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Interpreting the constitution on discussion periods


        There seems to be a discrepancy between the way I have been
 interpreting the constitution, and how the original author  meant it
 to be interpreted. I have thought about this now for a few days, and
 I now believe that the filibustering issues might not be as grave as
 I thought. However, the way we have been conudcting discussion
 periods has some merit, and does have constitutional justification.

  A.1. Discussion and Amendment

    1. Following the proposal, the resolution may be discussed.
       Amendments may be made formal by being proposed and sponsored
       according to the requirements for a new resolution, or directly
       by the proposer of the original resolution.
    2. A formal amendment may be accepted by the resolution's proposer,
       in which case the formal resolution draft is immediately changed
       to match.
    3. If a formal amendment is not accepted, or one of the sponsors of
       the resolution does not agree with the acceptance by the proposer
       of a formal amendment, the amendment remains as an amendment and
       will be voted on.
    4. If an amendment accepted by the original proposer is not to the
       liking of others, they may propose another amendment to reverse
       the earlier change (again, they must meet the requirements for
       proposer and sponsor(s).)
    5. The proposer or a resolution may suggest changes to the wordings
       of amendments; these take effect if the proposer of the amendment
       agrees and none of the sponsors object. In this case the changed
       amendments will be voted on instead of the originals.
    6. The proposer of a resolution may make changes to correct minor
       errors (for example, typographical errors or inconsistencies) or
       changes which do not alter the meaning, providing noone objects
       within 24 hours. In this case the minimum discussion period is not

        Before we modified our voting process, we used to create
 separate ballots for anything not strictly an amendment of the
 original proposal, so we could end up having a serial set of GR's
 with separate proposals, one by one. The section above points to
 formal amendments to a single resolution. 

        We now put related proposals on the same ballot; along with
 their amendments.
        For example, the firmware proposals are separate proposals
 (Josselin Mouette's started as an amendment to a now withdrawn
 proposal, Frederik Schueler's was a separate to start with, Don
 Armstrong's seems to be a separate GR, since it does not mention
 which proposal it could possibly amend) ; they are different enough
 that they can stand on their own right; and indeed, the initial
 proposal was withdrawn, so one can't have "amendments" to a proposal
 that does not exist. They all should be on the same ballot, unless we
 want tactical vote calling to become an issue in the vote.  (It has
 been pointed out to me that the secretary can pro forma sponsor all
 proposals to help synchronize call for votes).

        What is tactical vote calling?  Suppose there are a series of
 solutions to an issue, each one of which can stand up on their own.
 When proposal A is made, proposals B and C are being drafted, through
 they all are about the same issue. Now, if the proposer of A rushes
 things through; B and C can either be rushed through; or they may
 elect to have their own GR's, and no longer be bound by the whims of
 proposor A.

        In that case, we shall have serial GR's, each one of them
 being up or down; and the outcome shall depend on who gets the first
 word and who gets the last word.  This is not in the best interests
 of proper decision making; our modified Condorcet voting mechanism
 allows us to decide, at one go, between several competing solutions
 for the same problem, and there is less chance  of gaming the issue.
 As far as possible, I shall try and present the voting members as
 comprehensive a ballot as possible, so all variant solution and
 amendments are present in a single ballot/vote, and minimize the
 number of votes we hold on the same issue.

  A.2. Calling for a vote
    4. The minimum discussion period is counted from the time the last
       formal amendment was accepted, or since the whole resolution was
       proposed if no amendments have been proposed and accepted.


    3. The person who calls for a vote states what they believe the
       wordings of the resolution and any relevant amendments are, and
       consequently what form the ballot should take. However, the final
       decision on the form of ballot(s) is the Secretary's - see 7.1(1),
       7.1(3) and A.3(4).

        So the final form of the ballot could well have additional
 proposals, not just one resolution on it.

  A.3. Voting procedure

    1. Each resolution and its related amendments is voted on in a single
       ballot that includes an option for the original resolution, each
       amendment, and the default option (where applicable).
    4. In cases of doubt the Project Secretary shall decide on matters of

        Nothing here precludes multiple resolutions on the same issue
 being on the same ballot. I do realize that while there is some
 procedural leeway in starting a vote when a vote has been called (I
 generally prefer to start/end votes in the middle of weekends to
 since that is when I can be sure of having time to devote to setup,
 CFVs, and result determination); it is not infinite; so it might not
 be possible to avoid splitting votes on a single issue if some of the
 proposers and seconders of resolutions on the same issue insist.

        it is up to the proposer and sponsors to decide whether or not
 their proposed resolution is a formal amendment, or stands on its own
 right but is on the same issue, but should be on the same ballot. But
 filibustering is not possible; for amendments, the discussion period
 is fixed, and independent resolutions do not have to go on the same
 ballot, and if the project has to live with serial GR's, so be it.

There are two ways to write error-free programs; only the third one
Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> <http://www.debian.org/~srivasta/>
1024D/BF24424C print 4966 F272 D093 B493 410B  924B 21BA DABB BF24 424C

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