Since the transition of Leadership Structure at the beginning of 2017, the board has taken steps to improve the voting process that was initially put in place.
The first improvement was anonymous voting using Adoodle. Preventing any influencing or recrimination over voting which had been an issue when voting was carried out through public lists.
The second improvement was tabled at the Semi-Annual meeting at the beginning of 2019 to improve the voting system. This was put to a community-wide vote (open to all active community members) and passed with 89.55% of the vote. A full description can be found by clicking here.
With the voting system vastly improved, it has become clear that we now need to focus on and improve the election process itself.
Our election cycles currently run over a 9 week period, with 2 cycles per year, we are in election phases for 34% of the calendar year. With out-of-phase elections occurring, the percentage has been even higher of late. This has led to fatigue in the community and a general lack of interest in participating in the election process. We have seen fewer and fewer nominations with each round and in this most recent round, no candidates accepted for some roles.
Two easy fixes were identified by the community and are already being implemented:-
- Officially define board roles and associated commitments.
The current DC/Officer will be responsible for reviewing and updating (where necessary) this every year in the last quarter of their term to ensure that it reflects their current role, duties and required time commitments. This will allow potential candidates in the upcoming elections to have a clear picture of the role before they consider running for it.
Role definitions are available here.
- Require quarterly reporting of progress made and plans for next quarter from all DC’s and Officers.
All DC’s and Officers will be required to publish a report within 14 days of the end of each 90 day period they are in office.
This will help with more than just the election cycle this will also help to provide transparency, continuity and historical reference throughout the project.
With these two improvements implemented, we hope to see an uptake in candidates considering roles in the future but we feel that this only goes part way to solving the problem we are currently facing with our election cycles.
Our current nomination system allows anyone to nominate anyone (including themselves) for a role with or without their knowledge (https://www.opensourcematters.org/organisation/directors/election-cycle.html).
Although this appears to be fair and transparent on the surface, experience has taught us that it is flawed.
The current system often results in nominations that are made without consulting the nominee. This leads to a high number of nominated candidates declining the nomination and to a smaller degree, nominees feeling pressured to accept a nomination they would otherwise decline.
Another major problem is that community members have no idea who to nominate because, in most cases, candidates fail to come forward as interested before the nominations round opens.
In order to fix these issues, the solution is to change the way our election cycles work. This proposal will be put to a community-wide discussion and vote, if passed, it will be implemented for the next Group 1 Election cycle at the beginning of 2020.
We propose to change the system from open nominations to declared candidacies with attached manifestos. The Drupal Association only allows for self-nomination and their reasoning for it is sound:
Candidates for the community board positions should be self-nominated. This prevents electing candidates who have the support of the community, but who are unable or unwilling to serve. If community members feel a particular member would make a great board member, they should encourage that individual to nominate themselves.
Typo3 also follow this route - https://typo3.org/article/upcoming-elections-in-the-typo3-association-2019/
This will ensure that those that put themselves forward do so with full disclosure of and commitment to the requirements of the role at hand and a clearly stated vision of how they would fill it. It will increase community engagement by encouraging people to reach out to those they consider a good fit for a role.
The proposed election cycle would begin on the 284th day of a term. By this day the current DC/Officer will publish their 270-day report and email the Secretary stating whether they plan to run for another term or step down. Should they be planning to run for another term, they will submit their manifesto for the coming year to the Secretary at the same time.
The day after the Secretary will publish a call for Candidate Manifestos and announce either : -
- The current DC/Officer’s intention to run for another term and their manifesto
- That the current DC/Officer is stepping down
The call for manifestos will last 28 days. We believe this is a good amount of time for people to consider standing as a candidate and/or to encourage others to step forward as candidates and to produce well thought out manifestos.
A frequent complaint regarding our elections is that there is often only one candidate for a role.
It is hoped that with the new system this will only occur when an existing DC/Officer has been excelling in their role and both they and the community are keen for them to continue.
Where the current DC/Officer is the sole candidate for a new term, an expedited election process will be used to perform a confirmation vote. The expedited process timeline can be found here. This would cut the election cycle from 63 days to 37.
[Edge case: Voters will still be able to abstain in this vote and if abstentions outnumber votes, a new call for candidates will be made. This will ensure that the existing DC/Officer only receives a new term with the backing of the community.]
In all other scenarios, we hope that more than one candidate will always come forward and each will have a different vision laid out in their manifesto. This will give the community a choice in the direction of the role and its benefits to the project in the coming year.
If no candidate comes forward for a role, a new call will be put out and the process will begin again. With the improvements made and the new system in place, we truly hope that this no longer happens.
In all other circumstances, a full election process will commence the day after the deadline for manifesto publication. This would still cut the election cycle from 63 days to 52.
The Secretary will publish a full list of candidates for each role alongside their manifestos. The Secretary will also open a “Recommendations” form which will replace the Nominations form currently used. This will give anyone an opportunity to add words of support for the candidates and let the community know why they think they are ideal for the role.
Election channels will be opened in Glip for each role. These channels will allow department/community members to ask candidates questions regarding their manifestos in order to help them decide who to vote for.
- DC Channels
The current DC, all candidates, all active department members
- Officer Channels
The current Officer, all candidates, all active community members
The Recommendations form will be open for 7 days and the recommendations received will be published the day afterwards and ballots sent out 7 days after this. This allows for a 15 day period before the opening of ballots for both the community and the candidates to reach out to each other, answer questions through the designated Glip channels.
Ballots will be open for 7 days with results announced the day after.
Where the existing DC/Officer wins the election, their Year-End Report will be due 14 days after the end of their current term. A timeline for this scenario can be found here.
Where there is a change of Officer/DC, the hand-over period will start on this day. The deadline for delivery of both the outgoing DC/Officer Year-End Report and HandOver Document will be 14 days after this and the handover period will end 14 days after that. A timeline for this scenario can be found here.
None of this requires a bylaws change as no mention is made of how the election cycle or nominations should be run, only who gets to vote and when which remains unchanged here.
- 105 people had the right to vote
- 53 have voted (50.48%)
- 5 Are attentive but have not voted (4.76%)
- 47 are inattentive (44.76%).
- 52 approved the changes (49.52%)
- 1 rejected the changes (0.95%)
The motion has been sent to all the "Members" of Open Source Matters, Inc. (Class 1, Class 2, Class 3) according to Section 9.12 of the Bylaws of the Corporation. The motion has been sent through aDoodle, an anonymous voting service on December 22, 2019 and vote closed on December 29, 2019. The Secretary would like to apologise for the delay in publishing the results that were internally announced when the voting period was closed. Link to the survey has not been included into this blog post as it includes some personal email addresses that we would like to not disclose according to Privacy Regulations.