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CZ:Elections June 2012/Referenda/1

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Only the proposer of the referendum and Election Committee members may modify this page. Substantive modifications by the proposer after the referendum has been formally proposed at 'June 2012 Referenda' will invalidate the signatures of any current supporters, and require them to sign again. Comments should be placed on the Talk page.

Under Article 37, section 'Furthermore', point 3 of the Citizendium Charter, any amendment to the Charter itself requires a referendum in which a qualified majority of two-thirds of votes validly cast is necessary for the change(s) to pass. For example, if 30 valid votes are registered, at least 20 of these must support the modification. This proposal seeks support for a Charter referendum that would reduce this threshold to a qualified (absolute) majority of valid votes of over 50%. In the above example, that would mean 16 votes rather than 20. There is also an additional rule proposed to allow other referenda held at the same time to pass if they satisfy the new version of the Charter.

This page contains a proposed referendum question, the existing Charter article(s) or rule(s) which the proposer and any supporters of the referendum wish to change, and the proposed new text. A further section elaborates on the proposal.

Charter amendment majority, June 2012

Proposed by John Stephenson

A proposed referendum on part of Article 37 of the Charter follows. If it is voted on, Citizens could support or oppose the question by indicating 'Yes' or 'No'. Under Article 37, a two-thirds majority is required to modify the Charter.

To support the establishment of a referendum on this issue, sign here.

Proposed referendum

1. Article 37, section 'Furthermore', point 3 of the Citizendium Charter shall be modified to replace the text referring to a "qualified majority of two thirds of the votes validly cast":

  • Any amendment to and any change of this Charter shall require a referendum and shall be ratified if accepted by a qualified majority of more than half the votes validly cast.

2. In the event that this referendum passes and one or more other referenda on the Charter held at the same time receive more than 50% of valid votes in support but not a two-thirds majority, then the new version of Article 37 shall apply to those other referenda, i.e. they shall also pass.

Text

Current text of the Charter

  • Any amendment to and any change of this Charter shall require a referendum and shall be ratified if accepted by a qualified majority of two thirds of the votes validly cast.

Proposed new text of Article 37 in full

Referenda may be initiated in two ways:

  1. Any Citizen may petition either the Management Council or Editorial Council that contested rules or guidelines be submitted to a referendum. Either Council must have jurisdiction over the contested matter. Either Council may, by simple majority vote, submit the referendum to a vote of the citizenry at the next regular election.
  2. A referendum may be initiated by a group of Citizens corresponding in size to 20 percent of the number of voters in the previous election. The Management Council must include a valid citizen-initiated referendum in the next regular election. Failure to do so will automatically pass the referendum which shall then become official policy and enforceable. This charter may not be amended by a failure of the Management Council to submit a referendum to a vote.

Furthermore:

  • A referendum must be written as enforceable rules or guidelines.
  • A referendum shall be decided by simple majority of the votes validly cast by the citizenry during a regular election.
  • Any amendment to and any change of this Charter shall require a referendum and shall be ratified if accepted by a qualified majority of more than half the votes validly cast.
  • Any change of the license shall require a referendum.


Elaboration

1. The main reason for this proposal is to make it easier to modify the Charter as the Citizendium project develops. The original Charter was crafted nearly two years prior to this proposal, at a time when the ramifications of its content would not necessarily always have been clear, and by some individuals who are no longer members of the project. This change would make our decision-making more dynamic and responsive.

2. The current threshold effectively awards too much power to minority views: for instance, in the December 2011 elections there were 28 participants. Any Charter amendment would have required 19 valid votes to have been passed. This meant that just 10 participants (36%) could have blocked any change supported by one less than two-thirds of the voters (64%).

3. The objection that this amendment, if passed, would make it too easy to change the Citizendium's core constitutional document is answered by the point that the Charter may still only be modified by community referendum and only when an election has been called (currently twice a year, and occasionally more often if a by-election is necessary).

4. The scenario that this would allow very few people to force through major changes would only occur if the number of active participants within the project had already fallen to very low numbers over an extended period. For example, if there were only 10 valid votes in the immediately previous election perhaps six months earlier, then this would mean that only six people would be needed to pass anything. However, under the existing article, that figure would still only be seven. This scenario also assumes that the number of voters had not significantly risen in the interim period between the elections.

Notes

  • This proposal can also be discussed on the forums.