Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Popular Ratification

A longer version of this post is in a comment over here, but I'll say it here for the record again:

I am in favor of replacing the current system of ratifying changes to the WSFS Constitution (a vote in person at the Business Meeting of the Worldcon following the one where the proposal first passed, with only persons present in person eligible to vote) with what I call Popular Ratification. In my proposal, anything passed by the Year 1 Business Meeting would be submitted to a vote of all of the members, supporting and attending, of the Year 2 Worldcon at the same time as the Hugo Final Ballot. Anyone eligible to vote on the Hugo Final Ballot could vote on the ratification question. Voting would close at the same time as the Hugo Final Ballot (about four weeks pre-Worldcon). The results would be announced at the Year 2 Preliminary Business Meeting, but would not take effect until the end of Year 2 (just like amendments today don't take effect until the end of the Worldcon that ratifies them). Any proposal that gets more yes votes than no votes passes. No quorum. No minimum vote requirements. No voting fees (other than you have to be a member of the current Worldcon to vote).

While I think the regular BM attendees would consider this to be a radical, dangerous proposal, and I'm thus reluctant to work too hard on putting it through the Business Meeting, I also think it would go some way toward cutting the legs out from under the argument that it's "unfair" that members have to be present in person to have any say in the constitutional amendment process.

Aside: I would include as a rider on this particular proposal that it would have to be ratified by both the existing system and by its own process. In other words, it would have to pass in Year 1, be ratified by the Business Meeting in Year 2, then be submitted to the members for vote in Year 3, and if they approve it, it would take effect at the end of year 3. Amendments passed at Year 2 would be subject to ratification in Year 3 by the existing process. Amendments first passed at the Year 3 Business Meeting would be subject to the new process, submitted to the members of Year 4. (You can do this because you know the results of the ratification vote at the start of the Year 3 Business Meeting.)

Cons: This would raise Worldcon administrative costs. It would remove the Year 2 Business Meeting as a "House of Revision" able to reduce the scope of pending amendments; ratification would be strictly up or down. It would still not allow non-attending members to send primary legislation straight to a ratification vote (like the California initiative constitutional amendment process does).

Pros: It would allow non-attending members who already have Hugo voting rights a voice in the process. It would improve the "legitimacy" of WSFS government by removing the requirement of physical presence at a Worldcon Business Meeting at every stage of the process. It would reduce the plausibility of the argument that the entire WSFS governance process in the hands of a "bureaucracy" that never lets "real fans" have a say.
Tags: business meeting, hugo award, worldcon, wsfs

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