(June 23, 2000)
(Updated July 8, 2000)
The Election Committee has been chartered by the ICANN Board to make recommendations on the structure and execution of ICANN's At Large Membership election.
One of the responsibilities of the Election Committee is to develop rules and procedures for the At Large Election process that promote transparency and fairness. The Election Committee is posting the following set of draft recommendations to the ICANN Board for public comment. The Election Committee will review all comments, and intends to make a final recommendation to the ICANN Board in time for its 16 July meeting in Yokohama.
Your comments, criticisms, and suggestions for improvement should be posted in the public comment forum. The deadline for comments is July 8, 2000.
|Recommendation 1: Regional Voting
The vote for the five At-Large Directors should be conducted by region, as defined in the ICANN Bylaws. A candidate will run in the region in which he/she is a citizen. An At-Large Member will vote in the region in which he/she resides. Thus, the At Large election will be 5 separate elections in 5 distinct districts, with one candidate emerging as the winner in each district.
The original ICANN Bylaws defined five regions (Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America/Caribbean, and North America), and mandated that there must always be at least one citizen of each region on the Board at any given time. The geographic diversity requirement was thus stated in general terms, which proved unworkable when applied to the realities of ICANN's distributed structure. (Nine of the ICANN Directors are chosen by three Supporting Organizations, which choose their Directors asynchronously, which raised the possibility that an SO would be restricted to electing a citizen of a single region, if the departing Director was the only citizen of that region on the Board.) For practical reasons, the geographic diversity mandate was amended to require that the At Large Directors (without reference to the 9 SO Directors) must include at least one citizen of each geographic region. At ICANN's March meeting in Cairo, the Board voted to hold a round of elections for 5 Directors by November, retaining the minimum requirements of "one citizen of each region."
It has been suggested that this year's election be conducted globally, rather than by region, meaning that members from each region would be able to cast votes for any candidate from any region.
Reasons for preferring Regional Elections:
- Regional elections prevent North Americans and/or Europeans from choosing the winner in every region, due to their overwhelming numbers (roughly 80% of the current At Large Membership applicants are from North American and Europe)
- Regional elections make overall capture less likely, because any corporation or other special interest group would have to organize large numbers of At Large Membership in each region
- Regional elections tend to focus each region's attention on one race for one Director, reducing voter confusion and increasing the stakes for each region.
A Note on Citizenship vs. Residence:
Since its creation, ICANNs bylaws have measured geographic diversity in terms of citizenship (rather than actual residence) for purposes of its Directors. However, ICANN looks to residence (of the At Large Members) for purposes of voting. This is because it is easy to verify residence (to some degree of confidence) through the use of postal mail. To vote, an At Large Member must receive the PIN number that is sent through postal mail. By contrast, it would be impossible for ICANN to attempt to verify the legal citizenship of every At Large Member.
|Recommendation 2: Candidate Web Pages, Biographical Information, Statements and Required Disclosures
ICANN should post an informational web page about each candidate. The pages should follow a standard format with uniform word limits. ICANN should provide each candidate with an At Large Candidate Questionnaire by which the candidate may submit information to be included on his/her web page. It should include biographical information, a statement of interest, required candidate disclosures, and a link to a single web site of the candidate's choice.
The At Large Candidate Questionnaire should, in substance, include the following:
Country of Citizenship:
Place of Residence:
Employment (including consulting work):
Past Employment and Other Experience related to ICANN issues:
Additional Biographical Information (Limit: 500 words):
Statement of Interest:
Please state your reasons for seeking a position on the ICANN Board, your knowledge of and experience with ICANN and its responsibilities, and your suitability to be an At-Large Membership representative. (Limit: 1000 words)
Please list and briefly describe any major affiliations, sources of income, or other associations that may relate to, be affected by, or otherwise have an interest in ICANN policy. (It is the ICANN Board's policy that any Director with a conflict of interest on an ICANN policy issue recuse him/herself from consideration and voting on such issues.) (Limit:750 words)
You may designate a single hyperlink to be included on ICANN's informational web page about you. We intend the hyperlink to be used to provide additional relevant information to voters in the ICANN At Large Director election (for example, a personal web page with biographical information about yourself, or a page with further information about your past involvement with ICANN or your positions on ICANN-related issues.)
The elements of the questionnaire (and hence the ICANN-provided web page) are designed to facilitate candidate communication of relevant information to At Large Members in a fair and equal way. The biographical information, candidate statement, and hyperlink provide candidates the ability to explain to voters why he/she would be the best choice for a position on the ICANN board. The required disclosures are intended to give voters the necessary information about connections the candidate may have with entities who have an interest in the outcome of the ICANN policy process while maintaining to the greatest extent feasible the privacy of the candidates.
The limited and structured nature of the web page provided by ICANN serves numerous practical and substantive purposes:
- Reduces voter confusion and heightens ease of access to relevant information
- Promotes fair and equal candidate communications with voters
- Makes feasible ICANN management of the web pages
- Makes feasible translations of candidate pages into major languages of the regions
Any hardship imposed by the word limits or structured nature of the web page should be alleviated by each candidate's ability to provide a hyperlink to a web site of his/her choice. However, ICANN should promote fairness, equality, and focus on substantive issues by encouraging candidates to use the hyperlink to link to relevant information and to refrain from significant spending on the production of a web page.
|Recommendation 3: Voter Education and Candidate Communication Practices
ICANN should facilitate communication by all candidates on an equal basis.
In addition to the informational candidate web pages, during the scheduled period for Voter Education ICANN should provide a public question and answer forum for each candidate. In the question and answer forums, At Large Members should be able to pose election-related questions to the candidates. Each candidate should be the moderator of his/her own forum, choosing which questions to answer and how to answer them.
Candidates should not have access to the At Large Membership lists or email addresses. During the voter education period, ICANN should post weekly email updates to At Large members by region with reminders about the election and links to candidate web pages.
In the interest of holding a fair and effective election, ICANN should attempt to minimize the relative advantages enjoyed by candidates with money, whether personal, corporate, or organizational. By facilitating communication on equal terms, ICANN can discourage overt campaign expenditures, while focusing the membership on candidates' qualifications and views as they relate to ICANNs technical coordination mission.
Formal restrictions on speech and spending would be both unwise and impossible to monitor and enforce. Thus, to ensure the fairness of the election, ICANN should rely on the Internet to promote dialogue and communication by all candidates.
|Recommendation 4: Balloting System
ICANN should use the Alternative (also known as "Preferential" or "Single-Transferable") Voting System to conduct this election.
In an Alternative Vote system voters rank the candidates in order of preference. ("1" for their first choice, "2" for their second, etc.) Voters may rank as many or as few candidates as they choose. The votes are then tallied according to the first preferences (the "1"s). If at that point one candidate has an absolute majority (50% + 1) of the vote, he/she is elected. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The eliminated candidates votes are redistributed to the next ranked candidates (the "2"s). The votes are counted again to determine whether any candidate has a majority. If not, the elimination process is repeated until one candidate gains a majority.
The advantage of this system is its intuitive fairness. It allows votes for candidates with similar voter appeal to accumulate. It allows voters to rank candidates in order of their true preferences while still being assured that their vote will influence the election. It encourages candidates to appeal broadly to voters.
One other option on which the Election Committee also seeks public comment is the Approval Voting System. In the Approval Voting System each At Large Member may vote for as many candidates as he/she wants (with no preference ordering). The candidate with the greatest total number of votes is the winner.
|Recommendation 5: Member Nomination Ballot Access Requirements
The Board should revise the current member-nomination (also called "self-nomination") requirement that candidates obtain the support of 10% of activated members. In choosing another ballot access provision, the Board should consider the following options and possible variations:
1. A percentage-based threshold of activated member support that is lower than 10%.
This option could also include the additional qualification that an absolute minimum number of supporters is needed to ensure that nominees have demonstrated measurable support in regions with a relatively small number of activated members.
Conversely, to protect against the possibility that no candidate is able to meet the requirement, this option could incorporate a provision that if no candidate receives the required percentage threshold of support, the top two or three candidates will be nominated in any event.
In addition, this option could include a qualification that all those who obtain a certain number of supporters would gain access to the ballot to ease the burden on candidates in regions in which the percentage threshhold is unnecessarily high.
2. A fixed number of member-nominated candidates allowed onto the ballot, where the limit is an absolute number X. The top X endorsement getters would be included on the ballot.
This might be further modified to incorporate a minimum support requirement to account for regions with low participation.
One additional element of the proposed member nomination procedures that the Board should consider carefully is the provision that each At Large Member may only endorse a single candidate for nomination. If the Board decides to allow Members to endorse more than one candidate, the threshholds for ballot access should be adjusted accordingly.
A Note on Terminology:
The Election Committee has chosen to use the term "Member Nomination" in place of the term "Self-Nomination" used in the proposed staff recommendations. The Election Committee believes that "Member Nomination" better represents the intent of the extra-Nominating Commitee nomination procedure. However, the substantive meaning of the term "Member Nomination" is the same as the meaning of the term "Self-Nomination" as it was used in the staff proposal for Self-Nomination procedures.
Among the many options considered by the Election Committee, the above options are the ones that garnered substantial support from members of the Election Commitee. This commentary provides, in a general sense, the issues raised by the different options. Election Committee members offer their individual views below.
Option 1. The advantage of option 1 is that it is the least restrictive for ballot access. All those with a significant amount of support may get onto the ballot. The disadvantages of option 1 are (1) that it is difficult to gauge the correct percentage-based threshhold to allow access but to deter frivolous candidacy, and (2) that the number of candidates on the ballot could be quite large, potentially causing voter confusion and vote dilution.
Option 2. The advantages of option 2 are (1) that it guarantees a manageable but still relatively large field of candidates, and (2) that it prevents either the Nom Com candidates or the Member Nominated candidates from having an appearance of special preference because of the numbers allowed on the ballot. The disadvantages of option 2 are (1) that it could encourage head-to-head competition between potential member nominated candidates, and (2) that it could limit ballot access for some potential member nominated candidates who have a significant percentage of member endorsements.
Election Committee Member Commentary:
The formula I favor is to make 10 or 12 the maximum number of slots on the ballot, thus most likely giving members a chance to put somewhere between 5-9 candidates on the ballot. The top endorsement getters would get the available ballot slots, keeping only the 20-endorsement minimum. Members would be allowed to endorse 3-5 candidates. The tradeoff here is that voters get more choice in the nominating process, balanced by having presumably a smaller number of final candidates to choose from. Entry barriers to the ballot (up to the fixed ceiling) are minimized, thus ensuring a "full" ballot without requiring what might be difficult percentages to achieve. The problem of "too many" candidates placing a burden (disincentive to vote) on members to find out who's who is avoided. As long as we allow a reasonable number to "win" a slot on the ballot, I don't mind the competitive element because it lets candidates energize the voters a bit and demonstrate their voter attractiveness at the outset of the campaign period.
Lorrie Faith Cranor:
I support Option 1 with a 2% threshold. In regions with less than 1,000 members a minimum threshold of 20 supporters should be required. In large regions of over 10,000 members the threshold should be fixed at 200 supporters.
Option 2 basically turns the member nomination period into a competitive primary in which each candidate will have to actively campaign in order to ensure that he or she is among the top candidates. In option 1, candidates will have to demonstrate a minimum level of support, but they will know what that level is and will have fewer incentives to actively campaign to exceed that level of support. While Option 1 may lead to a large number of candidates on the ballot, I do not consider this to be a problem.
I prefer a system which allows any Member to be on the ballot with a reasonable amount of support. With no previous experience to guide us it is difficult to judge the possible number of potential candidates. However by setting a fixed limit on the number of candidates the nomination process becomes a competitive process. Thus I favour Option 1 with a 2% threshold. And with a minimum of 20 supporters in regions with under 1,000 members and a maximum of 200 supporters for regions over 10,000. I also support the ability of Members to endorse more than one candidate.
I favour reducing the percentage from 10% to at least 5% with a minimum number of 20 At Large Member endorsements and no upper limit. This should keep the total number of candidates down, but as a safety net I would strongly advise the Board to limit the number of Member nominated candidates to no more than two times the number of Nominating Committee candidates.
|Recommendation 6: Monitoring and Oversight
The Board should appoint an independent Election Monitoring and Oversight Panel to monitor and oversee the election process. The Election Monitoring and Oversight Panel should have access to all necessary information to validate the reliability and integrity of the election and voting processes. In choosing the composition of the Election Monitoring and Oversight Panel, the Board should consider the following two options:
1. Independent Individuals. The Board would name 3-7 well-qualified, impartial persons to serve in their individual capacities as members of the Election Monitoring and Oversight Panel.
2. Election Observation Institutions. The Board would issue an invitation to one or more well-known institutions with broad experience and credibility in independent, impartial election observation to serve as the Election Monitoring and Oversight Panel.
Scope of Monitoring and Observation
The role of the Election Monitoring and Oversight Panel should be to ask questions to assess the validity of the election process and to receive and investigate inquiries and complaints from At Large Members regarding the validity of the election process. The following topics should be considered by the Election Monitoring and Oversight Panel:
(a) review the member/voter registration process and the eligible voters rolls;
(b) review the voting system design, operating software, and operation procedures of the online voting system vendor;
(c) monitor the actual balloting, tabulation of results, and announcement of results by ICANN authorities;
(d) accept comments and questions from members and, as appropriate, investigate and answer the questions; and
(e) as appropriate, issue statements to the public.
In choosing between the two options the Board should consider which option will best provide a panel that is independent, thorough, impartial, and not burdensome to ICANN financially or in terms of ICANN staff time and resources.
The Election Committee has considered several specific options for composition of the Election Monitoring and Oversight Panel:
One possibility that is consistent with Option 1 is to invite the participation of the non-ICANN Board members of the current Election Committee to sit on the Election Committee. In the event that some or all of the non-ICANN Board members of the Election Committee are not able to serve on the Election Monitoring and Oversight Panel, similarly qualified and independent individuals could be selected in their place. Generally, Option 1 is likely to result in a panel that can be very independent and impartial. It raises concerns with regard to ability to donate sufficient time and resources to both be thorough and avoid unduly burdening ICANN.
One possibility consistent with Option 2 is to appoint a group of international election oversight institutions organized by the Carter Center. The Carter Center has volunteered to pay the costs of monitoring itself. A second possibility consistent with Option 2 is to invite the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), which has submitted a proposal to the Election Committee to oversee the election process, to perform the Election Monitoring and Oversight panel functions. Generally, Option 2 is likely to result in a panel that has significant experience and resources and will be very thorough. On the other hand, selection of institutions rather than individuals limits ICANN's ability to ensure impartiality.
The Election Committee recommends limiting the scope of the Election Monitoring and Oversight Panel to gathering and making public information and observations about the election process. This approach allows the Panel great latitude to obtain and evaluate information about the election systems, with the ability to make that information public. Considering the possible complications of turning any formal authority over the election results to any group formed and operating outside of the ICANN process, the Election Monitoring and Oversight Panel should provide full information while the power to act should be retained by ICANN.
Comments on these recommendations are welcome, and should be submitted in the public comment forum.