Member Statements on 2023-04-GR9: Amend the Chapter's Internal Elections Policy

This is a thread of member statements on the proposed resolution to Amend the Chapter’s Internal Elections Policy

IN FAVOR by Tim S.

My support for these rules comes down to the fact that, in an election where we’re choosing 41 delegates, I think simple, streamlined rules do a better job of making the outcome reflect the chapter’s preferences than STV and the fractal parliamentary disputes that we’ve seen consistently over the last few months. I would be very surprised if anyone who is not deeply involved in the chapter’s internal politics could provide an ranking of 41 candidates, and I think that’s fine: to my knowledge, none of our campaigns have that many active members, and I’d much rather someone devote their time and energy to organizing tenants, pressuring councilmembers, or onboarding new members than determining which of their comrades is the 36th best choice for delegate and which is the 37th. When I was very new to DSA, in the runup to the 2021 convention, I found the process totally inscrutable, couldn’t figure out how to vote, and never would have considered running, and I can’t imagine I’m the only one who responded to those rules that way. In an election with very sharp ideological lines, few slots for delegates, and a high ratio of candidates to seats, I could see a case for STV, and in a situation without a deadline, I could see a case for limited constraints on debate and amendments, but this is neither of those cases, and I am very confident that these rules will do a better job of ensuring democratic participation than the rules they will replace.

IN FAVOR by Philip B.

I am writing in support of Resolution 2023: Amend the Chapter Internal Elections Policy and encourage my chapter comrades to vote YES. It is increasingly vital that we as a chapter practice internal democracy wherever possible. This rules package allows the chapter to foster a culture of inclusivity by making our voting process simpler, improves broader representation through approval voting, and improving overall efficiency in our decision making mechanisms. Approval voting moves us to a voting system that we’ve been using locally anyway in all other internal chapter elections, so this is a simple change that strengthens internal democracy. This rules package brings us closer to a more inclusive and efficient operation as a chapter. Please vote YES!

IN FAVOR by Kurtis H.

I am writing in favor of the proposed amendments to the standing rules. I believe that these amendments promote a greater level of democracy and transparency within our voting processes. Unlike other voting methods, approval voting is straightforward and familiar to the membership. This is the method used for other leadership elections across the chapter and I see no reason why delegate elections should be handled any differently. Furthermore, this amendment reduces confusion around amendments and clarifies how points of order are handled. If you attended last local convention or any recent general body meetings, you are likely aware of how much time can be taken up on procedural votes and how resolutions can be trapped in amendment purgatory. These rules cut through some of those maneuvers to allow the chapter to efficiently and democratically carry out business. For these reasons, I am voting in favor of the amendment and I urge you to as well.

IN FAVOR by Hayden G.

The rules package aims to foster a more democratic and inclusive environment within the organization by simplifying the voting process, reducing the need for strategic voting, and encouraging a diverse set of candidates to run for positions. Approval voting, which allows members to cast their vote for as many candidates as they approve without ranking them, is a significant aspect of the rules package. It promotes broader representation and ensures that elected representatives truly reflect the collective preferences of the membership. The proposed rules package introduces measures to improve the transparency and organization of the amendment process, allowing members to engage in more meaningful discussions and make informed decisions during conventions and meetings. Limiting the number of amendments to a single motion and establishing clear guidelines for raising and addressing procedural points of order helps keep the focus on substantive issues and minimizes unnecessary interruptions and delays during conventions and meetings.

IN FAVOR by Dieter L.M.

I am writing in full support of the proposed changes to our chapter’s standing rules for internal elections for a number of reasons. First, by simplifying the voting procedure, decreasing the necessity for strategic voting, and encouraging a broad range of candidates to run for positions, the rules package strives to build a more democratic and inclusive climate within the organization. Second, the rules package includes approval voting, which allows members to vote for as many candidates as they approve without ranking them. It encourages broader representation and guarantees that elected representatives really reflect the membership’s collective choices. Third, the proposed rules package includes initiatives to improve the transparency and organization of the amendment process, allowing members to have more meaningful debates and make more informed decisions at conventions and meetings. And fourth, limiting the number of amendments to a single motion and setting clear standards for raising and responding to procedural points of order helps retain the emphasis on substantive issues while minimizing unwanted disruptions and delays during conventions and meetings.

IN FAVOR by Carl R.

I urge chapter members to vote FOR this rules change. This rules package for internal elections brings all of our chapter wide votes under one umbrella. Approval voting for convention delegates is good -there’s a reason we use it for steering committee elections. It reduces strategic voting and makes it much easier for chapter members to vote how they want to - there’s no need to figure out who is your 36th favorite choice for delegate, you just vote for whomever you want to see holding the position. This rules package also guarantees that the general body can duly consider points brought to its consideration - irrelevant amendments cannot be added at the last second to stall votes, and rules are clarified to make sure everyone can provide input without denying chapter members their ability to actually make decisions through voting. Finally, it makes it clear what is and isn’t allowed electioneering, protecting chapter resources meant for organizing from turning into spaces for internal political debate. This way, chapter members can continue their important organizing work - why we’re all here in the first place - and engage with internal politics in set forums with clear rules. Please vote YES.

IN FAVOR by Allison K.

I’m writing to encourage all of you to vote in favor of adopting the rules package for the convention elections.

Overall, the proposed rules package does not diverge greatly from our normal election rules. Where it does differ, for the most part the merits of changes are clear. For instance, requiring resolutions be submitted in writing in advance will help streamline the process and allow more opportunity for review and prioritization. The changes to the rules around electioneering provide clarity and keep our elections fair.

There has been some opposition to the adoption of Approval Voting though that I wanted to address. Single Transferable Vote and Cumulative voting have both been proposed as alternatives. The main argument in favor of these is that they foster diverse viewpoints, in the sense that in both cases minority factions can concentrate their votes on one candidate and defeat a majority.

While these voting methods do prioritize diversity of opinion where two groups want to contradict one another, this is not the only kind of diversity of opinion, and it is not the kind of diversity of opinion that allows us to flourish and build strong consensus for our our candidates.

These methods discourage those voting from voting for their authentic preferences in favor of voting strategically, meaning preferences where diverse voters overlap may lose in favor of shared opposition.

Additionally, approval voting is straightforward and simple, not just for the lack of a need for strategic voting, but also because the ballot will be straightforward and the method to calculate is easy to understand, and in the case of convention won’t require individually ranking 38 people.

I hope you’ll join me in voting yes for this rules package so we can improve our election and resolution procedures.`

IN FAVOR by Bakari W.

This rules package greatly streamlines our internal elections process, and makes our elections more representative of the chapter’s broad preferences. Amendments being submitted ahead of meetings with notice will make the process smoother and more transparent, as well as allow for more substantive debate on those amendments during meetings. Also, our parliamentary proceedings can get arcane enough as it is, so I’m particularly glad that this resolution prevents me from ever having to say “the amendment to the amendment to the amendment” and instead makes it so that only the original motion/resolution can be amended (Just a pet peeve of mine, but I know I’m not the only one!!). The approval voting system contained in this rules resolution is the same one used in all other internal chapter elections, so passing this would mean that the delegate election process for the upcoming convention would use a simpler voting system that the chapter is already familiar with. I encourage everyone to read the rules resolution and to vote in favor of it.

IN FAVOR by Stu K.

Support for Amending the Chapter’s Standing Election Rules I’m writing this statement to urge all Metro DC DSA members to vote YES on the resolution that amends our DSA chapter’s standing election rules. My reasoning for supporting this resolution is mainly because of the following two rules amendments: First, the amended rules provide clear protocols for how our chapter can navigate tricky procedural questions related to remote voting systems. These rules outline a course of action that the chair of the chapter must take to accommodate remote voting process issues that arise during monthly membership meetings. Without this type of guidance, our chapter would likely need to curtail our use of OpaVote and other remote voting systems—even though these systems have allowed countless chapter members to participate in the democracy of the chapter. Second, the amended rules would move Metro DC DSA from using a standard transferable voting method to an approval voting method for electing delegates to the national DSA convention. We already use approval voting for Steering Committee elections in our chapter, so it makes sense that we would use the same voting method for national convention delegate elections. Additionally, approval voting tends to result in the selection of more consensus candidates—rather than factional candidates—as the winners in approval elections must garner support from a broader swath of the voters. I hope fellow members of Metro DC DSA vote YES on the amended internal elections rules.

IN FAVOR by Aparna R.

I encourage you to vote YES on this internal standing election rules package.

I voted in favor of this package during one of our Steering Committee meetings because I believe that it builds well on our existing rules while making some specific changes that will help our member meetings and our elections run smoothly. As we’ve seen with recent GBMs, the way that our bylaws are currently written has the unfortunate unintended consequence of allowing for indefinite stalling of business. By setting specific deadlines and rules for business at GBMs, these standing election rules adhere to our bylaws and continue to uphold the value of considered, democratic debate, while also ensuring that business is able to be voted on in a timely manner.

This also places our method of voting in line with what we currently use in the chapter for Steering elections. Approval voting allows people in the chapter to vote for every person they would be happy with in the chapter. It helps ensure that people with the broadest amount of support across the chapter are able to be in leadership roles and represent the full membership. Other voting methods, like STV or cumulative voting, would provide an overrepresentation of views that are not supported across the chapter. We rightfully oppose this same overrepresentation of unpopular political views in regards to the Senate, so I disagree with the idea of recreating similar structures in a democratic socialist organization. Additionally, approval voting makes it easier for chapter members to vote when there are many candidates in the field. With STV, there’s a big difference in impact between someone who is placed at #1 vs someone who is placed at #10, but in an election with 38 open seats, there may not be much difference in preference for who the individual voter wants to see on that body. Ranking is also more difficult for members who might be more loosely engaged and recognize candidates, but may not know 40+ people well enough to feel confident ranking them all.

Our rules and processes as an organization are iterative, and I’m glad to see us reflecting on what has worked and what hasn’t in previous elections to make our GBMs and elections smoother and more reflective of our democratic values now. Please vote YES on this resolution.

IN FAVOR by Kareem E.

Comrades, I urge you to vote yes on the Election Rules Package. The key change is to codify approval voting as the method used to select delegates for National Convention. I support this change, because I believe approval voting produces results that most accurately reflect the will of the chapter. Approval, as a system, comes down to simply tallying the votes, with the winners being the candidates who demonstrate broad support. I believe this is the most democratic way to poll the preferences of the body for multi-choice voting.

Alternative systems, such as STV or Borda require that voters rank every available candidate based on preference. This can be unwieldy in an election as large as that for delegate, which could have well over 50 candidates. Additionally, these systems are highly subject to factional gaming. Under a system such as Single Transferable Vote, a highly disciplined faction can achieve outsized representation by voting in a block, overriding more broadly popular candidates. This may be advantageous to the faction in question, but it is not an accurate representation of the will of the body at large.

I believe approval voting is the best method for selecting candidates and reflecting the will of the general body. This method has been successful for our local steering elections,I believe it will continue to be the most democratic method for us to conduct elections. Please vote yes on this package.

IN FAVOR by Irene K.

I am writing in favor of the Internal Election Rules Package approved unanimously by the Steering Committee. This proposal to amend our standing rules will ensure a smoother, more simplified, and more democratic voting process to seat delegates for the 2023 National Convention. Importantly, he change to the voting method (from single transferable vote to approval) will promote broader representation and a more accurate reflection of chapter members’ preferences. STV overwhelmingly benefits organized formations that can “game” voting to ensure their preferred outcomes (e.g., organizing members into groups and instructing each to vote for the other in a particular order). In contrast, approval voting (which we already use for all of our internal chapter elections) reduces the need for strategic, calculated voting where only the top 1-5 rankings matter. Rather than asking voters to meaningfully rank more than 40 people running for a spot, the approval method allows voters to choose as many or as few people they want to serve as delegates. This approach encourages candidates to appeal to as broad a share of the membership as possible, incentivizing collaboration across factions and chapter formations. The other proposed amendments are important for creating a more streamlined, accessible, and transparent process overall, which will lead to greater member involvement and engagement in the exciting lead-up to convention. I encourage all members to vote YES on the rules package.