Elections Best Practices Brain Pick :)

Hello Sustain Governance friends and allies,

We (Aspiration) are helping an open hardware community (http://openhardware.science/) put together their first election of representatives to serve as a community council to oversee governance. This post is a follow-on to an earlier post, Seeking examples or models for "equitable elections" for open communities - #5 by gunner Thanks again for all the great ideas shared there.

I’m writing now in search of open elections exemplars! I would love folks to tell me things you love/respect/admire/consider essential/recommend against about specific open election processes you respect or otherwise know of.

In particular, best practices I’m researching include:

  • Nominating processes and practices: time lines, self vs. peer nominating, guidelines etc.
  • Community vetting practices for candidates, e.g. town halls, candidate statements, synchronous/asynchronous Q&A, “respond to scenario” queries, etc.
  • Election nuts and bolts: platforms you recommend/don’t recommend, best practices for administrating and reporting votes and totals, minimizing fraud, etc.
  • Anything else that you count as any kind of “election best practice” or do/don’t.

And if you know of any write-ups, communities or sites that address the above, URLs are most appreciated.

Thanks in advance for any pointers, and I will share back the election process we come up with.

peace, gunner


Hello Gunner,

The OpenStreetMap US board and the OSMF board are both chosen through open election. The processes differ slightly, but share common elements. Here is a link to our election wikis. The processes have not changed too much over the past 10 years. Here is a brief overview:

  • Nomination: You must be a member of the org to run. You can self nominate, or someone else can nominate you. Seconds are encouraged but not required.
  • Vetting: Each candidate must provide a manifesto by the time nominations close. We usually hold 2 town halls - one with the outgoing board for Q/A and one with the candidates.
  • We use OpaVote, and STV voting. You must be a member to vote. More about there here, here and here.

There are more write ups out there I am sure, and probably no shortage of opinions about the process. I’m happy to chat about any of the above if it’s helpful.

Have a fantastic day! Maggie

Hi Gunner,

So glad Maggie responded to your inquiry! For all that might pose challenges, I think OSM US election processes are really smooth and really aspire for community engagement. I also want to call out OpaVote (or rather ranked voting more generally). I would recommend preferential voting for most any voting campaign.

  • Getting people to vote. I can’t recall the exact numbers, but not a huge amount of members vote. Besides engagement in the governance of OSM US, low numbers of voting presents challenges to updating bylaws, which I believe require 2/3 involvement.
  • Getting people to run. We would really benefit from a larger pool of candidates. The number of candidates have diminished in the past 5/6 years. It’s a 5 member board and for a handful of years, we struggle with getting 5 candidates. (Five is a lot!)
  • Candidate Terms: In the US chapter, we elect an entirely new board each year. It takes at least a couple of months for that group to get situated and into a flow. This design is very challenging and we are trying to change it.
  • Board Independence (and outside perspective): Official OSM US members make up the OSM US board and their community involvement has long influenced the voting selection. This makes sense, but I think it also limits the board’s expertise. I don’t know what/if there is resolution but I can see the ability to bring in outside and independent voices really valuable. I hope this helps and is not too specific to our community. I am sure elections are an adventure for most!!

Best, Alyssa.

Hi Gunner -

Elections are a big topic in the Python community when they come up!

  • Core Python:
  • Python Software Foundation board:
    • You do not need to be a PSF member to be nominated.
    • Nominations are captured via python[dot]org in a 25-day timeframe. They can be self nominations or peer nominations (set to be approved by person getting nominated). For fairness, we capture nominations and reveal them after the deadline for nominations passes so everyone has the same time of exposure. Additionally, the system randomizes the display of names so someone isn’t always the last name on the list for example.
    • Elections are announced on various community channels as well as member meetings. Once we get closer to the event we have a mailing list for voting members where we keep discussions going with those interested.
    • After the 2020/21 election, the PSF board decided to discuss election reform to address diversity of our board as well as diversity of the voting membership. An update was published in December on this.

We use helios.org for all of our voting. We use approval voting for both types of votes.

I have more links to share but this forum only allows 5 links for new users. Feel free to reach out if you would like me to share more past discussions our community had about voting methods.

Thanks for all these amazing responses! Lots of homework to do, and it is deeply appreciated.

And more data most welcome if anyone else has points.

peace, gunner

It seems I needed time to think on this one!

At the Drupal Association, we have a mix of (mostly) appointed and (two) voted board positions.

We vote for one new member each year, serving a two year sentence.

I make it a goal each year to see a wide diversity of candidates each year, especially geographically. Indeed, we have regularly had candidates from all continents for the last couple of years at least.

We seem to do well at getting the diversity in nominations but not so well at encouraging people to think outside their own peer groups when actually voting.

This year, I experimented with recording interviews with each of our candidates, which you can view at Drupal Association Candidate Chat - YouTube (our elections pages begin at https://www.drupal.org/association/board/elections if the content is helpful). I’d say it was very useful to do those interviews - though I think we still have some way to go to encourage people to consider which candidates have the skills for the role over and above who happens to be their friend.