OpenStreetMap Foundation General Meeting Analysis

The December 2014 general meeting was held on IRC over the weekend, and appeared to run smoothly. Thanks go to Paul Norman as the election manager and Kate Chapman as the meeting chair. Quorum was reached, with some room to spare, and there appeared to be several observers in attendance as well.

The official notice of the election results will appear on the OpenStreetMap Foundation web site. I'm using numbers from a draft version, so any errors or oversights are entirely my fault.

There were three voting matters on the agenda; two Special Resolutions relating to term limits, and one Ordinary Resolution relating to a prompt board election. It's probably naïve to read too much meaning into these election results. A ballot can be a blunt instrument. A vote with so few ballots may lack statistical significance. But here I go anyway.

Term limits

With two resolutions about term limits, and two possible results each[1], there are four possible term limit vote combinations.

In an email, "How to vote to match your view", Paul presented these combinations with plain language descriptions of possible motivations to vote each combination. He noted that one combination made less sense to him than the others,

I do not see an obvious viewpoint which would lead to a vote of no to both SR1 and SR2. This would correspond to a view that there shouldn't be term limits, but if there are term limits, they shouldn't ever reset.

Approximately 21% of voters, 23 ballots, selected this option, shown in orange from roughly "nine-thirty" to "noon" in the graph above. Perhaps there is a motivation for this combination that Paul hadn't considered.

The combination chosen least often was Yes on SR1 with No on SR2. This could be considered the most-restrictive vote combination, because it indicates a preference for term limits that do not reset.

Term limits and prompt elections

Let's look at how the four groups of term limit voters felt about a call for a prompt election. The outer ring in the graph is labelled with the vote triad and the number of ballots with that triad. The inner ring duplicates the graph above, but the colours have changed. Sorry[2].

The "NN" votes on SR1 and SR2 seem more uniform on their OR1 votes than the other term limit vote combinations. Twenty-two of those "NN" votes on chose No on OR1 (the prompt election) and and one chose Abstain. Each of the other term limit vote combniations include at least one each of Yes, No, and Abstain. Let's look at this as a percentage of each term limit combination.

Perhaps I've reversed cause and effect. It may be that voters who wished to avoid a prompt election also chose to vote preferentially for no term limits.

Abstain votes

No ballots chose to abstain on more than one voting measure. Paul didn't address Abstain votes in his email. Wikipedia tells us[3] that there are several reasons why a voter might Abstain.

    Abstain voters might
  • not feel informed enough to vote on the issue
  • not mind the issue either way
  • be exhibiting mild disapproval regarding the measure
  • abstain to avoid taking an unpopular position
  • be required to abstain due to a conflict of interest

With so many nuanced potential motivations behind an abstention, it would be risky to read too much into the abstain ballots.

OR1 was the matter most frequently abstained. Two voters abstained on SR1 (term limits) and voted Yes on SR2 (term limit reset). That, "AY" is a variant Paul didn't address. It might mean, I'm not taking a position on whether there should be term limits, but if there are, they should be resettable.


Any conclusions drawn from this ballot are likely to be fraught with peril. So I'll stick to the safest conclusion possible.

Clearly OpenStreetMap Foundation members are thoughtful and wise.

It's been wonderful to see thoughtful conversation around the ballot measures. Stay engaged.


[1] Ignoring Abstain votes in SR1 and SR2; including Abstain votes in OR1.
[2] Can you control the colours and data labels in LibreOffice? Know of a good tutorial? Links please? :-)


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