Annual General Meetings/14/Voting Instructions

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About 2014 Voting

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OSMF elections are, in accordance with our Articles of Association, now to be held in accordance with the Single Transferable Vote model. This is an approach designed to allow for a more equitable outcome to multi-candidate elections than would a simple “most votes” model. Specifically, it permits each voter to rank candidates in order of preference, with the number of available seats being allocated to the most preferred candidates on their reaching of a “quota” or threshold of votes. Where a candidate fails to achieve a quota, he or she is eliminated, but the next preferences of each voter having chosen that candidate will be distributed to other candidates. This is intended to reduce strategic voting and allow voters to allocate their first preference to their actual preferred candidate, secure in the knowledge that their second and subsequent preferences will be heeded even if the preferred candidate has only a slim chance of success.

More details of STV from Wikipedia: Simpler and more entertaining:

A number of approaches are available both in determining the quota and in the detail of how votes are transferred. Our rules do no stipulate which should be used for OSMF elections and the distinction is in practice not a large one. This election will be conducted according to the Scottish rules for STV elections:

Voting process

For this election, polling will be performed online using the widely-used OpaVote. This means, among other things, that the traditional approach of accepting proxy votes from voters not in attendance at the AGM is no longer required - online voting can be done from any Internet connection:

OpaVote is a hosted platform to which OSMF officials will have no back door access. The platform preserves the expected secrecy of ballot, exposing only operational statistics related to turnout and including details of who has and has not voted. This is standard procedure in public elections. Specifically, as long as polls are still open, no access is possible to actual ballots or live results. These become available only after polls have closed. OpaVote conducts the counting process automatically and generates a result and the outcome of each round of counting. We will cross check this result by feeding the raw ballots (which are anonymous) as a structured data file to a standalone tool, OpenSTV, for independent verification of the count and the outcome. Scrutineers will supervise this process.

Mechanics of voting

Entitlement to vote requires you to be a paid-up member of OSMF for at least the 30 days preceding the close of poll. In addition, you must be fully paid up, so existing members in arrears must pay their renewal immediately - we will make every effort to add late renewals to the voter list. We have circulated an email to each entitled voter on our draft list - the sending of this email was announced on the OSMF mailing list. If you believe you are entitled to vote but did not receive this test email, get in touch with immediately so that your entitlement can be established.

Each person entitled to vote will, on the opening of the polls, receive an email from OpaVote containing a unique, non-spoofable, voting link. This will lead to a secure web page listing each candidate in random order and allowing the user to rank the candidates in order of preference. There is no obligation to assign a preference to each candidate - you may, if you wish, vote for only one single candidate or for a small number. However, doing so may deny you from further influence on the outcome of later rounds of vote counting if none of your chosen candidates are elected.

In previous board elections, voters having cast a proxy vote had the option to override this with a paper vote during the AGM. The introduction of online voting means that there will be no paper vote and no proxy vote. You will vote online and may do so only once - attempting to re-enter the voting process using the same link will deny you access, but your earlier ballot will still count. So if you think you have not made up your mind yet, wait and vote later.

Voting will open early on the week before SOTM and continue until 1 hour after the end of the AGM. Because the count is electronic, it is expected that the result will be announced without delay (though no announcement will be made before the election monitors verify the count). The raw (anonymous) ballots will be made available to any member wishing to reassure him or herself of the correctness of the result.