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Re: GR: Change the resolution process (corrected)

* Russ Allbery <rra@debian.org> [2021-11-20 10:04]:
I propose the following General Resolution, which will require a 3:1
majority, and am seeking sponsors.


We have uncovered several problems with the current constitutional
mechanism for preparing a Technical Committee resolution or General
Resolution for vote:

* The timing of calling for a vote is discretionary and could be used
 strategically to cut off discussion while others were preparing
 additional ballot options.
* The original proposer of a GR has special control over the timing of the
 vote, which could be used strategically to the disadvantage of other
 ballot options.
* The description of the process for adding and managing additional ballot
 options is difficult to understand.
* The current default choice of "further discussion" for a General
 Resolution has implications beyond rejecting the other options that may,
 contrary to its intent, discourage people Developers ranking it above
 options they wish to reject.

The actual or potential implications of these problems caused conflict in
the Technical Committee systemd vote and in GRs 2019-002 and 2021-002,
which made it harder for the project to reach a fair and widely-respected

This constitutional change attempts to address those issues by

* separating the Technical Committee process from the General Resolution
 process since they have different needs;
* requiring (passive) consensus among TC members that a resolution is
 ready to proceed to a vote;
* setting a maximum discussion period for a TC resolution and then
 triggering a vote;
* setting a maximum discussion period for a GR so that the timing of the
 vote is predictable;
* extending the GR discussion period automatically if the ballot changes;
* modifying the GR process to treat all ballot options equally, with a
 clearer process for addition, withdrawal, and amendment;
* changing the default option for a GR to "none of the above"; and
* clarifying the discretion extended to the Project Secretary.

It also corrects a technical flaw that left the outcome of the vote for
Technical Committee Chair undefined in the event of a tie, and clarifies
responsibilities should the Technical Committee put forward a General
Resolution under point 4.2.1.

Effect of the General Resolution

The Debian Developers, by way of General Resolution, amend the Debian
constitution under point 4.1.2 as follows.  This General Resolution
requires a 3:1 majority.

Section 4.2.4

Strike the sentence "The minimum discussion period is 2 weeks, but may be
varied by up to 1 week by the Project Leader."  (A modified version of
this provision is added to section A below.)  Add to the end of this

   The default option is "None of the above."

Section 4.2.5

Replace "amendments" with "ballot options."

Section 5.1.5

Replace in its entirety with:

   Propose General Resolutions and ballot options for General
   Resolutions.  When proposed by the Project Leader, sponsors for the
   General Resolution or ballot option are not required; see §4.2.1.

Section 5.2.7

Replace "section §A.6" with "section §A.5".

Section 6.1.7

Replace "section §A.6" with "section §A.5".

Add to the end of this point:

   There is no casting vote. If there are multiple options with no
   defeats in the Schwartz set at the end of A.5.8, the winner will be
   randomly chosen from those options, via a mechanism chosen by the
   Project Secretary.

Section 6.3

Replace 6.3.1 in its entirety with:

   1. Resolution process.

      The Technical Committee uses the following process to prepare a
      resolution for vote:

      1. Any member of the Technical Committee may propose a resolution.
         This creates an initial two-option ballot, the other option
         being the default option of "Further discussion." The proposer
         of the resolution becomes the proposer of the ballot option.

      2. Any member of the Technical Committee may propose additional
         ballot options or modify or withdraw a ballot option they

      3. If all ballot options except the default option are withdrawn,
         the process is canceled.

      4. Any member of the Technical Committee may call for a vote on the
         ballot as it currently stands. This vote begins immediately, but
         if any other member of the Technical Committee objects to
         calling for a vote before the vote completes, the vote is
         canceled and has no effect.

      5. Two weeks after the original proposal the ballot is closed to
         any changes and voting starts automatically. This vote cannot be

      6. If a vote is canceled under point later than 13 days
         after the initial proposed resolution, the vote specified in
         point instead starts 24 hours after the time of
         cancellation. During that 24 hour period, no one may call for a

Add a new paragraph to the start of 6.3.2 following "Details regarding

      Votes are decided by the vote counting mechanism described in
      section §A.5. The voting period lasts for one week or until the
      outcome is no longer in doubt assuming no members change their
      votes, whichever is shorter. Members may change their votes until
      the voting period ends. There is a quorum of two. The Chair has a
      casting vote. The default option is "Further discussion."

Strike "The Chair has a casting vote." from the existing text and make the
remaining text a separate, second paragraph.

In 6.3.3, replace "amendments" with "ballot options."

Add, at the end of section 6.3, the following new point:

   7. Proposing a general resolution.

      When the Technical Committee proposes a general resolution or a
      ballot option in a general resolution to the project under point
      4.2.1, it may delegate the authority to withdraw, amend, or make
      minor changes to the ballot option to one of its members. If it
      does not do so, these decisions must be made by resolution of the
      Technical Committee.

Section A

Replace A.0 through A.4 in their entirety with:

   A.0. Proposal

   1. The formal procedure begins when a draft resolution is proposed and
      sponsored, as required. A draft resolution must include the text of
      that resolution and a short single-line summary suitable for
      labeling the ballot choice.

   2. This draft resolution becomes a ballot option in an initial
      two-option ballot, the other option being the default option, and
      the proposer of the draft resolution becomes the proposer of that
      ballot option.

   A.1. Discussion and amendment

   1. The discussion period starts when a draft resolution is proposed
      and sponsored. The minimum discussion period is 2 weeks. The
      maximum discussion period is 3 weeks.

   2. A new ballot option may be proposed and sponsored according to the
      requirements for a new resolution.

   3. The proposer of a ballot option may amend that option provided that
      none of the sponsors of that ballot option at the time the
      amendment is proposed disagree with that change within 24 hours. If
      any of them do disagree, the ballot option is left unchanged.

   4. The addition of a ballot option or the change via a amendment of a
      ballot option changes the end of the discussion period to be one
      week from when that action was done, unless that would make the
      total discussion period shorter than the minimum discussion period
      or longer than the maximum discussion period. In the latter case,
      the length of the discussion period is instead set to the maximum
      discussion period.

   5. The proposer of a ballot option may make minor changes to that
      option (for example, typographical fixes, corrections of
      inconsistencies, or other changes which do not alter the meaning),
      providing no Developer objects within 24 hours. In this case the
      length of the discussion period is not changed. If a Developer does
      object, the change must instead be made via amendment under point

   6. The Project Leader may, at any point in the process, increase or
      decrease the minimum and maximum discussion period by up to 1 week
      from their original values in point A.1.1, except that they may not
      do so in a way that causes the discussion period to end within 48
      hours of when this change is made. The length of the discussion
      period is then recalculated as if the new minimum and maximum
      lengths had been in place during all previous ballot changes under
      points A.1.1 and A.1.4.

   7. The default option has no proposer or sponsors, and cannot be
      amended or withdrawn.

   A.2. Withdrawing ballot options

   1. The proposer of a ballot option may withdraw. If they do, new
      proposers may come forward to keep the ballot option alive, in
      which case the first person to do so becomes the new proposer and
      any others become sponsors if they aren't sponsors already. Any new
      proposer or sponsors must meet the requirements for proposing or
      sponsoring a new resolution.

   2. A sponsor of a ballot option may withdraw.

   3. If the withdrawal of the proposer and/or sponsors means that a
      ballot option has no proposer or not enough sponsors to meet the
      requirements for a new resolution, and 24 hours pass without this
      being remedied by another proposer and/or sponsors stepping
      forward, it removed from the draft ballot.  This does not change
      the length of the discussion period.

   4. If all ballot options except the default option are withdrawn, the
      resolution is canceled and will not be voted on.

   A.3. Calling for a vote

   1. After the discussion period has ended, the Project Secretary will
      publish the ballot and call for a vote. The Project Secretary may
      do this immediately following the end of the discussion period and
      must do so within five days of the end of the discussion period.

   2. The Project Secretary determines the order of ballot options. At
      their discretion they may reword the single-line summaries for

   3. Minor changes to ballot options under point A.1.5 may not be made
      after or within 24 hours of the end of the discussion period unless
      the Project Secretary agrees the change does not alter the meaning
      of the ballot option and (if it would do so) warrants delaying the
      vote. The Project Secretary will allow 24 hours for objections
      after any such change before issuing the call for a vote.

   4. No new ballot options may be proposed, no ballot options may be
      amended, and no proposers or sponsors may withdraw within 24 hours
      of the end of the discussion period unless this action successfully
      extends the discussion period under point A.1.4 by at least 24
      additional hours.

   5. Actions to preserve the existing ballot may be taken within 24
      hours of the end of the discussion period, namely a sponsor
      objecting to an amendment under point A.1.3, a Developer objecting
      to a minor change under point A.1.5, stepping forward as the
      proposer for an existing ballot option whose original proposer has
      withdrawn it under point A.2.1, or sponsoring an existing ballot
      option that has fewer than the required number of sponsors because
      of the withdrawal of a sponsor under point A.2.2.

   6. The Project Secretary may make an exception to point A.3.4 and
      accept changes to the ballot after they are no longer allowed,
      provided that this is done at least 24 hours prior to the issuance
      of a call for a vote. All other requirements for making a change to
      the ballot must still be met. This is expected to be rare and
      should only be done if the Project Secretary believes it would be
      harmful to the best interests of the project for the change to not
      be made.

   A.4. Voting procedure

   1. Options which do not have an explicit supermajority requirement
      have a 1:1 majority requirement. The default option does not have
      any supermajority requirements.

   2. The votes are counted according to the rules in section §A.5.

   3. In cases of doubt the Project Secretary shall decide on matters of

Strike section A.5 in its entirety.

Rename section A.6 to A.5.

Replace the paragraph at the end of section A.6 (now A.5) with:

   When the vote counting mechanism of the Standard Resolution Procedure
   is to be used, the text which refers to it must specify who has a
   casting vote, the quorum, the default option, and any supermajority
   requirement.  The default option must not have any supermajority



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⣾⠁⢠⠒⠀⣿⡁   │ Timo Röhling                                       │
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