Willemstan Election Controversy
This article was last updated on: January 20th 2023
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"Insurrection will not go unpunished. We have some nice salt reserved that needs to be mined. If you are caught plotting against the government you will be charged accordingly. Choose what you decide to do wisely."
- Dictator Izzy Beckhorn's public response in #notifications to rumors of a plot to sow division in Willemstan, 01/03/2022.
"I am launching an investigation into my own election as I feel it may have been fraudulent."
- Dictator Charlie Nolan announcing an investigation into the Winter 2022 Election, 01/09/2023.
The election process of Willemstan had remained largely the same over the past few years. However, it has experienced many controversies throughout much of Willemstan's history. Tensions reached a high point after the Summer 2019 Election in which the legitimacy of the ballots were questioned. After many years of open corruption and fraud, it was the year 2020 when things finally began to change. In May and June of 2020, Charlie Nolan and Joey Badra were expressing support for a free and fair election process. During the Winter 2020 Election, vote outsourcing reached a new high, which resulted in mixed opinions and minor drama throughout the election cycle. Finally, in February of 2020, the Willemstan election process was heavily reformed to create a fair and uncorrupted system.
During the Winter 2022 Election, corruption returned, with Dictator Izzy Beckhorn ignoring the term limit legislation and blatantly giving points to several candidates, including herself. Yet, she did not repeal any of the election laws she broke, so it seems the election process returns to status quo for now.
Excessive Voter Fraud and Vote Purchasing
There were many types of Voter Fraud in Willemstan. However, "fraud" may not be the best term as these were all legal under the New Articles of Willemstan. The first was vote outsourcing, which had been a common tactic in all past elections, and was made public by accident during the first Willemstan election (and has happened ever since). Vote outsourcing is when a candidate distributes the election ballot to other communities outside of Willemstan in hopes of gaining support, perhaps enough to swing the entire election in their favor. This was infamously used in the Summer 2019 Election, in which the Math and Science Academy was given the poll and mostly supported Annie Payton over Joey Badra. Another example includes the fact that the ballot was sent in the Antarctica Discord Server during several elections, a community not entirely connected to Willemstan. However, this reached an even higher point in the Winter 2020 Election, in which a "Middle School Political Machine" was created on Sean Kavanagh's behalf. The machine was a massive outsource of votes to Williamston Middle School, in which Sean recived a dozen votes from middle schoolers. This was thanks to Kendal H, who spread the poll around in group chats. Candidate Malcolm H. also outsourced votes during that election, but not as many.
Another form of fraud involved spamming the form with alternate accounts to sway the election. Votes like these were deleted in later elections, but not earlier ones. This was heavily frowned upon, as the Willemstan Government preferd that you buy fraudulent votes instead. Votes had been available for purchase in all Willemstan elections, and have played a significant role in past elections. For example, early standings of the Winter 2019 Election was decided by purchased votes. However, it reached new levels of controversy when candidate David G attempted to purchase $20 worth of votes in the Winter 2018 Election. This got him into a tie with Eli Payton and lead to a tiebreaker poll. The use of alternate accounts was also suspected in the Winter 2020 Election, and thus several votes were deleted.
Address to the Willemstan Public
Charlie Nolan gave an address in the form of a piece of paper, presumably in 2018 or 2019. The context behind this statement (seen on the right of this article) has been lost to time, however we have two main theories. The first is that this tatement was made because of controversy following the Winter 2018 Election, in which a large amount of money was spent rigging the election. The second theory is that this statement addresses the issues following the Summer 2019 Election, in which vote outsourcing played a key role in giving Annie Payton the win over Joey Badra. Regardless of the context, the statement is clearly addressing corruption of some kind and is directed towards someone who isn't pleased with the results.
Theoretical Power Grabs
Another issue came from the fact that the Dictator of Willemstan has historically been given the power to amend the current governing document when they see fit. This has resulted in some concern, as a Dictator could in theory use their unlimited power to heavily rig, cancel, or change an election. The closest Willemstan has gotten to a coup like this was when Eli Payton declared that there would be no Summer 2020 Election after he assumed power in a unique fashion. Thankfully, he also declared that he would not run in the Winter 2020 Election, so his reign was not indefinite. This put the issue on the backburner, but as it stands there are currently no safeguards preventing a Dictator from seeking indefinite control, aside from their morals.
Drama and Discontent
Many petty arguments had erupted over Willemstan elections, especially in recent times. Losing candidates often take their loss personally, and feel cheated due to the unfair nature of the elections. Vote outsourcing may have reached its highest point in the Winter 2020 Election, and this was not without criticism. A couple members of Willemstan, including Eli Payton and Joey Badra, expressed their dislike for vote outsourcing during that election.
Opposition to Rigged Elections
See also: Willemstan Election History
While it was assumed the majority of Willemstani agreed that the rigged elections provide flavor and entertainment value, this sentiment eroded overtime. The first attempt at a fair election process was the Willemstan 1.1 Reforms, which developed a new election system that was kind of fair and less corrupt. However, it was scrapped when the Willemstan 1.2 Reforms came along. The idea of fair elections was considered by the Construction Crew, but they decided to reinstate an improved version of the old process and continued the corruption. This was justified with the fact that making the elections more fair would be similar to Willemstan 1.1. It was also well known that elections had always been corrupt, and so the crew decided there was no good reason to change that.
There is not much data regarding opinions on rigged vs unrigged elections. However, we do know the opinions of a few Willemstani in 2020. It is known that Joey Badra wanted fair elections when he was a member of the Construction Crew. On July 24th of 2020, he was quoted saying "I want a fair election idk". The other members of the crew did not share his sentiment at the time. Eli seems to be no longer in favor of outsourcing since the Winter 2020 Election at the very least. Ian Hampton used to be a strong supporter of rigged elections, but changed his stance in early 2021 and now advocates for completely fair elections. Malcolm was in favor of vote outsourcing during the Winter 2020 Election, but reversed his stance only two days later and has been against outsourcing since. Charlie has expressed support for fair(er) elections in the past with Willemstan 1.1, and recently has gotten behind on Ian's ideas of a 100% fair election.
On February 16th of 2021, Ian proposed a series of reforms to Sean and Charlie to make Willemstan elections fair and untainted. The reforms include banning vote outsourcing, banning vote purchasing, and establishing a ranked ballot in which citizens pick their top three candidates for Dictator, instead of just one. This created a point-based system with a voter's first choice worth the most, and their third choice worth the least. The candidate with the most points overall would win the election. This proposal was passed on February 23rd of 20201, and so Willemstan Elections are no longer corrupt.
Winter 2021 Election Controversy
The Winter 2021 Election ended in Izzy & Alexandra's narrow victory over Kendal Hampton. While the results of the election were accepted and the election was relatively uncontroversial (aside from the nature of Kendal's campaign), controversy emerged within days of the election's conclusion. On January 3rd 2022, Sean Kavanagh publicly declared at lunch that he planned to convince Kendal that the election was stolen from him, in order to stir up controversy. While he promised Izzy & Alexandra that he wouldn't actually threaten their Dictatorship, rumors began circulating about Sean's plans. Later that day, Sean was quoted in Willemstan saying "I’ll publish my version of the Panama papers soon."
After some discussion in government channels, Izzy Beckhorn released a statement on the issue in #notifications, providing a screenshot from an anonymous source. The screenshot claimed that Sean is "planning either to humiliate Kendal, or split Willemstan in two," among other information. This source was later revealed to be Andrew Meyer. That evening, Sean was sent to the Willemstan Salt Mine. At around the same time, Charlie Nolan sent himself to the salt mines as a joke. He also resigned his General status and demoted himself to Senior Strategist.
Some citizens of Willemstan were displeased with Sean's sentencing, believing it to be unfair because Sean hadn't actually begun his plans. Ian Hampton started the hashtag "#FreeSean" in Willemstan's propaganda channel, and quickly began rallying citizens to his cause. Thomas Meyer, initially inclined to support the Dictators out of fear, joined the #FreeSean movement within minutes. Dictator Alexandra defended her and Izzy's actions by stating that punishing citizens without trial is what Willemstan Dictators do. During 5th hour on January 4th, Ian, Charlie, and Sean himself began to pressure Andrew into using his Enforcer powers to release Sean from the mines. He refused. A few minutes later, the group realized Sean still had his Enforcer status from the previous Dictatorship. He used it to free himself from the salt mines and return citizenship to himself. Andrew quickly sent Sean back to the salt mines and stripped his Enforcer status. Ian attempted to stir up some drama in government channels as a result, claiming that Andrew "illegally removed Sean's enforcer status", in an effort to get Sean released. This went nowhere, as the Dictators unsurprisingly sided with Andrew. However, the Dictators did announce a referendum in #notifications on the issue of Sean. The citizens voted 15-5 in favor of his release.
On January 6th, Charlie posted a pro-Sean propaganda image in the propaganda channel, calling for Sean to be promoted to General, a now open position thanks to Charlie's self-demotion. Ian called for Sean to become General as well, and Andrew to be removed from power to restore the balance of three Senior Strategists.
On January 7th, Andrew temporarily switched allegiances, returning Sean's citizenship and freeing him from the mines. His actions were discovered by the Dictators hours later through the server audit log. Andrew was asked to explain himself in the government chat. He initially defended his actions, claiming "Sean didn’t technically do anything wrong, and Willemstan has never believed in thoughtcrimes." He also brought up how Ian, Charlie, and Sean were "badgering" him to act, but that his resolve held strong. Ian responded by claiming that Andrew has been "stirring the pot this whole time" and "playing both sides like a reptile." Andrew later responded by saying that no-matter what punishment the Dictators decide to inflict on him, he will remain loyal to the current Dictators. The Dictators also clarified their stance on the matter to Ian, claiming Sean was sent just as a joke, and that they want him to mine some salt to earn his freedom. Sean was sent back into the salt mines that afternoon, and his sentence was re-rolled until it was similar to the original. Also during that day, the citizens of Willemstan began to comment on the controversy as the discussion began to find its way into public channels. Citizens Ty Keesler and Michael started a new hashtag "#ChildTheif4Enforcer", nominating Micheal as a replacement for Andrew. Ty also publicly messaged that Ian is a better Dictator than Izzy and Alexandra, to which Alexandra replied: "and who are you?"
On January 9th, Andrew was demoted to citizen until further notice. Also that day, Alexandra announced that Sean has been released from the salt mines, after he successfully mined one salt. This brought an end to the controversy, but a new one quickly arose.
Winter 2022 Election Corruption
During the Winter 2022 Election, Dictator Izzy Beckhorn meddled in the election process. For one, she ran for a third term that election, which was forbidden under the New Articles of Willemstan. However, the term limit legislation was not repealed, simply ignored. Secondly, she gave several candidates points, which had a significant impact on the election due to the low voter turnout. Charlie and Ian were given 20 points, and Izzy gave herself 10 points. Ian was not even a candidate that election, so he was essentially made an involuntary candidate. Despite this corruption, Charlie had actually managed to win the election without the help of additional points.
Interestingly, it seemed nobody had a problem with the blatant corruption aside from Ian, who did not want to be an involuntary candidate and refered to the point meddling as "cringe". Charlie agreed to carry out the will of the Dictator, and Malcolm was quoted at the end of the election saying "corruption will be upheld". While it is too early to tell, this may indicate that Willemstan's citizens may be in favor of shifting back to a corrupt election system. So far, this is the closest Willemstan has got to a Dictator outright stealing an election. Izzy could continued to rig the election by giving herself enough points to win, but she chose not to. Later, Joey stated he did not approve of the corruption.
A graph of point totals for each election since the new election laws were implemented.
On January 9th, Dictator Charlie Nolan announced he was launching an investigation into the Winter 2022 Election, citing fraud concerns. This was sparked by a conversation with Ian, who suspected that at least one of the ballots were filled out improperly. The next day, Charlie announced the results of his investigation in #notifications. He determined that there were two voters who cast all three of their votes for the same candidate. Additionally, there were in fact candidates who voted for themselves. Given the low voter turnout, this had quite an impact on the vote totals, though not enough to fundamentally impact the results. Charlie stated that he removed the fraudulent points, and that he would implement safeguards in the new SuS-based Ballot System to prevent fraudulent activity.
Charlie's messages in #notification announcing the results of his investigation into the election.