Elections Act

Greetings to the Great Council.

Mr. Chair, I took the liberty of adjusting some grammatical errors I saw in your act. Nothing else was changed.

ELECTIONS ACT

An act to regulate the conduction of regional elections

1. General Provisions

(1) This law applies to all elections of government officials.

(2) This law is a constitutional law and has precedence over all general laws and regulations.

(3) This law considers the following terms:

  1. Election - the process through which a voter accedes to an office via suffrage, from the opening of declarations of candidacy until the certification of the result.
  2. Voter - a voter as defined in the Voter Registration Act, who additionally meets any added qualifications within this law.
  3. Office - any government position with the exception of voters.
  4. Conflict of Interest Disclosure - a list of all current and past aliases, affiliations, and offices held across NationStates by a candidate.
  5. Participation - the ability to declare one's candidacy and cast votes in a given election.
  6. Candidate - an individual who is listed on the ballot for an election or the option to re-open nominations.

2. Election Commissioner

(1) The Election Commissioner is a voter appointed by the Security Council to administer elections.

(2) The Commissioner is responsible for the publication of election notices and information, the organization and moderation of the venues where the election is conducted, the verification of candidate eligibility, the tallying of votes, the certification of election results, and the resolution of election-related disputes or, when applicable, their referral to the relevant authorities.

(3) The Commissioner cannot hold the offices of Chair of the Assembly, Delegate, Prime Minister, Minister of the Cabinet, or any office that is subject to election, nor can they run for the office whose election they administer.

3. Election Methods

(1) Instant Runoff Vote is conducted with voters listing however many candidates they prefer, including an option to re-open nominations, in descending order of preference. Until a candidate has received a simple majority of first preferences, the candidate with the fewest first preferences is eliminated and the ballots are tallied again, ignoring any preferences for them.

(2) Approval Vote is conducted with voters listing however many candidates they approve or, alternatively, an option to re-open nominations, in no particular order of preference. Candidates with a simple majority of approvals are winners, in descending order of approvals obtained and ignoring the option to re-open nominations, until the required number of winners is reached or no winning candidates remain, whichever happens first.

(3) Majority Vote is conducted when voters list a single candidate whom they prefer or, alternatively, an option to re-open nominations. The candidate with a simple majority of votes is the winner. If no candidate obtains a simple majority and no tie has occurred, a runoff round of voting will be held with the two candidates who obtained the highest numbers of votes and without the option to re-open nominations unless it already qualifies for inclusion.

(4) Ties in elections under instant runoff vote are broken with the candidate with the fewest next level preferences being eliminated, until all levels of preference are exhausted. Ties in all other elections or in cases where other tie-breaking methods have been exhausted, will be resolved by mutual agreement between the candidates or via a method of chance determined by the Commissioner, provided that such a method must be publicly observable and use resources not controlled by either candidate or the Commissioner.

(5) If the option to re-open nominations wins, the election shall revert to declarations to elect the number of winners that remained unelected.

(6) Voters in offsite elections must have the option of casting public or private ballots, but ballots cannot be altered once cast. Ballots cast in private must be sent to a group inbox accessible only to the Commissioner, which should remain available for audit. The identity of private voters cannot be revealed.

4. Election Procedures

(1) Elections for all offices, unless otherwise provided within this law, are conducted in such a manner that declarations of candidacy extend for four days and voting extends for three days from the end of declarations or the previous round of voting, as may be the case. Candidates must submit an accurate conflict of interest disclosure before the end of declarations under penalty of disqualification. Voting, unless otherwise provided within this law, is limited to voters who were admitted before the start of declarations and is conducted via instant runoff vote.

(2) Elections for all offices, unless otherwise provided within this law, must begin no later than seven days after the occurrence of a vacancy unless the same occurred when less than half of the term remains, in which case the vacancy is filled in the following manner:

  1. For the Chair of the Assembly, the most senior Deputy Chair of the Assembly becomes Chair for the remainder of the term. If no one is available or willing, the most senior legislator by date of admission who is willing acts as Chair for the remainder of the term.
  2. For the Delegate, the next in line, according to the line of succession set by the Security Council, becomes Delegate for the remainder of the term.
  3. For the Prime Minister, the Ministers of the Cabinet select one of their own to become Prime Minister for the remainder of the term, subject to approval from the Assembly.
  4. For other offices, the Prime Minister selects a successor, provided that such individual should be otherwise eligible to stand for election, subject to approval from the Assembly.

(3) Elections for the Chair of the Assembly begin on the first of January and July and are conducted via approval vote with a single winner. Participation is limited to voters who were admitted to the Assembly before the start of declarations.

(4) Elections for the Delegate begin on the first of January and July and are conducted via a first round of approval vote with two winners and a second round of majority vote, provided that voting for the second round is held via a regional poll limited to Native World Assembly Residents and posting on the Message Board with a tag to the Commissioner limited to members of the Special Forces identified by the Minister of Defense as being deployed during voting. Candidates in the first round must have a number of endorsements no lower than 80% of the general endorsement cap at the start of the election. Candidates in the second round are the winners of the first round.

(5) Elections for the Prime Minister begin on the first of January, April, July, and October.

This might just be me but I think you messed up on some of the numberings. It goes:

  • General Provisions (1)
  • Election Methods (3)
  • Election Procedures (3)

I think “Election Methods” should be numbered “2.” Besides that, I wouldn’t see why I would not support this.

Fixed.

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Mr. Chair, I move this act in its current form be brought to a vote.

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I don’t support the Cabinet appointing a new Prime Minister from among themselves if the current one resigns. That should just trigger a new general election for a new PM, who would then build their own government. Really, I don’t think we should be fixing our election dates under the new PM-only election system. Fixed terms, yes, but there’s no point to continuing to mimic the US presidential system when the PM builds their own government every election.

We also really don’t need lines of succession for Chair-- we never needed to add them back in the first place. Just have a snap election for a new Chair. Legislative business can wait a week, or we can maintain our existing provisions that any member of the Assembly can bring a bill to vote in the absent of the Chair. Election of Chair should be in a separate law altogether tbh, different constituencies elect the Chair vs executive branch.

Also, I think it’s time we normalize our electoral methods. We can have academic debates over the pros and cons of various methods, but at the end of the day we’re a community of max 30-40 people (and usually half that, if we’re being honest…), so the differences between IRV, approval, rank-choice, whatever is negligible.

Lastly, the formatting is very inconsistent with that we usually expect. 1(2)3 is a weird way to format article, sections, and clauses. Also don’t really like mentioning NationStates by name in our laws.

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I will exercise discretion in not bringing this to a vote just yet in the interest of allowing for further debate.

I actually do want to see fixed election dates across the board. Speaking as someone who has been handling our elections for more than a year now, it's much easier to keep track if we have a predictable schedule rather than it being "X months after the previous one". We had that with Chair elections and I outright forgot about to start one because of that.
I'm not married to the idea of a line of succession for the Chair, but again I really would like to avoid full-term snap elections, so we do want some kind of provision for how the duties of that office are handled in the event of a vacancy after the half-term mark.

That would be a really short law.

What do you have in mind?

I appreciate you stepping up to be EC, but my preferences here aren’t determined by what’s most convenient for you specifically. Under the new proposed Charter, the executive branch flows solely from & up to the Prime Minister. They are the executive branch. We aren’t elected a “Cabinet”, we’re electing a Prime Minister. The subsequent Cabinet is formed by them according to their plans and under their leadership.

It makes no sense to then, if the sitting PM resigns, elect somebody to fill in for a month with a government they didn’t design and that owes no loyalty to them & their plans. And when it comes to the appointed ministers selecting a PM amongst themselves… we didn’t elect any of them to be PM and there’s a very high likelihood that we wouldn’t elect them to be PM if they stood for election in that role.

If the PM falls, so should the rest of the executive.

For Chair elections, the EC should never have been involved in the first place. They don’t need to be. Chair elections should have always operated as I intended them to when writing the current Charter: people stand themselves and then the Assembly votes itself for who it wants. Like real-world legislative elections for Speaker of the House in the US. The process goes along on its own, there’s no private ballots or any of that nonsense that requires a third-party. So yeah, I do think snap elections are better for Chair. Chair resigns, people start campaigning, and a vote thread is opened where people vote for whoever they want. No nominations period, no limited ballots. Vote for whoever you want to be Chair. If we can’t function well enough as a legislature to open a simple voting thread, what are we doing??

As for election methodology, my preference would be to go with what everybody already understands and is used to: IRV.

I’ve adjusted the formatting.

Do we not have a designated line of succession? Wouldn’t that save time and effort if we had something along those lines?

I’m in favor of regularized term lengths and scheduled elections, but would support Glen’s suggestions to use a single voting method - IRV by preference.

I think we need a designated successor (or process of picking one) in the event of a resignation falling very close to election time, but generally speaking we should be otherwise holding a special election.

February, May, August and November are better election months than January/April/July/October.

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Any particular reason?

The first couple of weeks of January is a bad time for most people in my experience - getting back to work/school/etc after the Christmas holidays - whilst August is a good month for an election as it’s the Summer Surge and we have lots of new players around. A big election can help get them interested in the game.

May and November are also good months because school-age players will be getting ready to end classes for the winter/summer and will have conceivably have more time to commit to the game.

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Let’s try something else.

ELECTIONS ACT

An act to regulate regional elections

1. General Provisions

(1) This law is a constitutional law and has precedence over all general laws and regulations.

(2) This law applies to all elections of government officials.

(3) This law considers the following terms:

  1. Election - the process through which a voter accedes to an office via suffrage, from the opening of declarations of candidacy until the certification of the result.
  2. Voter - a voter as defined in the Voter Registration Act, who additionally meets any added qualifications within this law.
  3. Office - any government position with the exception of voters.
  4. Conflict of Interest Disclosure - a list of all current and past aliases, affiliations, and offices held across NationStates by a candidate.
  5. Participation - the ability to declare one's candidacy and cast votes in a given election.
  6. Candidate - an individual who is listed on the ballot for an election or the option to re-open nominations.

2. Election Commissioner

(1) The Election Commissioner is a voter appointed by the Security Council to administer elections.

(2) The Commissioner is responsible for the publication of election notices and information, the organization and moderation of the venues where the election is conducted, the verification of candidate eligibility, the tallying of votes, the certification of election results, and the resolution of election-related disputes or, when applicable, their referral to the relevant authorities.

(3) The Commissioner cannot hold any office that is subject to election, nor can they run for the office whose election they administer.

3. Election Methods

(1) Instant Runoff Vote is conducted with voters listing however many candidates they prefer, including an option to re-open nominations, in descending order of preference. Until a candidate has received a simple majority of first preferences, the candidate with the fewest first preferences is eliminated and the ballots are tallied again, ignoring any preferences for them.

(2) Majority Vote is conducted when voters list a single candidate whom they prefer or, alternatively, an option to re-open nominations. The candidate with a simple majority of votes is the winner. If no candidate obtains a simple majority and no tie has occurred, a runoff round of voting will be held with the two candidates who obtained the highest numbers of votes and without the option to re-open nominations unless it already qualifies for inclusion.

(3) Ties in elections under instant runoff vote are broken with the candidate with the fewest next level preferences being eliminated, until all levels of preference are exhausted. Ties in all other elections or in cases where other tie-breaking methods have been exhausted, will be resolved by mutual agreement between the candidates or via a method of chance determined by the Commissioner, provided that such a method must be publicly observable and use resources not controlled by either candidate or the Commissioner.

(4) If the option to re-open nominations wins, the election shall revert to declarations to elect the number of winners that remained unelected.

(5) Voters in offsite elections must have the option of casting public or private ballots, but ballots cannot be altered once cast. Ballots cast in private must be sent to a group inbox accessible only to the Commissioner, which should remain available for audit. The identity of private voters cannot be revealed.

4. Election Procedures

(1) Elections for all offices, unless otherwise provided within this law, are conducted in such a manner that declarations of candidacy extend for four days and voting extends for three days from the end of declarations or the previous round of voting, as may be the case. Candidates must submit an accurate conflict of interest disclosure before the end of declarations under penalty of disqualification. Voting, unless otherwise provided within this law, is limited to voters who were admitted before the start of declarations and is conducted via instant runoff vote.

(2) Elections for all offices, unless otherwise provided within this law, must begin no later than seven days after the occurrence of a vacancy unless the same occurred when less than half of the term remains, in which case the vacancy is filled in the following manner:

  1. For the Delegate, the next in line, according to the line of succession set by the Security Council, becomes Delegate for the remainder of the term.
  2. For other offices, the Prime Minister selects a successor, provided that such individual should be otherwise eligible to stand for election, subject to approval from the Assembly.

(3) Elections for the Chair of the Assembly will will begin immediately upon vacancy of the Chair, or the passage of a resolution to start elections for Chair, the latter of which may only be passed no earlier than 2 months after the end of the last election. Elections will use the instant runoff voting method.

(4) Elections for the Delegate begin on the first of February and August and are conducted via a first round of instant runoff vote with two winners and a second round of majority vote, provided that voting for the second round is held via a regional poll limited to Native World Assembly Residents and posting on the Message Board with a tag to the Commissioner limited to members of the Special Forces identified by the Minister of Defense as being deployed during voting. Candidates in the first round must have a number of endorsements no lower than 80% of the general endorsement cap, rounded down to the nearest whole number, at the start of the election. Candidates in the second round are the winners of the first round.

(5) Elections for the Prime Minister begin 3 months after the conclusion of the last election.

Would it not make sense to stagger elections and do something like Delegate+PM in February and August and Chair+PM in May and November?

That gives us elections to two posts every three months. Nice and regular, easy to administer.

I think having the EC run Chair elections makes far more sense than the Assembly “self administering” them. Someone will still have to be chosen to run the election and it might as well be the EC.

There is no reason to ever use majority vote for anything. It’s just awful and inferior to IRV in every way.

Honestly, I was thinking of abandoning regular elections for Chair anyways and moving to indefinite terms with a challenge mechanism. Otherwise, I’m largely in line with how Sandaoguo views Chair elections, and that’s why it’s defined like that. It’s clunky, but functional.

I’ve changed the clause for elections for Chair and removed the need for private ballots for Chair elections. Sandaoguo brought it up in #legislators-lounge that the main reason for involving the Election Commissioner is for private ballots, and if the system is shifting closer to RL elections for Speaker of the House, these changes would be in line with that idea.

You haven’t answered the question of who will actually administer elections for Chair and how they will be chosen.

I don’t see the need to define any one particular position to administer the election. Any legislator is capable of opening voting threads in lieu of the Chair, and this would be no different. A public ballot of legislators means that verifying these results are available to any and all.