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Editorial: Raising the Drawbridge

Proposed Bylaws Changes

1) There is currently a rule that at the end of platform considerations, platform proposals that were rejected by the Platform Committee are still be brought to the floor, with the minority of the committee speaking in favor and the majority of the committee speaking in opposition.

This rule is proposed for elimination, so that minority proposals are not heard.

2) Tighten the requirements for removal of officers or at-large members from office, from ‘for cause’ to to ‘failure to perform duties or gross malfeasance.’

A member can still make LNC meetings dysfunctional, but under the rule nothing can be done about them.

3) Shrink the LNC: Increase the number of At-Large Members from 5 to 7. Eliminate the Regions and Regional Representatives.

Use ‘cumulative voting to elect At Large members. By cumulative voting. the rules mean that the 7 At-Large candidates who get the most votes (a majority of those voting is required) are elected.

If a single faction has a majority of the delegates, it gets to elect the entire LNC. By eliminating Regional Representatives, annoying minority opinions (Tuniewicz, Vest) are eliminated.

These proposals appear to be designed to ensure majority monopoly of the LNC.

Interesting question: If fewer than 7 At-Large Members are elected this way, because fewer than 7 have the needed majority, which seems possible, what happens? The LNC gets to fill. The majority gets a second shot at excluding troublesome minorities.

4) Raise membership dues from $25 to $50.

There is a lamentation that membership services have gotten more expensive, but as readers will note membership services — when I joined, LP News was monthly — have largely disappeared.

5) Eliminate write-in votes for offices. On one hand, at the last convention the write-in voting process was greatly abused. On the other hand, the current nomination process is highly restrictive.

6) For Party offices, use ranked-choice voting. RCV prevents negotiations between voting rounds. RCV is based on the false belief that voter preferences  are well-ordered, so  that a voter can put them down as a single numbered list, which is known to be false.  Bad idea.

7) Fusion voting: This is actually an intelligent proposal. The current bylaw ‘member of another party’ has the issue that most other parties do not have memberships, and many states do not have voter registration by party. Then there is North Dakota.

8) Delegate allocation to be based on national party membership, only, Presidential vote counts not being included. Whatever. This eliminates ‘our candidate was not on the ballot’ questions.

9) The Judicial Committee gets to order the LNC to do things that the LNC has failed to do. Actually sensible, inaction being an action, though there is a lack of enforcement authority, so the proposal is meaningless.

9 Comments

  1. Tom Rowlette Tom Rowlette May 15, 2024

    I want to let people know why we wanted to delete section 5.6 of the convention rules in proposal 1. That’s the section where after everything else has been heard during platform debate, including proposals from the floor, the convention considers proposals that didn’t get a majority on the committee.

    First, I don’t think it’s ever happened that we had so much time that we’ve ever gotten to that point. If I remember correctly it didn’t even happen in 2018, which was the smoothest run convention we ever had. So the current bylaw is somewhat deceptive about the prospect of those proposals getting heard.

    Second, under our current rules proposals from the floor get heard before that. So a better thing to do if you have a platform proposal you want the convention to consider is to propose it from the floor instead of having it be a minority position on the official platform report.

    But wait, there’s more!

    There’s another proposal, number 9, where we built in a mechanism for people to go around the bylaws or platform committees if they want. That proposal is mostly about providing adequate notice of platform or bylaws changes, but there’s a part in there about people being able to gather support from at least 50 members of the LP (not necessarily delegates, just members, so it’s a pretty easy barrier to overcome) who then get to present their proposal to the convention.

    Personally I wish that the way that proposal 9 was written said that member-submitted proposals were heard before proposals from the committees. Committee members are already somewhat privileged, and those reports tend to be long. But I lost the vote on that amendment and it is what it is.

    But that’s why we wanted to take out rule 5.6. We’re not trying to squash minority voices.

    • George Phillies George Phillies Post author | May 15, 2024

      Thank you for your detailed and thoughtful clarification. There was a prior commenter who appeared to be saying that the minority report rule was going to remain. Perhaps you both agree, but I found your clarification to agree with my initial read, except that your clarification was much better.

  2. Darryl W Perry Darryl W Perry May 14, 2024

    My only issue with #8 is that it doesn’t set a minimum delegation size. It’s entirely possible that an affiliate could get a single delegate. I’d like to see this amended to give a minimum of 3 delegates.

    • Tom Rowlette Tom Rowlette May 15, 2024

      The committee considered that when we were writing the proposal. Looking at the numbers, there was only one state – Deleware – that had low enough membership numbers that it would only be allocated two delegates.

      From a purely philosophical perspective, I’ve never liked minimum representation for small population states. I don’t like that Wyoming gets the same number of senators as California.

  3. Latham Latham May 14, 2024

    Use ‘cumulative voting to elect At Large members. By cumulative voting. the rules mean that the 7 At-Large candidates who get the most votes (a majority of those voting is required) are elected.

    Misleading.

    Under Approval Voting — the current method for elected At-Large Members — candidates who get the most votes (and a majority of votes) are elected.

    The text of Proposal 5 – includes this new language: “The candidates receiving the largest vote total, provided that vote total is greater than or equal to the majority of ballots cast, shall be elected.” See Paul Bracco’s description of how this voting method can play out below.

    One has to ignore the description of cumulative voting in Robert Rules of Order, Newly Revised (“A minority group, by coordinating its effort in voting for only one candidate who is a member of the group, may be able to secure the election of that candidate as minority member of the board.”) to assert that cumulative voting requires a majority to win a seat on the Libertarian National Committee.

    Or ignore statements from the Rationale for Proposal 5 from the Bylaws and Rules Committee report.

    *”The voting system would be changed to cumulative voting, which better facilitates minority representation.”

    *”With cumulative voting—which is an integral part of this proposal—the board will be
    more representative of the body as a whole. Cumulative voting allows a minority voting
    bloc to strategically band together and ensure they get representation on the board,
    unlike approval voting (our current system) where a majority bloc can run the table and
    get all the seats.”

    *Or ignore the many video explanations of cumulative voting. Here’s one:
    https://youtu.be/zb-Lrds6JKA?feature=shared

    *Or ignore Bylaws and Rules Committee member Paul Bracco’s description of why the LNC re-structuring proposal promotes minority representation.

    “Under this framework, a vote for NOTA is one ballot cast with zero votes for any human candidates, while a ballot where the delegate chooses to cast votes for human candidates can include up to 7 votes. I would like to emphasize that the vote total that a candidate needs to be overcome to be elected is the majority of ballots cast NOT the majority of votes. Given this, a faction would need to control a huge supermajority of the delegates (far more than the 2/3 required to suspend this rule) in order to successfully execute a strategy of NOTAing minority candidates.

    Consider a situation where three factions of delegates exist within a pool of 1,000 delegates:
    Faction 1 controls 700 delegates
    Faction 2 controls 150 delegates
    Faction 3 controls 150 delegates

    Faction 1, having not done the math and believing themselves to be in a controlling position, casts all 700 ballots for NOTA in round 1 in an attempt to disqualify the strongest candidates of the minority faction. Factions 2 and 3, knowing they are a small minority, each run a single candidate in round 1 in an attempt to rally the support of their entire faction behind that single candidate and overcome the Faction 1 supermajority.

    The results of the round 1 election are as follows:
    1,000 ballots cast
    1,050 votes for Faction 2’s candidate (150 faction members * 7 votes each)
    1,050 votes for Faction 3’s candidate (150 faction members * 7 votes each)

    Both Faction 2’s candidate and Faction 3’s candidate are elected, as they both receive far more votes than the majority of ballots cast (501 votes). Faction 1, despite having an enormous supermajority has not blocked anyone from being elected and likely ushered in an over-representation on the LNC by Factions 2 and 3, who, having each elected their preferred candidate in round 1, will now be able to strategically concentrate their votes again in round 2 with a new slate of candidates attempting to fill the remaining 5 at-large positions.

    Given the majority of ballots cast structure I don’t think there is any meaningful risk of a majority faction strategically NOTAing minority candidates. Assuming the 1,000 delegates, the three factions, and that Factions 2 and 3 split the non-Faction 1 delegates, Faction 1 would need to control over 85% of the delegates (858) in order to be guaranteed of successfully NOTAing minority candidates. Under these circumstances (and with a far smaller majority) the superior strategy for Faction 1 would be to suspend the rules and return to approval voting for this election which would allow them to handily sweep all 7 at-large positions.”

    https://groups.google.com/a/lp.org/g/bylaws-committee-2024/c/eO4Sy9mQXcs/m/SbrCpHItAwAJ

    • George Phillies George Phillies Post author | May 14, 2024

      You raise an excellent point, namely that a sufficiently regimented minority group could get a large number of votes for its candidate and elect him. I had not allowed for that, because ‘sufficiently regimented’ and ‘libertarian NatCon delegates’ often fit poorly together.

  4. Sean 'O Sean 'O May 14, 2024

    10) Last minute changes to the “must be determined six months out” Credentialing Committee staff, who determine who gets to vote during the convention wherein “representatives” are elected and policy/bylaw changes (like those listed above) take place.
    https://groups.google.com/g/lnc-business-list-public/c/FjUustiwiIc

    If my state fired it’s Bureau of Elections management staff and replaced them with folks hand chosen by the Governor in late October, just before an election wherein (s)he was on the ballot, I would be flipping out. This appears to deserve the same response. ESPECIALLY if they’re Secretary was on tape recently saying “It’d be a real shame if the people who disagree with us didn’t get to vote, hehehe.”

  5. Seebeck Seebeck May 13, 2024

    1. Not true. Minority reports are still presentable under the Rules. It helps if you actually read them.
    2. Also not true. Read RONR 61.
    3. Better check your info. This proposal has a proviso to not take effect until 2026.
    4. So? Money runs politics. Today’s $100 is yesterday’s $20. We didn’t see you complaining when they raised life memberships by 50%.
    5. Only after they are eliminated after the first ballot. And no, it’s not restrictive.
    6. Yes, RCV is a bad idea–for anything.
    7. Fusion voting is a terrible idea: whose team are you on, ours or theirs? yes, we’re proposing to get rid of it.
    8. It simplifies the complex delegate calculations.
    9. The Judicial committee are not cops.

    • Steve M Steve M May 13, 2024

      Today’s $100 won’t get you yesterday’s news letter. The dues $25 or $50 or $100 doesn’t buy members anything. So why should anyone pay them?

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