Monday, January 24, 2011

IAWTV: Election Update - Letter from the Board of Directors

Update: Jenni Powell has posted her thoughts on the matter.
More: Tom Konkle posted about this and there is another discussion over on There is also lots of comments and thoughts on twitter.

As I posted last week, there have recently been elections to the IAWTV Board of Directors. The closing date for the final votes was last Friday and was looking forward to seeing who would be elected. This morning members have received an email to say that the elections will now start again. Once I had read the email and looked at the Forum I can say that I think this was 100% the right decision.

Here is the official IAWTV communication about the issue, sent today*:
Dear Academy Members:

This weekend, the Board of Directors had a conference call to discuss our latest Board election process and the online platform used to collect votes. While it does not appear the election process was compromised, we concluded it is best to nullify the election and start the process over from the beginning. The main concern surrounding our latest elections is the potential for a member to vote more than once. We use an online survey platform that places a cookie on receiving members’ computers. It is possible for a member to erase the cookie and vote multiple times. Also, each member was not issued a unique password.

Our Executive Director, Elisabeth Flack, gives a more detailed recap of the issues surrounding our latest election below:

Up to this point, we have been using an online survey service to collect votes. Members of the Academy uncovered that by deleting cookies placed on their computers by the site they could vote a second time, thus revealing a potential way to skew voting in favor of one candidate over another. These members alerted the Academy about the potential problem and any duplicate votes found were deleted, leaving only the original first ballot cast according to the timestamp of when the ballot was submitted. 

Separately, the online survey service doesn’t issue unique passwords that can only be used once. In the prior election, I’ve verified votes by reconciling the IP information from each vote against the IP information on file for member accounts. 

This election not only has the problem of the potential for duplicate voting, but there are a few IP addresses that could be not determined as belonging to members. While I don’t believe anyone in the membership tried to skew the vote or shared the voting information outside of the Academy, these do not make for the fairest election possible.
This differs from the previous board election because IP addresses and ballots were verified as corresponding to members and no duplicate voting occurred. In addition, the ballots and vote count were reviewed and verified by 3 members of the Academy in good standing, each of whom was not running for office at the time and had no conflict of interest with any of the candidates running for office. These verifications was done before the new board members were announced. 

In the interests of the membership and ensuring the fairest vote possible, here is what the Board has decided as best next steps. The Board, working with committee chairs, will identify a superior voting platform that will ensure our Board election process and results cannot be compromised. Our goal is to identify a solution by the end of this coming week. If anyone has suggestions for a platform we should evaluate, please email Elisabeth. After the new platform is selected, we will start the board election process over from the beginning. We plan to begin the call for nominations the week of January 31st.

Unfortunately, our new Board will not be in place by February 1st as originally planned, so the present Board will continue to serve until new Board members are elected. We are expecting the new election to conclude by the end of March. 

We deeply apologize to all of the candidates and to the membership at large for this inconvenience. And we thank you for your understanding and patience as we work through upgrading our election capabilities.

If you have any questions about the board’s decision regarding redoing the Board elections, please email any Board member or Elisabeth directly. 


The IAWTV Board of Directors

Michael Wayne, Chair
Dina Kaplan, Vice-Chair
George Ruiz, Secretary
Drew Baldwin, Treasurer
Miles Beckett
Felicia Day
Zadi Diaz
Jim Louderback
Chris McCaleb
John McCarus
Tim Shey
Joshua Cohen, Emeritus Director

Speaking as a member of the IAWTV, I think that the fact the IAWTV has moved so quickly to correct the potential problem indicates that they are committed to fairness and openness - and not afraid to take tough decisions. This bodes well for the future.

The fact that we are now back to nominations means it will be some weeks before the new Board is in place. This is unfortunate but it is better to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to vote and that the results are fair, and are seen to be fair.

A New Look IAWTV Website
There was further evidence of the work that is going on in the IAWTV today. The website has been updated and more functionality is planned. It still looks clean, but there are now links to become a member and to access the Forums straight from the Home page:

*I asked permission to repost the whole document.

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