Recently one of the Gnome Foundation directors quit, and there has been a proposal to expand the board by 2 members. In both cases, the proposed new members have been taken from the list of candidates who did not get seats in the last election from highest vote getter down.
While at first this sounds sensible, the voting system we use doesn’t provide a way of finding out who would have been selected for the board if a particular candidate was removed from the ballot.
The current voting system gives each foundation member N votes to assign to N candidates (where N is the number of seats on the board). The votes are then tallied for each candidate, and the N candidates with the most votes get the seats.
If we look at last year’s results, there were 119 people who voted for Luis. If Luis had not been a candidate, then those 119 people would have used that vote to pick other candidates. The difference in the number of votes received by Vincent (the board member receiving the least votes) and Quim (the unsuccessful candidate with the most votes) was just 16, so those extra 119 votes could easily have affected the ordering of the remaining candidates.
Furthermore, if the election was for nine seats rather than seven then each foundation member would have had an additional two votes to cast.
This particular problem would not be an issue with a preferential voting system where each foundation member lists all the candidates in their order of preference. If a board member drops out, it is trivial to recalculate the results with that candidate removed: the relative orderings of the other candidates on the ballot are preserved. It is also possible to calculate the results for a larger number of seats.
Of course, all the candidates from the last election would make great board members so it isn’t so much of an issue in this case, but it might be worth considering for next time.