Talk:Election Rules

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Number of Directors

How many should we have? AndrewRT 00:59, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Note: Please discuss this question at Talk:Wikimedia UK v2.0#Size of board

Voting system

Should we use approval voting? AndrewRT 00:59, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

It seems a sensible way of doing it, one that increases the likelihood of getting a board that the most number of people approve of, so why not? Mike Peel 19:38, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

Majority criterion

Should we only have directors elected if they get more than 50% approval? AndrewRT 00:59, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm in two minds with this one. Whilst it's good to make sure that the candidate has the support of the majority of the voters, it significantly increases the chances that we'd end up with only a couple of members elected. What about saying that the [3? 5?] candidates with the highest amount of support will get elected, with the remainder of the posts only filled if we have more candidates with greater than 50% approval? That way, we ensure that we always have a working board without the chances of a single director being elected (providing that enough candidates put themselves forward). Mike Peel 19:43, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
Time to decide! I've put in three as the mid point, as not much discussion has been generated here or on the email list! AndrewRT 18:03, 11 January 2009 (UTC)
If you don't like my RON idea in the next section, then 3 could be a good choice. It might be best to do away with the 50% requirement completely - wouldn't it be better to have 7 people the membership don't like running things than 3? At least each individual has less power then. I guess it depends on how much people don't like them. If they all get results in the 40-50% range, then 7 is certainly better than 3. If 3 get results in the 40-50% range and then next 4 are in the 0-10% range, then 3 is probably better. I'd like a simple rule, but I'm not sure any simple rules yield good results. One possible complicated rule would be if less than 3 candidates get 50% or more, then the top 3 are elected as are the next 4 as long as they got more than 30%. If at least 3 people get 50%, then only those with 50% or more can be elected. That would mean that if there is an option of a viable board with membership support, we go for it. If there isn't, we avoid putting too much power in a small number of unpopular individuals, while avoiding giving any power to extremely unpopular individuals (unless absolutely necessary). --Tango 04:57, 12 January 2009 (UTC)

Proviso for one director

If all the directors get less than 50%, should the highest placed candidate be elected notwithstanding this? AndrewRT 00:59, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

In my email on the subject I supported this idea, but I've been thinking since and I'm not sure how it would work. It takes an ordinary resolution to appoint a board member, that means 50% support. We could propose a motion at each AGM saying "This meeting resolves to hold an election by approval voting, appointing the top five of the following candidates that receive 50% approval. If less than five candidates receive 50% approval, only they will be appointed. If no-one receives 50% approval, the top candidate will be appointed." (We can have a Rule that says this motion must be put forward at every AGM, and before any other motions regarding director appointments are considered.) We would, however, have a problem if that motion failed to pass (effectively, a mass vote for "none of the above"). Subsequent motions to appoint directors individually could be considered, but the notification requirements would prevent anyone not already on the list from being considered, so that wouldn't work. There could be a motion to re-appoint the old board, but that could also fail (or the old board could be unwilling to stand). This is another problem with having the whole board resign at once, if the meeting fails to appoint anyone, we end up with no board (there will be something in legislation to deal with this scenario, I'll take a look...). --Tango 13:41, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
I can't find anything relevant in the legislation beyond a power for the Secretary of State to direct a company to appoint a director if they don't have one. After looking at our articles and the model articles, I thing we need to make a slight adjustment (a little later than ideal, but nevermind) to Article 16.2 to add "unless by the close of the meeting the members have failed to elect sufficient Directors to hold a quorate meeting of the Directors. Any elections at the meeting remain valid, notwithstanding any maximum number of directors." That should deal with any problems other than all the directors resigning by choice simultaneously, and there's not a great deal we can do about that. --Tango 14:26, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
As one of the directors said at the time we were drafting the Articles, if we get to that stage I'm afraid the problem we have is a lot bigger than one which can be resolved by the careful drafting of some rules! Ultimately I think we would have a political problem either caused by a massive loss of confidence or because of factionalism. The first priority would be to craft a compromise - perhaps a new Board which brought all the factions together and addressed the underlying issues. Once you had a solution that had broad appeal you would then look at how to legally implement it - a Written Resolution under Article 12 which (a) suspended the Election Rules and then (b) appointed the consensus Board would be my first thought. Given the amount of time that was spent debating the Articles, I'm not sure there's much appetite for amending them now!
As to the AGM resolution itself, I've started drafting some resolutions for the first AGM here (input gladly received). What I had in mind for the actual Resolution appointing the new Board is generally along the lines you said, although I shoudl stress these are my thoughts and not those of the Board which has not really discussed these issues. Bearing in mind many if not most votes will be by proxy, I would expect most people to vote yes to the resolution before the winners were announced - as I said if they didn't our problems would be much bigger than a simple drafting issue! AndrewRT 21:27, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
The law requires there to always be at least one board member, though, so we would be in violation of the law while we were trying to come up with a compromise. Something in the articles to deal with that would be good. I would expect the vote for the resolution about the election to be held before the election itself - a) there's no point holding the election if it's not going to be accepted and b) having the election results known may cause people to oppose the motion because their chosen candidate didn't win. Also, if you haven't seen it, I've suggested a resolution on that page regarding the chapter agreement, I'd appreciate comments. --Tango 23:54, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
See my comment in #Majority criterion. I'm inclined to say that yes, the candidate with the highest level of support (or possibly the highest 3-5 candidates) should always be elected, so should not be subject to the 50% rule. Mike Peel 19:45, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
If we don't elect enough directors to form a quorum then all they can do is call another general meeting (you removed the clause that allowed them to appoint more directors), so we may as well hold a second election at the same meeting or use the existing election results to come up with something. That means we need at least 2 trustees. It may be best to do away with the 50% requirement and just rely on the statutory right of members to remove directors they aren't happy with. An undersized board is probably a more serious problem than trustees without a strong mandate. Alternatively, we could allow votes for "reopen nominations" (RON) and only people (except the top 2 who win automatically) that get more approval than RON are elected. That allows people to specify "I'd prefer no-one over the people I'm not approving." (RON votes work better with preference voting than approval voting, but it could work.) If RON beats enough candidates for the board not to be filled, whoever is elected could then call another meeting in a few week's time to fill the remaining places - having at least the top 2 elected means they could continue to run the charity during those weeks. --Tango 20:17, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
The problem with simply holding another election at the same meeting is that you need to provide notice to all members, including those who weren't physically present at the meeting; you can bypass this requirement either through a written resolution, which needs 50% of the membership to support the resolution, or via a consent to short notice (CoAct06 s307(5)) which needs the approval of 90% of members. Either way, it would be harder than the normal AGM which only needs 10% attendence including proxies to be valid. Relying on the original notice to run a second election could be risky, particularly if there were new candidates. I think the safest thing would be to rerun the election after notice is given again.
Of course, the most important thing is to make sure we don't end up in that situation - i.e. do a good job and don't cause too many arguments!
As far as the rules are concerned, we need to decide what we want to do if the best candidates we get are people without the confidence of the members: Do we (a) elect them and let them carry on regardless (you could say a bit like UK general elections!); (b) elect a smaller Board with only those that have the most confidence or (c) elect a very small Board whose only task is to re-run the election soon after. The rules as I've drafted them at the moment are basically (c). However, I'm edging towards Mike's suggestion and apply the 50% rule only after the top 3 have been elected - (which I suppose is (b)). Ther's nothing to stop the Board arranging another election soon after if they so choose and the added advantage is we comply with the Articles' minimum number of directors of 3. AndrewRT 19:13, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Any other changes

Do we need to specify anything else in the rules? AndrewRT 00:59, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Answering this question myself, I wanted to put a suggestion regarding minority languages.
Most of the people active in Wikimedia UK seem to be active in the english Wikimedia projects. However, there are some other smaller Wikimedia languages where UK editors form a vital part of the editing and readorship base. I'm thinking particularly of the native languages of the UK such as Welsh, Scottish Gaelic and maybe Irish, Scots/Ullans, Cornish, Manx etc.
As well as recognised the diversity of the Wikimedia community, there are also significant public funds available for promoting these languages which could be used by us to support these projects.
The Board has already reached out to these projects by asking if the newsletter could be translated into these languages. My suggestion is we set aside two reserved seats on the Board for people who actively contribute to at lease one wikimedia project in a minority language of the UK.
What do you think? AndrewRT 00:41, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
I think the conclusion on this on the mailing list was nay. Mike Peel 19:28, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
So far, there's been little to no interest from such projects, so even if we did set aside board seats, I suspect they would not initially be filled. Warofdreams 22:01, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
yes I think I agree with Mike, the consensus is against it for a number of reasons: (a) some object to reserved seats per se (b) some object to treating indigenous languages different to immigrant languages and (c) some think it would give minority languages disproportionate say. My additional concern is that minority languages are often linked to separatist politics (e.g. Welsh, Scots and Irish languages) so may hesitate to get involved in anything with "UK" in the title. In that case, I'll drop the proposal. I think my focus instead will be getting some kind of branch structure in place that would cater for, e.g. Wikimedia Wales. AndrewRT 16:27, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

Election committee

Is an election committee required? It will just be a vote at the AGM, what would the committee do? --Tango 23:56, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

It's up to the community. Last time we wanted someone who wasn't involved to count the votes and keep the details confidential so that we couldn't tell who had voted for whom. AndrewRT 16:44, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
That was a vote done by email. At the AGM we can just have a ballot box. --Tango 17:13, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes but we also need to allow people to vote by proxy where they aren't going to the physical AGM. AndrewRT 19:04, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
They'll do that by choosing someone to be their proxy (and giving them a piece of paper with a very precise declaration on it, as set down in the Articles [and the legislation]) and telling that person how they want to vote. Somebody can volunteer to be a proxy for anyone that wants one (the chair is an obvious choice, but any member will do [or possibly non-member, I'd have to look it up]), but there is no need for an official committee. --Tango 22:43, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
Someone would have to count the votes, still. Would you want this done in public, or would you be happy with, say the Secretary, doing it even if they were standing for election? AndrewRT 22:47, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
I think usually the secretary and chair would do it, possibly with a couple of observers if it was a particularly controversial vote. If one or other of them was actually standing, you might get someone else to do it (first choice would be a member of the board that isn't standing for re-election, failing that you just ask for volunteers at the time - you may want to ask those at the meeting if they have any objections to a given volunteer, it shouldn't be too hard to find someone no-one objects to, failing that a simple majority would be required to appoint a teller). I don't think a formal election committee is necessary - the existence of a steering committee for a fairly small organisation usually means their level of bureaucracy has gotten out of hand (eg. a student union). --Tango 00:17, 1 December 2008 (UTC)
I take your point about not wanting to over-administer, so I've changed Election Committee to tellers in line with your comments. Of course if Board members are not standing for re-election they may make a good choice for teller anyway. I would expect a clear majority of votes to be by proxy rather than in person, so I still suggest it would be better to appoint the tellers in advance and have the proxy ballot papers sent direct to them rather than to the Company Secretary to forward to them. AndrewRT 18:03, 1 December 2008 (UTC)
That looks much better (although you may want to add in a clause to the effect that the meeting can overrule a ruling of the tellers by simple majority - the meeting should always be in charge of proceedings at the end of the day). Will there actually be ballot papers sent out? My understanding of the way proxies work is that someone unable to attend the meeting chooses someone to be their proxy and that person votes for them (presumably under instruction, but there is no requirement for them to vote a certain way). Who that person is is entirely up to the member in question, although the chair or secretary could volunteer to serve as proxy for anyone that asks them too. --Tango 19:23, 1 December 2008 (UTC)
The notice of the meeting will include a ballot paper which people can either return to the teller or they can vote in person at the meeting. In will be in the form of a proxy appointing the Chair by default (or another person if they choose), but they can still vote by proxy and then attend the meeting. AndrewRT 23:13, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

Timing of ballot papers being sent out

The proposal currently states that "When the notice of the AGM is sent out, the teller(s) shall send a notice to each member who is entitled to a vote, containing a ballot paper containing a list of candidate names and information regarding their candidacy or a link to such information." However, we won't have a complete list of those candidates until 14 days before the AGM is held. So the action of sending out the ballot paper probably needs to be delayed until ~ 10 days before the AGM is due to be held. Mike Peel 18:14, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

That's an excellent point. The ballot paper needs to include the standard text for a proxy declaration as given in the Articles as well. --Tango 19:01, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for both points - I'll reword the Rules! AndrewRT 21:38, 13 December 2008 (UTC)


I think the resolution should come before the election ("This meeting resolves to hold an election and appoint the winners as directors." or words to that effect), otherwise there is a risk of the motion failing due to people not liking the outcome (if we have the 50% rule, then it should never happen, but I think we've agreed the 50% rule should be waived in certain circumstances). --Tango 19:05, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

Yes I understand what you're getting at - hopefully people will be more mature than that and respect the wishes of the electorate, but you never know! In addition, if we put the resolution to appoint at the bottom of the ballot paper, most people would vote yes before they knew the result, hence overcoming that problem. I've done it this way because I was worried that the legality could be challenged if a resolution was passed appointing people as directors without their identities being known! I'll do some research to see what other organisations do. AndrewRT 21:44, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
I think there is a lot of freedom in how companies do these kinds of things. There is a law saying public companies have to elect directors separately, rather than having multiple on one resolution, but we're not a public company so that doesn't apply. As long as we follow the notification requirements in the Articles, I think we're fine. Expecting that most people will vote before the AGM will be fine once we get up to a large membership, but early on I would expect a large portion of people to attend the AGM in person (although they are the people more likely to show the maturity you hope for, since being early adopters shows they are very committed to the chapter and would probably recognise the need for a board, even if it isn't the one they would have chosen). --Tango 23:06, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

What happens if someone is elected, then backs out?

What happens if someone is elected, then backs out during the AGM? I.e. stand for the election, and receive the required number of yes votes to get a seat, but then decide before a resolution is passed that they no longer want to hold that seat? Should there be some sort of escape clause so that someone else can fill that seat?

Put another way, once someone's nominated themselves, what's the latest that they can pull out if they change their mind? Mike Peel 23:26, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

Well, if they resign after actually joining the board, the board can replace them. If they pull out before the vote, I guess all proxy votes for them are just ignored and people voting in person can't vote for them (nothing else makes sense). If we go with my suggestion of having the resolution before the vote, then there is no inbetween (well, they could pull out during the vote counting, I would count that as a resignation - if we interpret the process as people joining the board as soon as people vote, but just not knowing about it until the votes have been counted, then that all works). If we have the resolution afterwards, then the place would have to go to the next person down, since you can't appoint an unwilling person as director. In the case of such a resignation, I would expect the board to appoint the next person down anyway. --Tango 00:00, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
I've added a clause under counting: "If a candidate has given notice to a Teller prior to the start of the count that they wish to withdraw, any votes cast for that candidate shall be ignored." How does that look? AndrewRT 19:30, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
Looks good. --Tango 15:23, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Election Rules review

Following discussions at the AGM, I have been invited to conduct a review of the election rules.

In particular, I intend to consider the voting system used and the timetable.

If anyone wishes to make suggestions, please do so.

Many thanks!

LondonStatto 17:22, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Voting system - I dislike our current system on the basis that abstentions are not possible. One possible alternative is to move to a system where votes can be "yes", "no" or "abstain", and then the minimum threshold for election can perhaps be more "yes" than "no" as opposed to the current 50% yes requirement.
I would suggest STV, but I don't think anyone should have to hand-count a seven-seat STV election in the timeframe of a WMUK AGM!
LondonStatto 17:34, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
The question is what our goal is. Do we want a board that the most people approve of (if so, approval voting is good). Or would we rather have a board that the most people strongly support (suggesting a first-past-the-post type system would be best)? Or somewhere in-between (suggesting some kind of preferential voting system)? --Tango 18:08, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. I think our biggest aim should be to exclude a clearly-unsuitable candidate (me, for example, were I silly enough to move from Teller to candidate...) So at the very least I feel we need to avoid automatically electing anyone. -- LondonStatto 15:32, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
We need to allow for a tie breaker, the rules need something like "in the event of a tie the returning officer shall resolve matters by a random method such as the toss of a coin". This is less likely to be needed if we introduce a better voting system, but it still makes sense to allow for the possibility.
Good point. I didn't realise there wasn't such a provision - had we had a tie for 7th place (which we nearly did) I would have done a drawing of lots. -- LondonStatto 15:32, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
The current 50% threshold is a complete nonsense, if we'd had an extra 8 candidates as good as the 8 we had then its theoretically possible that no-one would have got 50% and highly likely that fewer than five would have done so, as a large proportion of people would have only voted for 7 out of 16 candidates. So with the current system the more good candidates you have in excess of places, the fewer votes each candidate is likely to get. If you want provision for people to vote for none of the above put "no one else" on the ballot paper and hold an STV election or some other preferential system, but the 50% rule doesn't effectively give you a threshold for support. If we were voting as to whether or not we thought each individual candidate would make a good director I and I suspect many others would have voted for 8 out of 8, but we were actually voting to see which 7 out of 8 would go on the board, so I voted for just 7. {WereSpielChequers 23:12, 23 April 2011 (UTC)}
You misunderstood the electoral system. Perhaps I should have made it more clear. FWIW several people voted for all eight candidates. -- LondonStatto 15:32, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
I didn't misunderstand the system. But the system can be used in three equally valid ways, voting for all the candidates who you think are qualified, even if that means all 8. Voting for what you believe are the best seven candidates, or voting for the candidate or candidates who you most strongly support. If we had had the option for voting none of the above then I would have put that 9th as I thought all 8 qualified and was trying to choose who not to vote for bearing in mind that this time we had one surplus candidate. Voting for all 8 would only have made sense if I thought them all equally qualified and I was happy to leave the decision to those who cared which 7 of the 8 should be elected. WereSpielChequers 18:17, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
I think the best system for our purposes would be Borda multiple, this would be almost as easy to count as the one we used, and possibly easier as a recount would be far less likely, You could include a "no one else" candidate on the ballot paper if you wanted to, though personally I'm uncomfortable at doing so as it puts a "fail unsafe" option into the rules. Borda multiple is as simple for the voters as STV or AV, as you just put the candidates in order of preference. But it would be much quicker and easier to count than STV as there would be no transferring of miniscule fractions of votes (I once won the fifth and final place in an STV election by 0.007 of a vote, that was with an almost identically sized electorate and it took two people a couple of hours to count). Borda multiple would also be more likely to give you a consensual result than approval voting. WereSpielChequers 23:12, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Two hours? Yeah, that's the kind of time frame I'm thinking of. STV makes a lot of sense BUT it needs hustings & voting to be some hours before the result is expected. You'd need to move the AGM up in the day and have the announcement of the results not part of it. If people are happy to go down that road, I'm happy to do it. But in that case we need a RON option. -- LondonStatto 15:32, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't really see that as an obstacle. Hustings at 2pm, voting at 3pm, result at 5pm, new board meeting at 5.30pm would work fine. Also I am unsure about the need for RON (the STV purists I know - and I know many - insist that including RON just takes power away from the electorate by requiring more co-options...) The Land 14:43, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Our current system is very strange and could one day produce a very poor result. If you consider a voter whose objective is to ensure one candidate is elected, when there are more candidates than there are places, what is that voter's strategy? The only thing they can do is vote "Yes" to their preferred candidate and "No" to all the others - if they vote "Yes" to any of the other candidates, even if they would actually like to see them elected, then they risk creating a tie and stopping their preferred candidate being elected. If a significant proportion of the electorate votes in this way then there's a serious risk that someone will end up not being elected by virtue of not getting 50% approval, purely because of this tactical voting behaviour.
We should use the Single Transferable Vote like every other election of this nature seems to... it isn't that difficult to do in an election this size, so long as you have some paper and a pocket calculator The Land 10:00, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
The objection of STV is not the difficulty of count but the time.
We have tended to assume that people will vote sincerely not "tactically" based solely on the question of "is this candidate suitable, yes/no?". But I think that's not working properly, as WSC notes with how he decided his vote. -- LondonStatto 15:32, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
Working on the reasonable assumption that membership is going to stay in the 100s rather than the 10s, I support the view that we should drop the 50% threshold requirement. I propose we also drop any threshold requirement for elections when the number of candidates outnumbers the posts available (on the principle that the voters will be able to judge an unrepresentative candidate for themselves). Were we to have 1000+ members in 2012 then getting 15% of the vote suddenly seems representative of a significant minority. -- 12:22, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
I can't agree with dropping threshold as such with more candidates than vacancies - what if there are 8 candidates of which two are totally unsuitable. Without threshold or RON-style options, one of them would be guaranteed election. -- LondonStatto 15:32, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
In practice if 8 candidates had their names in the running and two were known to be actively disruptive, lobbyists or otherwise of doubtful suitability, I'm sure the remaining candidates would soon encourage several other better prospects to put their names forward in competition. Unlikely scenarios do not all have to be catered for by procedure when common sense would quickly resolve the issue. -- 15:41, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
That's not possible right now since the names of the candidates are only known by the teller until after the deadline for nominations. So, there's no option to encourage others post candidate announcement... Mike Peel 20:08, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
Good point, though we could encourage an informal running candidate discussion where those that were happy to be open about making their interest in putting themselves forward could do so advance of the teller's announcement. This would be a working practice rather than part of the defined process. If interest seemed weak this would be a handy red flag for member engagement. -- 20:33, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
Public nominations wouldn't stop unsuitable candidates standing at the last minute. That being said, I'm not against them if people are happy to go down that road. -- LondonStatto 09:38, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
  • I don't have an issue with the rules themselves, but I do think that candidates should not be giving presentations at the meeting before the vote. This could have been avoided at Bristol, but wasn't, & I can't help thinking this influenced the votes. Have the Bristol votes been put up yet, btw? I think it is fairly obvious that not enough time was allocated (in advance) for the hustings at Bristol. Johnbod 23:19, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
    • That's difficult to arrange unless you have the AGM first. Wasn't the timetable for the day finalised before the SOPN was published? As for the hustings time, yes, that was a problem. I don't think anyone expected so many open-ended essay-type questions! -- LondonStatto 09:52, 7 May 2011 (UTC)