Title: Python Governance Voting Process
Author: Brett Cannon email@example.com,
Christian Heimes firstname.lastname@example.org,
Eric Snow email@example.com,
Gregory P. Smith firstname.lastname@example.org,
Łukasz Langa email@example.com
Mariatta Wijaya firstname.lastname@example.org,
Pablo Galindo Salgado email@example.com,
Raymond Hettinger firstname.lastname@example.org,
Zachary Ware email@example.com
This PEP outlines the process for how the new model of Python governance is
selected, in the wake of
Guido's retirement <https://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-committers/2018-July/005664.html>_.
Once the model is chosen by the procedures outlined here, it will be codified
in PEP 13.
Motivation and Rationale
Guido’s stepping down from the BDFL role left us with a meta-problem of
having to choose how we will choose how the Python project should be
governed from now on.
This document presents a concrete proposal how this choice can be made.
It summarizes discussion and conclusions of the proceedings of a working
group at the core sprint in Redmond in September 2018 (names of all
attendees are listed as authors). This PEP also summarizes a
subsequent thread <https://discuss.python.org/t/python-governance-electoral-system/290>_
that took place on discuss.python.org .
The governance situation should be resolved in a timely fashion.
Ideally that should happen by the end of the 2018 which unblocks
substantial improvements to be merged in time for Python 3.8. At the
latest, the governance situation needs to be resolved by PyCon US 2019 to
avoid a PR crisis.
What are we voting for?
We are voting to choose which governance PEP should be implemented by
the Python project. The list of candidate PEPs is listed in PEP 8000
and consists of all PEPs numbered in the 801X range.
To ensure the vote is legitimate, the aforementioned PEPs must not be
modified during the voting period.
Who gets to vote?
Every CPython core developer is invited to vote. In the interest of
transparency and fairness, we are asking core developers to self-select
based on whether the governance situation will affect them directly.
In other words, we are recommending for inactive core developers who
intend to remain inactive to abstain from voting.
When is the vote?
The vote will happen in a 2-week-long window from November 16 2018
to November 30 (Anywhere-on-Earth).
Where is the vote?
The vote will happen using a “private” poll on the
Condorcet Internet Voting Service <https://civs.cs.cornell.edu/>_. Every committer
will recieve an email with a link allowing them to rank the PEPs in their order of
The election wil be supervised by Ernest Durbin.
The results of the election, including anonymized ballots, will be made public on
December 1st, after the election has closed.
The following settings will be used for the vote in the CIVS system::
[x] Private [ ] Make this a test poll: read all votes from a file. [ ] Do not release results to all voters. [x] Enable detailed ballot reporting. [ ] In detailed ballot report, also reveal the identity of the voter with each ballot. [ ] Allow voters to write in new choices. [ ] Present choices on voting page in exactly the given order. [ ] Allow voters to select “no opinion” for some choices. [ ] Enforce proportional representation
Which will have the effect of:
- Making the election “private”, or in other words, invite only.
- The results of the election will be released to all voters.
- The contents of every ballot will be released to the public, along
with a detailed report going over how the winner was elected.
- The detailed ballots will not include any identifying information
and the email addresses of the voters will be thrown away by the CIVS
system as soon as the email with their voting link has been sent.
- Voters will not be able to write in new choices, and will be limited
only to the options specified in the election.
- The default ordering for each ballot will be randomized to remove
any influence that the order of the ballot may have on the election.
- Voters will have to rank all choices somehow, but may rank multiple
choices as equal.
The vote will be by ranked ballot. Every voter
orders all candidate PEPs from the most preferred to the least
preferred. The vote will be tallied and a winner chosen using the
Condorcet method <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condorcet_method>_.
While the CIVS system does not provide an option for a “Pure”
Condorcet election, any Condorcet method will select the “Pure”
Condorcet winner if one exists and otherwise only vary if one
doesn’t exist. The CIVS system differentiates between a Condorcet
winner and a non Condorcet winner by stating if the winner was a
Condorcet winner, or if it merely wasn’t defeated versus any other
option. So a winner in the CIVS system will only be accepted if
it states it was a Condorcet winner.
In the unlikely case of a tie (or cycle as is possible under the
Condorcet method), a new election will be opened, limited to the
options involved in the tie or cycle, to select a new winner from
amongst the tied options. This new election will be open for a
week, and will be repeated until a single winner is determined.
Questions and Answers
Why the Condorcet method?
- It allows voters to express preference by ranking PEPs
- It is
consensus decision-making <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus_decision-making#Condorcet_consensus>_
- In a
open to only core developers and run using Approval voting, it was
the clear preference
Is omitting any candidate PEPs in the ranking allowed?
A vote which omits candidates in the ranking is invalid. This is
because such votes are incompatible with the desired properties listed
- Making voters consider alternatives, as well as
- Doing everything possible to reach a conclusion in a single election.
Why recommend for dormant core developers to not vote?
The choice of the governance model will have far reaching and long-term
consequences for Python and its community. We are inviting core
developers to assess their skin in the game.
Note: this is not an edict and will not be policed. We trust all
members of the core team to act in the best interest of Python.
Why should the vote be private?
When discussing the election system, a number of core developers expressed
concerns with the idea of having public ballots, with at least one core
developer stating that they were planning on abstaining from voting
altogether due to the use of a public ballot.
A secret ballot is considered by many to be a requirement for a free and
fair election, allowing members to vote their true preferences without
worry about social pressure or possible fallout for how they may have
Why the use of CIVS?
In the resulting discussion of this PEP, it was determined that core
developers wished to have a secret ballot. Unfortunately a secret ballot
requires either novel cryptography or a trusted party to anonymize the
ballots. Since there is not known to be any existing novel cryptographic
systems for Condorcet ballots, the CIVS system was chosen to act as a
More information about the security and privacy afforded by CIVS, including
how a malicous voter, election supervisor, or CIVS administrator can
influence the election can be be found
Are there any deficiencies in the Condorcet method?
There is no perfect voting method. It has been shown by the
Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibbard%E2%80%93Satterthwaite_theorem>_
that any single-winner ranked voting method which is not dictatorial
must be susceptible to so-called “tactical voting”. This can lead to
people not voting as they truly believe in order to influence the
The Condorcet method also has the possibility of having cycles (known as
Condorcet paradox <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condorcet_paradox>).
Due to the fact that the Condorcet method chooses a winner based on whether
they would win against the other options in a 1-on-1 race, there is a
possibility that PEP A > PEP B > PEP C > PEP A (or in terms of the game
rock-paper-scissors, imagine a three-player game where someone played rock,
another played paper, and the last person played scissors; no one wins that
game as everyone is defeated by someone). The chances of this occurring when
there are 21 or more voters, though, is
less than 1.5% <https://www.accuratedemocracy.com/l_cycles.htm>.
This document has been placed in the public domain.