This is an outline of recommended procedures for Board elections. The formal requirements are specified in the Bylaws. However, these are very underspecified (by design), and so a body of conventional practice has developed over time which is recorded here after ratification by the Board.
- The Board must appoint an Election Committee for each new election.
- The Election Committee must consist of at least two people, one of whom must be designated Chief Returning Officer (CRO).
- The CRO must hold ultimate responsibility for the elections, including verification of procedure and adjudicating any disagreements.
- The CRO should be someone with experience in DM, ideally someone who was previously on an election committee or with some previous involvement in DM elections or those of another organisation.
- The Election Committee must not include any candidates who are running for election.
- The Election Committee may delegate some or all of its tasks to others, provided:
- The people to whom these tasks are delegated must not be candidates themselves.
- The Election Committee must bear responsibility for the actions and omissions of any delegates.
The Election Committee must:
- Issue the Call for Nominations Collect all nominations.
- Check that nominated candidates are members of DM.
- Ask all nominated candidates to send confirmation of acceptance, and a bio (if they accept).
- Compile the list of candidates and bios.
- Post the bios on a publicly accessible website (this should be the DM site and may be elsewhere as well).
- Announce elections to DM-L.
- Collect votes.
- Check votes against membership to DM.
- Tally votes.
- Reconfirm candidate’s acceptance of the post.
- Announce results on DM-L.
- Nominations should open no later than the end of May, with elections to close no later than the end of July.
- A call for nominations must be sent to the DM-L, should be sent to FB and Twitter, and may be sent anywhere else the Election Committee sees fit.
- The call for nominations must remain open for at least two weeks.
- Voting must remain open for at least two weeks.
- Candidates must be given clear deadlines for accepting nominations, submitting bios, and accepting elected positions.
- Candidates should be sent reminders if necessary.
- The Election Committee should consider that elections are typically during conference season, so candidates and voters are likely to be travelling during this time. Deadlines should be set with this in mind.
- Deadlines for nomination, acceptance of nomination, and voting must be considered final and not flexible, and the Election Committee must make clear to candidates that missing deadlines means likely exclusion from consideration. In other words, the default position must be clear and unambiguous that missing deadlines means exclusion from elections.
Voting and Nominations
- Nominations and voting should be as anonymous as possible.
- Voting must be confidential to all but the Election Committee, and should be entirely confidential if possible, given the constraints of verifying membership of DM.
- The Election Committee should set up a new e-mail address for this purpose, access to which must be restricted to the Election Committee and any third-party delegates of the Election Committee.
- The Election Committee may consider using a neutral third-party delegate to process votes and check membership.
- Pros: The third-party member may be outside the community and so is more neutral than the Election Committee (who will inevitably know many of the voters and candidates)
- Cons: The Election Committee must somehow be able to oversee and guarantee the validity of the third party. It’s unclear how to do this without themselves seeing who voted for whom.
- Any disputes must be referred to those other members of the Board who are not running for election.
- Resolution of any disputes must consider the opinions of those members of the Board who are not running for election, and may involve a vote of those members. However, the final decision and responsibility must be that of the designated CRO.
- A detailed record of nominations, acceptances, bios, votes, and e-mail correspondence must be kept (in confidence), in order to allow external auditing in the case of disputes.
- The bylaws do not allow for ties in votes, stating simply that the Board is to decide what to do next. This is open to abuse and so needs further consideration.
- The bylaws do not specify the voting method. Traditionally we use FPTP, but a preferential system could help with resolving ties. This also needs further discussion.