Member Statements on 2023-03-19 Ruling of the Chair
IN FAVOR by Tim S.
I’m writing in favor of sustaining the chair’s ruling that the amendment is out of order. Trying to improve how our Opavote procedures work is a good thing to be doing, and if it’s technically feasible, the amendment is something I could probably be persuaded to vote for in some form on its own. I’m slightly sympathetic to the arguments that comrades made in favor of the relevance of this amendment to the Bylaw Amendment it’s attached to, and am sensitive to the fact that this vote would be made more pleasant and efficient if this amendment were active, but ultimately, I think adding a feature to the BA that is new, significant, and only slightly related to the original purpose of the BA is out of order; this proposal deserves its own reading and debate as a substantive Bylaw Amendment on its own. I’ll also note that passing this change, which amounts to a Bylaw Amendment on its own in my view, with no more than 1 read (if discussion as an amendment even counts) would seem to circumvent the spirit of our two read system, especially given the fact that it is fairly late an amendment to a resolution that has been before the body for months.
IN FAVOR by Allison K.
Comrades, I encourage you to vote in favor of holding Comrade Chair Aparna’s decision to split the proposed amendment to the bylaw amendment regarding GBM frequency. Amendment alters the frequency of GBMs, and the amendment to the amendment alters the process for electronic voting. In content these are two separate amendments, one should not be treated as an amendment of the other. The second amendment should be subject to the same process of evaluation as the first was subject to, not tacked onto it. The Chair was correct to rule as such and I will be voting to sustain that ruling.
AGAINST by Abel A.
Members of the chapter have a right to propose resolutions, as well as amendments to resolutions that others propose. Further, members of the chapter should have a right to have a vote on their proposed resolutions and any related germane amendments within a timely manner. The bylaws explicitly prohibit the steering committee, and any individual member, from stalling or preventing a resolution from going to a vote.
It is imperative to overturn the decision of the chair because my proposed secondary amendment is extremely relevant to the original bylaw change proposal. The underlying bylaw change proposal would significantly change the timeline for passage of resolutions, and enable resolutions to be delayed or stalled in ways which prevent efficient and democratic processes.
It is fortunate that there are three questions on this very ballot that serve as examples for how this secondary amendment is not only relevant (i.e. germane) but necessary to ensure members rights are protected. Under the current system of voting, if the underlying bylaw amendment (which would move us to a six-times-per-year meeting schedule) were to pass, it will take us a minimum of 2 and up to 4 months to reach a decision on a resolution when an amendment to the resolution is proposed (let alone a bylaw amendment, which would take even longer). If the germaneness/relevance of the secondary amendment is challenged, as was done in this case, it may take us up to 6 months to reach a decision. For bylaw amendments, add 2 months to everything.
By including multiple questions on a ballot as proposed by this very germane amendment, we could reduce the delay the move to less frequent meetings would have to our decision making process. This is the intent of this secondary amendment and it is very relevant because it seeks to balance the desire for less GBMs with the need to have efficient and democratic decision-making processes. For these reasons, the question of whether we can vote on amendments on the same ballot as the underlying proposal is very germane to the question of whether we should have less frequent meetings.
Therefore, I ask that you vote NO on this question and overrule the chair. Indeed, I would have been happy (and did offer) that this system be used on this very measure to begin with, which would have truncated both the germaneness question and the question of the secondary amendment onto this same ballot as the underlying proposal. We could have a decision almost immediately and would be able to skip the April GBM as so many seem to want. But alas, we are stuck on a seemingly endless series of votes.
IN FAVOR by Bakari W.
The GBM frequency bylaw amendment makes changes to the number of General Body Meetings. The proposed amendment to that bylaw amendment makes changes to the way Opavote e-voting is conducted. The chair ruled that the amendment to the amendment is not relevant and as such should be proposed as its own separate bylaw amendment instead of being tacked on here. I agree with the chair and support their ruling on this, so I will be voting in favor of sustaining that ruling and I encourage you to do the same.
IN FAVOR by Imara C.
Comrades, I urge you to vote in favor of upholding Comrade Aparna’s decision to split the proposed amendment to the bylaw amendment on GBM frequency. The original amendment on GBM frequency aimed to change the frequency of chapter general body meetings from monthly to being held at least every other month, while the second proposed amendment is intended to address the process for electronic voting. I actually don’t disagree with the second proposed amendment, the issue at hand is one of process. These are two separate questions or issues, and I believe Aparna was correct to rule as much, thus I’ll be voting to sustain Aparna’s ruling.
IN FAVOR by Gary Z.
I’m writing to urge members to sustain the ruling of the chair; I ask members to consider my experience as a dedicated chapter member who has helped run chapter votes, elections, and organizational communications for a few years. The Chair was correct in their ruling - the proposed amendment, though tangentially related to the targeted resolution, lay far outside the scope of proposed resolution. Building out a discrete voting system requires deep thought and input, particularly from rank-and-file members, but also chapter members who volunteer their time to run the technological and communications systems we have built within the chapter (eg: our Administrative, Publications, Internal Elections, Design, and Communications Commttees). To my knowledge the amendment was not proposed following consultation with chapter members who help run + maintain our voting, communication or administrative tech or workflows; nor was it proposed by a larger group that might suggest deeper deliberation in its production. Adopting a whole new process for voting is not something that can be tacked on or outlined in just one paragraph. Systems and structures must be built to accompany any proposed changes in critical chapter processes. These considerations go unremarked in the proposed amendment – and so the Chair’s ruling to exclude it makes sense. In fairness, the proposed amendment does attempt to address a potential problem that, as a chapter, we will need to think about resolving: How do we ensure votes and resolutions can be processed with speed and high attention if the chapter changes its timeline for GBMs? An answer to this is worth building and considering as a wider resolution or change to the chapter by-laws, not as a rider on to a separate question.
IN FAVOR by Michael M.
I urge you to vote in favor of sustaining the ruling of Comrade Chair Aparna’s decision to split the proposed amendment to the bylaw amendment regarding GBM frequency at the most recent General Body Meeting. The original amendment was intended to lessen the frequency of required GBMs from at least once a month to once every two months — with the possibility for the Steering Committee to call more meetings if necessary. The proposed amendment intends to alter the chapter’s process for electronic voting in a significant way.
I don’t necessarily disagree with the proposed amendment on its face, but it is a separate question entirely and, therefore, should have to undergo the same two-reader process that the original amendment was subject to. The two-reader process exists for the exact purpose of ensuring that chapter members have ample time to consider the proposal and make an informed vote. Trying to circumvent that process by rushing through an entirely separate amendment that is not germane to the original amendment does a disservice to the general body by not allowing them to consider it in its own right.
For these reasons, I encourage you to vote yes on upholding the ruling of the chair to split the proposed amendment to the original bylaw amendment, as I will be.
IN FAVOR by Hayden G.
Comrades, I am writing to you today to urge support for the ruling of the Chair. The effort to overrule is being used to create a ‘poison-pill’ to the original bylaw amendment. It is clear to me that the amendment to the bylaw amendment covers two different subjects and regardless of the merits, we ought to go through the normal rigor for amendments that our bylaws lay before us. We are a mature organization and we have a right to stand up for the process so many have worked so hard to build up. We don’t need to tack-on additional, non-germane clauses to bylaw amendments months into debate. In Solidarity, -Hayden
IN FAVOR by Carl R.
Please vote yes to sustain the decision of the chair. Our bylaws have a built in, intentionally long process for amendments outside of convention - one that comrade Diego’s amendment on required GBM frequency followed appropriately - for a reason: the chapter deserves the time to properly debate and consider large changes to our rules when we aren’t meeting at convention. Comrade Abel’s amendment is unrelated to the frequency of GBMs, came in with less than a week to go before final debate, and has not been properly considered by the chapter. I don’t think this allows us to properly consider it, and I do think that how we vote is separate from how often we are required to hold GBMs. Please uphold the ruling of the chair by voting YES.
IN FAVOR by Stu K.
I’m urging fellow Metro DC DSA chapter members to vote YES on supporting the chair’s ruling at this past Sunday’s general body meeting. Background During that meeting, chapter Steering Committee chair Aparna R. ruled that an amendment to a previously-introduced resolution was not related to the resolution, and that the amendment to the resolution should therefore be considered as its own separate resolution. The previously-introduced resolution seeks to change our chapter bylaws about the required frequency of our monthly chapter meetings, but the amendment to that resolution instead focuses on bylaw changes regarding electronic voting procedures. Analysis This ruling of the chair is sound, for two reasons: First, Section 8: Bylaws Changes of our DSA chapter bylaws requires that all resolutions that seek to change the chapter bylaws must first be introduced at a monthly meeting of the members and voted on following the next monthly membership meeting. This required period in between monthly meetings is meant for chapter members to have the time and space to read and debate the proposed bylaw changes. However, by trying to amend an already-introduced resolution, the amendment at hand here did not follow the required two-meeting process as outlined in our bylaws. If this amendment to the resolution were allowed to proceed, then chapter members would not have adequate time to consider the amendment—which not only violates our bylaws, but also undermines chapter democracy. If we don’t have time to read proposals and deliberate, then what’s the point of having rules to govern democratic procedure at all? Second, the ruling of the chair was correct because—according to Robert’s Rules of Order—amendments to resolutions must be “germane” (i.e., very closely related) to the purpose of the resolution. As stated in Robert’s Rules: Improper Amendments. An amendment is not in order which is not germane to the question to be amended… The amendment that sought to change our chapter bylaws by adding a new electronic voting procedure is clearly not related at all to the previously-introduced resolution about required frequency of chapter-wide membership meetings. As our chapter uses Robert’s Rules of Order to govern our decision-making processes, this amendment violates Robert’s Rules and, by extension, violates our chapter’s bylaws—or, as they say in Robert’s Rules parlance, the amendment is “out of order.” For these reasons above, I urge chapter members to vote YES on sustaining the ruling of the chair about the electronic voting amendment being out of order.
IN FAVOR by Aparna R.
I hope you vote yes to sustain the ruling of the chair that the two proposed items under consideration (the GBM frequency amendment and the electronic voting process amendment) are not germane. I wrote out my full justification in the item itself, and encourage you to take a look for a full understanding of the situation, but I wanted to call out a couple specific points.
As I mention in my justification around my ruling, the subject of the original bylaw amendment (around GBM frequency) is a different subject than the proposed amendment to that bylaw amendment (around electronic voting processes). Regardless of anyone’s opinions on either of these amendments on their own merit, these are two different subjects. Roberts Rules dictates that an amendment must be germane (or closely related) to the initial proposed item and that it cannot consider a different subject.
In addition, trying to pass an independent bylaw amendment by couching it as related to the original item/ as an amendment to another item flouts our democratic processes. Bylaw amendments are specifically required to go through two reads so that the chapter has the full time to deliberate over the question at hand, to debate and discuss with each other, and to feel fully informed to take a vote on it. Big rules changes are deliberative and require full chapter buy-in.