A Tainted PASS Elections


Another PASS Board of Directors election cycle has come and gone, and with the results now announced I'd like to congratulate the winners ...except I can't - not yet, anyways, because the elections have been tainted by the possibility of duplicate votes affecting the outcome.

On Saturday, Sept 28, Stuart Ainsworth (Blog | @codegumbo) published a blog post in which he admitted voting three separate times for Allen Kinsel (Blog | @AllenKinsel). His ability to do so was due to a well known issue where a PASS "member" is nothing more than a registered email address. Over the years, like many of us (myself included), Stuart ended up with several PASS accounts under different email addresses.

Ironically, Allen's platform was based on fixing this very issue:

"Making an additional IT investment to bring PASS’s membership roster up-to-date. Updating the roster will allow PASS to have better knowledge of our worldwide membership and to provide members with better benefits."

Allen lost the election by four votes. Granted, Stuart's votes were for Allen and not another candidate, but it got me thinking...if Stuart did it and admitted it, who's to say that other people did the same but didn't admit it? I'd like to think that wasn't the case, that we're all professionals who took the moral high ground despite a very glaring flaw. But as Ronald Reagan so often said, "Trust, but verify". Therein lies my problem with the results - Allen lost by four votes. A few dishonest people could have easily swayed the election. I could care less if we were talking about a homeowner's association election but we're not; we're talking about the Professional Association for SQL Server, an organization with an annual budget of $8+ million USD. I'm not an attorney, but part of me wonders if there are potential legal issues with this loophole existing and not taking any action to prevent it.

PASS President Bill Graziano (Blog | @billgraziano) was notified about Stuart's admission on Saturday shortly after it went live. What the PASS membership at large doesn't know is what happened after that. I could find no official mention by PASS on the elections website or in the discussion forums. As of this morning I haven't seen anything posted to the PASS blog or otherwise mentioned by Bill or elections chair Rushabh Mehta. My sources tell me the NomCom was not called upon for advice on how to handle Stuart's admission. It's frustrating, to say the least. It feels in some ways like the "old" PASS of pre-Andy Warren days where transparency was optional.

Call To Action

PASS members - especially the candidates who finished outside of the top 3 - deserve better.

First, the elections committee needs to come clean and let us know if anything was done to verify the accuracy of the results in light of Stuart's admission and if so, what.

Second, the Election Review Committee should be reconvened. It's been several years since the last and it's time to take a look at the election cycle again, determine what's worked, what hasn't, and make any necessary recommendations to the Board.

Third, and most importantly, under no circumstances can this ever happen again. The PASS Board of Directors needs to make a commitment to clean up the membership list and close the loophole that allows for duplicate voting before next year's election.

I will be at the 2013 PASS Summit in 2 weeks, and if there is no response from PASS on this call to action prior to then I will bring this up in person at the Board of Directors "meet and greet". I trust that the Board will do the right thing.