The candidate score that is prominently displayed in elections is calculated from the reputation of a user and a number of badges that are judged to be relevant to the duties of a moderator.
It's better than just showing the reputation of each nominee, but not by much in my opinion. It's still a deeply flawed measure, and there is lots of room to improve it.
One major flaw is that the score is tied to badges, and therefore to entirely arbitrary thresholds of activity. Before the candidate score we used to show the number of flags a candidate has cast. Now we only see the score, and while it contains the number of flags in a way, it's obscuring the actual activity of a candidate in community moderation.
The badges don't scale well. They're enough to distinguish users that don't have any interest in community moderation from the users that are actively participating. But they're not suitable for anything else. The thresholds are arbitrary and fixed across the network. They might work to distinguish crappy candidates without a chance to be elected anyway from the real candidates, but they're far too coarse to distinguish between an okay candidate and a great one in terms of previous participation in community moderation.
I suggest to simply provide voters with more detailed information about all the moderation actions a candidate has performed, similar to the old statistic about the number of flags a user has cast. Flags aren't everything, and I think the following moderation activities should be shown on the election page:
- number of helpful flags cast / number of flags acted upon (alternative for pro-tem moderators)
- number of reviews (where the user was in line with the majority of reviewers)
- number of successful close or reopen votes
- number of edits to posts by other users
I think simply showing numbers is more useful than the current candidate score. This gets rid of the arbitrary thresholds inherent in badges, and properly values users going far beyond the usual expectations.
In the interest of full disclosure, the way moderation flags are handled affects me personally in an election running right now. Moderators can't earn badges for flagging, and reviewing as a moderator on a small site is often problematic. This means as a pro-tem mod I'm missing out on certain badges because I either can't earn them at all, or because I don't want to override the community by doing too many reviews. This is not a huge problem, but it is a flaw in the candidate score.