New Voting Technology: LP Creates Two Sub-Committees; Bylaws Require “Paper”

Over the past year the Libertarian Party has populated two new sub-committees to 1) study alternative voting methods nationwide and 2) to improve the process of voting at its national party conventions.

The latter of those committees is tasked with speeding up the process of tallying votes at national conventions, a process which has resulted in considerable upset and delay over the past several cycles especially in New Orleans in 2018, and Orlando in 2020, such that balloting for At-Large members of the LNC in 2020, and appointment to the Judicial Committee in 2018, was rushed, or proved impossible due to a lack of quorum, or expiration of the time for which the hall had been rented/could be made available, or both.  The population of the Judicial Committee following the 2018 convention was called into question as only one member achieved a majority of delegate votes, other appointments were questioned as being not-allowed under the bylaws, and the convention was adjourned before subsequent balloting and clarification could occur.

Earlier tonight IPR interviewed Chris Thrasher, Chair of the Convention Voting Process Committee about what procedures he anticipates will be changed for the 2022 Reno convention to both speed up and improve the perceived integrity and reliability of the process.

While there is hope that the Reno 2022 voting tally process for each round of voting can be completed in minutes (and not in “more than an hour” as has been common in recent past conventions) according to Chris the limiting factor in moving to a speedier, and “hopefully more reliable and faster technology-based system” is the Party’s existing Bylaws requirement for “paper.”

Despite the LP, at least historically being known as a Party of techno-freaks, sci-fi fanatics, and generally “futurists”, its process for tallying votes is “stuck in the 1800s”, with physical delivery of paper from the delegates to the various state chairs, then physical delivery of a tally sheet summary of the paper ballots hand-carried by each state chair to the national party Secretary (or delegate of the Secretary), then the typing of the tally sheet results into an electronic spreadsheet, and then, only after the receipt of, and entry of the data from, the last of those paper tally sheets, an on-screen display of the results for verification by the assembled delegates.  Often entry errors are found, either during, or after the convention.

Proposed alternatives (for example where each delegate can vote electronically) have been declared as “violations of the bylaws and Convention rules.”

More than once this cumbersome multiple paper, and retyping into electronic format process has resulted in the correction of errors by the delegates at large – most notably, perhaps, during the Convention in 2012 in Las Vegas where Mark Rutherford was introduced as the new LNC Chair, only to be removed a few minutes later when a tally error was discovered which left him tied with “None of the Above” and thus removed from subsequent balloting due to a failure to “achieve a majority.” (NONE OF THE ABOVE IS ACCEPTABLE remained on the ballot however, despite also failing “to achieve a majority” as LP Bylaws (and core culture) demand it.)  New nominations were entered from the floor the following day, after a long night of reportedly contentious parliamentary debate, and sleep deprivation.  (Eventually non-candidate for LNC chair a day earlier, Geoff Neale was elected.)

Mr. Thrasher reports that the Scantron paper forms (blue in the graph which accompanies this article) are the only method his committee has discussed which can “speed things up, improve reliability, minimize possibility for errors AND ALSO comply with the bylaws” – which, in Rule 8, paragraph 2, subparagraph B, appear to require paper and double entry:

“Each delegation shall tabulate its total vote, and the delegation chair shall deliver a written total to the Secretary, along with the ballots cast.”

Typically those individual ballots are recorded on 3 by 5 cards.

When asked by IPR why delegates cannot, for example, vote electronically from their cell phones, PCs, or in some other rapid electronic fashion which could be more or less immediately displayed, the chair of the Convention Voting Process (improvement) Committee responded, “It’s because the bylaws require paper; we are stuck in the 1800s.”

Parallel to the Convention Voting Process Committee is another (relatively new) subcommittee to the LNC, the Alternative Voting Committee.  Its mission as defined by the LNC is to:

“. . . track and document voting reform efforts throughout the nation, such as RCV, Approval Voting, and proportional representation; collaborate with state affiliates on voting reform activities and organizations in their state; and act as the liaison between voting reform
organizations and the national Libertarian Party.”

Presumably that committee may have additional recommendations on how to handle Party Convention voting as well.  Additionally, assembled delegates can, prior to voting, move to suspend the rules, or alter the process in whatever way a majority deems desirable.

Members of the Alternative Voting Committee are: Felix Ling, Darryl Perry, Jonathan Richter, John Underwood and John Wilford.

Public discussions can be followed in real time HERE.

The Convention Voting Process Committee’s members are: John Fockler, Jim Fulner, Will McVay, D Frank Robinson. and Committee Chair Christopher Thrasher.

Public discussions can be followed in real time HERE.

IPR encourages readers with expertise in alternative, speedier, and/or more reliable methods to reach out to the chairs and members of the above named committees.

Additional resources include:

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (see for example their publication, The Future of Voting Technology, available HERE.

The MIT Election Lab website HERE.

Votem HERE.

Democracy Live HERE.

Votax HERE.

Easy Vote HERE.

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About Joseph Buchman

Joe is a retired, formerly tenured professor of marketing and finance with an interest in adventure travel, chasing total solar eclipses, and Burning Man. He is a long-time volunteer with the Sundance Film Festival, former Chair of the Utah Libertarian Party and current Chair of the financial Audit Committee of the Libertarian Party. He and Cindy, his wife of over 25 years, have raised four highly successful children, several cats, and have generally failed with every houseplant ever gifted to them.

One thought on “New Voting Technology: LP Creates Two Sub-Committees; Bylaws Require “Paper”

  1. Austin Cassidy

    Interesting stuff! Hopefully a more practical and workable solution can be agreed upon.

    There definitely needs to be an improvement in the vote tallying speed for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominations. Those lengthy breaks for the tedious counting of paper slips makes for a terrible C-SPAN viewing experience.

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