Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Proposed LPUS Bylaw Amendment Takes Away Local Affiliate Authority & Could Significantly Reduce The Number Of State Affiliate Delegates

The Libertarian Party Bylaws Committee has proposed the following bylaw amendment to be voted on by the delegates in attendance at the Libertarian Party's National Convention scheduled to be held from May 3-6, 2012 at the Red Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada:

No individual enrolled as a registered voter affiliated with another political party, if he or she has the option of affiliating with the Libertarian Party, shall be eligible to serve as a Party employee, National Committee member, committee member, or delegate, or hold any other position of trust or responsibility within the Party.

Dr. Tom Stevens, Political Director of the Libertarian Party of Queens County, has objected to the impact this proposed bylaw amendment would have and commented as follows:

My objection to this bylaw amendment is that it trumps state affiliate bylaws and attempts to dictate which of their state affiliate members will be permitted to attend Libertarian Party National Conventions as delegates.

The New York State Libertarian Party bylaws, for example, permit its members and elected state and local officers to be enrolled members of other political parties. This has always been the case in New York but recently, because of a law suit the NYLP joined in on, the New York State Board of Elections must now keep track of who enrolls as "Libertarian". Despite this victory, many County Boards of Elections still list enrolled Libertarians as "Other". This is wholly a symbolic victory since the New York Libertarian Party cannot nominate candidates in Convention in accordance with New York State Election Law and for all purposes, the Libertarian Party is treated as if it does not exist. In each election, every candidate must still file an Independent Nominating Petition, just as an Independent Candidate with no party affiliation is required to do. This is why many New York Libertarian Party members remain enrolled as members of other political parties.

The national Libertarian Party bylaws may soon be amended to require Libertarian Party National Convention Delegates to be either Sustaining Members of the national Libertarian Party or members of the State Affiliate Party from which they have been designated as delegates. If the proposed bylaw amendment regarding "enrollment" passes, a large number of designated New York Libertarian Party Members, who are members of their local State Affiliate will be disqualified as Delegates to the Libertarian Party National Conventions unless they are enrolled as Libertarian even though their State Affiliate does not have such a requirement.

Under the proposed bylaw amendment, not only will the National LP try to dictate who the State Affiliates may designate as delegates but the amendment could also be interpreted to dictate who may be allowed to be State and Local Officers of that State Affiliate. The last part of the proposed bylaw amendment indicates a person not enrolled locally as "Libertarian" will not be eligible to "hold any other position of trust or responsibility within the Party". According to the National Libertarian Party Bylaws, "the Party" refers to the "Libertarian Party" and arguably to all its chartered affiliates. As a result, even officers serving in a County Libertarian Party Organization such as the Libertarian Party of Queens County may now be subject to this proposed national rule. Some might claim the bylaw amendment cannot be used in this manner but if it can be used to dictate who may be delegates from a State Affiliate, I see no reason why it cannot be used to claim that certain State or Local LP officers are ineligible to hold their positions.

Finally, many Libertarian Party members have enrolled as Republicans in order to vote for Ron Paul or Gary Johnson in the upcoming Republican Party primaries. Many consider themselves loyal Libertarian Party members and may be designated by their State Affiliates as delegates to upcoming Libertarian Party National Conventions. These delegates hope that Gary Johnson or Ron Paul seek or accept the Libertarian Party's Presidential Nomination in 2012 or 2016. With Libertarian Party membership on the decrease, the last thing we need to do is alienate these Libertarian Party members who may be technically enrolled in their home state as "Republicans". 

For these reasons, I urge you to oppose this proposed bylaw amendment and to post your objections on all Libertarian Party message boards, blogs and lists.

Dr. Tom Stevens is the elected State Representative, Political Director and Membership Director of the Libertarian Party of Queens County. He also serves as the Chair of Empire State Libertarians.

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