Voting Rules for
 Accurate
Democracy

Different uses for voting need different types of voting.

Voting rules for setting policies; Loring One-winner Rule

Rules of Order

Help for long ballots
 
Listing related motions on a rank-vote ballot speeds voting and cuts dirty tricks.  But it does not reduce the need for discussion or change the rules and order of discussion for parliamentary motions.  All meetings that use voting can get these benefits.  Online meetings may have the greatest need for these new rules.

Some motions have to be taken sequentially, voted and tallied one at a time; for example, points of information or personal privilege and moves to recess or adjourn.  But we can list amended versions of the main motion on a single ballot so the voter can rank each version.  That will let voters reject free-rider and poison-pill amendments on this final ballot. It also prevents the dirty trick of requiring a particular option to win a majority against all others put together.

These are the parliamentary motions that a council can require on its rank-choice preference ballots: A) Continue Discussion, B) No Change, C) The Main Motion, D) Amended Versions of the main motion, and E) Divide the Question to simplify a motion.

Rob's Rules of Order

Order of Precedence is shown with the dominant motions listed highest.  A new motion may be discussed if its precedence is higher than the current discussion.

Discussion of a motion ends when its allotted time expires, (or when a super majority of members turn their debate cards from green to red).

Discuss all motions on a topic before voting any of them.

Rank all of a topic's motions and their amendments on one rank-choice ballot.

Tally to find the Condorcet winner.  If no item wins each of its Pairwise contests, then the council has three options: 
They may continue discussion. 
They may vote for a delay such as "refer to committee". 
They may use a Condorcet-completion rule such as LOR.

 

Table 1, Main Motions

Rank the main motion and amended versions of it at the same time.
This prevents attaching poison-pill and free-rider amendments.
The motions in table 3, applied to the whole issue (all versions) may be included on this ballot, but no discussion is allowed.

Section numbers on the right refer to recent editions of Robert's Rules of Order. Henry Martyn Robert wrote the original version in 1876.

You say,
“I move to ... ”
Interruption
allowed
Second
required
Discussion
allowed
Amend
allowed
Vote
required
Section
number
Vote on the previous question No Yes No No 2/3 29
Amend the motion by ... No Yes Yes Yes Majority 33
             
Bring new business No Yes Yes Yes Majority
Continue current policy No No No No Majority NA

 

Table 2, Motions to Delay

Motions to delay a decision are common in legislative discussions.  But a majority may have the power to strike these options from the rank-choice ballot.  That makes a deadlock impossible unless a majority explicitly allows it.

Motions to delay include:
F) Table the Proposal - blocks debate until a motion to Take from Table passes,
G) Postpone to a Definite Time - delays debate to allow further study,
H) Refer to Committee - should require the committee to study and report,
I ) Postpone Indefinitely - prevents voting but allows discussion.

Table 2, Motions that Interrupt or Stop Discussion of this Topic
The motions above may be included on this ballot as they have no discussion.
Members may feel a majority want to delay or avoid consideration.  But they might not know which type of delay is most favored. So, rather than accepting the first type to win a majority, the  members rank all types and accept the one with majorities over all others.

You say, “I move to ... ” Interrupt Second Discuss Amend Vote Section
Table the question No Yes No No Majority 28
Limit (or extend) discussion to ... No Yes No Yes 2/3 30
Postpone the motion to ... No Yes Yes Yes Majority 31
Refer the motion to a committee No Yes Yes Yes Majority 32
Postpone motion indefinitely No Yes Yes No Majority 34
Continue discussion No No No No Majority NA

 

Table 3, Motions to Re-examine a Question

Table 3 lists motions which have no order of precedence.  Each is permitted only when no other question is pending.  So they do not use rank-choice ballots.

You say, “I move to ... ” Interrupt Second Discuss Amend Vote Section
Take a motion from the table ... No Yes No No Majority 35
Reconsider a motion ... No Yes Varies No Majority 36
Rescind (cancel) a previous action No Yes Yes Yes 2/3 or Majority
with notice
37
 

Table 4, Incidental Motions

These motions arise incidentally and are decided immediately by the Chair or by an up or down vote.  They do not need rank-choice ballots, except when “Divide the Question” includes several amended versions.

They have no order of precedence.

Discussion of a motion ends when its allotted time expires, or when a super majority of the members turn their cards from green to red.

You say, Interrupt Second Discuss Amend Vote Section
I rise for a question of privilege
(personal complaint or request)
Yes No No No None 19
I call for the orders of the day
(return to the agenda)
Yes No No No None 20
I call for a point of order
(enforce the rules)
Yes No No No None 21
I move to appeal the chair's decision
to the assembly
Yes Yes Varies No Majority 21
I move to suspend the rules No Yes No No 2/3 22
I object to consideration of the question Yes No No No 2/3 23
I move to divide the question (motion) No Yes No Yes Majority 24
I call for a rising vote Yes No No No None 25
I ask a parliamentary inquiry
(procedural question)
Yes No No No None 27
I ask a point of information Yes No No No None 27
 

Table 5, Motions that Stop the Meeting

House rules might allow several lengths of recess.  Any that members move and second go on the ballot.  The pair-wise Condorcet winner has majorities over all other lengths.  Old, sequential agenda rules would select the first one to win a majority. 

You say,
“I move to ... ”
Interruption
allowed
Second
required
Discussion
allowed
Amend
allowed
Vote
required
Section
number
Adjourn No Yes No No Majority 17
Recess for ... No Yes No Yes Majority 18
Continue meeting No No No No Majority NA

 

The “No Change” Option

A vote to omit the “no change” option from the ballots unfairly puts one policy, the status quo, against all rivals at once, not one against one.  On the other hand, super-majority rules such as consensus unfairly aid whatever policy happens to be the status quo — which may have evolved by chance, by managerial fiat or by accommodation to past conditions.

Such bias should be given only to preserving a constitution.  To amend a constitution through Condorcet's pairwise rule, a proposal needs a majority over each rival proposal and a super majority of 60% to 75% over the status quo's “No change” option. 

The misuse of the U.S. Senate's cloture rule or filibuster reveals the danger inherent in super-majority rules that give policy-setting power to minority groups.  It requires a 3/5 or 60% vote to end discussion and was intended to protect the right of minority legislators to speak out on major ethical issues.  Unfortunately, the party opposed to democracy, power for voters, has misused filibusters to prevent votes on minor policies, appointments and budgets.

 

The Motion To Table, §28

The parliamentary Motion To Table a bill poses a great dilemma in democratic decision making.  As stated in Robert's Rules of Order:

“The Object of this motion is to enable the assembly, in order to attend to more urgent business, to lay aside the pending question in such a way that its consideration may be resumed at the will of the assembly as easily as if it were a new question, and in preference to new questions competing with it for consideration.  It is to the interest of the assembly that this object should be attained instantly by a majority vote, and therefore this motion must either apply to, or take precedence of, every debatable motion whatever its rank.

“It [the Motion To Table] is not debatable, and requires only a majority vote, notwithstanding the fact that if not taken from the table the question [main motion] is suppressed.  These are dangerous privileges which are given to no other motion whose adoption would result in final action on a main motion.  There is a great temptation to make an improper use of them, and lay questions on the table for the purpose of instantly suppressing them by a majority vote, instead of using the Previous Question, the legitimate motion to bring the assembly to an immediate vote.  The fundamental principles of parliamentary law require a two-thirds vote for every motion that suppresses a main question for the session without free discussion.  The motion to lay on the table being not debatable, and requiring only a majority vote, and having the highest rank of all subsidiary motions, is in direct conflict with these principles, if used to suppress a question.  If habitually used in this way, it should, like the other motions to suppress without discussion, require a two-thirds vote.”

This dilemma is mitigated by using Condorcet's pairwise rule.  The motion to table is voted immediately, but the rank-choice, preference ballot includes the Motion To Table plus a straw poll for no change, the bill and each amended version of it.  (These motions do not cut off discussion if they win the straw poll.)  Incomplete ballots do not count, thus council members cannot avoid voting on an issue by tabling it.

Tabling lets the council move to a more urgent question.  As soon as they resolve it, the previously tabled question should again be the question before the council.

We can balance majority and minority rights in the discussion: a motion may not be tabled forever over the wishes of a substantial minority, and it cannot be discussed forever over the wishes of a majority; they can move the Previous Question.

These rules prevent reps from avoiding an issue and force them to vote, even if they vote for the “No Change” option or for an insignificant change.

The Debian Constitution includes basic rules for web-based group decisions ending with a Condorcet tally by the Schulze method. They have practiced and developed this since 1998. Jochen Voss explains how the Debian version of a “Quorum” affects a tally.

 

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