The first round of voting has taken place for what is an important and historic election: a voting seat on the board of ICANN for a representative of ordinary Internet users.
In the lead after the first round is Sebastien Bachollet (with 43.75 percent of the vote); followed by Alan Greenberg (31.25 percent) and in third place Pierre Dandjinou (25 percent). Coming last, Pierre will drop out leaving Sebastien and Alan as the remaining candidates in a second round of voting.
Only the Council of the At Large Advisory Committee (ALAC) have votes (that’s 21 people). The voting window is short – from now until the end of Sunday. So we should know the result by Monday morning.
The election is important because the ALAC represents ordinary Internet users and it is the first time since aborted elections 10 years ago that there will be a voting member for this group of people in an organisation that decides crucial aspects of the Internet’s future evolution.
To cut a long story short, half of the ICANN Board was originally supposed to be selected by ordinary Internet users but an effort at global democracy in 2000 was abandoned after the voting systems were deemed to have failed and been open to manipulation.
The result was that unelected officers stayed on the Board for a few years longer, and direct elections were replaced by a closed and highly guarded Nominating Committee – a situation that has been a constant source of tension and dispute.
While the ALAC election sees only one voting Board member chosen, it is a step forward and seen as an indication that after years of struggling, the structure set up to represent billions of ordinary Net users is sufficiently stable and mature.
There is still argument over process (a pre-occupation that has prevented ALAC from professionalizing for nearly a decade). For example, the selection procedure for candidates, the voting process, the limited number of voters, and so on. But, on Monday, that will become irrelevant as ALAC makes it choice for its first voting Board member.
But over to the candidates. All of them are good and have given years of voluntary service to ICANN in an effort to improve policies.
To my mind the current leader, Sebastien Bachollet, is the best choice as the first ever “At Large” elected representative. He has been determinedly for the individual Internet user ever since I first met him about seven years ago. He was the head of Paris’ Internet Society; he has been on the ALAC for a few years; for years he ran an Internet conference (Egeni) designed for Internet users; and was also local host for the ICANN meeting in France a few years ago. Sebastien is also European and speaks at least three languages fluently (English, French and Spanish). And on top of all that he is a nice guy.
That’s not in any way to diminish what will now be his only running mate – Alan Greenberg. Alan has also given countless hours to Internet organisations and is a very capable chair and team-worker. So whatever the decision in the next few days, the winner will be, well, you and me.