Ballot Subcommittee Report
Ballot Subcommittee Report for the Free State Project
Jason Sorens, Robert Hawes, Amanda Maxwell
May 15, 2003, revised July 7, 2003
Following are the ballot subcommittee's proposals for the state vote procedures for the Free State Project.
Attached: sample ballot
The deadline for people to sign up and enjoy the right to participate in the vote is August 15. The ballot mailing will be put together immediately (printed and stuffed, at least 5,100 copies; labels printed for existing members), and independent vote counters will be chosen. The ballots will be mailed out to all existing members on July 20. As new members come in they will have ballots mailed to them. If 5,000 members will not have been reached by the time of the deadline for signing up, the deadline shall be extended. After the deadline, all members will have three weeks - until September 8 - to send in their ballots. Ballots may be sent in by postal mail or as scanned images attached to e-mail and clearly marked in the subject heading as Free State Project ballots. Ballots must be received by the vote counters before the end of this three week period in order to be counted. Ballots may be sent in as soon as they are received. The ballots will be promptly placed on the website for public viewing, by member number only, so that they remain anonymous but can be checked by each voter. There is one week in which to challenge the results on the basis that one's ballot has not been included or has been miscounted. At the end of this week-long period (September 15), the winning state shall be announced.
Immediately after the Vote
Anyone who has not cast a ballot or indicated an intentional abstention by September 15 shall be removed from the membership rolls immediately. Anyone who has opted out of the winning state shall be removed from the membership rolls immediately. However, both groups of people should be contacted as soon as possible with letters encouraging them to sign up again for the state that has been chosen.
Design of Ballot
The ballot shall be designed with the member number and name stamped on top. The middle of the ballot shall have ten lines for ranking the ten states under consideration, and brief instructions on filling them out, as follows: "Rank the states under consideration for the Free State Project, in order from top to bottom. These are the states to be ranked: Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming. Fill in your ranking next to each one: '1' for a first-place vote, '2' for second place, and so on, until you reach '10' for your least favorite state. If you wish to indicate a tie, fill in the same number for two or more states." Below the ranking section, there shall be an affidavit reading as follows, "I hereby certify that I am a signer of the Free State Project Statement of Intent, that I am at least 18 years of age, and that I cast this ballot in good faith. I understand that casting a fraudulent or falsified ballot will render me subject to civil penalties." Each member shall be required to sign and date this affidavit in order to have his or her ballot counted. In addition, each member shall be requested to obtain the signature of a notary public, and a line on the ballot shall be provided for this purpose. If a voter is unable to notarize the ballot, he or she may instead include a photocopy of one of the following documents showing his or her name: utility bill, driver's license, passport, university identification, library card. If a voter is unable to verify his or her identity in either manner, he or she must include a phone number on the ballot (a line shall be provided for this purpose), so that a volunteer from the Free State Project may contact the voter and authenticate.
Additional Materials in Ballot Mailing
The ballot mailing shall have a cover letter, explaining the timeline, requirements, and voting method (Simple Condorcet, also called Simpson). The cover letter shall also describe the other materials in the mailing and give an address, email address, and phone number for questions relating to the ballot. The Free State Project shall make available a toll-free number for this purpose. The mailing shall also contain advocacy reports for each of the 10 states under consideration. Each report shall be one page in length, front and back, and unless otherwise specified, in 11-point Times New Roman font with a bold, centered title. Each report shall be vetted by the Research Committee for factual accuracy and logical argument before inclusion in the mailing. Supporters of each state shall be encouraged to collaborate on production of pithy yet effective reports well in advance of the vote. Each working group will provided with an e-mail list and should elect a group leader who will be responsible for submitting the final report. The mailing shall contain an addressed envelope for return of the ballot to the independent vote-counting firm (described below). The mailing may contain a separate envelope addressed to the FSP itself for monetary contributions to cover the cost of the vote.
Vote Counters and Reporting of Results
The services of a reputable election auditing firm will be secured to count the ballots. The vote counters shall tabulate the ballots in the following format in Microsoft Excel '97 or 2000:AK DE ID ME MT NH ND SD VT WY #
Where beneath each column is placed the number of the rank on the ballot: 1 for first place, 10 for last place; the final column "#" shall contain the member # of the person who cast the ballot. The spreadsheet will generate Condorcet tables, including one on one comparisons for all states in terms of votes for and against, and defeats and victories. The completed spreadsheet, both all member ballots and all Condorcet tables and comparisons, shall be posted to the website by midnight of the deadline for sending in ballots (September 8). All members shall be strongly encouraged to write down and remember their member numbers and then check to the website to ensure that their ballots have been counted correctly.