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As we mentioned In our Community & Public Platform strategy & roadmap for Q1 2021, we've been working on a project to make it easier for our community managers to run moderator elections for our Stack Exchange sites.

As part of that project, we are releasing new features that will also make it easier for you to vote and participate the next time your community holds an election.

A better way to vote

Prior to this release, our voting mechanism was a bit … uh … limited. You could only vote for a maximum of three candidates, and there were 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice buttons that appeared next to each candidate's statement.

old voting UI with 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice buttons

This was problematic for a couple of reasons. It meant:

  • we could never have a moderator election where we filled more than three slots.
  • many votes became "exhausted" under our Meek STV voting method, which reallocates votes from losing candidates to remaining candidates over multiple rounds. This happened if all the candidates that you voted for were eliminated.

Based on feedback from our community managers and Meta, we've created a more flexible user interface that allows you to vote for as many candidates as you want, without the three-vote limitation. This will ultimately mean fewer exhausted votes.

Here's how to rank your favorite candidates in order of preference:

new voting UI with drag-and-drop functionality and mobile responsive view

The voting module is responsive, allows you to vote for as many candidates as you want, and features auto-save. The regular-width module appears in the right sidebar and allows for both click and drag-and-drop voting and reordering. The small/medium module allows for voting through dropdown selection, reordering using up/down arrow buttons, and adds candidate statements below the voting control.

Watch demo video

Ability to flag nominations and comments

Prior to this release, you couldn't flag nominations. Comment functionality was also limited.

Now, if you run across a nomination that you find problematic, you can flag the nomination for a community manager's attention. If appropriate, the community manager can respond by withdrawing the nomination.

elections flag nomination modal

We also added standard commenting functionality to the Elections page. You can now upvote comments, flag comments and link directly to comments.

More flexibility for withdrawing your nomination

Previously, you could only withdraw your nomination while the election was in the nomination phase. Now you can withdraw your candidacy after the election has moved to the primary phase.

elections withdraw url

If you withdraw yourself during the nomination phase, we remove the nomination in its entirety.

If the election has reached the primary phase, we grey out withdrawn candidates and pin them to the bottom of the list of nominees. We don't count primary votes for the withdrawn candidates.

elections withdrawn candidate greyed out and pinned to bottom

Behind-the-scenes functionality for Community Managers

We've implemented features that reduce some of the manual work that community managers were doing:

  • Extending the nomination period for sites that initially don't get enough candidates. This previously required CMs to ask developers to manually update the database.
  • Canceling elections that didn't get enough candidates. CMs no longer need to ask developers for help, and they can easily appoint pro-tem moderators right from the election page.
  • Withdraw a candidate at any time. Previously, CMs could only withdraw candidates during the nomination phase. Now CMs can withdraw a candidate during any phase, including the election phase. When a candidate is withdrawn after voting has begun, OpaVote, our third-party vote tabulator, reallocates election-phase votes for withdrawn candidates.

More to come

We are continuing to work on this project and will be releasing additional features in the coming weeks. Look for updates with the and tags.

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    Does the withdrawn candidate have the option to re-enter the election? – Xnero Mar 11 at 18:31
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    @Xnero When candidates withdraw themselves, they can re-enter the election during the nomination phase. Once it reaches voting (primary or election phases), it's too late to re-enter. – Anita Taylor Mar 11 at 18:35
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    Great update. Keep up the good work! – Luuklag Mar 11 at 18:36
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    This is really cool. And I am particularly pleased to see that SE have finally realized that Yaakov Ellis is a super hero! – terdon Mar 11 at 18:40
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    Regarding the "in need of community manager attention" flag, will it also notify the site mods? – Meta Andrew T. Mar 11 at 18:46
  • @terdon Super hero? Where? All I see is that one obvious troll nominee every election gets! :P – Tinkeringbell Mar 11 at 18:47
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    @MetaAndrewT. Nomination flags will only notify the CMs, but mods will be notified on comment flags – Anita Taylor Mar 11 at 18:50
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    Not mentioned explicitly, but the flagging / force-withdrawing functionality described here depends heavily on this recent bug fix: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/312275/… – Shog9 Mar 12 at 6:00
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    we could never have a moderator election where we filled more than three slots. – Actually, you could and did. – Wrzlprmft Mar 12 at 14:20
  • @Wrzlprmft In general, those are extremely rare specifically because electing three or more people when voters can only indicate their top three choices is problematic and ends up with too many exhausted votes when you start getting to the 3rd and 4th place slots. While this may not be as big of an issue on a site like SO that has thousands of votes cast, it can be a huge issue on other sites. So the CMs have avoided 3-slot elections for years. – Catija Mar 24 at 14:10
  • Will there be a difference in what is displayed on the 'withdrawal' notice if a person self-withdraws (during the primary phase) vs if an employee force-withdraws them? E.g. will we have an indication whether a primary candidate was removed by staff if that is the case? – TylerH Apr 13 at 21:23
  • @TylerH There is no difference in what's displayed on the withdrawal notification if a person self-withdraws vs. an employee withdrawing them – Anita Taylor Apr 13 at 21:39
  • Thank you! These changes seem like a notable improvement to me. – V2Blast Apr 24 at 21:42
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Thanks for the update Anita. It's looking great so far!

I do wonder though in what way you will display a users votes for previous elections, as it's current implementation is far from optimal, as reported here

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    Votes in previous elections (and new elections, once they are over) will be shown in the right sidebar. Vote links next to candidates will no longer be visible. – Yaakov Ellis Mar 15 at 12:23

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