GOSH Community Call - Thursday February 25th 14:00-15:30 UTC

Yep, that’s it.

Always better to ask!

3 posts were split to a new topic: Updating GOSH forum terms of service

Not really. I suspect one day you saw some really bad explanation and it stuck in your head :wink:… If the first time you saw an explanation of a Condorcet method you were unlucky to pick a complicated one, then it will all become spaghetti in your mind until you see a simpler explanation eheh.

Hehe, I think that is indeed what happened to me because when I read about it in the past it really confused me. :sweat_smile: But thank you @solstag your explanation makes a lot of sense including how Condorcet methods will always pick the Condorcet winnder if it exists.

Some people use the term “ranked choice” to refer to IRV, but that is misleading, not to say wrong. IRV is a method, RC is a family of methods.

OK, agreed. I think that’s the same concept as when I was referring to different “flavours” of ranked choice voting.

All methods have “issues”. There is actually a theorem proving that no ranked voting system can satisfy all properties we would intuitively consider “desirable”, because some properties are mutually exclusive (it may be valid for score system depending on how you reinterpret the properties).

Yeah I was trying to avoide the myriad of criterias and terms that people have come up with to evaluate voting methods. Just look at this page for an extensive comparison, I have no idea what the “polytime” or “reversable symmetry” criteria are. I fully agree there is no “perfect” method and we shouldn’t aim for a system that ticks every box on that page.

I’d rather spend all that energy discussing the substance of issues and not voting procedures.

Agreed. I think having a discussion like this thread is OK, but we don’t need to do a whole PhD on this topic.


Alright, I’ve been in touch with the STAR people over the past week with about a dozen back-and-forth emails. They have been very responsive and answered my various questions quickly and patiently. Short answer first:

YES, email-based “one email one vote” ballots can be achieved with https://star.vote

Here’s the longer answer regarding holding an election using STAR-voting on https://star.vote:

  1. The election administrator can generate a list of unique “voter keys” (they look like this: 08d30d705a7258d7). Each key can then be sent to each registered voter’s email. Here’s an example screenshot:
  2. The voter visits the election URL, enters their voter key, and cast their ballot by scoring as many candidates as they want. Once this is done, the voter key is deactivated and cannot be used again.
  3. Once the ballot is cast, the voter will receive a “voter ID” that they can keep as a reference and verification that their vote has been successfully cast and counted. The administrator will not know the link between voter key and voter ID, so the votes are anonymous.

Bonus points:

  1. The order of candidates on the ballot can optionally be randomised for each voter to reduce bias. I.e. the order of options that each voter sees is different.
  2. Multi-winner elections are supported using the STAR Multi-winner Bloc method. Basically, the 1st place winner is elected, then the process is repeated for the remaining candidates until the desired number of winners are chosen. So for GOSH we can set the number of winners to 7. By the way, regardless of method the website will tell you the ordering of the winners from first to last place anyway, so we can use that list to ensure the 4 reserved seats are filled correctly.
  3. If for some reason we really have trouble managing the unique voter keys and sending them to registered users, we can optionally just send a list of emails to them and they can help distribute the voter keys.

I asked about the sustainability and future plans for STAR and the https://star.vote platform. It is fully open source and:

  1. They have received a surge in support and interest over the past year (presumably because of the US elections…) so I think this platform should be reliable for the forseeable future. They even invited me to their developer chat channel to see what the process looks like.
  2. Easier email-based ballots is a “top priority” for the developers, and it is very likely that distributing unique voter IDs/links to registered voters via email will be even easier in the future.

With this information, I think using STAR (as implemented by https://star.vote/) is a fully viable option for the upcoming GOSH Community Council election. It is valuable that we now have a direct line of communication to the organisation and developers behind STAR who have been very responsive and expressed a desire to support us through the whole process. They are also keen to get our feedback if we choose to use STAR. (to be clear, maybe the developers behind CIVS will be responsive, too, but I admit I haven’t tried to contact them yet :sweat_smile:)

But just to sum up previous posts and what I’ve learned, a few possible downsides:

  • STAR often selects the Condorcet winner (if it exists), but this is not guaranteed. Regardless, the voting results page will show a table of the pairwise comparisons. But as mentioned in previous posts, it is difficult to find an election method that perfectly ticks all the boxes.
  • For now, we need an account on the STAR-voting website to create elections with unique voter keys. The people behind STAR has offered to create an account for us. Apparently this is another development priority that will be made easier in the future.
  • The STAR voting platform is newer than CIVS. Normally I would be concerned, but given my communications with the team, their enthusiasm, and the huge growth of their organisation I think we should be OK.
  • To my knowledge (correct me if I’m wrong!): STAR has been used in a few real-life elections on the local level but a Condorcet method with Minmax-PM has not. On the other hand, the Condorcet method with Minmax-PM as done by CIVS has been used for big open source communities like Debian but STAR has not (we will be the first one?). Either way, both has been used successfully without major controversy.

This is all I can remember and summarise for now. If I have to pick one I’m still inclined towards STAR especially with the support we can get from them, but of course I appreciate your feedback and respect the decision of the Governance Working Group. If you have more questions I’m happy to pass them to the developers, or I can give you their contact information. Thanks!



I like STAR voting, I feel confident about. The website design is also better than CIVS.

They also have Proportional STAR: Star ballots are tallied for proportional representation. For multi-winner elections where the goal is to elect a diverse body. Proportional representation ensures that factions are represented proportionate to the number of voters supporting each.
This can be used on the future, on helping us to elect a diverse body. For now, I think we don’t have time/energy to dig on it, but can be done in the future.


CISV and STAR are the indicated options.

We should choose and and stick with it.

Update on the pros and cons of CIVS:

Plus ++

  • The difficulty to an overall understanding is “easy";
  • The difficulty to understand the algorithms: depends the algorithm, it can be very hard, but it can also be very easy.

Update on the pros and con for STAR:

Plus ++

  • The difficulty to understand the algorithms: depends the algorithm, it can be very hard, but it can also be very easy.
  • Score + automatic runoff, this means every winner is the winner from two (not condorcet);
  • one e-mail one vote option;
  • multi-winner option;
  • proportional election option.

Thank you! I’m sure now we can make a better decision.

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Thanks @marinappdf, glad to help.

I’ll add another “plus” which is that the team behind https://star.vote/ is responsive and happy to help us. I think this level of support is valuable.

Oh and I forgot to mention that for https://star.vote/, you can create a custom URL for the election which will make it more convenient for voters. This is a nice and thoughtful feature.

And in case this helps with your evaluation, Jay from the development team helped me create a demo election here with an easy and short custom URL:


Here is a list of unused voter keys:


On the voting page, enter one of these voter keys to cast a ballot. After that, the key cannot be used again. (so I hope there are enough keys for the demo, if not I can create a new demo election with more keys)

Again, if there are any questions or concerns please let me know and we can try to address them. Thanks!


Hi all!

I spent some time this afternoon revisiting this forum post, and will say that I have enjoyed some of these brief lessons on voting theory :laughing:. Certainly learned new things!

That being said, as community coordinator I will serve as the election secretary in this upcoming election, helping to administer the election process. This means I will need to be comfortable and well-versed in the voting platform that is being used. Thank you @hpy for getting in touch with STAR and sharing the demo election, your work has been very helpful. I am thinking it would be a good idea for me to meet with you, @marinappdf, and others on this forum interested in election platforms so that we can discuss some of the logistics surrounding https://star.vote/, which as of now seems like the preferred option. If you would like to meet, please send me a private message or email me at brianna@openhardware.science and we can work out a time that works for everyone.

Thanks so much! :slight_smile:


Thank you @briannaljohns! If a meeting will be helpful I will be happy to pitch in. I will send you a private message.

By the way, the folks behind star.vote set me up with a test account to create test polls and elections (they can set one up for GOSH, too). So if there’s interest just tell me what to test with it!

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Just to bring to people’s attention that a big open source initiative has just experienced an election security issue. The details are still vague.


Good to know! At least it says:

OSI uses open source voting software Helios but insists the issue had to do with “an internal piece of our process, not Helios.”

So it doesn’t seem to be a problem with the Helios platform.

Yes, but it highlights the point that I am sure we are all aware of already. Namely that our internal process is as important or more important than choosing the right software.