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Now that we will have electronic voting
- To: Deputy-Bishop Discussion for GC 2000
- Subject: Now that we will have electronic voting
- From: Louie Crew <lcrew@andromeda.Rutgers.EDU>
- Date: Tue, 07 Dec 1999 06:27:09 -0800
The General Convention Office has announced that we will have
electronic voting in Denver, vastly reducing the amount of time spent
in collecting and tallying responses. Almost instantly any tally can
be computed. That efficiency will enable us to spend far more of our
The new technology raises several questions that deputies should
answer for ourselves, and we would be wise to be prepared to do so at
the beginning of business in Denver.
How much information should be public and known to all?
It will now be possible to know and record how each deputy voted; but
do we want that information known and published? In the past we have
known how each deputation voted by orders, but not how each deputy
voted. Deputies are deputies in order to vote their own private
consciences, with no requirement to represent the views of their
dioceses. Will that dynamic shift if deputies votes on each and every
ballot are made public? (I am not arguing for either alternative; I am
just pointing out how the new technology raises the questions.)
Should we keep the possibility of a VOTE BY ORDERS?
In the past the cumbersomeness of recorded votes by orders was a major
inhibitor to those who might otherwise have wanted to call for a vote
by orders. Now that a vote by orders is as easily executed as it was
to 'lift high' the green cards or the red cards in the past, we might
ask do we even want a vote by orders any more?
Some have argued that winning in a vote by orders is much harder than
winning by a simple majority of both orders, and thus have argued that
requiring a vote by orders is a good thing for issues about which the
church might want to move slowly and deliberately.
That argument is not conclusive and can be quite misleading, for it is
possible to win by just one vote in a vote by orders with as little
as 38.2% of all deputies. In that scenario in all deputations + one
the vote in each order split 3-1 and in all others was 2-2.
But it is also possible that to win by just one vote in a vote by
orders would require as much as 63.25% of all deputies. In that
scenario in all deputations + one the vote in each order split 4-0 and
in all others was 3-1).
These two extremes are highly unlikely. The midpoint configuration
would be 55.7% of all deputies required in each order for a measure to
pass in a vote by orders. The vote by orders is far more capricious
than most have reckoned. Now that it will be much easier, do we even
want it or need it?
Are there any issues about which it is important to preserve a vote by
orders? If so, should we define that narrow range of issues and allow
a vote by orders only on those issues?
Note a related issue: parliamentary bodies sometimes require a
two-thirds vote, and Robert's Rules of Order specify that a two-thirds
vote is required to change a constitution. It is also required when
the result of the vote could cause any one constituency to lose power
that it already has constitutionally.
I welcome the new efficiency made possible by electronic voting. I
hope we are clear and wise about the way that we elect to use it.
Louie Crew, Chair, Diocese of Newark Deputation to GC2000
377 S. Harrison St., 12D, East Orange, NJ 07018-1225. 973-395-1068
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/rel.html Anglican Pages
There are 211 days left until General Convention.