[OpenStack Foundation] Election Inspectors - "After-Action Report"

Lloyd Dewolf lloydostack at gmail.com
Tue Sep 25 16:51:11 UTC 2012

We (Jim Blair, Lloyd Dewolf, and Vincent Untz) served as the election
inspectors for the "2012 OpenStack Board Election" with polls closing
Friday 24 August 2012 17:00 CDT.

Overall we feel that these first elections were successful. We have a
number of recommendations. This email describes our recommendations
based on our official capacity.

1. Under no circumstances should polling settings be changed after the
start of the election.

As documented in
with the best intentions, Acting Secretary Jonathan Bryce modified the
poll settings after the start of the poll to allow voters to be able
to change their ballet once submitted. This was the original intent
for the poll. This changed the experience of the polling -- though
perceivably in a benign way.

The election inspectors were only informed after the polling closed.
We feel we should have been informed at the time of such a decision,
but our strong recommendation is that if settings need to be changed
then the polling should be restarted to ensure all voters have the
same experience and that the results are meaningful.

2. The Election Inspectors should receive clear instructions as to
what it means to certify the results, and training on how to handle
technical and procedural issues that should arise.

The election inspectors for this election did not receive such
training and were stuck balancing the not unexpected discrepancies (to
a trained election inspector) with their desires to prove the results.

3. Upon closing of the polls Election Inspectors should receive
certification of the election results from the polling solution

OpenStack Legal Mark Radcliffe recommended that the Election
Inspectors receive certification from the polling solution provider,
in this case BigPulse.  Although Acting Secretary Jonathan Bryce was
copied in this recommendation we have not received such certification
at this time -- though we also have no outstanding concerns as to the
validity of the results.

4. The Election Inspectors should be recruited earlier in the election
cycle, have more time to get up to speed, and have a full week to
certify the results.

Being a diverse community with participants and volunteers spanning
the globe, it is not unlikely that it will take full days to confirm
and reach quorum.

In our case, we had two inspectors in San Francisco and one in France.
At each stage of the process from training on the polling solution to
working to certify the results the time was very tight. We had one
weekend and two “work” days to certify the results because the first
Board meeting was scheduled so early after the elections. It was a
busy weekend.

5. We recommend that a list of requirements and criteria be developed
well in advance of the next election (ASAP) and that providers be
evaluated verses that criteria.

BigPulse exhibited some notable failings in this election:

The software does not protect against modification to settings after
the start of a poll that can result in unverifiable results.  Over a
couple of days of off-hour support, BigPulse Support was able to
correct the Results so that they could be accounted for from the
exportable/downloadable anonymoused data. (See also item 1 above.)

Moreover, the BigPulse solution does not allow full verification of
ballots by voters when using weighted voting: information on how the
voters vote is weighted across candidates is not available as part of
the vote receipt.

6. Election Inspectors should receive training and direct access to
the polling solution provider.

We participated in a few test elections in the days prior to the
election. We would have benefited from more time, direct access to the
polling solution, and a direct channel to ask our questions of
BigPulse. (See also item 4 above.)

7. Election Inspectors should review the membership registry.

We were not asked to, but we reviewed the web-based membership
registry for any errors or anomalies such as multiple entries for an
individual. We would have benefited from an export as people can
continue to become members after the cut off date to vote in an
election. This would also ease tool-based analysis and pattern

8. Election Inspectors should explicitly confirm the ballot is correct.

In other large ballots like ours, we’ve seen candidates left off.
Thankfully, that didn’t occur here.

We were very impressed by how Acting Secretary Jonathan Bryce and team
ran these OpenStack Foundation bootstrapping elections. We hope our
recommendations can help iterate the successful formula. Please let us
know if you have any questions or there is anything we can elaborate

Thank you,
Jim Blair, Lloyd Dewolf, and Vincent Untz

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