Folks concerned with Internet Governance and ICANN oversight might recall that a ranked-choice voting method was used by ICANN in October 2000 to select five At-Large Board members. ICANN’s online global election was a Very Big Deal at the time. I was a front-row witness to those events, researching a Ph.D. dissertation on the DNS controversy, and sometimes participating in relevant working groups.
I came away from that experience deeply impressed by the elegance and fairness of ranked-choice voting. Done right, I saw its potential to empower massively scalable venues for online discourse and priority selection. It was easy to imagine applications for democratic decision-making far beyond ICANN. I've been singing the praises of ranked-choice methods ever since. In fact, I've devoted quite a bit of effort toward building better ballot prototypes, along with scalable tallying systems, and rich data visualizations of results. (For any wonks who are interested, one of my prototypes does Borda, IRV, and Condorcet simultaneously.)
ICANN seems to be on the cusp of a major transition, so it’s no surprise to hear calls for upgrading its public responsiveness and accountability. We've been here before. I've periodically attempted to draw the ICANN community’s attention to the untapped promise of ranked-choice methods, and their obvious utility for multi-candidate elections and multi-option priority ordering. I’m disappointed that the idea of taking a fresh look at this consensus-forging technology never found a champion. Nevertheless, given that so much investment is now being dedicated to projects such as TheGovLab and ICANNLab, it seems appropriate to at least raise the issue again.
If anyone reading this list is interested in knowing more about the many virtues of ranked-choice techniques, I’d be glad to provide some background.