It is often said that voting on Meta means something different than voting on regular sites. Upvotes mean "I agree", and downvotes mean "I disagree".
However, I submit that this is not the case. Downvoting of a question has one effect in particular: censorship.
Once a question reaches -8 votes, it disappears from the front page. It can still be found; it isn't deleted. But all it takes is a net 8 downvotes for a question to be more or less lost without a direct link.
You might say that a net 8 downvotes obviously means that the community doesn't agree or want that. Well... does it? Particularly on polarizing issues, a question can temporarily get -8 votes as different people come online and see it. Maybe certain people with a certain belief all see it at once and downvote it a lot.
The front page is how most people find stuff they want to talk about, vote on, or answer. Removal from the front page means that most people will not find it without being pointed directly to it. Once a question hits -8, it is unlikely to be upvoted again. Edits will be irrelevant, new answers won't matter. The question is basically exiled.
The problem is that, on polarized topics, fast mass downvoting can quash any idea that is not popular with the most active members. After all, the most active members are the ones who are most likely to be online and see it. If a bunch of MSO regulars see it and downvote it, it goes away. Someone who checks MSO maybe once a day is less likely to be able to catch the question before it is exiled. This gives undue power to members who are most active on MSO, simply because they have more free time to spend on MSO.
I think this is a significant problem for polarized topics. It becomes very difficult to adequately discuss something that a significant number of active members dislike, even if the community at large doesn't mind.
Consider a question I posted about the relatively recent process in coming up with a solution for deleted questions. It currently stands at +9/-8. Initially, in the first few hours, the question was heavily downvoted and even closed. However, after a day, it was upvoted and reopened.
This shows that a question can initially have a negative response, but later get a positive one. And you can check; any edits I did to the question were relatively minor. The question posted as is was initially negative, but ultimately positive.
If that -8 happened to all come first, odds are good that the +9 and the reopen would never have happened. Those 9 people would never have had the chance to weigh in on the subject. And that's wrong.
It is wrong for someone's potential vote to not matter just because they don't visit MSO multiple times in a day. It is wrong for someone's potential vote to not matter just because they have a different sleep schedule from many of MSO's members.
The problem is one of timing. Heavy dislike from active members who quickly see the question and downvote it can kill a question before someone who might upvote it ever even sees it.
I suppose the best suggestion would be to either lower the -8 threshold (or remove it altogether) or keep it from kicking in until 1-2 days has passed. If the question isn't active, it'll already be off the front page. And if it is active, then enough people will have seen it to know if the threshold represents a real consensus or just the fast-acting few.