[Linux-aus] AGM Announcement

Bret Busby bret at busby.net
Thu Oct 28 15:50:02 UTC 2004

On Mon, 25 Oct 2004, Stewart Smith wrote:

> Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2004 16:09:10 +1000 (EST)
> From: Stewart Smith <stewart at flamingspork.com>
> To: aj at azure.humbug.org.au
> Cc: linux-aus at lists.linux.org.au
> Subject: Re: [Linux-aus] AGM Announcement
> Anthony Towns said:
> > Any chance the Jan 6th/7th stuff could be separated out slightly more;
> > so that there's time to read the committee reports before the chance to
> > raise any questions is over? Would committee reports coming out
> > sometime between Dec 25th and Jan 2nd, be too much to ask?
> possibly... there will be beer involved around that period. Although I
> don't think we should prevent reports from going up sooner if they're
> ready.
> > (Recall that last
> > time, Michael Davies got nominated for VP on the last day of
> > nominations or so, and then declined the nomination; the above might
> > mean people would already have voted for him by the time that was
> > cleared up)
> With a preferential system, this won't be a problem. A pref system also
> deals with the situation where someone stands for more than one position.
> > I was thinking of making up a voting system that lets you vote for
> > things like "I want as many different states represented as possible",
> > and "I don't want more than one person from OzLabs" and "I'd prefer it
> > if Stuart were VP, but if he doesn't get that I'd like to vote for him
> > for President", but the "right" way to do that is kind of complicated
> > and confusing, and I decided it probably wasn't worth the effort
> > anyway.
> I think a preferential system will give the best balance for this.
> > So what are the ballots going to look like? They can't be the same as
> > we have in real-life -- ie, one vote for P, VP, S, T, three names for
> > ordinary members -- because unlike at LCA itself, you can't decide
> > "well, if Pia doesn't get to be P, I want to vote for her as VP, but
> > otherwise I'll vote for Stuart to be VP". Presumably then we want to
> > have preferences, so that we write out:
> >
> > 	President:
> > 		1. Alice
> > 		2. Bob
> > 		3. Carol
> > 		4. Dave
> > 	Vice-President:
> > 		1. Alice
> > 		2. Carol
> > 		3. Fred
> > 	Treasurer:
> > 		1. Elice
> > 		2. Dave
> > 	Secretary:
> > 		1. Geraldine
> > 	Ordinary Members:
> > 		1. ...
> > 		2. ...
> >
> > And then just iterate through, eliminating people who've already won
> > something?
> Yeap... that's my thoughts.
> > Using the same system we have in federal elections would seem to work
> > okay. Is that what'll be used?
> I hope so :)
> Basically, the committee has to agree to it. I think they will :)
> > Do we want votes to be anonymous?
> I don't think this is reasonably possible. We'll be storing a membership
> number alongside the vote. This allows people to go back and edit their
> vote (e.g. if someone drops out for whatever reason, or they prove to be a
> real asshole) as well as preventing someone from voting twice.
> > Do we want to have people be able to verify the results of the vote? Do
> > we want people to be able to directly verify their vote has been
> > correctly counted?
> We could release the list of votes (without member numbers) so that people
> could perform their own checks. Would this be worthwhile? Is there any
> point? The voting code will be open source (GPL), so people will be able
> to verify its integrity.
> Although they will be taking our word for it that it's what's actually
> running there (although those with access to the machine will be able to
> actually do that... if you trust them :)
> > Do we want it to be impossible to prove how you've voted to someone
> > else?
> >
> > (Debian does all but the last for the leadership election; the last two
> > are mutually exclusive, I believe)
> >
> > I guess "Dec 10th, run a test of the voting system software" was
> > accidently missed from the timeline? :)
> With luck :) The more people testing it the better. I'll be trying to
> co-ordinate public tests of this.

Will the issue of whether the elections are done by preferential or 
first past the post voting, be put to the members, or decided by the 
committee, without the members being able to vote on that?

The preferential voting system is dirty, and anti-democratic, as the 
person who succeeds is seldom the person who gets the most votes for 
the person; it is more a method where the person who gets the least 
votes against the candidate, wins, which leads to all kinds of ticket 
voting and unpleasantness, as usd in Australia, and, as used in 
Australia, is also more a means of delaying and complicating election 
outcomes (and wasting more money in paying vote count manipulators who 
would not otherwise be needed), rather than getting election outcomes as 
quick and as clean as possible.

If elections in Australia, were conducted properly and democratically, 
the outcomes should be known within a few hours of the polls closing at 
the latest closing polling booths.

In terms of the voting, there is no need for the member's identity to be 
tied to the particular vote, and, there should certainly not be 
opportunity to change one's vote (unless it is mistakenly cast), as to 
encourage indecisiveness, further turns what should be a relatively 
simple excercise, into a gratutitiously messy and disenfranchising 
experience. If a voter makes a mistake, the person should have one (and 
only one) opportunity to contact the returning officer, to correct by 
recasting the vote, and that should be required to be done within a 
fixed period (eg, 24 hours) of casting the original vote.

What has been mentioned above my response, sounds to me like a "how 
complicated and messy, can we make this?" exercise.

Voting should be able to be done, by a member being sent a login ID and 
password, which allows the member to log in to a web site, where the 
candidates are listed for each postition, with radio button (or 
equivalent, for non-graphical browser users) options to cast a single 
vote for each position, like

( ) Shirley Temple
( ) Bob Hope
( ) Prince Charles
( ) Brian Harradine

Mark your selection (one vote only), by putting an x in the brackets 
beside your choice for the position of President."

When the person logs in to the voting web site, the voter is flagged as 
having cast the voter's vote, and, the voter should have the option of 
an email being sent to the voter, which lists how the person voted, so 
that, if required, the voter can forward that vote to the returning 
offcer, to have the particular vote voided. But, there should not 
otherwise be a means of connecting the voter to the vote.

If people are going to stand for more than one level of position each, 
then the votes for that person, at the lower levels, should simply be 
eliminated, if the perso wins a higher level position, and the person 
achieving the highest remaining votes for each lower level position, 
should win the relevant position.

It all really depends on how messy and complicated it is all wanted to 

Bret Busby
West Australia

"So once you do know what the question actually is,
 you'll know what the answer means."
- Deep Thought,
  Chapter 28 of 
  "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
  A Trilogy In Four Parts",
  written by Douglas Adams, 
  published by Pan Books, 1992 

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