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Re: Election Data



Let me first thank you all for your input on this.

I can understand the sentiment that to give out this data would be somehow problematic, since it wasn't originally stated that it would given out.  However, if it is anonymized, how does that really violate the privacy of any voter?  In fact, you could even remove a random subset of the votes, so that even if a voter looked at what got published and saw a unique ballot identical to the one he cast, he would still have no certainty that it was his vote.  At that point we get into the philosophical realm of asking, how much do you have do dilute the data before it's no longer a concern?  In some sense the data for these elections (in which there was no warning of possible publication) is actually _more_ valuable, because if you were to add a notice that there would be anonymous usage analysis, fewer people might vote strategically.  (This kind of "irrational" behavior is the subject of a great Google lecture by Dan Ariely.)

Some people have countered that in public governmental elections, data is not might public.  This is incorrect.  Many cities publish anonymous ballot results online.  Here in my home of San Francisco, for instance. (And of course, just because the government does something in their election process, that doesn't mean it's right - just look at the terrible plurality voting system that almost all municipalities use.)

Of course we could also ask someone within Fedora to do the analysis, where we're primarily looking for things like the frequency of "polarized" ballots (all min and max scores), and other bits of data like the ones discussed here:
http://rangevoting.org/HaikuIcon.html

Whether or not this data can be made of any use for us, I'd still propose the notice in future elections that anonymous ballot data will be available after the election, either pre- or post-processing.  If that is what it would take to satisfy your ethical standards, I think there would be value in it.  In fact I think the voters themselves generally appreciate that kind of transparency more than they dislike it.

Thanks again for your time.

Clay

On Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 07:53, Bill Nottingham <notting redhat com> wrote:
Paul W. Frields (stickster gmail com) said:
> > Debian also makes their election data public, though they use a worse
> > and much more complex Condorcet method, called "Shulze".
> > http://www.debian.org/vote/2003/leader2003_tally.txt
>
> I don't see a huge problem with this as long as the ballots are
> anonymized.  Vote data is often analyzed for trends and other purposes,
> and with Fedora being an open, transparent project overall, I think this
> request doesn't go counter to our goals.  But I think the Board should
> probably make this decision.

Considering that we didn't actually state before the election that
we would collect, anonymize, and mine the data, I don't think it's
a good idea to do that now.

Bill

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--
clay shentrup
phone: 206.801.0484

"Iraq?  No, YOU rock!"

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