Independent Observer Thread for 2022 GOSH Community Council Election

Hello everyone!

I would like to introduce our independent observer for the 2022 GOSH election, Heather Leson @heatherleson! Find out more about Heather by reading her bio below:

Heather Leson is driven by a world where everyone lends a hand. At the intersection of social impact, strategy, technology, and open principles, she delivers innovative products and experiences with global networks. Using hybrid skills of participatory design expertise, global network engagement, partnership building, and open collaboration methods, she has led strategic organizational transformation for both Ushahidi and Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. As an Open Ambassador (Red Hat), Heather writes and advocates for open organizational values to support governance shifts and strategic global community engagement. A leader in the open space: she has represented and worked for many open organizations including serving as the Board Member of both the OpenStreetMap Foundation (2 years) and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (4 years). Heather is a frequent public speaker and facilitator on topics of open methodologies, digital communities, digital transformation strategy, and product development. She co-wrote a chapter on the State of Data in Humanitarian Action in the State of Open Data book, a chapter in Red Hat’s The Open Organization Workbook on Open Communities and an e-book on Bringing open to Social impact organizations.

A warm welcome and huge thank you to Heather for contributing her time to the election!

What is the purpose of this thread?
I will continue to update this thread throughout the election, to which Heather will respond with questions/concerns, or a simple yay or nay.

I will also send Heather detailed notes as I continue to administer the election so that she can raise any questions or concerns regarding what’s happened.

What Have We Discussed Already?

Heather and I have already spoken about how the GOSH election is run and the role of the independent observer. I have also sent her information regarding the candidate nominations so that she can review the validation process for ensuring that candidates are eligible to run and vote.

Upcoming Action Items for the Secretary and Observer

  1. The Independent observer and election secretary will confirm a meeting time to tabulate the vote in July.
  2. The Independent observer and election secretary will come up with a plan on what to do in the case of a tie during the election. (You can see what the plan was for the 2021 election here)


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Just sending some election updates to the thread!

I have wrapped up the candidate eligibility process and announced the candidates for the 2022 election! You can see the announcement here.

@heatherleson feel free to respond to this thread with any comments you may have on the process so far!

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Hi all! Following up on this thread to share some election updates before voting starts later this week.

Voter registration closes at 11:59 pm Anywhere on Earth (AoE) on Thursday, June 23rd , which is 11:59 am UTC on Friday, June 24th / 10 pm on Friday, June 24th for me in Melbourne.

Once registration closes, I will go ahead and create the election (using this procedure that I documented from the last election) and invite registered voters to vote. Voting will be open from June 24th to July 4th.

Voter Registration & Eligibility

As voters register to vote, I have been checking their eligibility on an ongoing basis. I have already sent the full list of registered voters to @heatherleson so that she has access to it and is able to see how the validation process has been going.

I also created this document where I selected a small sample of registrants, anonymized their information, and explained the process of how I checked their eligibility. I created this to be shared back with the community so that you all can see how I have been checking voter eligibility.

Upcoming Action Items for the Secretary and Observer

  1. The Independent observer and election secretary will come up with a plan on what to do in the case of a tie during the election. (You can see what the plan was for the 2021 election here)
  2. Independent observer can follow up on this thread with any yays/nays or objections they have so far
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Hey everyone!

As most of you may know, the election closes in less than 24 hours - which means @heatherleson and I will be tabulating the votes soon!

I spoke with @heatherleson last week and I want to share our plan for tabulating the votes with you all. In particular, we have reached an agreement on what to do if there is a tie between two candidates for the 3rd seat.

A quick recap on the election platform:

The election platform we are using is and it works like this:

  • Each voter scores all the candidates on a scale from 0-5. All the scores are added and the two highest scoring candidates advance to an automatic runoff.
  • The candidate who was preferred by (scored higher by) more voters wins the first seat.
  • The next two highest scoring candidates then runoff, with the candidate preferred by more voters winning the next seat.
  • This process continues until all positions are filled.

You can read more about this process here, as well as here (under Bloc STAR voting).

What about a tie?

If there were a tie between two candidates in the automatic runoff, whichever candidate scored the highest in the scoring round becomes the winner. If, however, two candidates tied in the automatic runoff and had the same score in the scoring round, we decided that we will flip a coin to determine who the winner is. The tied candidates will be notified before the coin toss as well.

That’s all for now! I look forward to announcing our new council members later this week :smiley:



GOSH Election Independent Observer’s Report 2022

Congratulations to the GOSH community, your new Council members, and your newly formed Council for 2022- 2023! Good governance is essential to a healthy, active open community. It was a privilege to learn and to observe with you. Thank you!

As your independent observer, I wanted to share some feedback on the election process. While I advised Brianna and the Council, it is important to be accountable to you.

The GOSH governance and election procedures are very well documented. The point of good governance and election procedures is the ability to provide a solid and transparent framework for a fair and credible election. Brianna provided extensive documentation to help me understand your governance approaches and election sub-processes. In addition, she and I had a few phone calls, emails, and SMS chat exchanges to help me learn more and answer any questions. The only super minor point I have on this is to have one document linking all the processes/procedures/protocols/codes/governance guides etc - “What you need to know - independent observer” document.

Every election has its moments. The point of preparing documentation and convening an election team is to help manage the process and be able to adapt if and when items occur. It is perfectly common to have ‘election blips’. The key is to review, communicate, and address in an appropriate timeframe. Some issues during the election and how they were handled:

The issues:

Standing Council representative steps down during election: These have been complex times in every community. This was a difficult and personal action concerning Julian Stirling and the council. The Council took time to reflect and provide a decision. While this is a rare occurrence, they followed their procedures, and, as far as I can tell, this change did not negatively impact the election. Wishing Mr. Stirling well.

GOSH Forum failure: There was a window wherein members could not read candidate statements. Brianna advised of the situation promptly and it was resolved. Forums have issues. Maintenance and triage are part of a community’s day-to-day needs. I am sure that this experience resulted in some process review.

Ballot closure time reconfirmed: Timezones are complex. The announcement of the ballot closure time and the ‘actual closure time’ were documented as different. Brianna noted the issue and advised the voting membership promptly. This will likely be codified in future election procedures. #human

Candidate-elect confirmation process: Candidates confirm that they will stand during the election. They participate (hopefully) by providing a candidate statement and attending the community meetings. There is a process between the closure and validation of the ‘election results’ which asks the ‘candidate-elect’ to reconfirm that they wish to ‘confirm’ their decision. This final step added about 24 hours between the results being confirmed and formally announced to the Council, all candidates, and the membership. It might be useful to tighten this procedure to save time and maintain the flow/credibility of the election.


The GOSH election procedures were very flexible to adapt to the ever-changing landscape that is an open election. Your electoral Secretary, Brianna, was an incredible navigator on the journey. To the council - you had a complex election with some critical decisions and communications to be made - well done on being thorough and clear. To the community - I hope that you enjoyed this election. Your job for the next year is to support the council and help socialize the voting process for other community members. This will help tremendously with voter turnout and keep up the beautiful momentum that is GOSH.

I’ve been involved in governance for open communities for over a decade, especially with Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT). The GOSH election procedures and governance is an excellent model. While HOT has been around since 2010, we can always learn from others in the open family. To that end, I will be sharing with our Governance Working Group so that we can also learn from you. Perhaps there is a lesson or opportunity there; open communities should skillshare and support each other more on our shared journeys. Thank you for inviting me to join you in this small part of your story.


July 19, 2022


A HUGE thank you to you, @heatherleson, for writing up such a detailed report, and for a fantastic job as our 2022 Independent Observer! :tada:

This report will be an excellent resource for the next GOSH election listening process!

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Indeed I’d also like to express my deep gratitude to @heatherleson for your support this election, and @briannaljohns for pulling everything together. :clap: :pray: I’m especially glad that learnings from this experience might be helpful for other organisations as well. In particular, I hope that choosing better election methods like STAR voting can help make voting more expressive and equitable to improve the democratic process in other groups.

If we ever figure out a better way to organise and retain community knowledge, we should make sure that @heatherleson’s report is included!