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OSI Email Mistake Could Affect Election Results

A seemingly unintentional factual error in a get-out-the-vote email sent by Open Source Initiative to its members could result in some members waiting until after the polls close to vote in the organizations current board of directors election.

Screenshot of the problem part of OSI's election email
Screenshot of a portion of an email OSI sent to its members on Thursday night.

Update: March 17, 2023 @ 4:15 pm EST – At about 3 pm EST, Open Source Initiative announced that in response to concerns expressed by FOSS Force, it is extending voting in its board of directors election by a day, or until Tuesday March 21, 2023. You can read our coverage on this development here.

Open Source Initiative has committed a faux pas in its currently underway board of directors election that has the potential to affect the results. This comes two years after the organization was forced to scrap the results of a board of directors election and hold a second election, after a security hole in its election software was found to have been exploited.

In this case, such drastic measures will probably not be necessary to fix the problem, however.

The misstep came on Thursday night, in a get-out-the-vote email sent by the organizations executive director, Stefano Maffulli, to OSI members. Voting in the election, which will decide board members for two individual seats (voting for a third affiliate seat is only open to affiliate members), began on March 10 and will officially run through March 20. In the email, however, Maffulli told members, “You can vote until Monday March 21, 1700 UTC – 9am US Pacific.” Unfortunately, Monday is March 20, meaning March 21 falls on Tuesday.

The likely cause of this error is also evident in the email, which contains a link to, “Check for when polls close in your time zone.” Clicking on the link takes you to a page for the 2022 board elections, which indeed closed on Monday, March 21. Evidently Maffulli, or someone on his staff, was looking at the wrong page on the election website when writing Thursday night’s email.

Although this is a very small error, it can’t be ignored or merely corrected with a followup email attempting to reexplain the voting timetable, because any member who waits until March 21 to vote will find that the polls closed the day before. Never mind the discrepancy between day and date (i.e. March 21 isn’t on Monday) which might not be noticed by some voters who mentally note the date.

The fix here seems to be easy: just extend voting by one day and close the polls on Tuesday, March 21.

I’ll be watching to see how OSI handles this, and will keep you informed.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that voting in the OSI election for individual board members would run from February 10 through February 20, which was incorrect. Voting started on March 10 and will end on March 20.

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