So, we’re currently in the middle of a Chair election. And as per the Citizenship Act, eligible voters (in this case, legislators) need to vote in order to retain their citizenship. Is it just me, or is that a little… weird?
I mean, citizenship is about voting in elections. I get that. It’s about voting on the elected officials that govern our region, and it makes sense that a requirement for maintaining citizenship is continuing to engage in those elections.
But I think that, if we look at the Delegate, the Prime Minister, and the Chair of the Assembly, that one of these is not like the others. The Chair of the Assembly is a mostly administrative position, it’s largely relevant only to the Assembly, it’s elected only by legislators and not by all citizens. So why is voting in Chair elections also a requirement for maintaining citizenship?
I’ll admit that some of the impetus for this is mild inconvenience; the Citizenship Committee is responsible for removing citizenship, but we aren’t the ones who actually keep track of who’s a legislator and who’s not. It’s not the end of the world, but it does mean that we end up having to make decisions on who does and doesn’t get to stay a citizen based on records that aren’t actually our own.
But I think there’s also a broader question here. I think this kind of communication across institutions isn’t so much an issue as it is perhaps an indication that we’re blurring those lines in our laws. That is to say, if the Chair of the Assembly is a position internal to the Assembly, elected only by members of the Assembly, maybe voting in Chair elections shouldn’t really be a citizenship thing.
I think I’m rambling on more than usual, so I’ll just leave things off here for now. But I’m curious to hear how others feel about this!
I fully agree that this is how Chair elections should be treated, but I’m not sure it’s how they actually are under current law. Reading the Citizenship and Election Acts together, it’s at least reasonable to come away with the impression that legislators are required to vote in Chair elections to maintain their citizenship.
Griffindor and I are about to get started on revising the Elections Act. It strikes me this is another issue that should be clarified in that process.
Adding onto here, from an earlier conversation in #legislator-lounge.
We absolutely, 100% should get rid of approval voting. It’s caused unnecessary confusion and the spoiling of at least one ballot this cycle, for no discernible gain that could otherwise be provided by ranked choice voting.
I’m also supportive of some way of allowing people to correct a mistake on their ballot, as well as moving to all secret ballots for our elections. These are not limited to just Chair elections, but they are relevant for a discussion on elections in general.
One way of handling it that I was thinking about, assuming that all secret ballots were implemented as a way to avoid strategic editing, was to provide a 24 hour period after elections nominally end, so that the EC can finish tabulating ballots and accept a single correction to an invalid ballot (defined as a ballot that would not be accepted in tabulation for whatever) by the citizen. I’m on the fence about a blanket allowance for a single correction, so this seemed like an acceptable area for those who would support some measure of correcting a ballot.
I would vote for a proposal that removes Chair elections from the citizenship requirement. I would vote for a proposal that eliminates elections from the citizenship requirement in general or separates citizens and legislators. I think it is nonsense that you should have to care about elections to be a legislator.
Given that we have an entire separate topic for discussing our electoral processes more generally, I wanted to see if people had any more thoughts about what this topic was actually meant to discuss
I’ll float the idea again of doing away with Chair elections altogether and just selecting a Chair via Assembly resolution. This separates the process of selecting a Chair from citizenship requirements, keeps the power to choose a Chair with the Assembly, and enables the Assembly to run an internal process on its own.
I’m on the same page as well, subject to the term-length caveat I included in the broader discussion thread, reproduced here:
I do think it is worth considering some wide outer bound on how long an Assembly resolution can set a Chair term. Perhaps 12 months? I realize that the Assembly could resolve to replace the Chair at any point, but it seems like there would be a higher bar (at least subconsciously) to affirmatively voting someone out of office than not voting for their reelection. That type of inertia could well keep a Chair in office long beyond when they would normally be removed if they had to face an election.
House Republicans do one thing and suddenly it’s everywhere. . .
As for the term length for the Chair, I don’t think it’s necessary. We didn’t implement one after removing regular elections last year, we still don’t have any on any other branch, and the Assembly is well within its right to “vacate the chair” (what’s the difference between that and recall?) at any time, as well as setting the length of the term in its resolution appointing a Chair.
Perhaps my comments were unclear. I agree that no term limit is necessary in the sense of a maximum amount of time that one could serve in the office of Chair. Instead, I propose a maximum amount of time that the Assembly could set in an individual resolution appointing a Chair. So the Assembly could resolve to appoint Craziest Person as Chair for any duration of time up to one year. At the end of whatever period is selected, Craziest Person’s term would expire, and the Assembly would have to adopt a new resolution appointing a Chair. But there would be no limitation on the Assembly simply appointing Craziest Person again if it were satisfied with their performance.
The issue I was trying to avoid is indefinite appointments, which seem to run the risk of a Chair staying in office despite their performance being poor enough that they would never be actively reappointed by the Assembly but not so poor as to prompt a motion to vacate. And this would keep the Chair office loosely aligned with the other elected positions of PM and Delegate. Those offices have specifically defined terms of office, but no limit on how many times an individual can be elected to them. This would give the Assembly greater flexibility in defining the term of office for the Chair, but not unlimited flexibility–there would still have to be some term under 12 months set by the appointing resolution.
I mean, why? We don’t have to perform what are essentially reconfirmation votes on Councilors of Regional Security, or High Court Justices, or members of the Citizenship Committee. The Assembly’s a lot more keen to the actions of its leader when they fail to bring something to vote in a timely manner, and the role itself is administrative at its core. I imagine the Assembly is already going to insist on a given term length in early resolutions, or at least I would push for one.
The Assembly has ultimate flexibility in all things, it’s just a matter of how many votes it takes to get there.
Well, it strikes me that those roles are different than the Chair in ways that are relevant to term length. None of those positions are elected, nor do they have a constituency to which they are meant to be responsive. In fact, we don’t really want them to have a constituency; they are purposefully insulated from political pressures in order to more effectively carry out their duties (e.g., neutrally interpreting the law rather than responding to the demands of popular politics in the case of the High Court). Hence, indefinite appointments without any need to rely on the political process makes sense for those roles. In contrast, the Chair is elected (even if by resolution) and does have a constituency to which they must be responsive, namely the Assembly. To be sure, the role of Chair may not be as overtly “political” as that of Prime Minister or Delegate (though it’s not clear that it couldn’t be), but a similar principle holds. Where an official is elected by and accountable to a constituency, it makes sense to require that official to re-establish their popular mandate from time to time. That their constituents could theoretically throw them out of office whenever they wanted doesn’t seem to have the same effect as the mandatory accountability mechanism of re-election. After all, the citizens could throw out the Prime Minister whenever they wanted in a vote of no confidence, but that isn’t really a substitute for regular PM elections.
All that said, this isn’t a hill I would die on. And you may be right that it’s not likely to matter much, since the Assembly will probably put a term in any resolution they pass adopting a Chair. But just wanted to explain my views.