Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Curia Notes

It occurs to me that I haven't yet seen anybody post an account of what happened at Kingdom Curia this past Sunday at Birka. While there wasn't any earth-shaking news (indeed, it was a relatively peaceful Curia, without much controversy), there were a bunch of interesting proposals and tweaks.

So here is an off-the-cuff summary of the interesting bits of Curia, omitting simple tweaks to grammar and such that have no major effect, based on my copy of the agenda and what I recall. It is wholly unofficial and may contain inaccuracies; hopefully Davey will correct any mistakes I make.

No more Warranted Heralds: Brigantia observed that the concept of "warranted" heralds has never meant as much as people think it does -- it's often taken as meaning something about a herald's seniority and experience, when really it's mostly about whether you're authorized to take money for submitting arms. And the submission process has never worked especially well: many heralds, with the best of intentions, have taken submissions and then accidentally sat on them for a long time. So the process is being changed: all submissions from here on will go directly to Eastern Crown Herald (the submissions clerk), and there will no longer be a formal concept of "warranting" -- if you think you're a herald, you're a herald. Local heralds are still encouraged to do consultations and assist with the submissions process, but responsibility for sending it in is now directly on the submitter.

Prince and Princess of Tir Mara: this bit has been getting a little publicity over the past couple of days, but here's the context. Their Majesties got a suggestion that, for the time being (until Tir Mara develops their own Coronet Tournies), the heirs of the East should be designated as Prince and Princess of Tir Mara, and should be encouraged to go visit occasionally and do princely stuff. There was no serious objection to this aside from a few wording tweaks, so it was enacted. It is taking place promptly: King and Queen's Rapier Champions this coming weekend has suddenly become the first Tir Maran Investiture. (Kenric's reaction was, "Woohoo! Trip to Canada!")

Event Hardship Clause: a lot of people have observed that Kingdom gets half the profits from Kingdom events, but shoulder none of the risk. This has made some groups, especially smaller ones, relatively averse to running Kingdom events. So they added a clause to law, allowing Kingdom, on a case-by-case basis, to compensate branches for part of the losses on Kingdom events due to unforeseen circumstances. (Eg, there is a blizzard for Twelfth Night, or heavy rain for Crown.) Again, there was no serious objection, although folks made suggestions for ways that the Kingdom event profit-sharing policies might be made more nuanced in the future.

Minimum Ages for Pollings: the idea came up last time that the minimum age to vote in Baronial elections should be raised to 18. That was broadly disliked by many of us, but the formal decision had been tabled. This time, the question was reconsidered and formally dropped. The only real change is that the ballot templates will specify that you should only fill in your own ballot; if the member receiving the ballot can't fill it in (because they are too young to understand, or deceased, or whatever), it should be sent in as an abstention.

Baronial Polling Procedures: the big open question, left from last time. The Seneschalate has been buried under the way that each Barony has its own tally procedure, some of them fairly elaborate. It's hard for the talliers to keep track of and get right.

The fix (recommended by Master Philip, I believe) is to restrict all Baronies to a choice between two styles: either a straight-up winner-take-all American-style plurality vote, or a Borda Count. Kingdom will define the ballot templates precisely, and local branches will follow them.

Personally, I find this overly restrictive -- frankly, I like the instant-runoff model that we arrived at more than I do a Borda Count, and I think it suits us slightly better. That said, the law that was actually passed is a pretty sensible one: it says simply that Baronies will use one of the templates available from the Seneschalate, without getting into the details of what those templates are.

So my hope is to convince the powers that be that this process is desperately in need of a little automation, to help with the tallying. With a decently designed piece of software, I believe the tallying problem largely goes away -- it can be written to be modular, so that adding additional procedures is no real administrative overhead, and we can quickly put in place all of the procedures that the Baronies are used to using. Once such a thing is in place, I think it is more reasonable to argue for allowing additional voting variants. Folks should be warned that I put my money where my mouth is, and volunteered (pretty strongly) to implement such a thing, so I may be looking for some programmers down the line if they take me up on that. Beyond that, it's kind of out of my hands -- we'll see what happens.

That's pretty much all I remember. It's worth noting that this Curia was both brief (a bit over an hour) and reasonably pleasant -- Curia is *not* always an exercise in controversy, and folks shouldn't avoid it...
Tags: sca

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