Last Updated: July 2016
The purpose of this agreement is to define what is expected of Elections staff with regards to confidentiality. If you have a question about expectations that is not answered in this document, please contact the Elections Chair(s).
This agreement inherits all the expectations listed in these documents:
- Code of Conduct
- Constructive Corrective Action Procedure
- Speaking About the OTW in Public
Who Is Bound by This Policy?
This policy shall apply to all members of the Elections Committee who were official staffers as of May 22, 2016 or later. (The previous policy will bind staffers who left the committee between June 1, 2015 and May 22, 2016.) It will apply during these individuals’ service on the Elections Committee and will continue to bind those individuals after their service with the Elections Committee has ended, including during any future service for the OTW in any other capacity.
To the extent staffers from other committees, in the course of carrying out their duties, have access to information in Elections Semi-Locked Spaces (see below), they will be expected to adhere to the confidentiality policy applicable to their committee.
Definitions of Confidential Data
There are 6 types of confidential data staff may encounter on the Elections team.
- Candidate Data, including: that someone is interested in running for Board (whether they actually end up doing so or not), a candidate’s or potential candidate’s real name and fannish identity, and a candidate’s biography or personal information. This also includes Volunteers & Recruiting’s eligible staffer list and whether or not a staffer appears on that list.
- Information about a candidate stops being Candidate Data once a candidate gives permission for it to be published publicly on our website, either by submitting it as a final copy of their biography, manifesto, or Q&A response(s), or by saying it in a public candidate chat.
- Voter Data, including: real names, email addresses, and status as a member of the OTW. Ballots must be anonymized, so at no time will an individual voter’s choices be visible to any staff.
- Tabulation Data, including the actual ballots cast (with no names attached) and any ranking of successful or unsuccessful candidates.
- Results Data, including: overall results of an election or recount (i.e., who was elected and who was not) and the number of members who voted, opted out, bounced, marked the ballot as spam, etc.
- Question Data, including: the names and emails of those who submit questions for candidates or for Elections, plus the existence or phrasing of any rejected questions.
- Elections Staffer Data, including: names, emails, location, or other personal information about other Elections staff or recruitment applicants.
Definitions of Spaces
There are 4 types of spaces that Elections staff may participate in:
- Outside the OTW, including: personal blogs, public online spaces, anonymous spaces, and physical spaces (in person).
- Official Elections Public Spaces, including: Elections website, Elections twitter account, Elections-hosted chats held in the Public room, Discord chatrooms, Elections entry of the OTW newsletter (which is published externally).
- OTW Shared Spaces, including: Slack chatrooms like #general, #x-chat, etc.; the All-Chair and All Volunteer email addresses; Campfire chatrooms other than the Elections Chatroom; Basecamp messages; the mailing lists of other committees.
- Elections Non-Public Spaces:
- Elections Unlocked Spaces, including: Elections wiki, Elections area of Basecamp, the #e-elections_public chatroom on Slack.
- Elections Semi-Locked Spaces, including: including: Elections Shared Chatrooms, Elections mailing list (see note below).
- Elections Locked Spaces, including: Elections Trello, Elections private Chatrooms on Slack, Elections locked Chatrooms on Basecamp, Elections Chair email address, Elections room in the Vault, any locked gdocs used by Elections staff for communicating with candidates.
Note: The Elections Shared Chatrooms are accessible to whichever committee they are shared with. The Elections mailing list is accessible to Systems, VolCom staff, and future Elections staff via archives. This is why they are considered “Semi-Locked Spaces”.
All types of confidential data are forbidden from being disclosed Outside the OTW or in Official Elections Public Spaces, except for Candidate Data which candidates have themselves submitted to us for posting in Official Elections Public Spaces.
Voter Data must be kept in Elections Locked Spaces and should generally be restricted to the Vault and locked chatrooms. Copies of the Voter Data should not be made except as required for creating voter accounts on the software being used for the election.
Candidate Data must be kept in Locked or Semi-Locked Elections Spaces until candidates have approved that data for public viewing. Anything learned about a candidate in the course of the election that they do not approve for public viewing should never be disclosed outside of Elections Semi-Locked or Locked Spaces (or in any space after the election is over – don’t gossip about candidates from former elections).
Question Data must be kept in Elections Spaces, Semi-Locked and Locked only.
Elections Staffer Data should be kept in Elections Spaces and OTW Shared Spaces unless the staffer has given permission for it to be disclosed Outside the OTW. Data about applicants for the Elections Committee must be kept in Election Locked Spaces only. Any records must be deleted before any applicants join the committee.
Tabulation Data must be kept in Elections Locked Spaces. Tabulation data may not be disclosed under any circumstances to anyone not directly working with the software or verifying results, including uninvolved Elections Staff and members of other committees, except to the Board in cases where the Board must verify results in response to a formal questioning of the results within 1 week of their release as described below.
Results Data must be kept in Elections Locked Spaces until the Elections Chair has made a formal announcement of the results to the Board and the membership.
This policy is not meant to disrupt the standards set by the Code of Conduct. If an OTW staff member or volunteer violates the Code of Conduct in a context that would normally be confidential, the Chair(s) of Elections may choose to contact the Chair(s) of Volunteers & Recruiting to discuss the situation, and action may be taken following the Constructive Corrective Action Procedure.
Duration of Data
Voter Data will be deleted from the Vault within 1 month of the formal announcement of election results to the Board. Any additional copies of this data (in the software, for example) will also be deleted by that time.
Tabulation Data will be retained for statistical purposes. This data will be kept in the Elections Chair Vault and will not be released except to the OTW Board in response to an e-mail from the Board to the Elections mailing list within 1 week after an election, requesting such data in cases where the Board must verify election results in response to a formal questioning of the results of that election. If the Board uses this procedure to request tabulation data to verify results that have been questioned, the Board will also be given the algorithm we use to interpret that data, since IRV ballots are extremely difficult to review manually.
Results Data will be retained for statistical purposes. This data will be kept in the Elections Chair Vault and will not be released except in two cases:
- to an Elections Staffer if they need the data to produce statistical information for a report or a public post;
- to the OTW Board in response to an e-mail from the Board to the Elections mailing list within 1 week after an election, requesting such data in cases where the Board must verify election results in response to a formal questioning of the results of that election.
Candidate Data that has not been formally published will be deleted at the end of the calendar year. This includes the regular wiping of the email archives for mailing lists and archiving old chat transcripts. Formally published Candidate Data will persist permanently if placed on the Elections Website, even if the candidate was not elected or later resigns from the Board.
Question Data will be deleted at the end of the calendar year, with the wiping of the email archives.
Elections Staffer Data for former staffers will be deleted within 1 month of the staffer’s retirement. However, data generated in the normal course of Elections staff work, such as the staffer’s name in meeting minutes or on publicly posted chat transcripts, will not normally be removed. If a former Elections Staffer has concerns about harassment, stalking, retaliation, or some other threat in relation to their name being present in Elections Committee records, they should contact the Elections Chair(s) immediately. Please note that some information, such as the name of who made a post to the Elections Website, cannot be removed.
Data from Other Committees
All OTW committees share several tools. This means staffers will also have access to information pertaining to other OTW committees. Staffers should assume that all information gathered while browsing these tools is confidential and should not be shared outside the OTW without permission from that committee.
Breaches of this Confidentiality Policy will be pursued following the steps in the Constructive Corrective Action Procedure at the discretion of the Elections Chair(s) and the Volunteers & Recruiting Chair(s). Possible penalties will take into account the intent and breadth of the breach: for example, failure to delete information precisely on time will be considered less severe than disclosure of Voter Data on a personal blog.
Some breaches would be grounds for immediate dismissal from the Elections Committee. Generally, data that is required to be kept in Elections Locked or Semi-Locked Spaces that is deliberately revealed Outside the OTW will result in dismissal.
In cases where it is unclear if information should be confidential or not, staffers should ask Elections Chair(s), who will make that decision.
Updating This Policy
Any member of the Elections Committee may suggest changes to this document. If the Election Chair(s) believe the changes to be useful, they will first review the potential changes with all Elections Staff. If the Elections Staff agree to the changes, the Elections Chair(s) should consult with the Legal and Volunteers & Recruiting Committees before implementing the changes, in case of potential conflicts or unclear language.
Joining the Elections Committee commits a staffer to abiding by this policy. Staffers should register their formal understanding and agreement within 1 week of joining the committee, by filling out this form.