Around 25% (more or less 14 out of 55) of our members are actively and regularly involved in our democratic process of amendments.

How does the amendment process work? If you read this carefully, that (the text here) is what it is. I and other members will work on updating this and making it even better. Please comment at the end. Members: add it to the wiki and write your own version(s). Write a blog post with an infographic. Or something. Here goes…

The right to amendment is important at “Collective Agency”. It is the Preamble of the “Collective Agency” Constitution: “These are rules we made up to govern ourselves. We expect to change/amend these rules to reflect our changing needs.”

This is the amendment process, in Section 7 of the Constitution:

“7. Member vote, and other mechanisms for redress.

For Constitution and/or Terms of Service changes only, the proposal, debate, and vote need to be passed by 2/3rds majority vote by the Council, and 2/3rds majority vote by members who come to either of the weekly democratic meetings. Meetings are:

  • the weekly Council meeting on Monday (4:30-5:30pm),
  • the weekly civics meetings Monday (6-7pm),
  • the weekly civics meeting on Tuesday (3:30-4:15pm),

where every member can vote at only one of the meetings.

There will be an independent moderator/chair for each meeting. Provide a meeting agenda with proposed items at least 2 full business days in advance (by end of day Thursday for a Monday evening democratic meeting, and by 3:30pm Friday for a Tuesday 3:30pm democratic meeting).”

Why does this process exist?

To educate and actively involve members, to prepare new leaders, and to be a check on the Council.

What is a proposal?

A proposal is actionable. A proposal needs to have the actual text that will be voted on and become real. Proposal text can be amended with edits of actual text.

Many members have said they like proposals that are short, quickly understandable, prefaced with a statement of the reason why (what this is for/purpose/intent). Some information on how the proposal will affect revenue & costs and people here is usually asked about.

How does a member make a proposal?

It needs to get onto the agenda by being proposed:

“Provide a meeting agenda with proposed items at least 2 full business days in advance (by end of day Thursday for a Monday evening democratic meeting, and by 3:30pm Friday for a Tuesday 3:30pm democratic meeting).”

Other than that, proposals are not specified in the Constitution or Terms of Service. So it relies on common sense and interpretation:

  1. Our democratic civics meetings have evolved a structure of Proposals, Debate, and Vote.
  2. Proposals are proposed. Debate has come to be clarification questions for understanding, followed by expressing concerns. Then there is a vote.
  3. There is a Google Group where many members have signed up, there is social media, there are signs on the wall here. Any member (and non-member) has access to post to those areas.
  4. There is a main community organizer and other coordinating council members who can advise and assist on process, such as writing proposals. There are also facilitators of the democratic meetings. They can all be asked to put an item up for proposal.
  5. A facilitator can put a proposal from a meeting into the notes, and it will be forwarded to the other meeting to debate and vote on.

To whom am I proposing the amendment?

To members. You can propose to one meeting, two meetings, or all three at once. Proposing to one meeting is a good way to get suggestions, revisions and collaboration in that meeting. Proposing to all three meetings means that everyone will vote on the same text, and will not be able to edit it before it goes to other meetings.

When does it pass?

For Constitution and/or Terms of Service changes only, the proposal, debate, and vote need to be passed by 2/3rds majority vote by the Council, and 2/3rds majority vote by members who come to either of the weekly democratic meetings. Meetings are:

  • the weekly Council meeting on Monday (4:30-5:30pm),
  • the weekly civics meetings Monday (6-7pm),
  • the weekly civics meeting on Tuesday (3:30-4:15pm),

where every member can vote at only one of the meetings.

What is a 2/3rd majority?

A 2/3rds majority is more than 2/3rds of people who are counted. With 4 people, 3 need to vote yes for it to pass. With 5 people, 4 need to vote yes for it to pass. With 6 people, 5 need to vote yes for it to pass (4 out of 6 is only 2/3rds, but a majority is more than that). With 7 people, 5 need to vote yes for it to pass (5/7 is 71%, more than 66.66%). And so on.

We have a two house system.

There are currently 4 Council members. A 2/3rds majority of all Council members is required. If only 2 Council members show up, they can’t pass anything.

There is no quorum, because our Constitution doesn’t specify a quorum (if you want it to, you can propose an amendment). Any number of members who show up to the civics meetings will be the number of members there. Members have voted yes, voted no, and voted to abstain. We asked the members who abstained what their intent was, and we translated that into yes, no, and present but not counted in the vote. We try to understand intent. 5 members voting yes, 1 voting no, would be a 2/3rds majority. Members voting at both civics meetings is aggregated, one vote per person total, and 2/3rds majority of those total votes is what is needed by members overall.

Is voting in person or online?

Voting at democratic meetings is done in person. Voting for elections is a different process, specified in the Constitution.

What other questions do you have?

Want this to appear on our wiki? Write a comment.

Written by Alex Linsker