Last spring, I ran an election on Parenting for a new moderator pro tempore. It went pretty well, so this fall we are going to extend the program to sites that have been in "beta" for years. Here's how it works:
We're reaching out to moderator teams to see if they would be interested in participating. Priority will go to sites with the longest history or that we've identified as having an urgent need. The ultimate goal is to have elections for all sites.
Once I've determined how many moderators the election should add, I'll schedule the election and post an announcement on the per-site meta.
For these elections, the candidate questionnaire is an optional feature that individual sites can choose if they want (example here). If sites choose not to have a questionnaire, we encourage voters to ask their questions on the site's meta use the discussion and election tags. Moderator candidates should monitor meta for these questions.
Current moderators will not be required to nominate themselves—they will continue as moderators unless they ask to step down. (NB: Existing moderators currently get an email saying they must nominate themselves, but this is because the automated system does not yet know about pro tempore elections. Please ignore the instruction to nominate yourself if you get this email.)
Unlike most elections, we won't require pro tempore elections to be competitive. If the number of nominees is less than or equal to the number of open slots, we'll end the election before the voting stage. (It should be very rare, but the community team retains the right to remove candidates at any time. In particular, we disallow nominations from people who are recently suspended.)
When the election ends, I'll appoint the new moderator(s) as pro tempore moderators. (The distinction matters mostly for the Constable and Sheriff badges.)
The long-term goal here is to increase democratic participation in all of our sites, break down the barriers between beta and graduated sites and eliminate one community manager task. Over the years, we've appointed many moderators and while we seem to have a good track record, that probably has more to do with the population of users interested in the position more than our skill. Therefore, there's no reason for us to maintain control over who becomes moderator on beta sites.