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  • 20


     
    Inside EAU: Resolving Tied Votes
    General; Posted on: 2007-06-13 15:10:01 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    by John Young

    Recently, we received correspondence from a prospective member regarding a perceived flaw in the constitution of European Americans United.

    The flaw our correspondent pointed out is that the outcome of the method for resolving tie votes is predictable. The method is detailed here for convenience of our readers:

    Whenever the number of board members present for a vote is even and a vote is tied, the members shall draw lots to determine which member's vote shall count twice. This double-vote shall only apply to the instance for which lots were drawn. The drawing of lots shall be accomplished as follows:

    1. Each member shall have a correct copy of the U.S. Constitution downloaded from http://www.constitution.org/constit_.htm.
    2. The Article of the Constitution used for this process shall be the Article number corresponding to the day of the week upon which the meeting is held, counting Sunday as the first day, except that meetings held on Saturday shall use Article I rather than Article VII.
    3. Each Board member shall count forward from the first word following the Roman numeral of the article number a number of words equal to the number of letters in his full first and last name and then backwards a number of words equal to the number of directors present at the meeting but shall count back no further than the first word of the Article.
    4. The numeric value of the selected word shall be calculated for each director, with the value assigned to each letter starting from A being 1 through Z being 26. The numeric values of each letter of the word shall be added together to create a sum.
    5. Whichever director's word has the lowest sum shall be the director whose vote shall count twice. In the event of a tie with two directors having the lowest sum, the vote on that issue will be postponed until a later meeting.

    As the correspondent pointed out, the outcome of this *could* be predictable under certain circumstances. After all, if you know the day of the week, each director's first and last name and the number of directors present - you know the answer and thus which director's vote will count twice.

    The correspondent went on to suggest that on the basis of this, we should consult with a computer expert or engineer to help us develop a more random procedure. Of course, the person who designed that procedure is all of those things, and much more besides; a fact that in fairness our intrepid writer had no way of knowing in advance. The correspondent also stated that he wouldn't join EAU until we "fixed" this "problem" to his satisfaction.

    The predictability of outcomes of that procedure is obvious and was known at the time of the Constitution's adoption.
    We have no plans to amend that portion of our Constitution at this time, because it is the way it is ... for a reason.

    I think this is a good forum for me to explain why that procedure for resolving ties was adopted, and I hope the explanation will give members and prospective members some insight into the challenges that had to be overcome in the design of our Constitution, and the way our decision making process works.

    Trust but Verify
    At the time when European Americans United didn't even have a name -- but was just an idea in the minds of a nation-wide think tank -- the members of the think tank had fresh in their minds a number of scandals, problems, abuses and alleged abuses of power and serious ethical problems within and around various so-called "pro-white" organizations.

    We were tired of this and all of the lost political capital and the untold thousands of hours of activism and enthusiasm going down the hole. Most importantly, we were concerned that the pool of activists is quite small and that situations like those detailed above serve to stymie their efforts and hurt their motivation. The number of people who used to be activists but who now watch from the sidelines is quite large.

    So priorities in the design of a new organization included transparency and verifiability which were built-in in a number of ways. Likewise, powers of any one individual were strictly limited in order to prevent abuse. If you read through the EAU Constitution, you will see that these sorts of concerns are addressed throughout. We wanted to build a strong organization dedicated to principles and ethics that could stand the test of time as a vehicle for advancing the wellbeing of our folk. We also have adopted bylaws that subject a subset of our leadership to criminal background checks. (The details of this don't need to be known by the general public.)

    Resolving a Tie
    Right now, three BOD members and the Chapter Liasson attend Board meetings. Sometimes we bring in some smart folks -- the WCI think tank that created EAU -- to assist in wider discussion. These meetings occur from time to time, but on no set day of the week. The Chapter Liasson can be given a vote in those meetings on approval of the BOD on a meeting-by-meeting basis as prescribed by the Constitution. If that occurs, then there are four members present and a tie is possible. To avoid this, if all board members are present, we don't give the liasson a vote during that meeting.

    So far, we have never had a tie vote on anything. Largely, this is because our current directors and liasson are in pretty close agreement on matters of significance. We certainly have animated discussions, and occasionally disagree among ourselves. But when push comes to shove, we work on things until we reach a consensus. Thus, most of our votes are unanimous. If we can't reach consensus on an issue and it is actually important, we put it off until we can discuss it together more, talk to experts or whatever we need to do. Our overwhelming priority is NOT to "win" a vote, but to make the right decisions! Right decisions are more often a matter of fact than of opinion, so we generally consider that if we are in disagreement, more facts are needed.

    I am sure that, in the future, we will have some close votes and maybe even some ties on matters that are more likely to be shades of gray.

    So what if we ever actually experience a tie?

    Our meetings do not take place face-to-face. Instead, we use a teleconference. This is the heart of why we adopted the current procedure for resolving ties. It already has elements of randomness in it, yet can be verified by any member remotely. If it were completely random, short of a fairly technical solution involving one-way hashes and the like, it would not be remotely verifiable by non-technical members of the board.

    So what are the elements of randomness in the system?

    1. You cannot know in advance how many directors will be present, or which ones (and thus their full first/last names).
    2. You don't know in advance whether or not a Chapter Liasson will be given the right to vote for that meeting.
    3. You certainly don't know in advance whether a tie will occur at all, and if so, on which issues.
    4. The day of the week of a meeting is not consistent from meeting to meeting.

    So while the outcome of a tie is absolutely knowable and predictable once a meeting has been convened, it is not knowable in advance of the meeting.

    So this procedure has enough randomness that members couldn't successfully conspire against each other while at the same time being completely verifiable by anyone capable of reading.

    There are no doubt technological ways of making this work as well, though such technology, especially if it involved advanced encryption algorithms could be distrusted simply due to its complexity. We can't always be assured that all board members will always be sufficiently technically oriented that they can examine a piece of software and be satisfied with its fairness and randomness. In fact, holes, exploits and problems are found in software regularly.

    In addition, a technological solution would make resolution of a tie dependent on a computer. What if a director called into a meeting from a hotel and didn't have a computer handy? We recently conducted a meeting in which the Chapter Liasson called in while on the road.

    We have open minds and consider very seriously the suggestions of our members on any number of topics. And if a member has a good suggestion that would improve a process, we want to hear it! As we put forth in our most recent written communication to members: any member has a right to contact any member of the board for any reason. There's a reason for that too: our members are smart, so we want them to share their thoughts.

    But at the same time, we need procedures that can be understood, applied, verified and trusted by non-technical people over a cell phone.

    Hopefully, this gives you some insight into the mindset and thinking of the leadership of European Americans United.
    News Source: Email

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