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IESG ballot procedures

This document describes the IESG ballot procedures. Three cases are described. For the vast majority of documents, the Normal IESG Ballot Procedure is used, and neither of the other procedures comes into play.

When a document comes to the IESG Telechat Agenda more than once, the Single Discuss IESG Ballot Procedure may apply. Finally, the IESG chair may call for the Alternate IESG Ballot Procedure when the normal procedure is deadlocked. The alternate procedure requires a significant time commitment from all ADs, so it is not invoked lightly.

Normal IESG Ballot Procedure

The ballot options for all normal IESG evaluations are:

  • "Yes" means "I read it, I think it's good stuff, make it so."
  • "No Objection" means "I do not object to this document going forward." The No Objection ballot position, also abbreviated as NoObj, might be used in these cases: 

    This ballot position may be interpreted as "This is outside my area of expertise or have no cycles", in that you exercise the ability to move a document forward on the basis of trust towards the other ADs.
    • I read it, and I have no problem with it.
    • I read the protocol action, and I trust the sponsoring AD so have no problem.
    • I listened to the discussion, and I have no problem.
  • "Discuss" may mean "I cannot in good conscience send this document forward, but if it were fixed in these ways, I would change my ballot position to either Yes or No Objection", or it may literally mean "I think we need to talk about this."

    Text explaining the "discuss" must be posted in the Data Tracker at the time that the "discuss" ballot position is posted, and the discuss text should be sent by email to all affected parties (at least the IESG, the document shepherd, and the document authors, and in many cases to the working group (WG) as well).

    Valid criteria for a "discuss" ballot position are documented separately. 

    A "discuss" is not intended to be a blocking tactic; rather it is a way to cause significant improvement in a draft prior to approval. If there is a legitimate issue with a draft, the document should be returned to the WG (or author) for resolution of the problem as quickly as possible. If an AD cannot get cooperation from the WG and cannot enter a ballot position that supports sending the document forward, then the AD should switch to "abstain."
  • "Abstain" means "I cannot support sending this document forward." There are two obvious reasons an AD might post this ballot position: 
    • I am so strongly opposed to the document that I am unwilling to "discuss". (Note that this should be very unusual.)
    • I oppose this document but understand that others differ and am not going to stand in the way of the others.

It is normal good practice for an AD to enter a Comment that explains the reason for their Abstain position.

  • "Recuse" means "I cannot post a ballot position due to a personal interest in the document." This ballot position is used with the AD is a document author, WG chair, or otherwise interested party.
  • "Defer" means "Give me one telechat cycle to read the document." In very unusual circumstances, the document can be deferred for a second telechat cycle with the consent of the IESG Chair. Other discussion may and presumably will continue, but no decision will be reached until the agreed time has elapsed or all of the ADs that wanted to defer the document have posted ballot positions, whichever happens earlier. "Defer" should be avoided as much as possible.

For a BCP or Standards-Track document, approval requires one Yes with at least 2/3 of all non-recused ADs voting Yes or No Objection, and no Discuss votes. (In cases where 2/3 of all non-recused ADs is not a whole number, the number will be rounded up.) The IESG secretary will refer to the ballot during the telechat, and poll any AD who has not posted a ballot position. This consumes a lot of time, so posting ballot positions prior to the telechat is much better. This also allows circulation of important comments and "Discuss" text in advance, hopefully leaving ADs with more time for the thorny issues or, on sadly rare occasions, the ability to end the telechat early. If a Discuss can be cleared by email prior to the telechat, everybody wins. During the telechat, the Secretary will tally the ballot positions and announce the result.

For an Informational, Experimental, or Historic document, approval requires one Yes with no Discuss votes. The IESG secretary will refer to the ballot during the telechat, but there will not be a poll of ADs who have not posted a ballot position. If there are no Discuss ballot positions, the Secretariat will ask, "Does any AD object to this document being published?" If an AD raises an objection, a Discuss position must be posted at that time.

Single Discuss IESG Ballot Procedure

This procedure is a follow-on procedure to the normal procedure, and it used to resolve a single Discuss ballot position that is blocking document advancement. 

If a sponsoring AD places the document on the agenda for a second IESG telechat, there is only one Discuss ballot position, no other ADs have expressed support for that Discuss ballot position, and the document
otherwise has sufficient Yes or No Objection ballot positions for approval, then the document is simply approved, essentially overriding the single Discuss holding AD. 

The override can be prevented by any other AD expressing support for the posted Discuss position. Support for the Discuss position can be noted by entering ballot position other than Yes with accompanying comment text that says, "I support the Discuss position held by <name-of-discuss-holding-AD>."

Alternate IESG Ballot Procedure

The alternate procedure is invoked by the IESG chair in the event that the IESG deadlocks using the above procedures. The IESG chair tells the ADs that the alternate procedure will be used for a particular document, and then:

  • All ADs must read the document by a time stated by the IESG chair.
  • During the IESG telechat an up-down vote is taken, with the following ballot positions:
    • "Yes" means "I read it, and it should be approved."
    • "No" means "I read it, and it should not be approved."
    • "Recuse" has the same meaning as in the normal ballot procedure

Approval requires 2/3 of all non-recused ADs to vote Yes and not more than two ADs may vote No. If the document is not approved, then it is sent back to the WG (or the author for an individual contribution). The WG must perform a substantial review of their charter. This review may have many different results, which include changing the intended status of work on a particular topic (such as experimental instead of standards track), dropping one or more topics from the charter, and closing the entire WG.

[Approved by the IESG on 21 May 2009 and updated 14 August 2014.]