A Citizen's Challenge
Elevator 4 had arrived. However, it was packed, so Brandon Devoy passed and elected to wait for the next one. After about a minute, another ding indicated that Elevator 2 was available. There was no one in this one, besides the operator.
"Office of Elections, please."
Things had changed in the Federal Office since he was last home, for one, he no longer needed to tip the operators, they were now being paid a living wage. Imagine that! It was a bit risky coming home, but with the Steward switching to election mode and distracted in Angleter, there was little to worry about. He didn't even need to disguise himself as his brother. Seeing as he was about to come out to the public, it didn't matter anymore. His hair was back in its normal state, eyes their normal gray color, out of that sterile suit and back into jeans and a button-down.
The elevator doors opened and Brandon entered the...most...boring...bland office of all offices. "God, this place is sterile, it might as well be the DMV. If I ever become Aelir, the Office of Elections is getting a huge makeover," he thought in disgust.
"Well EXCUSE MEEEEE," a nearby woman snapped. "The line is over here!"
Brandon reached into his pocket and produced a foldout federal ID badge, bearing his full name, picture, and A-2 level clearance, but the rest left blank.
"Mezlir, I have A level security clearance. I'm sorry."
Reading the name on the badge, she stood there, unimpressed.
"Is this some kind of joke?" she shook her head off to the side. "Mmm, mmm, mmm..."
Brandon could have easily and legally cut the entire line, but then he stopped and actually moved to the back, realizing that it would be morally wrong to use special privileges in this particular office. The Office of Elections was supposed to treat all electors of the Duxburian Union equally. He submitted his name to the queue. The clerk looked too bored and tired to really care.
Waiting in line wasn't bad anyway. It was long...but he was Brandon Devoy. He whipped out his trusty smartphone and engaged in his favorite pastime - hacking. Today's target would be a big, foreign bank. It wouldn't even be a fair fight, taking money from banks was like taking candy from a baby.
The world paradigm was to make quick money for shareholders, costly considerations like "security" were a complete afterthought. Domestic banks had become virtually impossible targets after decades of legalized hacking forced them to defend properly, but foreign ones were utterly defenseless.
"Is that a game you're playing?" asked a little kid behind him in line.
"Kind of," Brandon sarcastically replied. "This here is a bank that only requires 8 character passwords. And now, they are out a good 4 million kaels."
It was for the best that the kid didn't understand and promptly lost interest.
A nearby 20something had also taken interest in the phone.
"What kind of phone is that? I've never seen an iPhone like that!"
"Uh, it's a Mil Spec iPhone Extreme Custom. Steve and I split the costs of development. This won't be a public release for many years, though."
"Cool, how much does it cost?" The millennial was not understanding.
"About 62 million kaels. Don't buy one now." Brandon managed to convey seriousness and sarcasm in one expression. Luckily, he'd reached the front of the line and his name would be called any second, sparing him from further conversation. Interacting with regular people was so draining...
"Brandeus Devoy?" the floor assistant called out incredulously.
Brandon moved forward, and this time, heads turned.
"What?" Who?" Whispers filled the room.
The assistant escorted him to a back hallway, badly trying to hide the fact that he was wildly texting to friends about who he was walking with.
After working down the numbers all the way to DAIRGHAZBURY ELECTORAL DISTRICT 1, the hallway ended with a janitor's closet. Of course, this wasn't really a janitor's closet.
"Here we go." The assistant fumbled through his key ring for a certain red key. "I never thought I'd ever get to use this key!" he exclaimed.
The door opened to reveal a conference room like all the others, with a sign reading DAIRGHAZBURY ELECTORAL DISTRICT 0. Every sign had a different quote underneath the District number, this one had:
$ŦRxӢÐØ •V RIӢ Ŧx̄ VxRÐxӢӢ ĪØ ÐЖЖǢRØ, xϟϟRx $x̄ÐØ ӢxÐÐIK RIӢ Ŧx̄ VxRÐxӢӢ ĪØ Vx̄ӢØ.
- ÆϟIR MΛRȻx̄v$ ÐxV•⅄
"Stand up for the world you want, or sit down for the world you have."
- Aelir Marceus Devoy
"Damn straight", thought Brandon, reading the words of his ancient ancestor.
"The election clerk will be here shortly," said the assitant. He didn't want to leave, but that line wasn't going to shorten itself. He thought better of trying to snap a picture of Devoy.
This was just enough time for Brandon to reflect on how he got stuck as the sole elector of District 0, a phantom of a person in a phantom of a district.
He took a trip back in memory to that fateful day when the legendary Grandmaster Jan Allon asked him to become his apprentice. Of course he said yes, but he didn't realize what had to be given up. If he could do it all over, he still would have said yes, but done a better job holding onto his legal existence. He also would have requested that an existing electoral district be extended to cover the government buildings in Federal Square. Nobody had thought of it, as nobody had truly lived here since the days of the Duxburian Empire.
The clerk interrupted Brandon's thoughts.
"Grandmaster Devoy, it is really you? I never thought I'd see you here! I am Jeff Beckard, one of the clerks for District 1 and the only clerk for District 0. How may I serve you today?"
They shook hands.
"Hi Jeff, nice to meet you. I want to initiate a Citizen's Challenge, but I need help with the process, it's something I've never attempted before."
"Certainly, I can help with that. Do you have a copy for me to scan?"
Beckard was specially trained to work with this particular elector.
"Yes, I have it here." Brandon pulled out a seemingly blank piece of paper.
Beckard scanned it and decoded the characters that popped up.
"Ah, so you wish to call the General Election, that's a pretty gutsy move, but well within the powers of a Citizen's Challenge. I see nothing wrong with the text itself, some things could be organized differently, but it will pass legal muster. I can fix the logical flow and then it will be ready to present."
"Do you think it has any chance of passing?"
Beckard took a moment to think it over.
"In this electoral climate...yes. Assuming you are willing to champion it, be its public face, and throw the full weight of your influence behind it. Of course, you have already made your decision, or you wouldn't be sitting here today."
"So, what happens next?"
Beckard was slightly amused that the man who created the internet did not know the political process. But, perhaps, it was intentionally omitted from his education. Beckard would not be surprised, considering all the ways his elector had been jipped of his political rights.
"There are three steps to winning a Citizen's Challenge. First, it must be presented and voted on at the municipal level. In a direct democracy like Dairghazbury, this is a two step process involving both the Neighborhood Meeting and the City Meeting. This phase ensures that a citizen has standing to bring their Challenge. In your case, the first portion is just a formality - your Neighborhood Meeting has 1 elector.
Second, the Challenge must gain at least a million valid signatures from electors of the Duxburian Union. This is the toughest phase and where most Challenges die. Again, for something as high profile as forcing the General Election, you have excellent chances at collecting the signatures. They can be digital/online signatures as well.
Third, the Challenge is put to vote nationally. You need a majority of anything over 50% to win. If it passes, the Challenge becomes law. It cannot be appealed, and your type of Challenge cannot itself be challenged."
"How long do you think this would take? I can't really afford to have the signature phase drag on."
"Each Challenge is unique and has its own timeline based on too many variables to count. The next Neighborhood Meeting is tomorrow night, I would join District 1's for free exposure. You have a huge reservoir of untapped publicity to unleash when you go public, that could ride it to a million in a matter of days. The national vote needs to have at least 5 days notice. There is a chance you could blast this through in less than 10 days, but it depends how good you are at social media. That is the only way to gather enough signatures in such a short period.
So, I will revise the draft and send it back to you, then you can read it at the Meeting. Sound like a plan?"
"Definitely, thanks for your time!"
"Oh, and speaking of social media, that's currently blowing up over a possible Brandon Devoy sighting at the Office of Elections. I would recommend sneaking out the service exit."
"See you tomorrow night!"
Brandon was hoping for a small and uneventful Neighborhood Meeting, but had a feeling that wouldn't happen. The posted agenda for District 1 now included a session for District 0, which would probably draw big crowds. After the Office of Elections sighting, people would put 2 and 2 together. He turned the corner to face the Neighborhood Meeting Hall.
As feared, there wasn't just a big crowd at the Meeting Hall - there was a line out the door. Millennials, a shit ton of them, too. Brandon had never seen so many millennials at such a boring place like a Neighborhood Meeting. Perhaps, he was really on to something...
Luckily, nobody recognized him in line. The Duxburian public didn't know what he really looked like. Enjoying his last moments as an anonymous shadow, he presented his ID to the door guard.
"Nice try, we've already had dozens of these."
The guard wasn't believing his real identity. There wasn't a foolproof way to actually prove his identity, but there was this one option...
"Do you watch Eurovoice?"
"Do the fake Brandon Devoys have a voice like this?"
Blushing and feeling like an idiot, Brandon faced the line and let loose with his EV winning song, Too Damn Late. Cheers went up as his true accent started coming out. The guard's rapidly changing facial expression confirmed that this was going to work. The sea of smartphones being held up also confirmed that he was going to regret this tomorrow.
"Holy shit..." The guard let him in.
The building was absolutely packed, standing room only. Brandon spotted Jeff Beckard, who motioned for him to come over.
"Brandon! I underestimated your star power! It's official, we have already broken the record for the highest attendance of any Neighborhood Meeting in the First District, with records going back over 2,000 years. And, there's still people trying to get in, we have no more capacity, non-electors will have to stand outside.
Neighborhood Meeting officials were now sweeping the line outside.
"ELECTORS OF DISTRICT 1 ONLY, THIS IS A FULL CAPACITY NIGHT! ELECTORS OF DISTRICT 1, FOLLOW ME, ONLY ELECTORS OF DISTRICT 1!"
After nearly an hour of delay, the Meeting was ready to start.
Keith Antrey, Speaker for Electoral District 1, rose to speak.
"Wow, this is by far the highest turnout I ever seen at a Neighborhood Meeting. Please be patient, we are having more chairs delivered. As usual, we are using electronic voting, everyone who does not have a desk should have a handheld clicker. The button on the left is AYE and the button on the right is NAY. They will only send a signal when I have the podium switch enabled.
Now, before we begin the meeting for District 1, we will be hosting the meeting for District 0. District 0 does not have a Meeting Hall, and until tonight, I didn't know that we even have a District 0. This District encompasses Federal Square, from the Supreme Court to the Federal Office, including the Sovereign Assembly building. There is 1 voting address and 1 elector. Brandeus Devoy, please come forward."
Hushed chatter broke out as Brandon rose and walked to the front. He could feel the intense gaze of thousands of eyes. The smartphones would be next. God, the smartphones...
"You are the real Brandon Devoy, I presume..." Keith didn't look certain.
"Do I need to sing for you, too?"
That drew a round of laughter and then cheers from the crowd.
"No, I trust you, haha. Ok, so, I declare that the Neighborhood Meeting for Dairghazbury Electoral District Number 0 is now open. Only electors of District 0 may speak or vote. Due to the single member nature of this constituency, motions will not require a second. Now, Brandon, do you have a motion to appoint a moderator? You may choose anyone present other than a District Speaker. As fabulous as I am, I can only represent one District."
"OH MY GAWD CHOOSE ME BRANDON!" Yelled a random girl in the crowd. Security gave her a look, but she sat back down.
"Umm...well..can I appoint Elections Clerk Jeff Beckard?"
"Clerk Beckard is eligible. But, you need to make it a motion."
"Ok, I move to appoint Clerk Jeff Beckard as moderator."
"Voting will work by voice unless you really want a clicker. Also, with 1 elector, there is no discussion, so we will move to voting. All in favor of appointing Clerk Jeff Beckard as moderator, say aye."
"Aye." Brandon's solitary voice echoed through the hall.
"The motion passes."
Jeff took the microphone from Keith, pretending to shoo him away.
"Alright, now is your party, Brandon. You have one item on the agenda, Citizen's Challenge. Do you have a motion?"
People sat up straight in their seats, if they were lucky to have any. This is what they'd really come to hear. What was so important that it could draw out a mythical person like Brandon Devoy?
"I move to present a Citizen's Challenge."
He could have heard a pin drop at this point.
"All in favor?"
"The motion passes, let's hear it!"
"Proposal: Start electoral proceedings for the Duxburian General Election of 825, beginning immediately, with voting to be held on the 312th of 825.
Sponsor: Grandmaster Brandeus Lir Devoy am Harrison.
As per constitutional requirement, I am a citizen of the Duxburian Union, age 36, registered to vote at 1 Federal Square in Dairghazbury's 0th District. I am currently employed full time by the Federal Government of the Duxburian Union, Office of War, Division of Cyber Warfare. I have never been convicted of a felony. I am of sound mind and body, and freely issue this Challenge of my own accord.
With Aelir Avoldran Dehn in a coma and unable to perform the duties of the Office of Aelir, Dante Maximillian was appointed Steward of the Duxburian Union. This Stewardship lasts until the end of Aelir Dehn's term, the 312th of 825. It is the Steward's legal responsibility to call the next General Election at least 60 days before a scheduled Election Day.
Noting that Steward Maximillian has not called a General Election as of the 266th,
Noting that there are only 46 days left until Election Day,
Noting that Election Day can not be legally delayed or postponed by any means I am aware of,
Noting that failure to hold the General Election at all would result in Steward Maximillian holding that office for an additional FIVE years,
Accusing the Steward of Negligence in failing to start electoral proceedings on time,
Believing that an abbreviated General Election is better than not having one,
Strongly supporting the Duxburian tradition of rule by the people,
I, Grandmaster Brandeus Lir Devoy of the House of Harrison, a qualified elector of Dairghazbury, propose that the General Election of 825 shall commence immediately."
After a moment to process what they heard, many of the District 1 voters clapped, cheered, or both.
"I move that we vote on the Challenge as presented."
"All in favor?"
"The motion passes. The Citizen's Challenge now moves on to the next stage, it needs a million signatures. There are no other agenda items. Do you wish to move to adjorn?"
Brandon was getting more comfortable with his power, but he couldn't think of anything to add to the agenda for now.
"I move to adjorn."
"All in favor?"
Jeff handed the mic back to Keith.
"Please stick around for our own meeting," he jokingly said to his own electors.
"I declare that the Neighborhood Meeting for Dairghazbury Electoral District Number 1 is now open. The first item on the agenda is...yes, the hand in the back..."
"Brad Rixxen, 2891 Grand Dominion Ave. I move to add to the agenda, item 0, approval of Brandon Devoy's Citizen's Challenge, as a bloc."
"Is there a second?"
"SECOND," about a dozen people exclaimed at once.
"All in favor?"
Click, click, click, click, the results went up on the big screen.
"1,728 AYE, 70 NAY, the motion passes. We shall now skip item 1 and address item 0. Is there a motion? Yes, in the corner..."
"Lisa Dresden, 904 Grand Dominion Ave. I move that we approve Brandon Devoy's Citizen's Challenge as a bloc, adding District 1's name with its voting power."
"Is there a second?"
"SECOND," once again shouted in unison.
"VOTE NOW, VOTE NOW," several people in the front right chanted.
"All in favor?"
Click, click, click, click.
"1,730 AYE, 68 NAY, the motion passes. District 1's name shall be added in favor of the Challenge with 1,730 voting power."