Avens O’Brien: Solution Proposal for the LNC 2020

Avens O’Brien via FB and her blog:

Feel free to share my post if you agree with it.

This originated at a Facebook post, but I wanted an outside link as well.
The original Facebook post can be found here.

THIS WILL BE VERY LONG.
I’m actually laying out an entire process.

PROBLEM:

The Libertarian Party was supposed to have an in-person convention over Memorial Day Weekend (starting May 21st) in Austin TX. We are unable to do that, due to restrictions by the city of Austin or state of TX in the face of Covid-19.

This convention is where we select our Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, where we select new LNC officers/reps, and deliberate/vote on changes to our bylaws, platform, and more. It is also a substantial fundraiser.

We also have a really great time partying and seeing each other in person since we spend so much time bickering online and it’s really nice to get the real life experience of each other. I have come away from each national convention liking my fellow Libertarians so much more than I often do arguing online.

So, unfortunately, we will have no in-person convention during Memorial Day weekend.

ALTERNATIVE #1

One alternative solution is to move the date of the in-person convention. We do not yet know how long travel or gathering restrictions are going to last, and even when they have been lifted, we don’t yet know how many delegates would not be able to attend due to health concerns (themselves or those they live with) and also adjusting for new travel location and time.

Besides the possibility that attendance will be lowered, this creates an issue of perhaps a poor representation of the delegates if, say, all older delegates do not attend due to health concerns.

This also creates issues with ballot access for some states (which is also being worked on) and even more: campaign time. Waiting until July or August to nominate minimizes the amount of time our nominee has to campaign/take donations/try to get media attention towards themselves and the Party.

I will attend any in-person convention that occurs, because I have low person risk of major Covid-19 complications, the ability to quarantine myself, and an annoying sense of duty to ensure my voice as a delegate is represented no matter what.

I realize others cannot make that same choice.

ALTERNATIVE #2

A second alternative solution is to have an all-online convention using video meeting software like Zoom. This would allow delegates (and alternates) to log in from their computers at home and participate in floor discuss, debates, votes etc. This would allow people to participate wherever they are without travel restrictions or health concerns.

This also has issues: 1000 people logging in to participate, proposed resolutions, debate, discussion, votes? In the in-person convention hall it has its own faults, but there’s also controls: limited microphones, a stage from which the meeting is run, and the self-restraint that is (somewhat) created by the fact that individuals attending actually had to pay to get there, and aren’t going to do things that would get them thrown out. We DO behave ourselves better in person than we do online.

There MAY or MAY NOT also be issues if there’s an online-convention with states (or state parties) recognizing the delegate vote on the presidential and vice presidential nominees.

Also, let’s be honest: the national convention IN PERSON is a HUGE fundraising opportunity for the party. There are NUMEROUS avenues, from gala dinners to pie-throwing afterparties, where we make money, and an online convention DOES make that harder.

PROBLEMS VS SOLUTIONS

Along the way, observing this, I have been disappointed in the amount of “problem seeking” behavior rather than “solution seeking” behavior of some people inside the party and on the LNC.

Many of the people who are adamantly opposed to online convention will disrupt one. Many of the people who are adamantly opposed to an in-person convention will emphasize the risks, the ballot-concerns. These ARE valid: online conventions can be disrupted in ways IRL (in real life) ones can’t. There may be ballot issues, health risks, and representation problems.

Ultimately, it appears that many people may refuse to acknowledge the result of a vote cast in either situation, claiming it’s not representative, or within order, or whatever.

No matter what way we decide: we will have huge numbers of this convention feeling disenfranchised, poorly represented, or potentially ignored, and this may affect support for our candidates.

What can be done about that?

A BETTER SOLUTION

I can’t honestly see that either an exclusively online or exclusively in-person option will work.

As someone who has attended years and years of National and State conventions, here is my preferred solution – one that utilizes online voting and possibly in-person confirmations.

We have an online vote among delegates for our President/Vice President candidates, and then potentially move the in-person convention to later in the year.

BUT BASIC POLLING ISN’T ENOUGH. There are things we need to be able to do that basic polling does not allow.

ONLINE VOTE PROCESS:

First – state delegate chairs or state party chairs need to ensure they have the best contact information for their delegates – both email and phone. We need to confirm methods of communication, and we ALSO need to be VERY communicative about timelines.

We should make our decisions about when these things will be happening and then giving, say, a week notice so that people can make sure they’re looking out.

SO, I’m going to suggest timelines here, which are not binding, they are examples:

We tell delegates this weekend, that P/VP nomination process will be occurring beginning on May 21st, and a calendar for the next dates is then created based on this start date. This calendar of the timeline should be PUBLIC, posted on the LNC website and emailed to delegates, alternates AND even party members (who have an interest in observing).

TOKENS

So, normally at a National Convention, the delegates receive tokens, which they can use NOT for their vote for President and VP, but to determine who they want in the official LNC debate. This narrows the field for the debate.

We need to emulate this process. Delegates (only) should have the ability to give their tokens via a vote distributed via email. Perhaps the link to the vote is sent to the email on file, but the password to login is called or texted, reducing chances of hacking or others using their code.

Let’s say this is emailed out on May 21st. Delegates will have 24 hours to respond – I highly recommend someone from each state is determined by each state party to call/email/remind delegates to do this. I would agree to do this for CA if needed.

The LNC collects the results of the token vote. This determines (based on number of tokens received) who is in the main debate. There is a minimum number required from the conventions that I can’t remember right now (30?). This would be the same.

DEBATE

The LNC hosts a live Zoom debate (say on the 23rd) using a moderator who was going to be chosen for the in-person debate anyway. The only participants will be the debate moderator and the candidates who qualified. This will be recorded, for distribution to the delegates.

SPEECHES

At each convention, we allow the candidates (I believe anyone who was nominated and then seconded?) to address the convention in a limited speech (5 mins?) in which they can speak themselves, or have others speak on their behalf.

Candidates would be given the right to prepare a video of the same length as the usual speech, which could potentially feature other people who speak on their behalf, or might be a well-produced campaign video. Whatever they want, within the time limitations. These videos will be hosted on various video platforms, and collected by the LNC.

VOTE #1

The LNC, on May 24th, would then send out an email to all members, with a link to the debate, as well as a link to each candidate video. Also, to the delegates: a link to the first Presidential vote. (Again, perhaps requiring a password that was sent separately, again to better validate the votes).

The delegates would have 48 hours (I could be convinced to change this to 24 hours) to vote (this allows for what usually happens during an in person convention – internal caucus and campaign lobbying can occur via phone calls and emails). This puts us at the 26th if we’re doing 48 hour votes.

The results of this vote would be emailed to the delegates/members (and shared on social media) and then if another round is required, we do the same thing we would do at the in-person convention, with a slightly different timeline: candidates have say, 12 hours to send new time-limited videos dropping out/endorsing anyone, before another round of voting.

This continues in the same fashion until we have determined our nominee by over 50% of the delegate vote. The same process occurs for the VP spot.

This should land us into the very beginning of June with our results.

POTENTIAL IN-PERSON CONVENTION

Once the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates are chosen, we can begin petition collecting or ballot efforts or campaigning and volunteers and whatever the heck we need to begin doing to support them.

We plan for an in-person convention in, say, August or even September. This allows us to do platform, bylaws, officer elections. We can also certify the vote made in late May/early June regarding our P/VP nominees.

This in-person convention can also have the Presidential and Vice Presidential nominees as the keynotes, and operate much like other conventions: celebrating an already determined nominee, and generating press and interest for that. As well as fundraising.

THE BIG IF:

IF as we get into June, we find that an in-person convention is less likely even as far out as July or August or September, we still have a much longer timeline for determining what changes we need to make when: perhaps officer elections also become an online process like P/VP.

Perhaps a motion is made to reserve bylaw and platform changes to the 2022 convention in order to acknowledge this unprecedented event globally, and then we do some sort of online state chair convention to ratify the P/VP election. I’m not sure, but the fact is we can spend MONTHS figuring out the right solution for THAT. We just can’t spend MONTHS waiting on our Presidential/VP ticket.

I have posted the skeleton of this idea elsewhere in comments but I figured I’d make a post about it in case anyone felt like contacting their regional reps or LNC members to suggest this.

To find a list of your LNC representatives, to tell them if you like this idea (and feel free to link them to this post) here is the list.

Feel free to repost this wherever you wish. I would appreciate a link back to this post or my Facebook post as well, because if I do any minor editing for clarification, I’ll be doing so on these two posts.

4 thoughts on “Avens O’Brien: Solution Proposal for the LNC 2020

  1. Daniel Wiener

    Here’s my own suggestion which I emailed to the LNC:

    Hello LNC members,

    First let me express my sympathies to all of you as you are faced with an extremely difficult problem for which there is no good solution, only degrees of bad ones. On the one hand I’m just as glad that I’m no longer on the LNC and tasked with picking one of those bad options. On the other hand I can’t help kibbitzing a little. So here are a few comments:

    1. An in-person convention, even if postponed or otherwise limited, will have numerous drawbacks: Flights from (and through) many locations will be unavailable. Many people will be prevented from personally attending due to quarantine or disease affecting themselves or family members, or fall into high-risk categories. (For myself, I am 71 years old and my daughter has me on lock-down at home. Even if the epidemic begins to rapidly tail off and the country starts to re-open, large gatherings such as conventions will still pose at least some contagious risks for the next several months.) Many other people who’d normally attend are financially unable due to job losses and business closures and similar exigencies.)

    2. Our Bylaws do not currently have provisions for electronically-held conventions, nor can the Bylaws be amended outside of a regular convention. (I’ve previously supported proposals which would have allowed the LNC to amend the Bylaws with super-super majorities for just these kinds of between-convention emergencies, but those Bylaws amendments were never passed.) Any end-run due to this emergency situation will inevitably generate heated opposition from a significant fraction of Libertarians, a problem made worse by the questionable legitimacy of the current Judicial Committee.

    3. I’m attracted to the proposal for a hybrid convention. We could set a near-term date and location for an in-person convention, with the intent that whatever small number of delegates are willing to attend will immediately take the following actions: (1) Suspend the rules to first consider amendments to the Bylaws. (2) Pass appropriate amendments to authorize electronic attendance (probably on a one-time basis) and adopt the necessary procedures to do so. (3) Pass an amendment to allow the LNC to take whatever other emergency measures might be necessary (probably with a super-majority). (4) Recess the convention to a later date if that is deemed to be desirable to complete the remainder of the convention’s business electronically.

    4. The obvious problem with a hybrid convention is that the delegates in attendance might fail to take the above actions. I’d suggest sending out an email blast to all currently-known delegates asking them if (1) They would support the above proposal, and (2) If they personally would be willing and able to attend an in-person convention to approve the above proposal. This will only work if there is a strong consensus among all potential delegates in favor of it, and if there is a large supporting number (significantly greater than 2/3) among likely attendees.

    Good luck,
    Daniel Wiener

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