Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

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Timo Gufler
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Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Timo Gufler »

Below is a recommended change to the constitution of the CDS. Green stands for added text and red for omitted. The amendment is to be discussed.

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Article V – Election, Term, and Office

Section 1 – Voting Frequency

Officials in the Government are elected for a period of time according to the general principles of democratic rotativity to ensure proper representativity in a changing society, whose duration will be fixed by the RA by passing appropriate laws. Elections for branches are staggered equally throughout the term.

Section 2 – Exclusivity

Citizens may not serve simultaneously in the Representative and Philosophic branch.

Section 3

No citizen shall be eligible to vote in any election for public office in the Confederation of Democratic Simulators unless he or she has been a citizen for not less than 28 consecutive days 6 consecutive months immediately before any such election.

No citizen shall be eligible to vote in the general election for the 16th RA and Chancellor unless he or she has been a citizen since 15 October 2011

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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Josie Fotherington »

I understand the desire to extend the amount of time a resident must be a citizen so they can vote, but please don't forget how time is compressed in Second Life.

6 months feels like forever in SL terms. Things happen SO quickly. And residents are used to that. It's my opinion that you could be turning people away as residents if you tell them they can not vote for 6 months.

Many residents are flaky. They want what they want and they want it *yesterday*! If someone contacts you and says they want a parcel and you don't have the parcel? They'll walk. No one waits for anything in SL.

If someone contacts you and says they want a parcel and they are excited to participate in a community that is a democracy? If you give them a parcel but tell them they can't fully participate in said democracy for 6 months? They'll walk. Or most will at least.

Now, perhaps you want people like that to walk. To have it serve as a filter for flakes. Unfortunately I think you could be filtering out people who could really enjoy and contribute to CDS.

I would recommend making the wait period 2 months. No more than 3 for sure. I think a few months will help acclimate them, but make them feel like they are part of the community and working towards the day they can vote. It gives them a realistic goal that they'll stick to.

My opinion on this is not coming out of nowhere. It's based on 7 years of watching SL communities ebb and flow, and my experience as an estate manager. I saw what attracted people to a community and what ultimately kept them there. I think a 6 month delay would make them feel like outsiders for too long. Not a "true" part of CDS.
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Rosie Gray »

I have to agree with Josie that 6 months seems too long for SL. However, I would like to see the wait time extended to 3 or at a minimum 2 months for voting. What about extending the timeframe that one is allowed to stand for office to 6 months? Personally, I think it takes that long for a person to gain any real understanding of how the CDS works, so a longer requirement for someone wishing to stand for office would make sense to me.

The longer wait time for voting would minimize the stacking of 'friends' who are only there to vote for a specific candidate and have no real interest in the community.
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Leslie Allandale »

Just for the sake of argument:

What about someone who spent untold days listening to, and working with, a dozen citizens, trying to please them all (while maintaining a clear argument), writing (and rewriting, and rewriting.....) a law for CDS, but was only 4 (in my case), or 3, or 2 months old when the time came to vote for the people who were to implement that law? How would you feel if you were (s)he? Where do you draw the line? If being land-holder and paying for the system is the basis for the right to vote, how can you deny someone who does that for even one day the right to decide where their money is spent?

I understand that CDS is way to small, but I would suggest that there are two criteria for voting: one is paying into the system (with a Senate deciding financial affairs); and the other is participating in the life of CDS (with a House deciding social affairs). Of course there is no "perfect" answer. We make our best stab, then live with the scars.
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Widget Whiteberry »

For those of us who come to it without gaming experience or technical skills, SL has a steep learning curve. At least that was my experience. I found my way to CDS after several years and was a citizen for more than three months before I felt competent to vote. Took longer than that before I finally dipped my toe into 'public life' as a regular poster to the Forums, member of a RA Commission and a helper in several other endeavors. (Most fun I've had in years, though I've made some big mis-steps.)

I'm partial to three months of continual parcel ownership before voting. Three months seems enough time to become acquainted with the community, make friends, read the Forums, attend events and government meetings and generally participate in the public life of the community. It's also enough time to decide to stay or go. And it makes it more expensive to stack the voter rolls.

Then I'd love to see a quarterly event where new members take an oath of citizenship, existing citizens are recognized and – maybe once or twice a year –old members can renew an oath of citizenship.

Six months before standing for office? Nah, per what Leslie and Josie say above.
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Rosie Gray »

Widget Whiteberry wrote:Then I'd love to see a quarterly event where new members take an oath of citizenship, existing citizens are recognized and – maybe once or twice a year –old members can renew an oath of citizenship.
I really like this idea. Having a little ceremony that includes an oath of citizenship might encourage people to think more about the fact that they are a citizen in the CDS, and how different that situation is from everywhere else in SL.
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Cadence Theas »

Rosie Gray wrote:
Widget Whiteberry wrote:Then I'd love to see a quarterly event where new members take an oath of citizenship, existing citizens are recognized and – maybe once or twice a year –old members can renew an oath of citizenship.
I really like this idea. Having a little ceremony that includes an oath of citizenship might encourage people to think more about the fact that they are a citizen in the CDS, and how different that situation is from everywhere else in SL.
Although I understand the spirit behind this suggestion, there are several reasons why I think it is not operable. This has the feel of corrective legislation, to prevent someone from padding the electorate with temporary citizens. This particular aspect is addressed in part by the census taken one month prior to the elections, but there are other more pedagogical ways of ensuring a sense of citizenship and not political opportunism. And to ask people to come in x number of times per year to repeat what in effect is a loyalty oath would create more animosity than a sense of belonging. Particularly if there are consequences to people who do not come inworld to repeat the oath. It becomes incumbent on us to make CDS a place where our often absent citizens come inworld more often, feel invited and not obligated to participate. But we also need to recognize that in every society, there are people who are not the sorts of persons who participate, or, more importantly, that there are many different ways of participating. In rl, the level of non-participation is quite high, so we should feel well served by how many people are active in CDS.

Rather than the oath, we can suggest (not require) that people new to CDS attend a session where the history and future of CDS is discussed and questions can be answered. This should be a non-political session, but if we can make it a monthly event for new citizens, a personal event, a sort of welcoming and information committee event, it would help bring people up to date as to what CDS is all about. This could be a monthly function of the PIOs, for example.
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Timo Gufler »

The points about impatience of the new citizens sound justifiable. We should find a golden mean for the threshold, to 1) help the new citizens learn the basics of our democracy, 2) make them feel as accepted members of the community and 3) hinder misuse of the voting system. Three months might be an acceptable compromise.

I like the idea about encouraging or even requiring the new citizens to show up. We have some citizens with almost empty profiles and nobody seems to know them. An unavoidable question is: Who are those people?
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Widget Whiteberry »

I like the idea about encouraging or even requiring the new citizens to show up. We have some citizens with almost empty profiles and nobody seems to know them. An unavoidable question is: Who are those people?
In a virtual community of approximately 100 people from many time zones and with different amounts of time online, it's to be expected that everyone will not know everyone. Not everyone posts to the forum (I wish they did!) Neither will everyone be able or care to spend time with everyone they do meet. We socialize in overlapping circles.

Still, you raise an interesting question. Who are the people nobody seems to know?
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Rosie Gray »

Cadence Theas wrote:
Rosie Gray wrote:
Widget Whiteberry wrote:Then I'd love to see a quarterly event where new members take an oath of citizenship, existing citizens are recognized and – maybe once or twice a year –old members can renew an oath of citizenship.
I really like this idea. Having a little ceremony that includes an oath of citizenship might encourage people to think more about the fact that they are a citizen in the CDS, and how different that situation is from everywhere else in SL.
Although I understand the spirit behind this suggestion, there are several reasons why I think it is not operable. This has the feel of corrective legislation, to prevent someone from padding the electorate with temporary citizens. This particular aspect is addressed in part by the census taken one month prior to the elections, but there are other more pedagogical ways of ensuring a sense of citizenship and not political opportunism. And to ask people to come in x number of times per year to repeat what in effect is a loyalty oath would create more animosity than a sense of belonging. Particularly if there are consequences to people who do not come inworld to repeat the oath. It becomes incumbent on us to make CDS a place where our often absent citizens come inworld more often, feel invited and not obligated to participate. But we also need to recognize that in every society, there are people who are not the sorts of persons who participate, or, more importantly, that there are many different ways of participating. In rl, the level of non-participation is quite high, so we should feel well served by how many people are active in CDS.

Rather than the oath, we can suggest (not require) that people new to CDS attend a session where the history and future of CDS is discussed and questions can be answered. This should be a non-political session, but if we can make it a monthly event for new citizens, a personal event, a sort of welcoming and information committee event, it would help bring people up to date as to what CDS is all about. This could be a monthly function of the PIOs, for example.
You raise some good points here Cadence. I really hadn't thought of the swearing of an oath as something you had to do more than once. Also, I had thought of it as being completely non-partisan, non-political. Anyway, I think you are right that an active welcome committee that makes sure that everyone is greeted, and had the processes of the CDS explained to them and given an opportunity to answer their questions is good. We have tried to do this in the past, but with too few resources, and it was really left up to the initiative of whoever wanted to do it. There was nobody keeping a list and checking to make sure that all new people were covered, for instance.
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Timo Gufler »

Widget Whiteberry wrote:In a virtual community of approximately 100 people from many time zones and with different amounts of time online, it's to be expected that everyone will not know everyone. Not everyone posts to the forum (I wish they did!) Neither will everyone be able or care to spend time with everyone they do meet. We socialize in overlapping circles.
Oh yes, that's true. This forum or activity here is not same as the community, which exists in the virtual world. Still, it's weird, if a community has members, that nobody knows or even hardly sees online. What's their motivation to be part of it? How do they know, who to vote? What are their expectations from the community? Why are they hiding?
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Josie Fotherington »

I think it's important to remember that 99% of the people that are in Second Life are in it for leisure. Leisure can be hanging out in a virtual club. It can be building a house. It can be meeting people from all over the world. And it can be sexual exploration.

Most SL residents did not create account here specifically to run a business, to manage an estate or to participate in a virtual democracy. All of those things involve "work".

A very well known estate owner said something to me once that I have never forgotten. He told me that about 10% of his community was made up of "movers and shakers", the people that were natural leaders or key contributors. He said the other 90% just want to live private, quiet Second Lives in a stable community. It's their leisure time. Why turn leisure time into work? When I became an estate manager, I saw that he was correct. Most people in SL like having a stable home base and no more than that. It helps if the stable home base is in an attractive location.

They aren't antisocial. They aren't hiding. It's their respite. Their leisure. And they are 99% of the resident population in Second Life.
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Timo Gufler »

Josie Fotherington wrote:They aren't antisocial. They aren't hiding. It's their respite. Their leisure. And they are 99% of the resident population in Second Life.
How do you know their motives so well, Josie? ;) The point of this discussion is, that people, who don't want to participate to the community and learn know its way of working, can't have deep enough knowledge, to vote in the elections. The list of candidates is going to be a list of unknown names for them. They can't have good enough understanding of the current issues of the community, without learning from it and communicating with its members. If you have a neighbor in the SL, who has an empty house, an empty profile and who is online only to pay tiers, how can he/she have enough knowledge, to vote in the elections? What is their motivation to be part of the community? Those are a different group, than the 90% who "just want to live private". Assuming, that they aren't alts of someone (that's often hard to believe), they would benefit of education, to vote in the elections.
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Josie Fotherington »

Timo Gufler wrote:The list of candidates is going to be a list of unknown names for them. They can't have good enough understanding of the current issues of the community, without learning from it and communicating with its members.
I agree with you here. I think this has caused CDS problems in the past. That silent majority of 90% will just vote for names they recognize and no other knowledge.

I also suspect the voting system has thrown some residents for a loop, especially Americans who are not familiar with how it works. We're used to voting for one person. If we are ever asked to rank something, like in a survey, we are used to being told to rank a group of items from lowest to highest (or vice versa). I can see residents who aren't super involved not understanding they don't have to rank everyone running.

The question is, is there a way to educate them, especially if they don't want to be educated? I don't have the answer to this.

Some people turn off all group notice notifications. Some people decline every object or notecard given to them. You can practically kill yourself in trying to get the word out on something, posting it in every place you can think of and *still* end up with people saying "huh? what? I never got any notice/invitation/link." It's beyond maddening.

As for knowing the motives of residents...vell, I haff my vays! ;-)

CDS is very, very different from the rest of SL. I think CDS has a much higher level of community participation. I'd guess we are at 30-40% active residents and 60-70% "silent majority". We have far more engagement than most communities.

I think we can address a few things that might motivate people to participate more, but don't be surprised if the strategies aren't very effective. We might be able to engage a few here and there, but I think most folks will stay in their quiet spaces.

BTW - I am not saying don't do anything to try and engage people! I think trying several strategies would be a good thing. Just keep a realistic perspective on it.
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Re: Constitutional Amendment - Eligibility to vote

Post by Rosie Gray »

I think that a lot of the time just being friendly with new people, chatting to them and being neighbourly will draw the otherwise quiet person in. A full on approach of 'are you voting and do you know about x and y candidates' is just perhaps too much for some people who might be quite shy and need a softer approach.

Those avatars that are 2 days old with nothing in their profiles but appear to be knowledgeable in SL ways though are another story. Nothing says 'alt' quite like that!
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