[GRASS-PSC] [GRASS GIS Elections 2020] Brief summary and reflections for the next election

Chief Return Officer (CRO) - GRASS GIS election 2020 variablestarlight at gmail.com
Thu Jan 28 04:24:12 PST 2021

Hello everyone,

First of all congratulations to all candidates, those who were elected 
and also those who were not. It was a honor and a pleasure for me to 
serve the GRASS GIS community as CRO. I got a lot of help from all the 
more experienced members, specially Markus and Moritz, but also from 
Nikos, the previous CRO. Thanks to you all.

In brief, these are my thoughts and lessons for the next election:

- setting up and running an election like this takes time and 
dedication, best to start early.

- for the next election a new, better and more tidy registry needs to be 
created, only one entry per person with only one valid e-mail address

- the LimeSurvey system hosted at OSGEO is seemingly powerful but not 
very intuitive, it takes time to sort out the settings and possibilities

- a discussion is needed to reach consensus on the voting method and 
procedures preferred by the community

Detailed thoughts below for those who may want to read more.



Detailed thoughts

My impression is that most things went pretty smooth overall. Setting up 
and running an election like this takes time and some dedication. It is 
best to start early in the processs. The fact that we started the 
elections partly during the holiday season was beneficial at least for 
me, because it is a time when I can have more time to do things outside 
normal work.

The most pressing issue we had is that of the voters registry. We 
started with six lists containing at least partly the same people, often 
with different spellings, aliases and e-mail addresses. I spent a lot 
more time that I had expected matching, sorting and choosing, and 
eliminating duplicates (and even triplicates or more), from these lists. 
This was often done "in the dark", as I had no clue which was the valid 
e-mail for a certain person, for example, or that a person is known to 
use two or more aliases. In spite of my efforts some people got more 
than one invitation to vote. I constantly monitored the election during 
the voting phase to ensure that no one voted twice. To my knowledge 
no-one did.

The LimeSurvey software is powerful but not very user friendly (at least 
to this user). It took some time and effort to understand the logic 
behind it. It is possible and easy to make mistakes that will delete 
things. One has to proceed with extreme care. In spite of my efforts 
some setting escaped my attention and on the opening day the first 
voters reported that they could not vote. Luckily, I managed to fix that 
quite soon on that same morning. After finishing the voting phase I 
wrote to Jorge to ask for suggestions as to how best allow for audits 
and archival as openly as transparently as possible.

I did not get major complaints from people. Perhaps the most important 
question is how the survey is conducted. Nikos and another person raised 
the issue of why people had to choose 9 members and why they couldn't 
vote for one or two, for example. I thought that asking voters to chose 
9 members would be a better option than letting them pick any number. 
The reason is the following: the PSC will have 9 members, to be chosen 
from 13 candidates, to be voted by about 250 registered voters. If we 
allow voters to pick any number of members up to 9 there would be a 
substantial chance that some candidates may get extremely few votes, 
this is mainly because the number of voters is relatively small (and in 
fact, only 98 voted) and this can make the distribution of votes very 
skewed. This raises a potential problem of representativity for some of 
the least voted candidates. Thus I decided it would be better with a 
"pick your nine member PSC" model. Not saying that this is perfect but I 
deemed it to be a better solution.

Lastly, one person asked why he was getting the reminders, as it has 
been many years since he has been associated with the GRASS GIS project. 
This is just one case, but perhaps raises questions about how the list 
of voters is populated.

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