Amendment 1 to the Voting Reform and Fair Political Practices Act

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Amendment 1 to the Voting Reform and Fair Political Practices Act
CitationPAa-1 to A-32
Considered byOpen Parliament
Legislative history
Introduced on10 July 2019
Introduced byRamelia
Courelli
Voting began15 August 2019
Required majoritySimple majority
Status: Pending

This Act Amendment adds a provision and enforcement mechanism to the Code of Fair Campaign Practices to enhance transparency and public trust in candidates for public office; modifies requirements for the secure elections website to increase election security, accountability, and integrity; requires the Speaker of the Union to maintain an upcoming election timetable, allows a secure voting portal to be used for legislative votes generally while preventing abuse; further prevents conduct by election administrators that is detrimental to election and government integrity; and makes other updates and clarifications to the provisions of the Act.

Section 1. Secure Election Website

A section, entitled "Secure Election Website," shall be inserted after Article 1, Section 1, to read as follows:

Wherever a secure website separate of the regional forum is authorized for use for voting in any election or legislative vote held pursuant to this Act, it must be approved for use by the Speaker of the Union. It must utilize API authentication to ensure Member State Status of voters and require a randomly generated secure ballot access code, but no verification method shall manner disclose particular states' votes. Voters shall be notified in advance of submitting ballots to record their verification code so they may appeal if for any reason their vote is deemed invalid. All results for elections and legislative votes held on the secure website must be verified by the Election Administrator and at least one Member State who is not a candidate in the election or a proposer of legislation at vote (whichever is applicable). The results of the election or legislative vote must be accessible only via inputting a password restricted to the state hosting the website, the Election Administrator, the result-verifying state(s), and the Court of Justice, should it so order. Any list of states voting must be, in the same manner as results, restricted to access by the Speaker of the Union and the Court of Justice, should it so order. All announcements of results of elections and legislative votes held on the secure website shall contain an anonymized report of ballots which must include (a) a declaration of verification codes of ballots that were accepted and of ballots that were deemed invalid and (b) a list of votes on ballots cast, with invalid ballots marked to that effect. The Election Administrator must certify that the anonymized report is accurate to the best of their knowledge, under penalty of perjury.

Section 2. Anticipated Election Timetable

A section, entitled "Anticipated Election Timetable," shall be inserted after the section inserted by Section 1 of this Amendment, to read as follows:

The Speaker of the Union shall regularly maintain a publicly accessible table of anticipated term, nominations, and voting start and end dates for all elective offices. This table shall assume that no early elections will occur for any reason and that no extended nomination periods will occur. The table shall contain anticipated term, nomination, and voting start and end dates for at least one year in the future.

Section 3. Nomination Period

Article 2, Section 1 shall be amended to read as follows:

The nomination period for all elective public offices under the law of the Social Liberal Union in a regular election shall commence no earlier than 21 days and no later than 14 days before the expiration of the current term for that office, or, no later than 5 days following a vacancy in that office. Provided, the nomination period for ministerial elections not triggered due to vacancy shall commence as immediately as practicable after the election of a World Assembly Delegate. Nomination periods, in general, shall last for 7 days, subject to extension as required by the Constitution or this Act.
Clause 1. Where possible and permitted by this Section, the Speaker of the Union should endeavor to ensure that nomination periods for different offices are concurrent and that a nomination period is not partially or wholly concurrent with a voting period for another office.

Section 4. Nomination Eligibility

Article 2, Section 4 shall be amended to read as follows:

No Member State is eligible to be elected or nominated to an elective office unless that Member State will satisfy the length of membership status qualifications for that office and any criminal sentence of ineligibility for elective office, if applicable, at or before the time of the conclusion of that election's planned voting period or the conclusion of the incumbent elected officer's term, whichever is later.

Section 5. Voting Period Revision

Article 3, Section 1 shall be amended to read as follows:

The voting period for all elective public offices under the law of the Social Liberal Union in a regular or approval election shall commence no later than 2 days following the conclusion of the nomination period of the same election and no later than 7 days before the conclusion of the incumbent elected officer's term, if applicable, and shall last 7 days. The voting period for recall elections shall last between 3 and 7 days, as ordered by the Court of Justice, subject to applicable sentencing law.
Clause 1. Even if voting in an election concludes before the end of the incumbent elected officer's lawful term, the officer-elect shall take office at the end of the incumbent's lawful term. Provided, if the office becomes vacant between the conclusion of an election and that of the planned beginning of the new term, the officer-elect shall immediately take office.

Section 6. Manner of Voting Revision

Clause 1. Article 3, Section 2 shall be amended to read as follows:
All elections in the Social Liberal Union shall be held by secret ballot, subject to the requirements of the Constitution and this Act. The Election Administrator shall receive all ballots for elections via forum private message or via a secure voting website as described by Article 1, Section 2 of this Act. Provided, the Election Administrator may alternatively receive all ballots for approval and recall elections as responses to a forum poll, only accessible to eligible Member States and with results of the poll set to be hidden until the poll is expired.
Clause 2. Article 3, Section 4 shall be struck from the Act.

Section 7. Consolidation Clarification

Article 4, Section 1 shall be amended to read as follows, without modification to the clauses thereof:

If the alignment of their timing permits, two or more elections that could otherwise be held concurrently shall be consolidated into a single ballot with a common voting period, to the extent possible. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act but not applying to recall elections, no elections shall have partially concurrent but partially separate voting periods. The order of precedence of offices on the ballot shall be as listed below for those offices:

Section 8. Ballot Options

Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2 shall be amended to read as follows:

The options shall be the candidates in random or alphabetical order, as certified by the Election Administrator under penalty of perjury, followed by "Abstain."

Section 9. Method of Election in Multiple-Winner Elections

Article 5, Section 3, Clause 3 shall be amended to read as follows:

If applicable, and after such ballot redistributions as have already been conducted under Clause 2 of this Section, the candidate with the absolute majority of votes not accounting for any candidate already elected shall be considered elected to such office as is granted to the runner-up in an election by law. However, if there is no majority, further ballot redistributions as described by Clause 2 of this Section shall take place until an absolute majority of votes (still not accounting for any candidate already elected) is established. The candidate with the absolute majority of votes after this process, if it is necessary, shall be elected. If such a majority still cannot be established, the ballots of any candidate already elected shall be redistributed to their next choice. The leading candidate after this process, if it is necessary, shall be elected.

Section 10. Announcement of Election Results

Article 6, Section 5 shall be amended to read as follows, without alteration to its clauses:

The statement of the result shall be made public no later than two days following the end of the voting period, shall be made both in the general informational thread on the forum and on the Regional Message Board, and shall contain the following:

Section 11. Legislative Votes on Secure Website

Article 7, Section 2 shall be amended to read as follows:

A legislative vote may only be held on the regional forum or on a secure voting website as described in Article 1, Section 2 of this Act. All legislative votes in the Social Liberal Union shall be held by secret ballot, subject to the requirements of the Constitution and this Act.

Section 12. Legislative Vote Secrecy During Voting

Article 7, Section 3 shall be amended to read as follows:

For legislative votes, the author shall create a thread on the regional forum, accessible to all eligible Member States, for the bill to be subject to public scrutiny and comment, except as otherwise provided for by Section 2 of this Article. Once the bill's mandatory public debate period (if imposed by the Constitution) has lapsed, the author thereof may create a poll on that thread, setting a voting period on the poll only as expressly authorized by the Speaker of the Union, or, provide a link to a secure voting website, as may be authorized pursuant to Section 2 of this Article, under supervision of the Speaker. The author of a bill may withdraw their bill from consideration at any time before it is passed. To ensure secrecy of ballots, if a poll on the relevant forum thread is utilized for voting, the Member State putting the bill to vote shall set the results of the poll to be hidden until the poll is expired.

Section 13. Announcement of Legislation Voting Results

A section, entitled "Announcement of Results," shall be appended to Article 7, to read as follows:

A statement containing the final result of a legislative vote in affirmative, negative, and abstaining votes shall be made no later than two days following the end of the voting period and shall be made both in the general informational thread on the forum and on the Regional Message Board.

Section 14. Code of Fair Campaign Practices

Article 8, Section 1 shall be amended to read as follows:

The text of the Code of Fair Campaign Practices (referred to in this Act as the "Code") shall read as follows:
"CODE OF FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES:
There are basic principles of decency, honesty, and fair play which every candidate for public office in the Social Liberal Union has a moral obligation to observe and uphold in order that, after vigorously contested but fairly conducted campaigns, our Member States may exercise their constitutional right to a free and unfettered choice, and that their will may be fully and clearly expressed on the issues.
THEREFORE:
(1) I SHALL CONDUCT my campaign openly and publicly, discussing the issues as I see them, presenting my record and policies with sincerity and frankness, and criticizing without fear or favor the record and policies of my opponents that merit this criticism.
(2) I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT the use of character defamation, whispering campaigns, libel, slander, or scurrilous attacks on any candidate.
(3) I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT any appeal to negative prejudice based on a candidate’s actual or perceived race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sexual orientation, sex, or gender identity.
(4) I SHALL NOT USE OR PERMIT any dishonest or unethical practice that tends to corrupt or undermine our system of free elections, or that hampers or prevents the full and free expression of the will of the voters including acts intended to hinder or prevent any eligible Member State voting.
(5) I SHALL IMMEDIATELY AND PUBLICLY REPUDIATE support deriving from any State or group that resorts, on behalf of my candidacy or in opposition to that of my opponent, to the methods and tactics that I condemn. I shall accept responsibility to take firm action against any subordinate who violates any provision of this code or the laws governing elections.
(6) I SHALL DISCLOSE any office, title, or position I hold in any and all other regions or organizations, except, if applicable, with regard to positions held in the course of my official duties with the Combined Union Security Agency, in the interest of full transparency and disclosure.
(7) I SHALL DEFEND AND UPHOLD the right of every qualified Social Liberal Union voter to full and equal participation in the electoral process."

Section 15. Disclosure of Positions of Interest

A section, entitled "Disclosure of Positions of Interest," shall be inserted after Article 8, Section 4, to read as follows:

Within either three days of pledging to follow the Code or before closure of nominations, whichever period ends sooner, any candidate who has pledged to follow the Code shall disclose all current offices, titles, and positions ("positions of interest") they may hold in foreign regions or organizations. They shall certify the accuracy of such disclosure under penalty of perjury.
Clause 1. Disclosure of positions of interest shall be posted on the general information thread for the election.
Clause 2. Candidates shall not, and shall not be required to, disclose positions of interest held with relation to official involvement in the Combined Union Security Agency. Candidates with such positions of interest shall certify to the Election Administrator that they have such positions.
Clause 3. Failure to properly disclose positions of interest within the required period of time shall result in removal from the list of candidates pledging to follow the Code.
Clause 4. Any prosecution related to perjury committed under this Section may be commenced at any time after the acts or omissions at issue, notwithstanding otherwise applicable statutes of limitations.

Section 16. Election Administrator Impartiality Enhancement

Article 8, Section 7 (as numbered prior to renumbering) shall be amended to read as follows:

During their service as Election Administrator, with relation to the election they are administering, a State shall not send or post any political communications on any communication platform or medium, public or private. Additionally, such a State shall not send or post prejudicial statements regarding a candidate or the election, statements advocating for the election or electoral loss of a candidate, statements expressing intent to advocate for the election or electoral loss of a candidate, or statements containing any conditions whatsoever for advocating the election or electoral loss of a candidate, on any regional communication medium or platform.
Clause 1. Candidates may initiate civil action against any State violating this Section during service as Election Administrator, and shall have standing to do so in the public interest even if they are not injured or harmed by the actions of the Election Administrator. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Court of Justice may issue judgement requiring the appointment of a new Election Administrator in particularly egregious cases or where the conduct violating this Section is likely to occur again. In cases where evidence of conduct violating this Section exists in some classified or otherwise private component of a chatroom, the regional forum, or another medium, such evidence shall be introduced only under seal.

Section 17. Typo Corrections, Clarifications, and Miscellaneous Provisions

Clause 1. Article 5, Section 7 shall be amended to read as follows:
Each Member State that casts a valid vote in an election or legislative vote in the Social Liberal Union shall have that vote counted. If a post-election deadline imposed by this Act prevents the proper tabulation or recounting of ballots, the Election Administrator or Speaker of the Union may petition the Court of Justice for an extension sufficient to permit the tabulation or recounting of ballots. The Court may grant the petition if it finds that the time limitation would prevent the counting of all votes as required by this Section or Article 2, Section 2 of the Constitution.
Clause 2. Article 5, Section 8 shall be amended to read as follows:
All ties in elections which cannot be resolved by regular methods of ballot redistribution provided for by law shall be resolved by the Cabinet, as provided for by the Constitution, where applicable. The Cabinet, by a majority vote of all members duly chosen, must determine the winner of a tied election no later than 3 days after an official demand being made by the Election Administrator. Any State which deliberately abstains or refuses to cast a vote in the Cabinet to break a tie may be subject to prosecution for a Class 4 offense, unless they are a candidate in the election. Provided, if the Speaker of the Union or a member of the Cabinet is serving as the Election Administrator and must cast a vote in the tiebreaker for an election they are administering, casting such a vote shall not result in disqualification of the Election Administrator for conflict of interest.
Clause 3. Article 6, Section 1 shall be amended to read as follows:
The returns from any election or legislative vote may be contested with the Election Administrator, and shall be contested no later than 4 days after the announcement of the final results of the count.
Clause 1. The Election Administrator shall hear and may investigate any challenges resulting from the election or legislative vote they administered, and they shall notify the Member State which lodged the challenge of their decision to either uphold or modify the results thereof no later than 3 days after receiving notice of the challenge.
Clause 2. If the results are modified in any way from the final results previously announced, the Election Administrator or a designee thereof shall make a public announcement to that effect.
Clause 3. For the purposes of this Act, the Speaker of the Union (or their designee) shall be the Election Administrator for all legislative votes.
Clause 4. If an Election Administrator in any election ceases to exist, becomes incapacitated, ceases to be a Member State, is ordered to discontinue service by the Court of Justice, or refuses to accept their office, a new one shall be appointed in the manner prescribed by Article 8, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution.
Clause 4. Article 6, Section 2 shall be amended to read as follows:
The Court of Justice may only hear civil cases contesting the results of an election or legislative vote once the petitioner has exhausted the administrative remedy option prescribed in Section 1 of this Article, or if they are a party with sufficient standing wishing to challenge an administrative decision already rendered and are commencing said case no later than 3 days after the administrative decision is rendered.
Clause 1. The Court may rule conclusively on a challenged election or legislative vote following a civil trial which shall last no longer than 5 days, or, no longer than 10 days with the consent of all candidates in that election.
Clause 2. In the event of substantial fraud or unlawful error in an election, proven to the Court beyond reasonable doubt, and at the request of at least one candidate in that election, the Court may order as a remedy that a new election be held according to law with a new Election Administrator.
Clause 3. Provided, the Court may still hear civil cases contesting the results of an election or legislative vote after the 3 day period, but may do so no later than 14 days after the administrative decision is rendered if the party bringing the action can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence with leave of the Court that substantial fraud or error likely occurred, or that the Election Administrator flagrantly acted contrary to law.
Clause 4. Further provided, no judicial officer shall preside over a case regarding a challenged election in which they are a candidate, or in which they are a sponsor of a bill in a challenged legislative vote.
Clause 5. The Conflict of Interest Act shall be repealed in its entirety.
Clause 6. Appropriate sections and clauses shall be renumbered for continuity.