Libertarian Party 2016 Bylaws and Rules Committee Survey

Libertarian PartyVia email blast:

Dear fellow Libertarian:

I am writing you because I need your help. I serve as the chairman of the 2016 Libertarian Party Bylaws and Rules Committee and we would like to know your opinions about our party bylaws and convention rules.

With the 2016 convention just next month, our convention delegates will soon be voting on amendments to our Bylaws and Convention Rules. The 2016 Bylaws and Rules Committee has adopted a series of 23 proposals. I now invite you to complete a questionnaire sharing your thoughts on each proposal.

Please take the questionnaire when you have enough time to give thoughtful consideration to all 23 proposals. It will allow you to express support or opposition and to provide comments on each proposal. Because it’s so close to convention time, this survey will only remain open for one week, so please don’t wait so long that the opportunity is gone. The survey will be closed after May 2.

Your responses will be very helpful. The popularity of proposals (as measured by this survey) will be a factor in the order they are presented to the delegates. If you identify important factors we overlooked or if you can think of improvements for the proposals, the Committee will have an opportunity to modify our report when we meet again in Orlando just before the convention.

Please take a few minutes to participate in the questionnaire by clicking on the link below or by typing into your browser.

>>Click here to answer the questionnaire<<

If you need to review the current Libertarian Party bylaws and convention rules, you can find it here on the party’s website. Click here for bylaws.

You can also get a PDF version of the full committee report shown in this survey.

Thank you,

M Carling
Chairman, Libertarian Party Bylaws and Rules Committee

PS: If you will be joining us in Orlando at the convention, please plan to attend the Bylaws Forum on Thursday, May 26 at 5:30pm.

Here is a link to the proposals themselves.

This entry was posted in Libertarian Party on by .

About Caryn Ann Harlos

Caryn Ann Harlos is a paralegal residing in Castle Rock, Colorado and presently serving as the Region 1 Representative on the Libertarian National Committee and is a candidate for LNC Secretary at the 2018 Libertarian Party Convention. Articles posted should NOT be considered the opinions of the LNC nor always those of Caryn Ann Harlos personally. Caryn Ann's goal is to provide information on items of interest and (sometimes) controversy about the Libertarian Party and minor parties in general not to necessarily endorse the contents.

35 thoughts on “Libertarian Party 2016 Bylaws and Rules Committee Survey

  1. Shawn Levasseur

    Re: Cayrn’s comments linked to above:

    Concerning the “Affiliate Parties” changes… Actually I was concerned this was about Oregon too. But the more I think about it, it really doesn’t effect it either way. But I’

  2. Caryn Ann Harlos Post author

    It sure does. And Oregon thinks it does. Hopefully Wes will come add his input.

  3. Dave Terry

    I will respond to the twenty-three proposals later, when I have more time.

    However, there is ONE ISSUE that dwarfs ALL the others; THAT is the
    “NON AGGRESSION PRINCIPAL!” (not to be confused with all the obscure
    and obscenely obtuse obfuscations regularly posted by the League of
    Illiterales* and hyphenated-‘libertarians’ on these pages)

    * Those who, for some obscure or personal reason CHOOSE to be illiteral
    and non-concise.

  4. Shawn Levasseur

    (oops… Hit “ENTER” too soon)
    … But I’m thinking this really isn’t about Oregon.

    I doubt EITHER LPOR is going to sign anything without assurance that they are the recognized affiliate. This rule change doesn’t set anything in either side’s favor. The LNC is the body that would have to make any decisions, and this rule doesn’t force them to decide one way or the other, or even make a decision.

    That said I recommended this be given a low priority due to the emotional land mines that surround any discussion of Oregon. (Cue Wes coming down on my head for some perceived offense in 3.. 2.. 1..)

  5. Shawn Levasseur

    Re:Caryn’s “Ex-Officio delegate” response.

    I opposed this as well, but for different reasons.

    1. The opening phrase invites long drawn-out challenges for such delegates during the credentials report.

    2. In 1998, when a change to defining how LNC officers and members are given Ex-Officio delegate status, we decided to instead. The idea brought up was that if the LNC members couldn’t get on their state delegations, they wouldn’t be long for the LNC anyway. This is a little different, but I’m sure the same sentiment would prevail

    3. This may advantage some states over others, as they have more offices to run for than others, per capita.

    4. I think there isn’t enough competition for the delegation seats as it is, expanding the number of delegates is something that shouldn’t happen anytime soon.

    This said, I like the idea of having more objective factors involved in the delegate calculations than just membership and presidential vote. The only ones that does seem fair and measurable, would be the running of congressional candidates, and performance within those races. But maybe that should wait until demand for delegate seats exceeds supply for a cycle or two.

  6. Caryn Ann Harlos Post author

    Knapp’s recent article on the potential contract between candidates and the LNC has changed my mind on this from tentatively support to oppose.

  7. Caryn Ann Harlos Post author

    And ugh, grammar errors in my responses. I have been so busy that I was stressed at even having time to do this. And so upset at the naked gamesmanship in the “mission statement” bull. Of course, I knew that was coming as it was the topic of extensive discussion here already at IPR. A conversation I will need to dig up because if I can at all scrounge together any time, I will write something exposing that bit of sophistry and trickery (and whatever other pejoratives I can conjure).

  8. Shawn Levasseur

    Re: the change to the membership article to have an alternate pledge…

    I’m no purist, but I like that there’s something to cause people to think a second before becoming a member. I seriously doubt it’s really that much of a road block in growing membership. I see it as more of a speed bump, in the hopes of preventing the dilution of the Libertarian brand to the point of it no longer reflecting the libertarian adjective.

    Turning the membership form into a multiple choice quiz however, may prevent people from joining, just out of confusion.

    Change the pledge to the new wording or leave it as is. Given others passionate defense of the current wording, I’d just as well leave it as is.

  9. Shawn Levasseur

    I oppose the idea of requiring candidates for the presidential and vice-presidential nomination to run as a ticket.

    Not only does it restrict the convention, as Caryn has noted, it forces presidential candidates to choose a running mate prior to their own nomination. The nominee may (or the convention on its own) may want to consider one of the failed presidential nominees as a VP candidate (something that the bylaws were changed some years ago to allow).

    Note, that not having this requirement hasn’t prevented current or previous candidates from running as a ticket prior to convention.

  10. Shawn Levasseur

    Re: The Quorum change (for electing officers only)

    I think the problem here is that on the last day of the convention. People leave early, during the time when we are voting on our leadership. In 2000, we lost the quorum, and were unable to elect a judicial committee.

    The recent system of having delegates “check out” if they leave early, to avoid this apparently is in violation of RoR. This alternate system of reducing the quorum requirement to 40% of all delegates (with no check-out allowed) I think is okay.

    Ideally I’d prefer people stick around. But not everyone can schedule travel beyond the weekend itself. (Another reason why I’d like to see more competition for delegates. Ability to stay for the whole event ought to be a component in how affiliates choose delegates). I think reducing the quorum requirement for this one purpose only would be a good idea.

    This may become less of a problem if leadership elections are in conventions separate from the presidential nomination. Departing delegates seem to be more of a problem during presidential years.

    If the change to electing leadership in the off-year convention passed. I’d just as well make this quorum change effective for this convention only.

  11. Shawn Levasseur

    In re-reading my comment on the ex-officio proposal I see a confusing grammatical omission:

    ” In 1998, when a change to defining how LNC officers and members are given Ex-Officio delegate status, we decided to instead.”

    … “do away with ex-officio delegates” was missing from that sentence.

    I apologize for any confusion.

    (That’s why I prefer the Disqus commenting system. You can always go back and edit.)

  12. Thomas L. Knapp

    I didn’t save my question by question response to the survey, but my impression was that I thought most of the proposed changes were either bad ideas or just not worth spending time on.

    The two I specifically picked out for opposition (I write about it here) are:

    1) The proposed requirement that presidential candidates sign contracts with the LNC as a condition of being eligible for nomination.

    One thing I didn’t note in the blog piece above is that the instant the party nominates, the VP candidate’s campaign merges into the presidential campaign, so asking VP candidates to sign contracts would be silly even if the whole idea wasn’t a bad one.

    Another problem I left out of my analysis is that what we’re talking about here is not an actual “contract.” A “contract” presumes negotiation in good faith between all parties involved. What this is is a set of demands from the LNC that the bylaws would require presidential candidates to agree to. The membership would have zero control over what those demands were.

    Just as an extreme example of how this could go wrong, suppose that a majority of the LNC decides the LP shouldn’t run a presidential ticket one year (maybe due to a Ron Paul equivalent seeking a major party nomination ? No problem — they don’t even have to put that question to the delegates. All they have to do is offer a “contract” that no prospective candidate would even dream of signing. “Sorry folks, we don’t have anyone running for president.”

    2) The attempt to steal the name “Libertarian Party” by requiring affiliate Libertarian Parties to agree to give up their name if the cease to be affiliates of an organization created by them and for their convenience. Apparently someone finally realized that the LNC’s trademark claim on the name “Libertarian Party” is frivolous, fraudulent, and wouldn’t last a hot minute in court, so they’re trying to do it a different way. If this piece of attempted theft passes, every state affiliate should DIS-affiliate rather than file the required statement.

  13. Jim F

    I agree with Caryn on most of the proposals, here are my disagreements:

    Disagreement: Dues, I’m all for $1.00 dues, so giving the LNC the authority to increase more than $25.00 I disagree with.

    Presidential Contracts, we don’t need them, giving the LNC more power I don’t see as a libertarian thing to do

    Recognizing Presidential Campaigns:The LP should be all about openness and honesty and shouldn’t be hiding anyone. I don’t like hindering the freedom of the process at all.

    Chicago Manual of Style: This rule just really needs to be eliminated. This was added on the fly from the floor in ’10 because some delegates were tied of having debates about commas and though this would make their life more bearable. You will never be able to convince Libertarians that a change of a comma doesn’t change the meaning, giving the authority to do so is opening pandoras box.

    Delegates: Three is nothing preventing the committee from changing what a member is. The report says “this does not mean you have to be a sustaining member, only that you have to sign the pledge” but this could change someday where you need to have givien $1,000 in the last month to be a member, Moreover it adds additional responsibilities to an already over burdened state committee to have to double check membership status of potential delegates.

  14. George Phillies

    For the report.

    “Upon signing this Agreement, the Aspirant and Campaign Committee shall promptly provide to the LNC their “campaign” lists, i.e., their most current lists of contributors, inquiries and volunteers for this residential election and the mailing and e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of those persons, and their “media” lists, i.e., their most current lists of media contacts and the mailing and e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of those persons.”

    A competently run campaign will have procured media contact lists from standard commercial sources, those lists having in many cases proprietary agreements that prevent the information from being handed over. With respect to the lists of volunteers, etc.,. the standard approach with information collection from web sites, etc is to have a privacy agreement with an optin or out arrangement as to whether the information may be shared. The proposed agreement has no sense of intellectual property rights or internet privacy.

    Also, the agreement is worthless, namely if Smith is running for President, Smith contracts with Big George’s campaign publicity and privacy, LLC, which handles the date collection, retention and privacy, so the campaign itself has approximately no information to share.

  15. George Phillies

    “The Campaign Committee shall hire a Campaign Manager to oversee its Campaign strategy during the entire course of the Campaign. ”

    Frankly, it is none of the LNC’s business exactly how the campaign organizes, whether there is one person at the top or a group of people.

    Also, as Don Gorman explained many years ago, there is only one person in charge of a campaign, and that is the candidate.

  16. George Phillies

    “The LNC shall promptly provide to the Campaign Committee copies of all announcements, news releases, advertising and promotional materials and other widely disseminated materials issued by the LNC regarding the Campaign. ”

    Would anyone care to bet whether or not anyone on the LNC will actually read this stuff?

  17. George Phillies

    Require President and Vice President to run as a pair with one vote.

    This proposal is remarkably politically ignorant, in that it blocks several of the most traditional political arrangements, notably the between-ballot haggling that would unite the party by giving two popular candidates access to the ticket. For all the lead candidate’s flaws, Barr- Root is a good example of why this works; ditto Reagan-Bush and Kennedy-Johnson. Ruwart-Root would have done the same.

    The obvious opposition parties in fact have a separate ballot for the VP nomination; I am old enough to remember the 1956 Democratic Party convention where this arose.

  18. George Phillies

    Elect officers to four-year terms at the Mid-Term Convention and make them subject to recall if delegates conclude that they are not performing well.

    This shows up every so often. It is still a bad idea. If 2000 or 2002 had been the middle of a four year term, the party would not in my opinion have survived the experience.

  19. George Phillies


    Replace GAAP with the requirement that party financial reports follow the same rules as the Federal body (now the FEC) with which we file, so the two sets of reports agree with each other. The change would also save money by removing the need to keep or periodically generate two sets of books.

  20. Caryn Ann Harlos Post author

    George can you explain your opposition to the four year term?

  21. George Phillies

    non-regular conventions: You don’t need one of these until you really need it very badly. It is like the Judicial Committee, which did nothing for most of its existence, but which under a prior LNC became important.

    Oh, yes: bylaws-established committees. No one should be allowed to serve on one than one of these.

  22. George Phillies


    Go to Read Let Freedom Ring! for 1999-2006. We had a series of serious problems, and the disappearance or replacement of the officers every two years was important. Note also that many officers and members have really wanted to stop after two years. If people are good tye can be re-elected. if bad, they should be dumped soon.

  23. Ken Moellman

    There’s a proposal to mess with membership dues again. I don’t understand why we don’t just index it to inflation. Maybe set the membership fee to $25, adjusted for inflation indexed to 2006, and rounded up to the next $5 increment.

    Something like this:

    That would put dues at $30 this year. And then we could stop arguing over dues forever.

    Just a thought.

  24. George Phillies

    “any sustaining member serving in public office subject to a vote of the general electorate is entitled
    to be a delegate in the corresponding affiliate’s delegation upon presenting proof of such status to the Credentials Committee. ”

    Why not just hand the Party over to the LPs of, roughly speaking, PA, NH, and perhaps TX. The number of elected election judges in Pennsylvania is amazing. Ditto the number of elected public officials in New Hampshire. In Worcester, on the other hand, for modestly less than 200,000 people we have 11 city counsellors and iirc 6 of the7 school board members as elected officials. That’s it.

  25. Thomas L. Knapp

    Good point on elected officials. If there’s going to be some kind of “super-delegate” scheme of that sort, I’d say that it should only apply to Libertarians elected:

    – in partisan elections, on the Libertarian Party ticket and ONLY the Libertarian Party ticket (“fusion” violates the bylaws in any case, something I notice this round of bylaws proposals wouldn’t fix);

    – to the office of POTUS, VPOTUS, US Senator, US Representative, statewide executive office, state legislature, or mayor or city council of a polity larger than some population minimum.

    George’s point about various minor offices is valid. In Missouri, township Libertarian Party committeeman and committeewoman (there’s potentially one of each from each township in the state) is a public official chosen in a partisan public election. I don’t recall how many townships there are, but the list of township committeepersons for each of the parties takes up several pages of fine print in the state manual. In theory, under this proposal Missouri could probably rate at least 500 delegates if it got enough people to put their names on the ballot (at no cost, unless something has changed).

  26. George Phillies

    There is an interesting question in MA as to whether or not people elected in the Presidential primary, meaning town and ward committeepeople, are or are not public officials. They are elected in public elections. If the answer is “yes” and we elect a full set of them, Massachusetts would be entitled to rather over 100,000 convention delegates.

  27. Thomas L. Knapp


    Yeah, there are all kinds of questions about things like political party committee positions.

    In Missouri, the parties are run by township/precinct committee members who in turn comprise the county, state senate, congressional, etc. district committees and from there the state committee. Are they elected public officials? Well, they are elected in public partisan primary elections, they are listed in the Missouri State Manual just like other state officials, and at one time I found an Attorney General opinion stating that as bodies of public officials, the committees they compose are subject to the same sunshine laws for their proceedings, etc. as any other government bodies.

    The county committee I chaired from 2008 to 2010 met in county government’s main office building, in the same conference room as the county commission. In fact, we were REQUIRED BY LAW to meet there at least once every two years, the week after the elections in which committee members were elected, to “perfect our organization.” I assume the County of St. Louis wouldn’t have given us that room and that statute would not have required us to use it if we were the local Pokemon fan club.

  28. Ken Moellman

    Another thought on the delegates allocated for elected Libertarians….

    Instead of automatically granting delegate status to elected Libertarians, create a 3rd part of the delegation formula with a bit more intelligence behind it. For example (not saying the numbers are right) here’s the basic math:

    List each partisanly-elected Libertarian, along with the total number of people in their political division.
    Divide any candidate by the number of party labels they ran under (fusion penalty).
    Divide any candidate by the number of people elected in that particular race (field race penalty)
    Add all final numbers together.
    Give 1 delegate for each 5,000 voters.

    So the math formula per elected Libertarian would be ( ( (# of voters) / (# of labels) ) / (# elected in field race) ) / 5000 … add all together and round down to the nearest whole number.

    Generally, I see the goal of encouraging more people to support more Libertarian candidates getting elected as a good thing.

  29. Kyle Markley

    Caryn, thanks for posting your complete responses. I only kept copies of a few of mine before submitting; here are the ones that I thought others might find interesting:

    Define in Advance the Party’s Agreement with Presidential Campaign:
    I agree that it would be nice to have agreements negotiated in advance, but this is a strong-arm tactic: it says that a person MUST have signed the LNC’s default agreement in order to be eligible for nomination at all. No. This too far diminishes the power of the delegates to select a nominee of their choosing, and it gives the LNC inordinate control (via stipulating the terms of the default agreement) over candidates.

    The default agreement would, for example, bar a whistleblower of the Edward Snowden type from becoming a candidate, because he knows that he’s under investigation.

    Establish a Party Mission Statement:
    This is too controversial to put in the bylaws. Some people believe that electing Libertarians is the mission of the Party. But others do not, and see the value of the party in spreading libertarian ideas. To pin down the mission as focusing on electoral results alienates those with message-spreading (or other) goals.

    Protect Party Name Rights for Affiliates:
    This is very transparently an attempt to take over the Oregon affiliate. Step one, strong arm them into ceding control over their name to the national party. Step two, disaffiliate them. Step three, watch them lose ballot access because they can’t use their own name (and Oregon does not permit political parties to change their names). Step four, affiliate the Republican-sympathetic rump faction as the “new” Libertarian party in Oregon. I’m looking at you, Carling and Starr. This is pathetic and disgusting.

    Moreover, it is an incredibly bad idea. Doing this would give other political parties a very strong incentive to try to infiltrate and take over the national party for the purpose of disaffiliating as many states as possible, causing them to lose the rights to their names and therefore their ballot access. This centralization of power in the national party creates an attack vector against all the state affiliates simultaneously.

    This is the stupidest thing I have read in a long time, and I read blog comments.

    I regret that this survey tool does not permit me to include an image of a flaming middle finger.

    Require Audit Committee to Report to Convention Delegates:
    This proposal requires the audit committee to report at the convention. But if things are going well, this report will be very boring and likely a waste of time. It should be the audit committee’s option whether or not they want to report at the convention.

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