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The Personal Finance and Money moderator election is having its nomination period extended because there are only as many candidates as vacancies and they want to ensure a contested election.

While I think it's great to be looking for more candidates, S.E. could always guarantee a contest by including an extra option to indicate that a voter would prefer noone to be elected than any of the remaining choices. This option is typically called "None of the above" or "Reopen nominations" in elections where it is used. If it reached the threshold before enough candidates had been elected, then no further candidates would be chosen. The election could be rerun if necessary to get more moderators.

The current rules seem a bit artificial without this - it would for example be possible to have an election where all the candidates would be unwanted, as long as there's one more candidate than vacancy.

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    This seems largely reasonable, although I would be a bit concerned about the effect it might have on some candidates to lose to 'none'. It's much easier to stomach someone being better than you than being explicitly not qualified. I'm not sure that's enough reason to not do it - and for one I wouldn't really have a problem with it if that occurred for me, for example - but it's something to consider.
    – Joe
    Apr 27, 2015 at 21:55
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    I guess one challenge is that people might select "none of the above" if they have no opinion of the remaining candidates, rather than reserving this option for when they have a strong negative opinion of all remaining candidates. Maybe there is some clever phrasing that could prevent this potential confusion.
    – cag51
    Apr 7, 2021 at 0:56
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    @cag51 The phrase "Reopen nominations" is supposed to hint at that - it's sort of saying "I would prefer to reopen nominations than to elect any of the lower ranked candidates". Not sure which wording is best overall. Apr 7, 2021 at 6:26

2 Answers 2

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A recent election made me wonder why there was no RON option, which led me to find this 7 year old unanswered question.

Currently, if none of the candidates in an election are suitable, your only option is to refuse to vote, or pick the least worst candidate. Neither are good options, both seed disillusionment with the democratic process, and neither result in a fair and transparent election.

In non-digital voting systems, spoiling your ballot paper is often used as a way to show dissatisfaction with all of the candidates, but unless specifically implemented in a digital system, there is no way to express that.

Although this has only come up once for me in 13 years of using stack exchange, it feels like it is significant omission.

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This just came up for us again in Computer Science, so I am bumping this proposal.

The context is that I was the only candidate for one open position.

It is not a good idea for candidates just to get the job by default because they're the only ones who volunteered. Speaking only for myself, I would have willingly accepted losing to "none of the above" if that was the will of the electorate.

The risk that anyone takes when standing for election is that electors do not want you holding in that position. It's not even necessarily a bad reflection on you; in any community where people kind know each other, there is always some subset of members that you all value, but everyone knows probably should never be in a leadership position.

Because we're a community of computer scientists, we have thought of several ways to hack this rule. For example, I have declared my intention, next election, to run on a "don't elect me" ticket for some other qualified candidate, if they wish to step forward.

This shouldn't be needed, but whatever works.

There are some communities where the members just aren't that competitive. Indeed, too much competitiveness can be a sign of an unhealthy community. I know that, in the past, I have refrained from volunteering for something because an appropriate other person already volunteered.

Consensus is just as valid as competition, arguably moreso.

All of which is to say, +1 for either option. I would personally opt for "none of the above", because it is a simple generalisation of the voting system we have. Right now, you can stop giving a preference for candidates at any number you like except zero. Zero, as any computer scientist could have told you, is a valid number.

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  • So, nobody stands, no moderator is chosen, and the site gets closed down because it does not have a community willing to step up. That's realistically the only option left if nobody is considered suitable for the job, you realize?
    – Nij
    Mar 20, 2023 at 4:39
  • To elaborate on what Nij said, many times, a moderator election is scheduled because a current moderator has expressed intention to resign or if a moderator hasn't performed an action in months and their removal for inactivity is impending. In those cases, the point of the election is to get their replacement(s), so an outcome of no one getting elected is not wanted. As far as having an election nominee who'll explicitly say not to vote for them, the team has had a history of removing nominations which go against the purpose, including one where the nominee said they'll "do nothing" if elected Mar 20, 2023 at 19:50
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    @Nij There is a way to interpret this answer that will not go against the site lifecycle. If only one person nominates in an election, then instead of cancelling the election entirely, users will instead vote whether they want the nominee as a moderator or not, and if users vote for them, the election concludes with them winning instead of getting cancelled. Mar 20, 2023 at 19:52
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog Exactly, and this is what just happened to CS. As I noted in the election discussion, I would not have nominated if a good candidate got in first, because that's the kind of place CS is.
    – Pseudonym
    Mar 21, 2023 at 6:04

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