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Re: Re-thinking Debian membership

Aurelien Jarno wrote:
> Ana Guerrero a écrit :
>>> * Membership ends 24 months after they're given, or after the latest
>>>   participation in a vote arranged by the project's Secretary. Members
>>>   may retire themselves earlier, of course.
>> No, please, voting should be voluntary.
> On one side I understand that you don't want make voting mandatory, but
> I really like the idea of:
> - activity => you keep your membership
> - inactivity => you lose your membership
> Maybe we could find another way to define activity, like (upload || vote
> || svn commit || ...), which retrigger some time of memberships.

Voting is both a right and a responsibility of members in any kind of democracy.
  How can it be a responsibility if people can simply not bother to vote, with
no penalty?

Mandatory voting has some big advantages that many people probably aren't aware
of, having not experienced it (I happen to live in one of the few countries
where voting for governments is mandatory, so I am aware of the advantages).

The first advantage is that people tend to consider voting as their
responsibility.  It means they engage with and take more responsibility for the
entire government process.  If something is wrong they are more likely to feel
responsible for that and to want to fix it, rather than whinging about it
without doing anything, because "it's not my fault, I didn't vote".

The second advantage is that when voter turnout is nearly 100% (always some
people are sick or whatever), the result reflects the viewpoint of nearly the
entire population.  This means that you aren't always just voting on the issues
that polarise the community, and the voters aren't only the people who feel so
strongly about those issues that they turn out to vote.  It results in more
moderate, less extreme politics, in general, and less dramatic changes when
governments change.  One only has to compare politics in the US and in Australia
to see this effect in action.

Given the low turnout for most Debian elections, I believe that making voting
mandatory could only be a healthy thing for Debian.  In this case, the penalty
would be very low, since there are usually several votes in a year, and skipping
one wouldn't affect a person's membership in the democracy.  However skipping
several would.  I think using this as a measure of involvement in and commitment
to Debian would be a very sensible thing.


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