[OpenStack Foundation] Individual Member Director Elections

James E. Blair jeblair at openstack.org
Mon Oct 7 17:12:22 UTC 2013


During the October 3 meeting, the board discussed the election process
for the individual member directors and made some fairly shocking

As you may recall, there has been concern about this process since its
inception, and the board has spent some time dealing with this.

On November 16, 2012:
  RESOLVED, that the Board will bring in outside experts and conduct a
  proper legal review before making changes to the cumulative voting
  process prior to the next election.

And on February 12 2013:
  RESOLVED, that the following members of the Board shall be appointed
  to an Election Committee, to be chaired by Mr. Moore:

>From what I gather, that election committee produced a report that was
delivered to the directors.  I have not read it because it has not been
made public; nor do I believe that any input from the wider community
was solicited.  But based on that report, the board concluded that the
individual member director election process is fine the way it is and
does not need to change.

I believe this is, to anyone who has been paying attention for the past
year, quite a shocking determination to make.

During the discussion, in support of this, some participants offered the
following evidence:

  * There is no problem with the election system because the board
    passes most resolutions unanimously.

  * There is no problem with the election system because there is no
    public outcry.

The first is an innovative use of logic.  If that makes sense to anyone,
then they clearly have not understood the issue.

The second, of course, is what has prompted me to send this email.
Consider this an outcry.  I can only speak for myself, but I have been
patiently waiting for the board to address this issue, and I've been
happy to let them get on with doing that work without maintaining a
continual outcry.  I'm certain I'm not the only one in such a position.
In case the board has forgotten, there was a significant outcry from
around the first election until the board began to take its first small
actions on the issue.  Please refer to the foundation mailing list
archives for a reminder.

One of the most significant problems with the individual member director
election process is the use of cumulative voting.  Cumulative voting is
very popular for electing boards of directors because shareholders may
be allocated points to use in voting based on the number of shares they
own in the corporation.

That's not what we're doing here.

We're actually trying to do something that hasn't been done before --
give individuals with an interest in an open source project a voice on
the board of directors of a trade association.

For all other elections in the OpenStack community, we use a Condorcet
method because it allows us to express support for multiple candidates
in a multiple-seat election in a way that we feel is fair for our
community.  For example, when voting for the TC, one can read the
platforms of the candidates, rank them in accordance with how strongly
the voter agrees with each, and the result will be that the seats are
filled by the candidates with the widest appeal.

If one were to apply that process to the individual member director
election, they will have wasted their votes.

In our first individual member director election, we saw quite a number
of voters vote only for candidates that shared their employer -- as high
as 81% of the voters from one company voted only for employees of that

Given that there were hundreds of voters who sat down and gave all eight
votes to one candidate, if an individual decided to give 1 vote to each
of the eight people they thought would best represent them on the board,
they have made their vote count for one-eighth of the value of the
person who gave all eight votes to one candidate.  This is a recipe for

I would like for the individual member directors to represent the
diverse population of the individual members who genuinely care about
our project.  Those people may work for large corporations or not.  But
as long as we have large blocks in the electorate who wield their
massive voting power solely to the benefit of a few candidates, any
voter who doesn't take that into account is wasting their vote.  I don't
think that's what we want the defining characteristic of these elections
to be.

This is a big problem, and I would like the board to continue to work to
address it.  I think the following steps would be very helpful:

  * Publish the report from the election committee
  * Solicit input from the community
  * Continue to update the public copy of the election committee's
    report as it evolves
  * Identify specific alternate voting systems that could address the
    community's concerns
  * Identify which of those would require a bylaws change (the bylaws
    say we have the "option" for cumulative voting; what are the other
  * Get solid legal advice on how to use those in the context of a board
    of directors election
  * Bring these results to the community for further input before
    putting forward a motion to change the election process


More information about the Foundation mailing list