Turnout, and what to do about it
When I was writing my predictions post, CSM7 members were beginning to voice their now-justified concerns about voter apathy and lower turnout this year. This was the biggest surprise for me. Turnout this year was 49,702 - nearly 10,000 less than CSM7’s 59,109. Even in the simulations I ran predicting low turnout, I expected a lower rate of increase than from CSM6 to CSM7, not an outright decrease in turnout. Consequently, most of my predictions were 15-20K voters high. I initially expected these concerns were overblown, or just the manifestation of people’s fears about STV. I was wrong.
CCP does deserve some of the blame for lessened turnout, but maybe not as much as they're getting. Believe it or not, this year's election was the most-promoted in CSM history (discounting, perhaps, the first). The community was extraordinarily engaged as well, with the Crossing Zebras interviews in particular providing a more in-depth look at the candidates and their positions than we'd ever had before. Prospective voters had access to a wealth of information. Despite all this, we lost 10,000 votes somewhere.
So, what happened?
I think it’s fair to say that CSM6 and CSM7 were exceptional elections. CSM6 saw the first really effective bloc vote turnout - the ‘seizure of control’ by nullsec - and was held in a time of bubbling discontent with EVE. Everyone was concerned about the state of the game, declining subscription numbers.. feelings that would boil over into Jita riots, special CSM summits, the Summer of Rage, and other drama througout CSM6’s term. All this culminated with the release of Crucible. The Mittani was a polarizing enough figure to draw in thousands of votes purely for and against him. These were climactic elections with a narrative - they felt like emergencies at the time.
CSM7 has presided over the game (and CCP) righting itself. Their success has been largely behind closed doors and evident in a series of decent expansions building on Crucible. This election was not an emergency. EVE seems to be doing fine, and as such, people were less motivated to vote. The lack of polarizing figures and few CSM7 members running for reelection also likely made a difference. Also, lowsec had no candidate like Hans Jagerblitzen to rally around this year. Many factors contributed, but basic apathy underlies it all.
There are some harebrained ideas out there for increasing turnout - forcing everyone to vote to log in, bribed voting (fill out a ballot and get a pirate noob ship!), splashing ads on the highsec gate billboards (people look at those?), et cetera. However, there are good ideas out there, too, and they should be considered. High turnout confers legitimacy on an elected body; low turnout undermines it. Legitimacy means that people give a damn about what you do and say. This is important!
Understanding the results of the election in detail requires comprehension of our voting system, the Wright Single Transferrable Vote system. Mynnna still has the best explanation of it online. It'd also be a good idea to have a look at the CSM7 results (operating under First Past the Post) for a point of comparison. With all that said, let's start dissecting the vote and see how everyone did, starting with the big blocs.
There are a couple of ways we can look at this. Way one: “Last year The Mittani received 10,000 votes. This year, the CFC ballot (and its variations) garnered about 6,000. They screwed up.” The other way: “It’s complicated.”
The CFC vote decreased dramatically over last year’s for a few reasons. Chief among them is the overall voter apathy that afflicted the entire EVE voter base - this, in fact, accounts for the majority of the decrease - but other factors contributed as well. This election didn’t have a great CFC ‘narrative’. CSM6 was about ‘saving the game from the pubbies’, CSM7 was rubbing their face in it, CSM8 was about.. winning again, I guess. Last year's election saw more clever efforts, like isk prizes for those who convinced the most non-Goons to vote for The Mittani or for the best propaganda, but this year, CFC leadership was happy to sit back and spam broadcasts. Essentially, The Mittani’s elections were crusades, this one was not, and the stakes were not felt to be high. Goons put in the necessary effort to ‘win’ but weren’t particularly energized.
As mynnna would be the first to tell you, he is not The Mittani. He doesn’t yet have the name recognition or public following that The Mittani had. If CSM8 is a success and he runs again next year, you may see the CFC ballot approach CSM7 numbers, but that's always going to be a hard record to beat. 10,000 votes seems mind-boggling now.
Here’s a quote from Powers, one of the Goonswarm directors who designed the CFC ballot:
I only expected to get one permanent plane ticket and MAYBE 4 people from the top6 in, but that was a perfect storm scenario with 8000 people voting the ballot. Keep in mind this was my project, and it was an experiment/gamble. We knew that the hard math would only yield 4 seats at best, yet we politicked outwardly that we might be able to get 7 in order to fish for CSM chair vouches/commits. In the end 6 people from our entire list got on, and we have commits from about 7-8 people for chair (we'll see what happens). Most of them bust ass, so they'll get plane tickets.
In summation, this was a decent result for the CFC. The statistics show that they're still the strongest voting bloc in EVE, but that voting bloc is not immune to the trends of the greater game. CSM7's 10,000 was something that we may not see again for years, but the votesmiths in Deklein can still pull out a solid win. The objective (strong nullsec representation and a permanent seat for mynnna) was achieved.