[Mpi-forum] Collection of voting points

Jeff Squyres jsquyres at cisco.com
Thu May 31 07:38:51 CDT 2012

BTW, I want to stress that I think that this is good, healthy debate for the Forum.  Thank you all for taking the time to add your voice to the discussion.

In reading the thread that continued last night, I wish to make the following points:

1. What is currently being referred to as "the bylaws" is a document that Rich checked into Subversion on May 9, 2011 (i.e., about a year ago).  I do recall that there was some discussion about this document before it was posted, but I do not believe that it received the same level of scrutiny as MPI Forum document text, for example.  I do not believe that this document had 2 binding votes, either (someone please correct me if I am wrong).

*** Meaning: this is a fairly recent document.

2. The first votes I recorded (for MPI-2.2 stuff) was in March, 2008 (see http://meetings.mpi-forum.org/Meeting_details.php and https://svn.mpi-forum.org/svn/mpi-forum-docs/trunk/meetings/2008-03-march/voting-worksheet.xls).  The first MPI-3 vote I see was for NBC in September, 2010.

All of these votes were recorded with a "yes votes > no votes" computation.  However, as has been pointed out, before the May 2012 meeting, I don't think we've had many (any?) close-enough official votes such that "yes>no" vs. "yes>50%" would have mattered.

*** Meaning: there were many votes before the procedures document was published.  When paired with the fact that the document was not voted on, referring to that document as "bylaws", I think, is therefore a little misleading.

3. In every single vote record, there are separate columns for yes, no, and abstain (and miss).

*** Meaning: This concept of a separate "abstain" result is exactly why I used the original "yes votes > no votes" computation.  The existence of "abstain" clearly indicates to me that the Forum intended "abstain" to be different than "no".  Note, too, that "abstain" existed in MPI-2 (I wasn't part of MPI-1).

4. Starting in June, 2009, all ballot result web pages contain the following text:

    NOTE: "Missed" counts the same as "abstain".

*** Meaning: This notice did not appear on the 6+1 prior ballot result web pages.  I do not remember what happened here, but this *suggests* that there was some discussion in the June 2009 meeting about the exact meaning of "missed".

My own belief is that "missed" is just an annotation for inside the forum -- it helps us remember, "Oh, yeah, Joe's plane was late and he missed that vote."  Or, "Oh, yeah, Bob must have stepped out of the room for that vote."

5. Regardless of all of the above, there has never been a definition of "present" in the quoted definition of voting:

   a simple majority is defined as a simple majority
   of those present and eligible to vote.

Does "present" mean "registered to attend the meeting", or "registered to attend the meeting AND physically present in the room at the time of the vote"?

*** Meaning: are we saying that there is difference between saying "abstain" and walking out of the room?  That seems like a specious distinction, to me.

*** Additionally: this specifically calls into question the meaning of the "missed" votes (note that there were no "missed" votes in the Japan meeting, but this point also needs to be clarified).

6. A conspicuous definition that is also absent -- and we have discussed its absence many times -- is that of "quorum".  How many voting-eligible organizations are required to constitute critical mass such that a binding vote can take place?

Again, as someone correctly pointed out, this was not a factor for the Japan meeting.  Here's some stats to show that the Japan votes were representative of the overall Forum:

- May 2012 (Japan): 16 orgs voting
- March 2012 (Chicago): 17 orgs voting
- Jan 2012 (San Jose): 16 orgs voting
- ... I didn't bother to go back further

*** Meaning: If we're quibbling over the voting rules, the term "quorum" also needs to be defined.  

=== OVERALL SUMMARY: I personally don't have a strong opinion on which set of definitions we end up using.  Indeed, Bronis (and Torsten, in IM's with me) make good points about needing a large number of "yes" votes to pass.  So this is a good debate to have: if we want to abolish "abstain" (and its synonym, "miss"), then fine -- let's debate and make a conscious, Forum-wide decision to do so.

=== My objection is that the voting records CLEARLY show that we have treated abstains different than "no"; this is a tradition that extends back to MPI-2.  I object to the sudden changing of the ballot rules as I, the secretary, have understood, recorded, and transparently published the ballot results.  It seems to be a problem that people were not paying attention to *the last 4 years of ballots*, but that does not mean that the discernment of ballots can change with no discussion by the Forum.

Jeff Squyres
jsquyres at cisco.com
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