LNC Votes to Cancel Austin In-person Convention, Will Decide Alternative Next Week

As first reported at Ballot Access News, at the much publicized Zoom meeting today, the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) voted nine to seven to cancel the in-person National Convention scheduled for Austin later this month.  This comes in light of the coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in the death of over 60,000 Americans and led to the cancellation of most public gatherings.  The LNC will reconvene on Zoom next week to make alternative plans for the national convention.  The resolution requires the convention take place before July 15.

Some critics of a change in venue, such as vice presidential candidate Tom Knapp, have claimed the LNC lacks the authority to reschedule the convention, saying it requires a meeting of delegates to do so. Andy Craig of the Maryland Libertarian Party disagrees.

“In some cases, it’s just a (totally mistaken, but at least sincere) idea that the rules and ballot access laws leave no other option, in spite of the LNC’s own lawyer, Richard Winger, and the authors of Robert’s Rules all saying otherwise.” Craig argues. “And for others it’s just sheer denial at the reality that their big in-person social gathering isn’t going to happen like usual.”

Craig explains he does not wish to risk the health of participants just to hold an in-person convention.

“I have never been queasier or more uneasy about the personal ethics of the LP than the prospect of being told I’m supposed to try to whip votes and encourage turnout at an in-person-only convention in the middle of a pandemic that has killed more Americans in the past month than the Vietnam War did in a decade,” writes Craig. “If the party puts me in such a position, I will not perpetuate the abuse onto others.”

In a statement yesterday ahead of the vote, outgoing LNC chairman Nick Sarwark declared,  “Protecting the rights of all of our delegates to meaningfully participate and determine the leadership of the party and the standard bearers for the election are my paramount considerations.”

30 thoughts on “LNC Votes to Cancel Austin In-person Convention, Will Decide Alternative Next Week

  1. paulie

    Joshua Smith
    10 mins

    We have voted to pass: “Move to postpone the 2020 convention to an alternate date/location to be chosen by the LNC to a new physical location to take place no later than July 15, with a decision made by the LNC no later than ten days from today by electronic meeting.”

    The vote tally is below. I will explain my vote in the comments.

    Bilyeu Yes

    Bishop-Henchman No

    Ford No

    Goldstein Yes

    Hagan Yes

    Harlos Yes

    Hewitt Yes

    Lark Yes

    Longstreth No

    Mattson Yes

    Merced No

    Nekhaila No

    Phillips No

    Redpath No

    Sarwark (Presiding)

    Smith Yes

    Van Horn Yes

    Yes 9

    No 7

    Presiding 1

  2. paulie

    Last I heard Andy Craig moved to Maryland. He may have moved back to Wisconsin, but if he did I missed it.

  3. Kevin Bjornson

    The paramount concern of Sarwark appears to be, continuing the grip “non-intervenionists” have on the LP. The principle of non-interventionism, when taken to an extreme, would intend an anarchist pacifist utopia. In reality, the result would be the collapse of civilization and a new dark ages, as predators would organize into gangs while those who would defend or retaliate would be disarmed.

    The LNC appears intent on having a physical convention (albeit a short while later). They do this in order to maintain their electability, because they realize that without the screening process and cost to participants of a physical convention, they would not be re-elected.

  4. Anthony Dlugos

    I vote to not have it anywhere near that abominable freedomfest and it’s godawful lineup of speakers.

  5. Kevin Bjornson

    If there must be a physical convention, I’d prefer it be held in conjunction with, or right after/before, Freedomfest (a ray of sanity and hope). Freedomfest does have some counter-productive speakers, but at least that is balanced with good speakers.

    Still, I’d prefer an online convention.

  6. Jose C

    I think there should be a new post where we can comment what should be done to select the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the Libertarian party. Maybe this post should be used for this purpose. There is another post where this is being discussed. We should only have one post for this discussion. Can they be combined?

  7. paulie

    No, you can comment on as many as you want. There are more than two. What’s going to be done is that the LNC will meet a week from today and most likely select at that time the new time and place for a physical convention. It will most likely be the first or second weekend in July, and likely in or around Las Vegas, NV. It could also still be in Austin or perhaps Orlando. If and when that falls through as well they might then move to some consideration of an online convention or having the LNC make the selection as a vacancy filling move. If no decision on a time and place is made next week they will have a few more days after that to make a decision or have another vote to punt yet again.

  8. paulie

    I vote to not have it anywhere near that abominable freedomfest and it’s godawful lineup of speakers.

    I would too if I had a vote, but that’s probably exactly where it will be.

  9. Jose C

    There are posts saying once the decision is made when and where the national convention is announced it can not be changed unless the delegates do it. I disagree. What happens if for example the convention hotel has a fire and burns and is unusable. Does this means a convention can not be held? How would delegates decide where and when the convention should be held? Clearly the National Committee would have to decide when and where a new convention should be held.

  10. paulie

    As far as I know there’s only one person saying once a decision is made it can’t be changed: Tom Knapp. If anyone else said that I have not stumbled across it as yet.

  11. Anthony Dlugos

    paulie,

    I get the rationale for Vegas and Orlando: they can assemble a convention at the drop of a hat…but wouldn’t you say there’s a real probability that an in-person convention is just not in the cards, pun intended.

  12. paulie

    I would. But LNC has yet to come to grips with that. So, what will happen is that in a week they’ll decide on a new time and place, or they’ll decide to decide still later, but they’ll decide on a new time and place. Only if and (I think likely) when that doesn’t work out will they start to seriously consider the details of how they would do it online. Then there’ll be a bunch of time spent trying to iron out all those logistics. We’ll see if they manage to. At some point, they might move to make it a LNC vacancy appointment, extend their own terms, etc.

  13. Anthony Dlugos

    haha. Thanks.

    I spent a year in self-imposed exile from the LP, hanging out only with Democrats.

    Its good to see nothing has changed.

  14. robert capozzi

    PF,

    I seem to recall TK’s saying the LNC can make the selection if they can’t pull off a convention. Is that correct?

  15. Paulie

    Yes, debatable but I think so. They can fill a vacancy but some people have argued that unless there’s a conventional nomination first there is no vacancy to fill.

  16. Jose C

    Long time Libertarian Party member and activist Joe Dehn has come up with a proposal for the Party to select the Presidential and vice-presidential candidates by using a virtual (electronic) method. I support his proposal. Tomorrow I will post a message why it is not possible to have a physical location convention this year and why we should not have a physical location convention. I will then follow up with another post presenting Joe Dehn’s proposal. After that I will in another post share some ideas I shared with him to add to his proposal to improve it.

  17. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    If there is no in-person convention, will attendance fees be refunded to the delegates?

    Will the speakers refund their speaking fees to the LP?

  18. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Andy Craig: a pandemic that has killed more Americans in the past month than the Vietnam War did in a decade,”

    A meaningless metric, calculated to instill panic.

    You want to panic people? Use a war that killed fewer than did Covid-19.

    You want to calm people? Use a war that killed more than did Covid-19.

  19. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Kevin Bjornson: The principle of non-interventionism, when taken to an extreme … the result would be the collapse of civilization and a new dark ages, as predators would organize into gangs while those who would defend or retaliate would be disarmed.

    1. Non-intervention is not disarmament.

    2. The U.S. does not currently practice non-interventionism, yet even so, the world is filled with “predators who organize into gangs.” The U.S. is one of them.

  20. paulie

    It’s not a meaningless metric. The death toll is very high for a highly infectious disease, especially one for which there is no proven effective preventive or mitigating treatment. Without extremely disruptive measures that have wrecked the economy it’s quite likely the death toll would be much, much higher.

    Even with these disruptive measures, it’s still highly likely that they will ultimately fail to contain the spread of the disease and the toll will climb to much higher numbers yet. Even if it abates in the summer, which is far from certain, it could come back with a vengeance in the fall and winter months. It’s not like we are by any means done or close to done.

  21. paulie

    If there is no physical convention, yes, there will have to be any number of refunds. As far as I know speaker fees have not yet been paid, but I could be wrong.

  22. Anthony Dlugos

    I sympathize with you point at 12:18, paulie, but its always good to listen to the opposing viewpoints, even if they tangentially agree with the fat blob in the White House.

    Here’s one of those (35-minute) contrarian arguments…from a LEGITIMATE scientist at Stanford. Food for thought.

    I post this reminding everyone that the NBA shut down their season because one player tested positive, meaning much of what happened would have happened anyway. No one was getting on a cruise ship after the middle of March, no matter what the government said.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl-sZdfLcEk

  23. paulie

    I’ve read plenty of contrarian viewpoints. They have varying degrees of merit. I’m also prone to the belief that the government measures will ultimately prove to be counterproductive, and additionally will cause many other problems for government to “solve” and in fact already have.

  24. Anthony Dlugos

    Fair point.

    Is the Convention itself a money-loser or a profitable event for the LP? Do you know?

  25. paulie

    Depends on the year, accounting methods and what exactly is counted as part or not part of the convention. There are also intangibles ranging from the value of media coverage to the loss of time and money delegates use to go and its possible opportunity cost to other party activity to the increased activity it may spur some of them to based on the energizing effect the convention has on some people. But even leaving intangibles aside it’s not a simple answer.

  26. paulie

    Someone, iirc from the convention committee, said they looked at SD and could not find any venues that were big enough and not prohibitively expensive. And that wouldn’t help delegates from states which still have travel restrictions.

  27. Jose C

    On 2, May 2020 the National Committee of the Libertarian Party deferred making a decision as to where and when the 2020 Libertarian Party Presidential nomination convention will be held. There is still talk by some that we can have a Party convention at a physical location. I understand the the thought of cancelling the convention is distasteful but I argue we do not have a choice. It is not possible for there to be a convention at a physical location this year.

    There is a world wide pandemic caused by the China Corona Virus. Countries around the world have instituted marshal law, stay at home orders, and quarantines. In the United States marshal law (If stay at home orders are declared and it is against the law to leave your home and national guard troops are called out it is marshal law.) and stay at home orders have been declared by governors and mayors. In those states it is against the law to leave someone’s home, commerce has been disrupted, people have lost jobs, and many have died of Corona Virus.

    The presidential nominee should be selected as soon as possible. If we wait until late July or later hoping there will be a state where we can hold a convention the nominee and the Party will only have three months or less to fund-raise, get the candidate and Party on the ballot in all 50 states and DC, produce campaign materials, create commercials, and so on. There is not going to be enough time to conduct a proper presidential campaign.

    In spite of the short campaign season if we decide to go ahead and have a convention at a physical location what type of convention will we have? There has been talk of moving the convention to Florida or Nevada. This is not feasible. The Governor of California three weeks ago announced he had an agreement with the governors of Nevada, Oregon, and Washington that they would end stay at home orders at the same time. Last week the governor of California announced he will not end the stay at home orders for California any time soon. The governor of Florida has an executive order in place that anyone coming from New York or New Jersey will have to go on a 14 day quarantine when entering Florida. Will we expect delegates from New York and New Jersey to take three weeks off to attend our convention (two weeks to be on quarantine.).

    If the Party does find somewhere to have a convention how many people will attend? New York is ground zero for the pandemic. Louisiana, Michigan, Illinois, Washington, and parts of California are ground zero zero? One? Two? of the pandemic. How many from these states will attend a convention? If there are many attendees from these locations how will they be received? If a group come from New York will others want to interact with them? Or will fear keep the two groups apart?

    Some will say we need a convention for the media coverage. Will the media cover our convention? I believe they would. I suspect the coverage will be negative. “Look at the Libertarian Party having a convention. Don’t they know it is not safe?” Will C-SPAN cover our convention? I do not believe they will. This is so unless some in the national party know something that we do not. I do not believe C-Span employees will want to cover our convention. If they do cover the convention because Corona Virus mitigation measures are in place our convention will not be covered as it has been in the past.

    What happens if someone or a group of people arrive at our convention and they are sick? What happens if we find out an attendee is living with someone who has the Corona Virus? What if …? It is clear it is not possible to have a convention at a physical location. What should the Party do? The Party should postpone the convention until sometime next year. Since we need to select a presidential candidate the Party should conduct a virtual (electronic) selection process this year. How to do this will be explained in my next post.

  28. paulie

    The presidential nominee should be selected as soon as possible. If we wait until late July or later hoping there will be a state where we can hold a convention the nominee and the Party will only have three months or less to fund-raise, get the candidate and Party on the ballot in all 50 states and DC, produce campaign materials, create commercials, and so on. There is not going to be enough time to conduct a proper presidential campaign.

    The current LNC motion says physical location TBD and starting no later than July 15. Most state ballot access deadlines are in August. Some are in July, a couple in the very early part of September. A couple of states have laws which will now have to be challenged in court that they have to file their candidates with the SOS in June. Many people will be voting by mail this year, a lot more than usual, or in-person voting early to avoid the crowds. Many of those votes will be cast in September. A July convention leaves virtually no time to campaign.

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