Amendment 2 to the Voting Reform and Fair Political Practices Act

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Amendment 2 to the Voting Reform and Fair Political Practices Act
Amendment 1
CitationAa-2 to A-32
Enacted byOpen Parliament
Date enacted21 April 2020
Legislative history
Introduced on9 April 2020
Introduced byRamelia
Voting began14 April 2020
Required majoritySimple majority
Vote results10 Yea, 0 Nay, 0 Abstain
Status: Passed

This Act Amendment addresses the realities of modern elections and campaigning, more reasonably and accessibly regulating the use of the elections website, which has become the primary method of voting, among other revisions.

Article 1. Election and Voting Medium

Section 1. Redundant and Outdated Provision Removal

Clause 1. Article 1, Section 2 shall be struck from the Act.
Clause 2. Article 3, Section 2 shall be struck from the Act. Remaining sections in that Article shall be appended in their current order to Article 2, and the consolidated Article shall be titled "Nominations and Voting in Elections".
Clause 3. Article 7, Section 2 shall be struck from the Act.

Section 2. Voting Location Article Insertion

An article, entitled "Voting Location", shall be inserted directly before Article 5 of the Act, to read as follows:

Section 1. General Manner of Voting

The Open Parliament shall conduct voting in its legislative votes and elections on a secure election website ("election website", for the purposes of this Act), whose security and compliance with this Act and any other regulatory law has been certified by the Speaker of the Union. Should no such website be available or functional, the Speaker shall so notify the Open Parliament and authorize voting to be conducted on the regional forum.

Section 2. Security and Openness of the Election Website

The election website must have been issued an SSL certificate to ensure connection encryption, and must use NationStates API authentication to verify Member States' identities. A random election access code or hash shall be generated for each vote, but the code shall not contain information publicly traceable to the voter. To safeguard against misuse by a proprietary code author, the full code of the website, except information whose secrecy is critical to the anonymous nature of votes, must be made accessible to the Law Commission or Member States at-large.

Section 3. Voter Interface Specifications

The interface of the election website for voters shall generally meet the requirements of ballots, with necessary API authentication required before ballot access is offered. A voter's election access code or hash shall be made available to them directly before or after ballot submission, accompanying a recommendation to save the code should any difficulty be encountered in counting the voter's ballot. Ballot resubmission, while not a requirement, may be offered; the election access code should be maintained if a particular state casts a new ballot. In such case as a Member State documents that they are fully unable to submit a ballot and the Election Administrator and site owner are unable to correct this, the Election Administrator shall provide an alternative voting location at their discretion.

Section 4. Administrative Interface and Results Secrecy

Election Administrator and Vote Verifier interfaces shall exist for result and voter access. These interfaces shall require identity authentication through NationStates API, which may be provided through the regional forum, and verification of administrator or verifier status via forum role or an alternative method approved by the Speaker. Unless the Speaker determines such infeasible, these interfaces shall be the only means to access raw vote results, voter lists, and options to set up votes. Generally, only the election administrator shall have access to options to set up votes and to access voter lists; the vote verifier and election administrator shall have access to raw results. Whether and to whom access to results and voter lists during votes is provided shall be the discretion of the Speaker of the Union.

Clause 1. Raw vote results shall be connected to the election access codes or hashes used, but not to voter lists, which must be randomized.
Clause 2. Per the discretion of the Court of Justice during active litigation, the judicial officers may be granted access to the Election Administrator interface.

Section 5. Past Result Maintenance and Release

Results of elections and legislative votes conducted on the election website, raw or modified as appropriate, may be published for public viewing after voting. If such results are fully accurate, they should be used as the anonymized report of results published by the Election Administrator. Such result reports should not be deleted, but must never include lists of voters or any other information that could be used to identify voters' choices.

Section 6. Alternative Forum Voting Methods

If an elections website cannot be used as described in Section 1 of this Article, the regional forum shall be used to conduct votes. The methods for conducting votes shall be equivalent to those on the election website as much as possible, except that election access codes are unnecessary. Ballots in legislative votes shall be received via a poll whose results are concealed until voting closes. Ballots in elections shall generally be received via personal forum messages; provided, ballots in approval and recall elections may be received via a poll like that used for legislative votes at the Election Administrator's discretion.

Section 3. Bill Debate Thread Revision

Article 7, Section 3 shall be re-titled "Bill Debate Thread", and 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. Any mandatory public debate period shall begin when such a thread is created. Once that period has elapsed, the author shall petition the Speaker of the Union to open voting on the bill. The Speaker or alternative Election Administrator shall open voting within two days of this petition. The author of the bill may, with cause, petition the Election Administrator to withdraw the bill from vote at any point before voting has closed.

Article 2. Ballot Counting and Uniformity Enhancement

Section 1. Redundant and Outdated Provision Removal

Article 7, Section 7 shall be struck from the Act.

Section 2. Retention and Release of Ballots

Article 5, Section 1 shall be re-titled "Retention of Ballots" and be amended to read as follows:

Lists of voters and result reports for legislative votes and elections shall be maintained on the election website in the Election Administrator interface for no less than one month and no more than one year for purposes of correcting mistakes and providing accurate information during litigation, notwithstanding public result disclosure on the election website. Equivalent reports shall be maintained for at least one month for any legislative or electoral votes conducted via the regional forum.

Section 3. Canvass of the Vote Generally

Article 5, Section 2 shall be amended to read as follows:

Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, all results of legislative votes and elections must be determined and verified by the Election Administrator and a Vote Verifier of the Election Administrator's choice.
Clause 1. The Vote Verifier for a legislative vote shall not be a sponsor of the legislation voted upon.
Clause 2. The Vote Verifier for an election shall not have been a candidate or otherwise listed on the ballot in the same election, whether the election was regular, for approval, or for recall.
Clause 3. The Vote Verifier must be a Member State.
Clause 4. The Vote Verifier shall never have been convicted of an offense provided for by this Act or otherwise related to conduct regarding legislative votes or elections, as interpreted by the Election Administrator but subject to judicial review.

Section 4. Ranked Choice Voting Enhancement

A clause shall be appended to Article 5, Section 3, to read as follows:

In such case as a tie arises in first preference votes for any office after all redistributions described in this Section have been exhausted, next-preference votes for all remaining candidates shall be totaled, and the candidate with the greatest number of next-preference votes shall be considered elected.

Section 5. Counting of Legislative Votes

A section shall be inserted after Article 5, Section 5, to be entitled "Counting of Legislative Votes", and to read as follows:

Given other Constitutional criteria for legislation have been met, the outcome of legislative votes shall be determined as follows:
Clause 1. In legislative votes which a simple majority is required for passage, if more affirmative votes than negative votes are cast, the legislation shall be required passed. Otherwise, the legislation shall be considered not passed.
Clause 2. In legislative votes with any threshold for passage other than a simple majority, the Election Administrator shall calculate the number of votes required for passage based on the number of valid affirmative and negative votes. If this number is a decimal, it shall be rounded up. If such a number of votes have been cast in the affirmative, the legislation shall be considered passed. Otherwise the legislation shall be considered not passed.

Section 6. Announcement of Results Revisions

Article 5, Section 6 shall be amended to read as follows:

An announcement of the results of each election and legislative vote shall be made no later than two days following the end of the voting period, and shall contain the following:
Clause 1. The total number of valid ballots cast
Clause 2. An official anonymized report of ballots received, containing an accurate representation of each ballot and including election access codes, if applicable, or a link to such a report
Clause 3. A summary of the votes received for each option, and the level of preference for each, if applicable
Clause 4. The number of invalid votes cast and a general reason for each invalidated vote
Clause 5. The name of the Election Administrator and the Vote Verifier, with a certification of election or vote, as applicable, subscribed by both states under penalty of perjury, to the best of their knowledge

Article 3. Public Notices

Section 1. Redundant and Outdated Provision Removal

Clause 1. Article 2, Section 5 shall be struck from the Act.
Clause 2. Article 3, Section 3 shall be struck from the Act.

Section 2. Public Notices Article

An article, entitled "Public Notices", shall be inserted after Article 7, to read as follows:

Section 1. Voting and Results Announcements Generally

Announcements made regarding the opening and results electoral and legislative voting must be made by the Election Administrator on both the relevant forum threads and the Regional Message Board, within two days of the opening or closing of voting (whichever is pertinent). If the Election Administrator deems it appropriate, they may also announce openings of voting via regional telegram; provided, if they do not have communications authority, they may direct the Speaker or another officer with that authority to transmit such a telegram. Such a regional telegram must be sent to announce the opening of voting on a draft constitutional amendment. Public notices for the opening of voting described in this section shall link to the location of voting, and legislative vote result announcements should link to the legislation voted upon.

Section 2. Legislative Draft Announcements

States may announce the opening of debate on their bills on the Regional Message Board, but must not represent such announcements as official communications of the Social Liberal Union government, regardless of office.

Section 3. Bill Summary Announcement

If the Speaker is required to compile an impartial summary of a given bill, they must announce their compilation of that summary via Regional Message Board post and regional telegram within two days after the release of the summary. All such public notices shall either link to the summary in the legislation's general debate thread or contain the summary in full.

Section 4. Nomination Announcements

The Election Administrator shall announce the opening of nominations for an office via Regional Message Board post linking to the general information and nominations thread within two days of the opening of nominations. In the same manner as described in Section 1 of this Article, they may additionally send or direct the sending of a regional telegram with such information.

Clause 1. If nominations for an office are extended for any period or reason, the Election Administrator must announce this within two days of the extension of nominations via Regional Message Board post and sending or direction for the sending of a regional telegram linking to the general information and nominations thread. The announcement shall encourage participation in the election.

Article 4. Miscellaneous Provisions

Section 1. Position of Interest Clarification

Article 8, Section 5, Clause 3 shall be amended to read as follows:

Failure to properly disclose positions of interest or lack thereof within the required period of time shall result in removal from the list of candidates pledging to follow the Code.

Section 2. Election Consolidation Timing Clarification

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

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, unless enforcing this provision would violate constitutional requirements for the opening of voting. The order of precedence of offices on the ballot shall be as listed below for those offices:

Section 3. Enhancement of Restrictions on Speaker Withdrawal of Votes

Article 7, Section 5 shall be amended to read as follows:

The Speaker of the Union or other Election Administrator for a legislative vote shall not remove a bill at vote or a prevent a bill from being voted on, except to enforce the requirements of the Constitution and other applicable law. Such removal shall only be done upon counsel of the Attorney General or Chancellor, if the position of Attorney General is vacant. The author of a bill or designee may correct typos in a bill, upon notifying the Speaker, at any time before it is passed, subject to judicial review. For the purposes of this Section, typos are defined as accidental errors in grammar, spelling, and formatting. Provided, no typo correction under this Section shall be permitted to materially or fraudulently change the intentions or effect of a bill, under penalty of prosecution for a Class 1 offence.

Section 4. Legislative Vote Election Administrator Clarification

A section shall be appended to Article 7, to be entitled "Legislative Vote Election Administrator", and to read as follows:

The Speaker of the Union shall be considered the Election Administrator for each legislative vote, unless they should designate another Member State as Election Administrator for a particular item of legislation. Election Administrators for legislative votes and election administrators shall generally face the same restrictions upon political communications and other regulations of the position as would otherwise apply; provided, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Election Administrator for a legislative vote may be an author or sponsor of the same legislation and may send communications expressing opinions on it, so long as such communications are not represented as official communications of the Social Liberal Union government.

Section 5. Logical Re-ordering and Re-titling

Clause 1. Article 4 shall be re-titled "Election Ballots".
Clause 2. Article 7 shall be struck from its location and re-inserted directly after Article 4.

Section 6. Renumbering

Appropriate articles, sections, and clauses shall be renumbered for continuity; provided, all section numbers provided for modifications shall be construed as applying to the Act in its form prior to the implementation of this Amendment.