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Go Daddy veep loses ICANN election to “none of the above”

Kevin Murphy, October 22, 2015, 11:12:48 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN’s multistakeholder GNSO Council has been left embarrassingly rudderless after its members failed to elect a new chair.

The unprecedented result saw Go Daddy VP of policy James Bladel lose an election to “none of the above” yesterday.

Under GNSO rules, there are two candidates for chair. One is nominated by the Contracted Parties House (registries and registrars), the other by the Non-Contracted Parties House (intellectual property interests, ISPs, non-commercial users etc).

Bladel was the CPH candidate. He stood against Australian academic Heather Forrest, on the council representing the Intellectual Property Constituency.

To get elected, a candidate must get 60% of the vote from both houses.

In the first round of voting, conducted via secret ballot, Bladel won 100% of the CPH vote and 47% of the NCPH vote.

Forrest was then eliminated for the second round, which meant Bladel proceeded to a second round of voting: him against “none of the above”.

Council members took 15 minutes out to discuss among themselves what to do.

When they returned, Bladel’s CPH support remained unchanged, but he had only managed to get 53.85% of the NCPH vote.

If my calculations are correct, Bladel essentially missed the 60% threshold by a single vote.

That means the GNSO Council no longer has a chair.

The interregnum will last at least a month.

Each house now has until November 5 to make new nominations. The election will then be re-run “no sooner than 30 days” from yesterday.

In the meantime, the two vice chairs are running the show. The CPH said its current vice chair Volker Greiman will remain in the role while a new chair is being elected. The NCPH has not yet appointed a vice chair.

This morning, the CPH issued a statement that read in part:

Like many in the GNSO Community, the Contracted Party House is disappointed in the unprecedented outcome of the Council election. It is particularly unfortunate that this scenario occurred at a time when ICANN is in the global spotlight.

Throughout the election process, the common theme has been an agreement amongst all Councilors that either candidate would have made a competent and effective GNSO Chair. However, the qualifications of both candidates were ultimately disregarded.

In recent history, GNSO chairs have been drawn from the registries and registrars.

Since 2009, the chairs have been Jonathan Robinson (Afilias), Stephane Van Gelder (then Group NBT, a registrar), Chuck Gomes (Verisign).

This trend did not escape the notice of GNSO members, who quizzed Bladel and Forrest on Sunday on whether they would be able to give fair treatment to both houses on the Council.

Both candidates gave gracious responses. Bladel said:”The chair does not get extra votes when it comes to decisions. The chair does not have his votes taken away; his or her votes taken away. So really this is a question of optics.”

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Comments (6)

  1. Graeme Bunton says:

    The title on this post is almost as unpleasant as that vote was. James won 70%of the total vote. The NCPH couldn’t get enough votes for their own candidate in their own house. They chose to put their internal disagreements above the needs of the council and the wider community that depends on their work.

  2. Volker Greimann says:

    While the result of the vote is unfortu ate and disappointing, the council is far from rudderless. This sort of situation is foreseen in the rules of operation of the council.
    In accordance with these rules, I have been asked to continue as vice chair by the contracted parties house and temporarily taken over the management function of the chair. I will fulfill this function together with the yet to be selected other vice chair until a new election can take place.
    The GNSO council will continue to conduct its business as usual and continue to fulfill its role within ICANN.

  3. Oli Hope says:

    I think the title of this article is wrong, it diminishes the integrity of DI. The issue here is that the NCPH didn’t support their own candidate and refused to support the CPH candidate. It isn’t the registrar who lost out, it’s the reputation of the GNSO.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      The headline is completely accurate.

      • “None of the above” did not win 60% of both houses.

        So “None of the above” did not win the election either, and I agree with the comment above that it is not accurate to say that the candidate who did garner a supermajority of all of the votes somehow “lost” to “None of the Above”.

        The position is not vacant, and there is an interim chair, per the rules.

        It is quite obvious that if the NCPH, or some subset thereof, did not want a contracted party representative as the chair, then their foolishness has resulted in – a contracted party representative as the chair.

        There are always those who believe that dogged intransigence is a strategy for some sort of eventual “victory”. This is the same species of broken social psychology which has rendered the US Congress unable to elect a speaker.

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          George W Bush didn’t win the majority of votes in the 2000 US presidential election either, but Al Gore still lost it.

          If the system can’t be relied upon to correctly reflect the wishes of the voters, perhaps the system is at fault.

          As you point out, Volker is currently de facto interim chair. As he is neither James nor Heather, I’d say it’s completely accurate to say that “none of the above” won (had I wrote that, which I didn’t).

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