[2318.AP] Voter Reform


Voter reform, or more accurately legislator reform, has been discussed several times in different places over the past few months, such as in the Great Council and not too long ago in the Assembly. With the Great Council finally concluded, I’d like to re-raise the issue in the Assembly, so that we can discuss the issues and possible solutions in depth, before we bring up specific language to vote on.

A big thing we’ve considered before was to shift the requirement for “citizenship” or being registered to vote was to move away from mandating that one much vote in at least half of all Assembly votes in a month, and instead vote in every election. Thoughts?

Relevant Laws:
All articles of the Legislator Committe Act - Defines the activity check and application process for legislators, as well as the authority to approve applications
Article 5 of the Charter - Requires members of the Executive to hold legislator status
Article 2 of the Judicial Act - Requires Justices to hold legislator status
Article 2 of the Elections Act - Requires those voting in or standing for elections to hold legislator status before the nominations period begins

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Can you provide a more substantive response, please?

Ive said this several times over the course of the GC and in the Assembly… I think we should move our security checks to citizens, and thereby allow all citizens to be eligible to vote and hold office.

Citizens need to vote in the elections to maintain citizenship (or perhaps 2/3 elections, etc)

Citizens can apply to be legislators (if they like) and debate policy, draft laws, confirm appointments, etc.

Legislators would need to be active in debate and vote in most (majority?) votes to maintain legislator status.

I like this however it may decrease voter turnout in the legislative docket. But then again, more people would be pushed to vote in elections which I guess is some sort of a silver lining.

What I don’t like is having security checks of some sorts and therefore enabling all citizens to vote on pieces of legislation or in elections. Being a Legislator would not be too much of a hassle, especially if you choose for it not to be, if we center status around voting in elections as opposed to bills.

I think being part of the Assembly means what and how you choose it to be. You can be very active in discussion or just simply vote. Or apply for status and get it booted by LegComm the next month for inactivity.

That’s the whole point.

Decoupling security checks/elections from legislating means that only those that have an interest in legislating will participate in the Assembly, so they will naturally vote and debate more anyway.

If you only want to vote in elections and have “citizenship” in the region, then that’s where you place the security check and people will be active for that reason. We shouldn’t have to force people to debate and/or vote, but then again, only the people willing to do that should want to be legislators.

I’m not set in stone for my proposed requirements for maintaining legislator or citizenship status, I’m just throwing numbers out. I can certainly entertain other requirements.

There was an idea to not require any additional check for legislatorship, and just let it be an option available to citizens to participate and debate in the Assembly without need for another check. I don’t think it’s a half bad idea, especially if combined with. . .

Requiring WA status in the region or participation in the SPSF for citizenship. I’m in full support of this particular idea, I think it’s a very effective way of showing an individual’s good faith intentions of participating here, and an easy inclusion in regular security checks.

I’m finding myself confused on the need for security checks for citizens, mainly because “citizens” have only been outlined as someone who participates enough in this forum. Why not change “citizen” to someone simply in the Coalition–if they weren’t interested in any of these processes, they wouldn’t be here in the first place. That way, anyone can vote for elective offices while the legislative branch can remain for people interested in that process.

Maybe I’m reading it wrong, I’m only joining this issue now I suppose.

I’m generally opposed to this as a further weakening of the Assembly as the primary centre of governance and an effective end to TSP’s status as a parliamentary democracy. At present it’s very clear that the Executive is responsible and accountable to the Assembly - the body of politically active citizenry - and this would shift that away to a larger and more nebulous group of citizens who aren’t necessarily politically active. A stand off between the Executive and the Assembly would be all but inevitable sooner rather than later.

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First off, I would disagree that the Assembly is the primary center of governance. The TSP charter establishes the typical 3 branches of government, a system that is supported by checks and balances between the branches. These checks and balances aren’t leaving us. In fact, we are further separating the grip the Assembly unnecessarily has. Members of the region should feel free to participate in executive governance without worrying about legislating if that doesn’t interest them.

So the idea that this would create an imbalance, somehow, is a bit confusing to me. Stand-offs between the executive and the Assembly should be happening, that’s part of our check on the executive. I understand seeing the removal of confirmations of ministers as a weakening of the Assembly’s check on the executive, but allowing members of TSP to vote/run for office without forcing them to get involved in something that might not particularly interest them should only bring benefits. As it stands, someone who could be our next hot shot minister in any department might be standing back because of a fear or lack of interest in legislating.

Okay, so this take is completely divorced from the reality that this region is, in fact, a parliamentary democracy, as Belschaft had said. What you are describing is a presidential system, and we do not have that. Every governmental institution in this region answers to the Assembly, as is right. The Assembly is the people and ceding power to a smaller group is the last thing any region, especially our own, should ever do.

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If we are worried about ceding power to the executive, I still think that is more relevant to the decision to remove the Assembly vote on ministers, not to allowing more citizens to vote without mandating legislative engagement.

Belschaft is absolutely right that, historically speaking, the Assembly has always been the "primary centre of governance" in the South Pacific. This is due to a number of reasons, but mainly three:
  1. The Assembly is the expression of those who wish to play the government game. I accept that there is more to the community of the South Pacific than just government, but from a historical perspective full participation in regional politics has always been tied to participation in the Assembly. This is true even today in the sense that you need to be a legislator to vote in elections, run for office, and be appointed to tenured positions.

  2. The Cabinet is elected by the Assembly as a collective executive that is permanently and continuously accountable to it. This has not been evident in recent times, when the Assembly has been quiet and mostly passes the occasional amendment, but again from a historical perspective the Cabinet owed explanations to the Assembly and most issues of regional importance were discussed in the floor of the Assembly, even in cases where those discussions did not lead to legislation; the point was that the Assembly was the venue where those discussions took place and always among legislators, who were after all those whom we considered to hold the fullest degree of citizenship.

  3. The Charter does establish three branches of government, but the Assembly has always both acted and been regarded as the primary branch to which the Cabinet holds itself accountable, through which rulings of the High Court may be nullified, and in which discussions may be held among the great issues affecting the region at a given time. In the South Pacific the Assembly is not “just the legislative branch”, it’s the central point from which our government simulation operates.

We can have a discussion on whether this should continue to be the case, but there should be no question about the intended status of the Assembly for the past 20 years of our existence.

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Whether my interpretation of the Assembly’s importance was correct or not, the point still stands this seems like an inappropriate time to worry about the executive gaining power from the Assembly. That already happened here. That was a much bigger hit to the power of the Assembly than allowing more members of our region to participate in the executive and in elections, and I didn’t see much pushback on it there.

“The executive has already been strengthened at the expense of the legislature” is a statement of fact, not an argument for further weakening the legislature.

The difference is this discussion aims to potentially increase engagement by removing a barrier of entry into the executive. I don’t see why you are choosing to fight this bill, when you didn’t show issue with the removal of cabinet member voting.

Max forbid that Belschaft have matters outside NationStates that keep them busy at times.

I had issue with it and argued against it in the GC. I lost the argument. I didn’t see attempting to restart it in the Assembly as productive.

I’m not sure that tying voter eligibility to legislator status really strengthens the Assembly. We’re creating an incentive for people to join the Assembly and do the bare minimum to keep their status just to vote in our elections. That doesn’t strengthen the Assembly; rather, it only contributes to inactivity.

I also don’t think this reform has to come with taking away other means of Assembly oversight of the executive — the power of recall comes to mind, though in general, I’d also like to see more intermediate steps in between so that the Assembly has more than one blunt bludgeon to wield.

I would imagine this is just going to primarily be a vigorous effort to check the executive’s activities, and enact its will through social and political pressure. Basically, not the kind of thing you can legislate.