I personally think this is the wrong way to go. Members cannot be "slapped on the wrist" anymore for saying something they probably shouldn't have, and in the mind of the poster, there is less reprisal for saying potentially insulting or disrespectful posts. It's not going to ease hard feeling, but more increase them as now, a major part of the control factor on those kinds of posts is now gone. Also, all a regular member can do now is report a post or respond to it. With the downvote, a member could just rate down, feel better and then walk away. Now, they'd have to report the post or respond to (and feed) the troll which would potentially leave dissatisfaction, and thus, more drama. Ultimately, the downvote system was an important control on disrespectful and trolling posts and now that it's removed, the only true formal punishment that can be given is either a ban or suspension. And only a moderator or admin can do that, and the regular member can only point out the posts, but can't do anything directly to them. It's only going to increase drama and unresolved issues. That, I already foresee.
I also want to bring up the fact that, while you guys are the managers of the website, this came entirely out of the blue and was made without any sort of discussion on it by the community as a whole. (Or at least none that I have seen) I think that for major site changes like this one, the community should be notified and allowed to offer their own opinions and suggestions, because what if it's something the managers think is a good idea, but the community by and large is against? Also, you are also cutting out a lot of other valid outside opinions on the matter. Basically, I think there should have been a news poll thread suggesting the idea before it was agreed upon and implemented.
There's been extensive discussion on the matter, a large part of which has been public on the forums in various threads (mainly the ones where members 'rage', so to speak, about being downvoted). While there hasn't been much drama due to it recently, historically it's been rather problematic.
As far as the community at large being against it, as far as I can recall, you're the only person to really speak out against it, with most others being neutral or for it.
I remember there being a thread discussing the matter a couple of months ago. However, that was still a couple of months ago and I don't think we reached any sort of conclusion. And I wasn't referring to this matter being controversial, but potential future changes. I would like to see an official discussion take place before major changes are implemented, is all. I'm just bringing that up, because I personally don't like how the matter was discussed in places other members might not see, such as myself. It would also allow for other opinions to come up and possible alternatives before a decision is reached.
Personally, I like the idea of having a negative and positive value or perhaps other limits such as a reason behind downvoting. (What if a member could see the reason behind why a post was downrated and that could potentially reduce problems with misunderstanding) Don't know how feasible that would be though...