CZ:Referenda (Citizen-Initiated)/Election of unopposed candidates, December 2011

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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 Referenda (Citizen-Initiated) 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 2 of the Citizendium Charter, any Citizen in good standing may propose or support a referendum on the articles of the Charter or other matters. The number of Citizens required for a referendum vote to be held is equal to 20% of the valid votes in the previous round of elections. For December 2011, 3 Citizens must propose and support a referendum for its contents to be put to a community vote.

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.

Election of unopposed candidates, December 2011

Proposed by John Stephenson

A proposed referendum on part of Article 25 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

Article 25, section 3, subsection 1 of the Citizendium Charter shall have the following text added immediately after the existing text:

  • If the number of candidates is equal to or less than the number of seats with the same term lengths being contested in the election, then any candidates who have been legitimately nominated shall be elected unopposed, with no ballot taking place. A ballot is still required when vacant seats have different term lengths. For a by-election, an unopposed candidate shall be allowed to take the seat immediately.

Text

Current text

  • The candidates collecting the most votes shall be elected.

Proposed new text in full

  • The candidates collecting the most votes shall be elected. If the number of candidates is equal to or less than the number of seats with the same term lengths being contested in the election, then any candidates who have been legitimately nominated shall be elected unopposed, with no ballot taking place. A ballot is still required when vacant seats have different term lengths. For a by-election, an unopposed candidate shall be allowed to take the seat immediately.

Elaboration

1. The main reason for this proposed referendum is to avoid a lengthy election procedure if a seat becomes vacant and there is only one candidate standing for the office. Elections currently take around five-six weeks to prepare and carry out (perhaps more if a holiday season intervenes); under the new rule, it would be cut to about three weeks, including all the time for the Election Committee to prepare the pages, run the two-week nomination procedure and declare candidates elected.

2. As Citizendium is a relatively small project, staffed entirely by volunteers, an unopposed candidacy is quite likely in the future. In addition, situations in which the number of candidates has been equal to the number of seats have already occurred: these were for the election of the Ombudsman in 2010, and an Editorial Council by-election in 2011. For the election of the Ombudsman, it was decided that the sole candidate was automatically elected but that a ballot would be held anyway for Citizens to express approval of the candidate. For the Editorial Council election, an 'approval vote' was specified in which voters would indicate 'Yes' or 'No', but with no indication of what would happen in the event of a rejection. The revised Article 25, if adopted, would avoid such inconsistencies.

3. The main objection to this proposed referendum is likely to be that it deprives voters of the chance to approve or reject a candidate. A response is as follows:

  • a. In regular elections where the number of candidates exceeds the number of seats, no (dis)approval voters are allowed anyway; Citizens simply vote for, rather than against, a number of candidates.
  • b. Presently, there is no explicit mechanism to decide what would happen in the event that a candidate were to be rejected by the community on contesting a seat unopposed. Without any rule to the contrary, it is likely that a rejected candidate would gain the seat by default anyway. If this is to happen, it may as well be without a pointless ballot.
  • c. If the community cannot find enough alternative candidates, that is in itself a mild form of approval.
  • d. Although analogies to electoral systems worldwide can be inappropriate since Citizendium is a volunteer project, not a political state, it is noted here that electing candidates unopposed without a ballot is a possible occurrence in many democracies, such as in British parliamentary elections.

4. The sentence referring to a required ballot in the event of seats with different term lengths being contested is designed to accommodate motion 2011-040, passed by the Management Council in September 2011. It reads:

  • Election nomination information shall explicitly specify the termination date of open seats. When an election includes more than one seat on a particular council, those seats shall be filled according to the following procedure. The council seats are ordered by the the length of their remaining term. After the ballots are counted, candidates for those seats are ordered by the number of votes they receive. Seats are assigned according to these two orderings, i.e., assign the seat with the longest remaining term to the candidate with the most votes, assign the seat with the second longest remaining term to the candidate receiving the next highest number of votes, and so forth. If there is a tie (two-way, three-way or more), assign the tied candidates to the corresponding seats at random until all open seats are filled. The election committee is responsible for the random assignment with the stipulation that all election committee members shall witness the selection process and that the procedure used and its results are published to the whole community.

Notes