my opinion. But just because I used strong language does not mean there is a *personal* grievance involved.

    The words I chose reflect the seriousness of what I think *is* an ongoing effort to disempower ordinary LP members and turn the party into less of a grassroots and more of a top-down organization.

    My comments do not necessarily apply to every single member of the Bylaws Committee, just as when Libertarians attack Congress as an institution it doesn’t mean they believe Ron Paul is guilty of whatever generalizations they’re making. I think people including yourself are smart enough to understand this.

    Now, we could debate my word choices and so on all day, but I think it might be more constructive to to talk about the specifics of the various Bylaws proposals, don’t you?

  8. Pingback: Starchild’s analysis of LP national bylaws proposals, 2012 | ThirdPartyPolitics.us

  9. paulie Post author

    4 p, opinion based on fact or conjecture?

    I report, you decide. Perhaps you could read the whole thing and see if it makes sense on balance rather than getting stuck on a sentence in the intro. Or not.

  10. Robert Capozzi

    8 sc: Now, we could debate my word choices and so on all day, but I think it might be more constructive to to talk about the specifics of the various Bylaws proposals, don’t you?

    me: For some, it may be. For me, civility is FAR more important than tweaks to the Bylaws. Respect IS substance in my book.

    There is no way to peace; peace is the way.

    As for organizational matters, I’m generally for consolidating and streamlining any liberty party to maximize its potential to undo as much of the State as possible. My observation is that most government power is at the federal level and the LP has few resources. Achieving critical mass is probably best coordinated on a national scale. So, I’m less interested in voluntary, organizational democracy, but I do respect your preference in this regard.

  11. Nicholas Sarwark

    RC,
    You still a member of National? Are you attending the 2012 Convention? If no, your opinion is just as valuable as Cavlan or one of the other non-LP members.

    Starchild is and he has attended every National Convention I’ve ever been at (all since Anaheim). His opinion carries way more weight on this issue, since he knows what he’s talking about based on experience with Bylaws proposals over the years.

    Nattering about tone, civility, word choice, and what would happen if David Duke tried to run as a Libertarian is all well and good, but I don’t think it’s indicated for anyone interested in the governance of the Libertarian Party vis a vis bylaws changes in 2012.

  12. Robert Capozzi

    12 ns, thanks for your opinion. I have not questioned SC’s bone fides. I would suggest that if Cavlan offered a good idea that advanced liberty, I would recognize it as such, and might support it. You?

    As you are a practioner of jurisprudence, I admire and respect that, but I do think that it’s a highly restricted truth-finding methodology, in part because of the notion of stare decisis. I prefer a more open-minded, radical approach to inquiry.

    I would, for ex., suggest that a non-civil MO will generally fail regardless of how narrowly the scope of inquiry might be. My assertion is that civility undergirds any healthy, productive exchange of ideas. Nothing works without civility.

  13. Nicholas Sarwark

    @13: I’ll assume the answers to my questions are both no.

    If Cavlan offered a good idea, of course I’d accept it. If he distracted from the topic with rambling asides, I’d ignore them and encourage others to do the same.

  14. Bruce Cohen

    How did anyone hijack said committee?

    It does seem that Mister Starchild just needs some enemy to fight.

    And to quote George Phillies, ‘the enemy is not in this room’.

    All those things suggested by the Bylaws committee seem very normal. If these are the biggest problems the Starchild can find in the LP, we are in a lot better shape than I thought!

  15. Nicholas Sarwark

    @15: Nobody said the committee was hijacked, other than you.

    It was, however, packed with people who have very similar views on bylaws proposals.

    I don’t think Starchild needs an enemy to fight, but he does feel that the convention should vote against the proposals that came out of the committee and gave arguments for why.

  16. Mike Seebeck

    “any thoughts on the specifics of Starchild?s criticisms?”

    Just one small but not totally relevant thing: removing the county delegation mathematics in CA and moving to an “open convention” has nothing to do with convention attendance numbers. It did have everything to do with making part of the LPCA’s office work simpler and not micromanage the county delegations or restrict them. If anything, it empowered the counties to get busy and grow and have that growth represented at the state convention, up to 100% if desired, instead of being limited by an arbitrary number based on an arcane formula.

    But other than that detail, I agree with Starchild’s point on that proposal when he writes:

    “If the current system is considered ?needlessly bureaucratic?, it could be simplified by simply giving each state affiliate an unlimited number of delegate slots, rather than capping it artificially which results in some delegations filling up and people just getting seated with other states anyway.”

    For my own take on these, and I disagree in some part with Starchild on #5 and #10, but not entirely, see also https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2011/09/lp-bylaws-and-rules-committee-issues-2012-report/#comment-624151.

    Starchild makes a valid point on #10 that the Style Committee and the Bylaws Committee should have no National Committee affiliation. But having no LNC members *or LP staff, paid or otherwise,* on those committees is a much better idea. His comment about certain people being passed over is also valid–or so says this former CA and CO Bylaws and Style committees member and chair at various times. I’m very much qualified, but because certain PTB don’t like the fact that I can’t be controlled by them, I speak my mind, and really don’t care much for their bullshit, they pass over me, too.

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