[rtcweb] The Voting Process

John Leslie <john@jlc.net> Wed, 27 November 2013 17:54 UTC

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Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2013 12:54:14 -0500
From: John Leslie <john@jlc.net>
To: Magnus Westerlund <magnus.westerlund@ericsson.com>
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Subject: [rtcweb] The Voting Process
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Magnus Westerlund <magnus.westerlund@ericsson.com> wrote:
> For the proposed voting process see our previous message
> http://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/rtcweb/current/msg09909.html
> As I stated, we chairs will need to update this based on the discussion.

   I gather the WGCs intend to update that tomorrow.

   While I would _much_ prefer not to mix discussion of the process
with discussion of the alternatives, there are some really serious
problems with this proposal.

] The method we propose is based on Instant-runoff voting,
] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting, with the
] understanding that the choice will be the winner according to the
] Instant-runoff voting process.


   A reference to wikipedia is completely unstable unless it refers
to the webpage retrieved at a particular time.

   It is the _intent_ of Wikipedia that the webpage may be modified
at any time by any person: thus people retrieving the page on
different days may receive different text. Those differences may be
obvious or they may be subtle.

] 2) Establish those eligible to vote.

   What follows doesn't do that. It instead establishes rules for
determining at some later time _whether_ an individual is eligible.

] Any participant in the working group process either electronically
] or in-person as of yesterday (20th of November).

   (That's where Magnus broke the sentence. Don't blame me...)

   I merely raise the question of whether the process Magnus outlined
is likely to match that goal.

] Who has participated in the Working group process will be anyone
] that can be identified from:
] - The Blue Sheets for any RTCWEB WG session during an IETF meeting or
]   an interim meeting since the WG's creation.
] - posting of at least one email to the RTCWEB mailing list

   Obviously missing from this list is persons subscribed to the
mailing-list during some period. Those would ordinarily be considered

] The voter must at time of voting prove their eligibility, by pointing
] to the mail archive or a particular blue sheet/meeting. Please verify
] your own eligibility.

   "Voter" is vague here. I take it to mean any person sending a ballot.

   Thus there is no way of challenging a right to vote before the
ballot itself is opened. I believe that is unheard-of.

   It is, IMHO, strange to have no list of eligible voters to enable
challenging eligibility (or absence from the list) before a vote is

] 3) Start the the voting period. Those eligible and willing to vote send
] their ballot to a vote collector (Matt Lepinski, former Nomcom chair)
] within two weeks using email. The vote collector will check when
] receiving a ballot the that the voter is eligible and send a
] confirmation email on receiving the ballot. During the balloting period
] the vote collector will keep all ballots secret.

   (Just to prove I'm not leaving anything out.)

] Balloting:
] - The voter MUST rank ALL alternatives in their ballot from the most
]   preferred, marked with rank 1, the second most with 2, all the way
]   to the least preferred marked with rank N.

   This is very unusual in Instant Runoff. There are always choices
that a voter would vote _against_ regardless of the alternatives.
This requires that a voter may be counted as in favor of something
s/he completely opposes.

   (Further, it leaves open the "or else" question: what happens if
a ballot doesn't exactly match that requirement?)

] 4) When the voting period is over the ballot collector will publish the
] results as well as all ballots, including the voters name to the RTCWEB
] WG mailing list. This enables all voting individuals to verify that
] their ballot is unmodified. And allows anyone to verify the result of
] the vote.

   Thus every detail of preference becomes public. Inevitably there will
be some persons who are nervous about publishing so much detail. (I
don't mean to imply that employers _would_ punish employees, merely
that employees could understandably be nervous.)

] 5) The selection is recorded in the drafts.

   Even when we get that wikipedia page "retrieved at a particular time,"
it will contain half a dozen different rules for how the counting
proceeds. I strongly recommend extracting the actual rules the WGCs
intend to follow on this list (which will be archival).

   Further, some person needs to be designated to interpret the rules
during counting.


   There are many other things I could mention from the email quoted;
but I think it would only detract from the discussion to do so.

John Leslie <john@jlc.net>