Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Article 3. Government Structure
Why require a minimum of three Territories?
Having three or more Territories will foster innovation and competition among the Territories. Their differences in policies, while still conforming to the constitution, should provide some choices for citizens when they are deciding where to live. Territories with the most successful policies will grow faster and set an example to strengthen the rest of them. A cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Why English only?
For the cost savings and simplicity of eliminating duplication. A mandatory common language also promotes national unity. Note that this requirement is imposed only on government, not on the people nor on private organizations.
Why put everyone's biometric data into a huge database? Why not simply use traditional photographic I.D. cards?
With just a photograph, the observer must make a subjective judgement about whether the person’s current appearance matches the photograph. It lacks any direct link to the person's citizenship history or criminal history. A card is just a static document which might not be a valid representation of any record in a database. It can be damaged, lost, stolen, or forged, and thus is not a reliable repository for any digital biometric data.
In contrast, a physical biometric feature provides an objective link between the person and his record from previous occasions on which his biometric features were scanned and stored digitally. On those occasions, the reason for the scan, such as voting, periodic I.D. update, or any military enlistment would also be recorded. The biometric I.D. data stored in the Common government’s secure database will only be accessible by government staff, who will use the system to compare the physically present person’s biometric pattern to the pattern in the database.
People will be given a choice to use either a finger vein scan or an iris scan for their particular I.D., unless they lack one of those physical features. In the very rare case of a person missing both of those features, the person’s unique physical appearance will need to suffice as biometric identification.
The reference hardcopy I.D. card will be provided to citizens as a courtesy, displaying some of the data contained in their secure national database file. It will display name, photograph, and the upcoming due date for renewing the I.D. record. No gender will be listed, because gender cannot truly be verified without invading privacy, and in some cases, it's indeterminate.
This reference hardcopy I.D. card will not be electronic nor contain any digital biometric data. Biometric data resides only in the person’s physical features and in the secure database. No government will require anyone to carry or present this reference hardcopy.
Merchants or private employers may choose to visually check a citizen’s appearance against his reference I.D. for cursory identity verification.
Fingerprints tend to change slightly depending on age and weather conditions. Finger vein recognition has lower False Acceptance and False Rejection Rates than fingerprint recognition. Iris pattern recognition is similarly accurate and reliable.
If the I.D. record stored in the database has biometric data in it, why does it also need a photograph?
The photograph serves as a simple way to quickly verify the citizen’s identity, although with less accuracy, for instances when a full biometric verification is impractical or unnecessary.
Requiring people to submit to a finger scan or iris scan for biometric identification is an unconstitutional search without a warrant, isn’t it?
No, it’s not actually a search. It’s an observation using an non-invasive optical instrument to compare a person’s finger vein pattern or iris pattern to those stored in the database. No blood or breath samples are taken. These scans are no more intrusive than photographing a person’s face for comparison to the images in a database, as is common in the U.S. today.
What if there’s an error in the scan that misidentifies the person or mistakenly shows no match in the database?
The person will have opportunities to legally challenge the scan results.
Since biometric patterns change slightly during a person’s lifetime, isn’t it possible that an older person’s features may no longer match the original scans that were done perhaps 50 years earlier?
Yes, that’s why a person’s most recent scan data becomes the baseline reference to which future scans will be compared.
What if a citizen fails to update his I.D. on time?
If a citizen misses the deadline to update his I.D., that violation is noted in the database record and the government attempts to notify the citizen of his violation. This is one example of a legal citation mentioned in Section 3.1. He loses voting privileges until he pays a late fee for renewing the outdated ID. And he cannot pay the fee on Election Day in hopes of getting to vote.
If anyone refuses to submit to a photograph or a scan of his biometric features for the update, then his identity cannot be confirmed, and he can be charged on suspicion of trespassing.
People can have their I.D. updated more often than every 4 years, if their address changes, for example.
If a person is convicted of national trespassing and deported, would he be deported to his country of origin? What if his country of origin is unknown, due to his refusal to disclose it, for example?
A person convicted of entering the UTL illegally will face consequences for doing so. He will not be sentenced to prison in the UTL for trespassing, because that would be an expense and a delay to the decision regarding where he would ultimately be released. However, he may be held in custody while awaiting his deportation.
He will be deported to whatever place outside the UTL that the Common government chooses. The first choice will be his nation of origin if it is known with certainty. If his nation of origin is not known with certainty, he may receive asylum in whatever nation is willing to accept him. Perhaps another nation would accept him in exchange for payment. Perhaps international humanitarian organizations would assist in placing him.
Besides the requirement to obtain a visa, are there other restrictions on non-citizens?
Non-citizens will not be able to get jobs in the UTL lasting longer than 6 months, simply because the maximum visa period is only 6 months. But rather than trying to monitor a non-citizen’s activities while he’s in the Territories, or monitoring all employers, it’s more practical to strictly enforce the time period of visas, making it impractical for a non-citizen to obtain any type of long-term job in the UTL.
Non-citizen visitors will be required to exit through an official checkpoint before their visa expires, in order to preserve their eligibility for future visits and for any citizenship application. If the visa holder doesn’t appear at the checkpoint on or before the visa expiration date, an arrest warrant would be issued for his deportation.
Define reprisal, impost, and duty of tonnage.
Reprisal is a seizure of property or persons of a foreign state for redressing an injury committed by that state. A brief covert military mission into another land to capture a terrorist would be an example of reprisal. Reprisal is a power only the Congress can exercise over foreign entities (see Section 3.5). Territories can’t act against each other in this way; in fact they will cooperate with each other to pursue fugitives across Territorial lines.
Impost is a tax on imported goods; duty of tonnage is a tax assessed for the privilege of doing business in a port. This clause comes from the U.S. Constitution, and applies to the UTL because we don’t want individual Territories trying to tax each other.
Why is trespassing discussed again here? It was already covered in Section 3.1.
Section 3.1 addresses cases where a person present in the UTL, following a citation for a legal violation, does not have a valid visa and his citizenship cannot be confirmed. This section, however, applies to people caught in the act of illegally entering into UTL territory.
You’ll actually have the National Guard, instead of a separate Border Patrol, stopping intruders?
Yes, just as the name National Guard implies. Their other duties shall be to suppress insurrections and provide national law enforcement as stated in Section 3.5. Unlike in the U.S., the National Guard of the UTL will not be used for disaster relief. Those duties will be handled by local first responders and firefighters as applicable, per Section 2.1.
It says the National Guard will also guard coastlines. Won’t there be a Coast Guard for that?
The coastal units of the National Guard will be the equivalent of a Coast Guard. The National Guard will be armed and prepared to stop all illegal entry, generally by individuals and small groups. They will be backed by the Armed Services, including the Navy, which is equipped to fight battles and wage war when larger forces are needed.
Won’t you need a wall around the whole nation to keep intruders out?
Not necessarily. This constitution requires strict enforcement of laws against illegal entry, but will not prescribe specific methods of preventing such entry. If the National Guard and other security officials determine that walls or other physical barriers are needed, then they will be built using national defense funds.
Will there be diplomatic immunity for ambassadors and diplomats?
No, there will be no diplomatic immunity. Ambassadors and diplomats are guests, not gods. Everyone present in the UTL is equally subject to UTL laws, regardless of whether their home country agrees with the laws or not.
Why shouldn’t a member of Congress be reimbursed for his travel expenses, lodging, and meals?
In the UTL, we aim to have the most transparent and frugal government in the world. Travel is not a required part of the elected official’s job. He is elected to serve in Congress, not on the road or in his Territory. The House and Senate will only be in session for 6 months of the year, per Section 3.10. This is an incentive to remain near the Capitol and get the work done. If he wants to travel, he can pay for it with his presumably adequate salary. Or his constituents can create a private fund for his trips to visit them in his Territory. The UTL budget is to be used wisely, not exploited by politicians.
Note that the rest of this section is the same as in the U.S. Constitution.
This is to keep legislation to a minimum. Otherwise, lawmakers tend to add layer upon layer of legislation, creating bureaucracy and obstacles to liberty. With a small federal budget, no borrowing, no entitlements, and very few federal programs to fight over, the financial stakes in the UTL Congress will not be nearly as high as they are today in the U.S. We expect far fewer legislative bills in general, and fewer appropriations bills in particular.
The evolution of society and new technology inevitably require new programs, right?
No. That may be true of industry and entertainment, for example, but it’s not true of government. Technology changes, but human nature, moral truth, and the requirements for governing a society do not change.
Before the U.S. was formed, the most common form of government was autocracy; a monarchy or dictatorship, wherein the ruling autocrat simply created or abolished laws whenever he pleased. Every declaration the autocrat uttered instantly became the law of the land, and the people had to comply or risk losing their lives.
And when a new autocrat ascended to power, all the laws were immediately subject to swift and sweeping change by this new autocrat, without debate or compromise. In effect, the autocrat was the law. The law was no more durable, ethical, or practical than this person who was temporarily in charge.
Not surprisingly, autocracies resulted in chaotic, corrupt, and oppressed societies worldwide.
That’s why the American Founders were determined that the U.S. would have, as John Adams wrote in 1780 regarding the Massachusetts Constitution, “…a government of laws, and not of men.”
Such laws would be proposed and debated in public forums. They would become law only after being openly approved by a majority of officials elected by citizens to represent them. These laws were to remain in force regardless of who became the newly elected President, thus were not dependent on the specific men or women in charge.
Politicians in the U.S. today clearly do not believe that the Constitution provides a framework sufficient for society to thrive. They still publicly propose huge new government programs in hopes of buying votes and differentiating themselves from their opponents. They say that our problems will only be solved if we elect them to office, as if the solutions, in effect, lie within the politician himself. That reflects the old tyrannical concept of a nation of men, not of laws.
New government program proposals may sound quite novel and enticing in a campaign speech, but they are unnecessary and wasteful.
The UTL constitution already specifies the few “programs” needed in a land of liberty...national defense, law enforcement, etc.
If a government is properly constituted from the start, societal changes will not require new government provisions either. The 13th and 14th Amendments, which were added long after the U.S. Constitution was ratified, repaired flaws that were already known issues from the start. These amendments were not prompted by technological advances nor by new moral discoveries. They were simply debated and added after the political climate had shifted sufficiently to enable their passage.
The UTL constitution, unlike the original U.S. Constitution, holds nothing back in hopes of finding the “right time” to raise an issue for later inclusion. It allows for amendments, but we are confident that all principles and general “programs” required for proper governance are already included in its current form.
Will there be a National Capital, like Washington D.C.?
Yes. Ideally, it will border two or more Territories.
Congress, judges, and other officeholders are the people’s servants, not our superiors. All the laws of the land, including any new laws they create, will apply equally to them as to everyone else.
Why are UTL Representatives elected to a four-year term instead of the two-year term used in the U.S.?
To reduce the proportion of their term they spend campaigning.
Under your apportionment scheme, each Territory will have only two congressional representatives unless it has over 100,000 voters in it. How can only two officeholders represent an entire Territory?
Very efficiently and responsibly, we believe. Seven states in the U.S. today have only one House Representative in Congress. Keep in mind, each Territory will also have two Senators.
Why isn’t every Territory divided up into congressional districts, each having only one seat in the House?
The Territories are not divided into any congressional districts because there is no liberty-based reason to divide voters by creating geographic subregions within Territorial boundaries for offices of the Common government. Sufficient boundaries are already drawn between Territories. Thus the UTL eliminates the endless combative cycles of redistricting, avoiding the mess known as gerrymandering, which politicians in the U.S. use as a tool to rig election outcomes.
In the UTL, if a Territory’s population of voters is large enough to have 10 Representatives in Congress, for example, then since the elections are staggered (one-half of the seats are chosen every 2nd year for 4-year terms), 5 of those 10 seats will become open every 2 years.
So, each voter in that particular Territory could vote for up to 5 Representative candidates in each election.
Why do you impose term limits, and allow Recall Elections of Representatives and Senators?
Term limits should help reduce opportunities for influence-peddling and other corruption.
Representatives and Senators are not entitled to their office. Like any other employee, they must be held accountable, and if they fail to represent the will of their constituents, they should be replaced in a Recall Election, if not in a regular election.
Why didn’t you include the statement “Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members” from Article 1, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution?
Because the people of each specific Territory are the rightful judges of the elections and qualifications of the members they elected. If the people of that Territory want to recall the member, they can do so per this portion of Section 3.4.
Why does this section differ from Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution, in that you’ve added this last sentence: “Statutes passed by the Congress may be overridden by a majority vote of two-thirds of the Territory Legislatures”?
This gives the Territories some power to prevent the Congress from over-legislating.
Why have you omitted an Electoral College?
We don’t need an Electoral College, because the interterritory (national) popular vote will suffice for the Presidency, just as the intraterritory (Territory-wide) popular vote has sufficed for all other offices in the U.S. (Senator, Governor, etc.)
Why is the rest of this section so similar to the corresponding material in the U.S. Constitution?
Because those provisions, most of which are rarely used, have sufficed in the U.S. for many decades.
Most of this section is the same as in the U.S. Constitution, but why add a limitation to the President’s Executive Order authority?
The Executive Order has been abused by U.S. Presidents. For example, in 1971, President Nixon imposed wage and price controls by executive order. It was blatantly unconstitutional, but it stood for 90 days. It was an example of lawmaking, which is to be properly handled by the Congress, not the President nor the Supreme Court.
Why have term limits for Supreme Court justices?
Supreme Court justices are public servants like the rest. Instead of being appointed for life, replacing them on a regular basis will limit their tendency toward judicial activism and reduce any unexpected disruptions from death or sudden retirement.
Giving the Congress and the Territorial Legislatures the power to override Supreme Court decisions gives too much power to the Legislative branch, right?
No. Placing this power into the hands of the accountable, elected representatives of the citizens will reduce judicial activism and the resulting imbalance of power that the U.S. has seen in recent decades. And, if Congress or the Legislatures do not reach the two-thirds majority vote on override proposals, then the Supreme Court ruling will stand.
Would felons ever get their rights restored, and eventually be eligible to vote?
After serving their sentence, they will have most of their liberties restored. However, their ability to vote and to hold elected office would be removed permanently as a deterrent to crime, and to maintain an electorate of lifelong law-abiding citizens only.
Note that we don’t recognize any “right” to vote. In the UTL, voting is a privilege available to all law-abiding citizens 18 and older. Unless they’ve ever been convicted of a felony, they can just show up on Election Day, get their identity, age, and citizenship verified biometrically, and vote. Thus there will be no need for voter registration.
Why shouldn’t people be allowed to vote early, or by mail, or Email, or online?
Because those methods are vulnerable to error and fraud. Neither written ballots nor voting machines permit prompt visual evaluation of the votes. Ballots can be counterfeited, stolen, destroyed, lost, or “found”. Current voting machines can make errors or be misprogrammed. To verify the machine results with a manual count, it’s a slow, error-filled task because each vote in each contest on each paper ballot has to be visually examined and counted, if a paper ballot was even used. Fully automated voting machines with no paper ballots are even riskier, with no physical record of the original votes cast, so there’s no way to do a manual recount.
In contrast, the UTL voting process is based on physical tokens. One token represents one vote. Whichever candidate or proposal in a contest gains the greatest number of tokens wins the contest. The tokens are mechanically sorted automatically as the votes are cast, and kept stacked in separate, concealed, transparent bins until all the election results are confirmed. The visible stacks of tokens serve as a direct visual record of the votes. The process is transparent, both literally and figuratively.
What if a voter is out of the country, with no way to get back to the UTL to vote on Election Day?
Then he will be unable to vote in that particular election. Military members stationed away from their home precinct may be given the means to vote only for national candidates via simplified slot panels in the voting booths, which may not include local contests, due to the wide variety of slot panels that would be required to match all the specific local contests in each of the different home precincts.
What voter would ever choose to not vote in any of the contests on the ballot?
The point is that everyone would have the freedom to exit the voting booth whether they voted or not.
The ink stain method has been proven worldwide to be the fastest, simplest, and most reliable way to ensure that people won’t vote multiple times.
How indelible is the ink stain? Couldn’t a dishonest person vote in the morning, scrub off the stain at home, then come back to vote again in the afternoon?
The ink currently used by several nations is basically impossible to remove in a day, using solvents. It can take several weeks to completely fade away with the normal shedding of skin cells. Even if the dishonest person was able to remove the stain and return to the polling place to vote again, workers checking I.D.s at the start of the voting queue should find the record of his earlier visit.
Why does the first poll worker, let’s call him worker #1, check the prospective voter for an ink stain, before the I.D. is checked?
Simply to make sure it’s worth occupying the time of the worker #2 (next in the voting queue) who checks I.D.s. If the prospective voter still has a stain, then he is apparently trying to vote a 2nd time. So he would be taken out of the line by a law enforcement official, and asked to submit to a biometric scan for identification. Polling place records from earlier in the day would be checked to verify that he had already been through the voting process once before. He would likely then be charged with attempted voter fraud.
Why is the same worker who applied the stain, let’s call him worker #3, also tasked with giving voting materials to the voter?
It is like preserving a chain of evidence. Conceivably, a dishonest person who had already voted could step into the voting queue between workers #3 and #4, then be handed materials by worker #4 who did not personally apply the stain and didn’t notice the voter’s previous stain. The space between workers #3 and #4 would be a weak link. Instead, worker #3 looks for a stain, then seeing none, he applies it, then immediately gives voting materials to the voter. Worker #4 could then be dedicated to monitoring the entry and exit of voters at the voting booth. In practice, each “worker” #1, #2, etc. could actually consist of two or more people working as a team.
What voting materials will be given to each voter?
Voting tokens and written instructions. The number of tokens equals the maximum number of votes that a voter can cast in that election. So instead of the traditional paper U.S. ballot that had, say, 80 blank circles of which a maximum of 40 could be filled in as vote choices, the UTL voter will receive 40 tokens. Except for the write-in tokens, the tokens will be identical, probably about the size of a U.S. nickel. Write-in tokens will be larger so that voters can write on them.
What will be inside the voting booth, and how does it work?
The outside of the voting booth will have a privacy curtain that closes behind the voter. He will face a panel with perhaps 80 slots, depending on the number of candidates and proposals for that particular election in that specific precinct. This panel is basically like a large ballot. Each slot will be clearly labeled so the voter can choose where to place each of his voting tokens. Each slot feeds a separate tube leading to a separate transparent vertical bin, wherein the column of stacked tokens can be seen only after all the voting is finished and visual barriers are removed by workers.
Isn’t this scheme awfully complex and expensive? Since each voter places a total of about 40 tokens into the slots, won’t the bins get full after a few hundred people have voted?
The bins will have a large storage capacity. There will be numerous polling places in each precinct, each with numerous voting booths. As for complexity, it can’t be any more complex, laborious, or expensive that the current scheme used in the U.S. today, with all its different voting machines performing invisible internal processes, producing virtually unverifiable results.
If the cost per accurate vote for various voting methods could be compared, this method would likely be the least expensive of all.
Preferably, this new voting equipment will be purely mechanical and operate without electricity, similar to old-fashioned vending machines, but with much better reliability.
How can it be tamper-proof? Couldn’t somebody, with access to the voting equipment just prior to Election Day, tamper with the settings so that certain candidates get an unfair advantage?
No device is truly tamper-proof. However, for the UTL’s token-based voting, tampering would require a conspiracy among the government agency workers who have access to the equipment. They would have to mislabel the slots or the bins, or alter the hardware, or fake the pre-election validation tests without being seen on security video.
In contrast, the invisible software of computerized voting machines can be coded, by just one person, to begin altering the vote tallies at some time during Election Day, with no way for outsiders to detect such tampering. That's in addition to the aforementioned lost, stolen, counterfeited, or “found” ballot problems caused by one or more people inside or outside government when paper is used.
What if a voter smuggles counterfeit or stolen tokens into the voting booth, in an attempt to vote multiple times?
A counterfeit token will not cause problems unless its size or weight is so different from a genuine token that it jams the equipment. Since the slots will not accept more than the allowed number of tokens from a voter, and nobody can enter a voting booth more than once during the election, any counterfeit tokens accepted by the machine would simply be substitutes for, not additions to, genuine tokens. They would be counted the same as genuine tokens.
There could be a small supply of tokens inside each voting booth, so that if a voter drops or loses a token, he can just replace it with one from inside the booth. So there is no incentive for any voter to bring counterfeit tokens into the polling place.
What if a voting booth’s equipment malfunctions or stops working during the election?
If a booth malfunctions while a voter is using it, then poll workers will quarantine that booth for later vote counting, and allow that voter to take his remaining tokens to another booth to resume voting where he left off. Since none of the slots in the new booth will be blocked when he enters it, this remedy carries a risk of him voting again for the same candidate(s) he already voted for in the original booth. The voting booths need to be so reliable that malfunctions are extremely rare, and any such duplicate votes will be so few as to be negligible.
After voting is finished, how will workers be able to view and count all the tokens in 80 bins, for each and every voting booth?
It requires a design that separates the bins with enough space to allow seeing all the bins, their identity, and the tokens they contain, when viewing them from just 2 or 3 different angles after visual barriers are removed. Perhaps the bins will be arranged in 8 groups of 10 each, for example.
When the visual barriers are removed from around the bins, the just-revealed tokens will be examined and treated as carefully as newly-found archaeological evidence, continuously guarded by security guards with all activity broadcast by video cameras.
Viewers should then be able to see all the transparent vertical bins for each contest side-by-side, revealing which bin accumulated the most tokens for that contest. The exact token count for each bin will be tallied as the voting equipment is examined and disassembled. It may be possible to get the exact count for each bin without removing tokens from the bins.
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