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Dallas Libertarians Message Board › Dallas County 2012 Bylaws Amendments

Dallas County 2012 Bylaws Amendments

Jordan W
user 8968975
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1
As the chair of the Bylaws Committee, I have been tasked with reviewing LPDC's bylaws and recommending changes for the convention on March 17, 2012. I am starting this discussion topic to solicit input on the bylaws from our Meetup members. If there are any matters you would like changed, removed, or added to the bylaws, please let me know. I greatly appreciate any feedback, whether it's specific language, proofreading of my drafts, or just general suggestions.

I will update this discussion periodically with the latest drafts, and I will maintain a list of all currently proposed changes. Please note that none of the changes are binding until adopted by the delegates at the convention, and delegates can propose alternative or additional amendments at the convention itself.

First, here is a current, unaltered version of the LPDC bylaws as adopted in 2008.
Click here to download the PDF.

This is my initial report to the Executive Committee on January 29,2012. It contains the first draft of proposed changes along with explanatory notes.
Click here to download the PDF.

This is the second draft of the proposed bylaws recommendations. The second draft includes updated language for e-mail voting, a section for telephone and internet conference voting, and the specification that only absences from regular business meetings count for automatic removal from the executive committee.
Click here to download the PDF.

**Most Current Draft**

This is the third draft. Updates include changes to executive committee membership, a reworking of the e-mail/telephone/internet voting sections, and a new provision for creating different membership levels.
Click here to download the PDF.

Here are the bylaws of other Libertarian Party entities to use as examples.
Click here to download the Texas bylaws.

Click here to download the national bylaws.

Click here to download the Harris County (Houston) bylaws.

Click here to view the bylaws of LP New York.

Click here to download the Illinois bylaws.

Click here to download the Pennsylvania bylaws.

Click here to view the Oklahoma bylaws.

Click here to view the (proposed, I believe) Nevada bylaws.

If you wish to weigh in on the changes, please either

1) leave a comment here

2) e-mail me - secretary(at)

3) or leave a comment at one of my posts on the LPDC Homepage.

Progress Update, 3/8/2012

The third draft is currently available. I expect at least one more draft before the county convention. Copies of the most recent draft will be available at the precinct conventions, and I will be present there to discuss them as well.

Thanks everyone!
Jordan W
user 8968975
Dallas, TX
Post #: 2
This post will briefly list all of the changes proposed in the most recent draft of the bylaws recommendations. This is not the actual language, just an informal list so everyone can quickly see the issues.

The most current draft is Draft 3. Download the PDF here­ for the details.

Proposals in this draft include:

LPDC Memberships - allowing LPDC to create new classes of membership

Automatic Removal from Exec. Comm. - specifying that only absences at normal, quarterly
business meetings count towards the 2 consecutive absences for automatic removal

At-Large Directors - Membership on the executive committee will include 4 officers and 10 at-
large directors

Electronic Voting - a provision allowing the executive committee to vote on questions by internet
polls or e-mail

Telephone and Internet Conference Voting - a provision allowing the committee to vote by
telephone or internet conferences

Robert’s Rules of Order - replace the outdated 9th edition with the “current edition”

Notice of Bylaws Amendment - clarification regarding days of notice required

Footnotes - A footnote stating the adoption of these amendments at the 2012 convention
A former member
Post #: 50
Jordan - Everything looks great and thank you for taking care of this project.

I do have questions regarding the email voting proposal.

Has this worked with other groups?
Will the inability to move for amendment create problems?
Will Directors start skipping meetings and want to meet via Skype? (not necessarily a bad idea)
To help me get a better understanding of this, Can anyone give an example of a past vote that would have been facilitated by using email?
If we start down the slippery slope of meeting by Skype (I understand you didn't raise this issue but I think I'm following this to the next step) and voting by email, could we not also expand the number of Directors to include on the EC say .... all of the Precinct Chairs? I'm wondering how far this will go?

Keep up the good work and thank you for keeping us informed.

Jordan W
user 8968975
Dallas, TX
Post #: 3
Tim, thank you for these questions. These are exactly the kinds of issues that need to be hashed out as much as possible before the convention, so it's helpful to discuss them with others.

"Has this worked with other groups?"

Unfortunately I cannot speak to this point from personal experience. I added more links/downloads for several other LP groups. All but Oklahoma have some provision for alternative meetings or votes, but they are all quite different in wording those provisions. I have no idea how well these have worked in practice. Eugene did tell me that some have questioned whether the LPTX bylaws actually allow for e-mail voting, so they have been conducting business using Yahoo polls instead.

"Will the inability to move for amendment create problems?"

It is very possible that this will create problems. And in fact I should point out that the sentence forbidding secondary motions or amendments was my own creation. It is not present in any of the other LP bylaws I have looked at.

I put that in there primarily because of what Robert's Rules of Order say about the topic of conducting business electronically: "Therefore, a group that attempts to conduct the deliberative process in writing (such as by postal mail, e-mail, 'chat rooms,' or fax) - which is not recommended - does not constitute a deliberative assembly. Any such effort may achieve a consultative character, but it is foreign to the deliberative process as understood under parliamentary law." RONR (11th ed.) p. 98, ll. 14-19.

The key seems to be a distinction between an electronic conference where simultaneous aural communication is possible, and casting ballots on a single question (this may be the problem encountered by LPTX; and it's something I am currently wrestling with - "question" vs. "motion" and "voting" vs. "conference"). I felt that it would be best to essentially block any efforts to turn the e-mail voting into a deliberative process with all the motions, seconds, points of order, etc.

Also, if amendments were submitted by e-mail, they would start an entirely new question, which would require a new voting period. The voting period on the original question would expire before the period of the motion to amend. It seems like it would be much easier for the original question to be withdrawn and a new one proposed in its place that incorporates any desired changes.

"Will Directors start skipping meetings and want to meet via Skype? (not necessarily a bad idea)"

Here again the key element from Robert's Rules and the bylaws I have read is whether or not simultaneous aural communication is possible. The Illinois bylaws, for example, state that the committee may meet by any means that allow this. The biggest problem I see here is what happens when some of the committee either do not have, or are not willing to use, any given technology. I also worry that these types of meetings will be plagued by technical snafus that are hard to account for in bylaws. What happens if someone's internet blacks out or if someone can't get their audio to work?

Eugene suggested that I edit the language and make it "electronic" voting instead of e-mail voting. This would allow not only e-mail, but also the Yahoo polls that he brought up, or conceivably something like Skype. But we need to be careful to define whether they can be used for voting only or for a more "deliberative" process, as Robert's Rules put it. My inclination is to be flexible about what technologies can be used, but to limit it to voting on single, unalterable questions. If there is a problem with a question, members can ask the chair to withdraw it then resubmit with changes. If too much controversy occurs over a question, then it probably warrants consideration at a special or regular business meeting instead.

As far as attendance is concerned, that may itself be another bylaws topic. Right now it just says that two missed meetings result in an automatic vacancy. I have thought about proposing two "regular business meetings" to prevent special meetings or electronic meetings/votes from ejecting people.

"Can anyone give an example of a past vote that would have been facilitated by using email?"

There are two basic types of issues where I have seen interest in the past. One is expenses for events. If an event occurs before the next regular meeting, it would be helpful to pre-approve expenses for it, or at least pre-approve the reimbursement for someone so they do not feel they are risking their own money. The other case that has come up is when we are drafting something like website updates, flyers, press releases, etc. For example, when we authorized John Lindsay to start working on a revamped website, there was a desire (from me mainly, in that case) to take a vote on a template or rough draft once he had something. E-mail voting would have allowed such a follow up vote on a rough draft.

"could we not also expand the number of Directors to include on the EC say .... all of the Precinct Chairs?"

We can decide on different rules for directors. The Harris County bylaws do it very differently. They have four officers, then they include the immediately preceding former chair, then they have each group of 10 members select a representative, then they have the option for a rep from any precinct that has more than 3 members. I'm not sure how all that works, but the point is we can choose a different arrangement for directors. The LPTX bylaws do not mandate the county commissioners districts that we currently use. If we start allowing electronic meetings, rather than just votes, I can see how that would affect membership. At the very least we would have to clarify the rules about when people are automatically removed.

Thanks again for the discussion, Tim. There are many moving parts here so it's great to have another set of eyes looking at it.
Curry T.
Dallas, TX
Post #: 5
I greatly appreciate any feedback, whether it's specific language, proofreading of my drafts, or just general suggestions.

I gotz some commentz:

1.) For those of us who'd like to participate in the Dallas LP but who don't have a vote, and in the interest of transparency for the people who may tacitly be excluded from any e-mail correspondence between the voting members of the body, I think it would be prudent, in the event that an electronic vote has commenced, to notify those interested parties so they can also be aware of what is going on. This could be on the Meetup list or on some other administration-only list that people could join if they are interested in the inner-workings of the group (rather than a large-population announcement-only list, for example). The same idea applies for teleconferencing or phone voting.

2.) In Article V, 2., of the new document, I'm not sure what "preserve all ballots received until their disposition is decided" means. Does that mean the ballots won't be tallied and the motion won't be declared passed until the next meeting? If so, then what is the point of electronic voting? Or is this just a record-keeping thing? In other words, I assume that the results of electronic voting should take effect as soon as the voting period is done (is that one week, or whenever a majority has said yes?) -- otherwise, voters might as well just wait until the next meeting to vote. That is, unless electronic voting is meant to be a way for people to vote absentee in lieu of attending meetings...?

Have a great week,

Jordan W
user 8968975
Dallas, TX
Post #: 4
Thanks for the comments Curry. You bring up some very good points.

1. What you propose here reminds of of the Yahoo polls that Eugene brought up. Apparently LP Texas uses them to vote instead of e-mail. I believe the polls are a part of Yahoo Groups, which might be the type of online tool that could accomplish what you are describing. The question is whether this should be mandated by the bylaws.

There is a provision in the Nevada bylaws that relates to this: "Meetings of the LPN Executive Committee shall be held at least quarterly, either in person or by electronic means, and the Executive Committee shall maintain an e-mail list (or message board) for discussing related items of business." It does not specify whether this list should include only committee members or whether it should be made available to others. Their bylaws do state, "Executive Committee Meetings shall be open to all LPN members." Presumably this would include their electronic meetings.

I think this is worth exploring further to see if there is support from the group. My initial reaction just as one member of the committee is that we could implement this without forcing it in the bylaws. It may be as simple as adding people to the e-mail list we use to communicate with each other. I'll put this in my next e-mail to the committee and see what kind of response I get.

2. I just copied that language from other bylaws without giving it much thought. Both Texas and national LP bylaws have it. I took it to be a matter of record keeping, so that the secretary will not delete the e-mails with the votes until they are confirmed at the next meeting. But you have raised numerous questions that I do not have answers to.

Robert's Rules of Order do not answer these questions when it comes to mail voting, which is discussed, or e-mail voting which the rules seem to leave up to the bylaws of the organization. Of course we mean for the e-mail votes to be binding and official, because otherwise they are meaningless as you said. I do not know what "confirmed" should mean either. Would there be a vote at the next meeting to confirm the e-mail vote? What if it is rejected?

One of the bylaws I looked at had a statement that votes taken e-mail (or mail/telephone, I can't remember) are binding just as if they were taken at a regular business meeting. This is our intention, and language like that may be prudent here. Then the statements about "confirming" or "disposition" could be removed, while leaving in the requirement to be placed in the next minutes as matter of record. We could also leave in the requirement, perhaps reworded to be clearer, that the secretary shall keep the e-mails until the next meeting. I'm not sure how it should be worded for phone or internet conferences since there would be no ballots. Let me tinker with this one in the next draft to see if some of those ambiguous terms can be removed.

The phrase "at the expiration of seven days" would seem to apply to both passing and failing, so that it would take effect then. Perhaps this could be more explicit as well. Let me work on it.

Thanks again Curry! I hope you will stay involved in the discussion here. It's helped a lot and made me look closer at some of the other bylaws too.
Jordan W
user 8968975
Dallas, TX
Post #: 5

I have two important bylaws issues that have been suggested, and I would like to gauge the support these might have from the group. Please take a moment to let me know what you would think of these provisions being added to the bylaws. Keep in mind what I have written here is very preliminary, and is just intended to see if either of these ideas is worth pursuing further.

1. Executive Committee Membership - 10 At-Large Directors

Right now membership on the committee consists of 4 officers, 2 district directors each from the 4 commissioner districts, and 2 at-large directors from anywhere in Dallas County. The suggestion on the table is that membership be changed to 4 officers plus 10 at-large directors.

In the past we have had situations where people wanted to join the committee, but their districts were already represented. An example is Curry Taylor, who has been active in our group for a while now, participating in discussions and attending meetings. But he cannot join the committee because his district is already full. This provision would prevent this from being a problem. Active people like Curry could join regardless of location in Dallas County.

There would have to be some kind of provision to deal with the fact that bylaws changes will not take effect until the end of the convention. So at the convention people will be elected as they are now, but the bylaws could state something like, "district directors elected at the 2012 convention automatically become at-large directors."

2. New Membership Levels

Currently only people who attend the precinct or county conventions as delegates, or who take an oath of affiliation, are "members". There is no provision for dues paying or non-voting membership. It may be beneficial to our marketing efforts to create other levels of membership. These may include dues paying members, or even simply people who join our mailing list.

My proposal would be to implement generic language. It would be something like, "The executive committee may create other non-voting membership levels at its discretion". This would give us the flexibility to use "memberships" as a marketing tool as needed, and it would also allow people who have voted in other parties to "join" the LP. There would have to be a provision that states something along the lines of, "Only voting members may serve on the exec. comm. or as delegates to conventions", just to make it clear that these alternative memberships are non-voting members.

Thanks everyone, I appreciate any feedback you might have on these.

A former member
Post #: 317
Looks good overall judging by the message here, I haven't looked at the actual documents. You might also look into Range Voting, both for possible use for LP business and also (as part of our platform) to promote as a political goal in the outside world. It's better than Instant Runoff Voting (which in some ways is even worse than the current system), in fact apparently it's mathematically proven to be the best voting method, see the comparison at http://rangevoting.or...­ for more info. For multiwinner races, some variation on RV seems best, I have a Normalized RV method which is easy to figure and is not too far from ideal.

RV is the most intuitive, expressive, and natural method; olympic judges, teachers, and bees do it routinely. And it solves the "wasted vote" problem that keeps us and other 3rd parties from getting the votes that people would really give us.

Jordan W
user 8968975
Dallas, TX
Post #: 6
Thanks for this one! I remember going to the Texas convention last time and someone told me there would be approval voting, I believe, as an alternative. That ended up not being true, but it was an interesting idea. I didn't go to the national convention, but apparently they use something that is at least a step in the right direction when compared to the way we elect candidates to public office. I need to research this further. I first want to look at what the other LP bylaws say about electing officers and candidates.

Now that I am thinking about it, there was some debate I was reading about a couple of years ago among Libertarians regarding which voting method was best. There was some system that was proposed but it was highly divisive among Libertarians, as I recall. I don't think it was range voting, one of the others. Anyway, I'm not an expert on all of these possibilities, so I will look into that as well.

Right now I am (finally!) putting together the next draft of bylaws proposals, and it *should* be ready by tomorrow (well, later today, I'm a bit of an insomniac). When I send it out I will ask for feedback on the new draft of course, but I will also solicit input one more time on any additional issues that people want to add. I am curious to see if this will gain any support, and I think it might given the interest I have seen Libertarians have in the past. And it would essentially be putting our money where our mouths are, so to speak.

I love the comments on that site and they are absolutely true, about designing the worst possible voting system and guess what, that's the one we use. And we see the consequences of it every single election.
Jordan W
user 8968975
Dallas, TX
Post #: 7
The range voting issue may be a moot point, at least as far as Dallas County's bylaws are concerned.

Article IV section 5. of the LP Texas bylaws "govern all proceedings and the conduct of all meetings of all Conventions and caucuses and committees at Conventions at all levels." The procedures include the option, with a majority vote, of using approval voting, rather than range voting, for elections with more than two candidates. Otherwise they go through a balloting process with candidates receiving the fewest votes being dropped in subsequent rounds until a majority is reached.

I think having read this, the issue of range voting must be taken up with the state's bylaws not ours. Proposing range voting as an alternative to approval voting is something our state delegates should consider.
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