Report to the GPUS National Committee (NC) from the Delegation Apportionment Committee (DAC)

Updated Dec 06, 2006

Dear National Committee Delegates,

This report accompanies the official apportionment proposal that is being submitted by the Delegate Apportionment Committee. We apologize for the lateness of the proposal, but are proud of its contents. Of the eight members elected to the committee, five, Greg Gerritt, Gary Hecker, Forrest Hill, Dean Myerson, and Cat Woods stuck with the process throughout (alphabetical list).

Given the ideological diversity of the committee, we are hoping that the proposal achieves well over the needed 2/3 approval by the NC. If so, by May 2007, we shall have a newly apportioned NC with a robust formula for apportionment and a mandate for a committee to re-examine the formula in 2010 to see if it met our needs.

The challenges facing the Delegate Apportionment Committee (DAC) included philosophical disagreements about the nature of representation (some of which have roots all the way back to the founding of the U.S.) and, most significantly, the differences in situation between states with different ballot access laws, voter registration laws, and Green Party achievements and challenges. The ongoing debate included enough real dialogue between the differing perspectives for the committee to negotiate toward a fair balance between membership representation, other measures of Green Party strength, fair inclusion of ‘small’ states and those with bad ballot access laws, and incentives for party-building.

The committee reached a general agreement fairly early on to resolve the conflicting concerns by averaging multiple measures of ‘Green Party strength’ as proportional measures for apportionment. It was also generally agreed that members of Green Party caucuses are already represented both through their caucus delegate and through their state party delegates, so caucus delegations were kept at one vote each.

The ‘big’ issues dividing the committee were:
whether to keep the two vote minimum per state and make the NC much larger
whether to include population in any of the measures
whether to allow proxies
whether to include votes for Ralph Nader in 2004.
To aid the committee in these deliberations, a questionnaire was sent out widely to Green Party members. No attempt was made to make this survey a scientific sample; it was merely a source of feedback to help the committee. Results of the survey may be viewed on the GPUS web page for the DAC.

To summarize the arguments and considerations about these issues:

Those who wanted to lower the delegation vote minimum to one pointed to the majority support (55%) for this in the survey as well as the large support (64%) for fractional voting (which would allow a state to maintain two delegates, even if the state had one vote). They were concerned that making the delegation so large might make it unwieldy. Those who opposed lowering the vote minimum were concerned that small states would not have sufficient influence and that such a provision would give the proposal itself little chance of approval by the NC.

Those who promoted the inclusion of population argued against the membership-representation model of apportionment, pointed to the general population as a source of future Green Party members, and argued that it was needed to offset bad ballot access laws in some states. Those who opposed the inclusion of population in any measure argued that it not only did not measure Green Party members but in no way measured Green Party strength.

Proponents of proxies argued that proxies would help any state with a temporary problem filling a delegate seat and that the large delegation size required by the 2-delegate/2-vote minimum put an undue burden on larger states to fill their delegations. They made the case that having 10 times the members does not mean having 10 times the resources, infrastructure or volunteers; that, as parties grow, the amount of issues work, committee work and other party work also grows, putting a greater burden on the same volunteer base and making it much more difficult to recruit people specifically to GPUS delegate.

Opponents of proxies argued that the case for the burden on large states is weak and possibly unrelated to the amount of work to be done. They made the case that any state staking a claim to the relative power of more NC votes ought to be more than willing to provide the people power on the NC to move that work forward; that all states have people power crunches, are further developing their own work, and need to take responsibility for making sure the NC is fully operational. They felt that the use of proxies diminishes the ability of the GPUS to get work done. At least one opponent of proxies was fairly negotiable on the point because the feared damage did not materialize when the NC approved proxies before, and because a somewhat smaller NC size would be beneficial.

Those who wanted to include Nader 2004 results as a measure of Green Party strength argued that many Greens worked on the campaign and voted for Nader and that it would give more choice to states where Cobb did not do very well. Those who opposed the inclusion of Nader 2004 results argued that it was self-defeating of the party to measure its strength by a candidate who did not run on the Green Party ticket. They also felt that inclusion of Nader results would cause the proposal to lose needed support on the NC.

To aid negotiation, we took the step of separating each of our concerns into preferences and ‘lines in the sand.’ This clarified the areas where real negotiation was required. Had there been too many ‘lines in the sand’ issues, we never would have succeeded. Fortunately, each committee member who participated was willing to prioritize a few such issues, and only a few of those were in direct conflict with each other.

The first compromise proposal made explicit trades between the key issues. The most obvious was accepting the 2-delegate/2-vote minimum in exchange for allowing a restricted form of proxy voting, since these issues were directly connected. The added restrictions were a requirement for a state to give evidence of recruiting to a much larger membership pool in order to use proxies and a limitation of one proxy per seated delegate. The remainder of the exchange was to include population in a restricted way and exclude Nader votes in exchange for including the sunset clause (allowing the NC to revisit these issues after four years) and fractional voting.

By the time of the Tucson national meeting, the committee had reduced the scope of debate to two versions of the proposal, which were identical except for one number. Each version was acceptable to all but two members of the committee. Rather than take a vote on either, the committee continued to negotiate in the hope of achieving a full consensus. The logic was that, as the members of the committee were elected by proportional representation, the concerns of the individual members reflected concerns in the NC, so achieving consensus in the committee would give the final proposal the best chance of ultimate passage and high approval.

The NC’s feedback at Tucson on the state of negotiations was overwhelmingly positive. Several speakers also requested that a sample apportionment be shown to the NC so that people could understand its results as well as the theory. This created two challenges for the committee: 1. several committee members preferred to restrict the debate to principle, rather than outcome, and were concerned that NC delegates might then vote purely on the basis of outcome to their particular state rather than based on principle; 2. coming up with a sample apportionment required entering all the data for all the states, which required extra time. The committee decided to go ahead with creating the sample apportionment, ultimately delaying the proposal for two and a half months past the original deadline. Please note that the sample apportionment is an approximation only; not all the data was available, and it was not thoroughly proofed. These tests of the data were simply that ‘ tests; these are not final numbers. (Strong electoral results in a variety of states will change the apportionment in predictable ways; a state party running extraordinary campaigns will get more seats.)

The test apportionment helped resolve the standoff over the single number difference between the two versions of the proposal. Those of the ‘membership representation’ philosophy were only willing to accept a ‘-multiplier on population figures, in principle. Those who strongly believed in the inclusion of population at full strength were more concerned about the representation of small states. The advocates of the ‘-multiplier consulted their constituents and came back with an offer to accept full population in the formula in exchange for going back to the 1-vote minimum and smaller NC size. Based on this, the committee agreed to test four different formulas in the sample apportionment. The results showed that the difference that using the ‘ or full multiplier made on the ultimate apportionment was almost negligible: three states lost one delegate and three states gained one delegate. Going to a 1-vote minimum, by contrast, made a dramatic difference in the proportion of votes to small states. After seeing the results, it was agreed to use the formula with the ‘-multiplier, since this would have more support both with those who believe in the membership representation model and those concerned about the voting strength of small states.

Many other issues were discussed over the course of the eight months the DAC has convened. The above is a summary of the overall course of our work, deliberations and negotiations, particularly on the major issues dividing the committee.

We came into this job understanding that compromise would be required and that none of us would get exactly what we want. We all believe that we worked together with respect for our differences of opinion, and thought it would be useful for your deliberations on our proposal to understand specifically how we worked together and how that process worked. The compromises that many committee members accepted were not easy for us individually, but knowing that both sides in various disagreements made compromises made the process acceptable.

As a result of this process, there is something in this proposal that every member of the DAC does not like. But we all believe that our opinions were fairly heard and considered by the committee as a whole, and we all are strong advocates, not reluctant ones, that the National Committee approve this proposal by a large margin to demonstrate that the Green Party can come together and find a workable solution. Further, we are confident that the apportionment model we propose offers the best resolution of all concerns, a robust formula for measuring Green Party strength, and a promising set of incentives for Green Party growth.

With respect and a strong belief in moving forward,

The Delegate Apportionment Committee

Cat Woods, co-chair
Greg Gerritt, co-chair
Dean Myerson
Gary Hecker
Forrest Hill
Asa Gordon
Ben Alpers
Ginny Case