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World Sailing to hold special Council Meeting over vital Olympic vote

by Richard Gladwell/ 20 Dec 2018 19:29 PST 21 December 2018

World Sailing has called a special Council Meeting, by teleconference, to discuss the four complaints lodged by Council members over voting irregularities at the Annual Conference in Sarasota, Florida.

The crucial vote, which is being challenged by Councillors relates to the selection of Events for the 2024 Olympic Regatta in Marseille as part of the Paris2024 Olympic Games.

The moves have effectively ruled the Finn class, the Olympics oldest class, out of the 2024 Olympics.

Four of the Councillors spoke against the proposal to re-open the Council's previous decision in May over the choice of Events to be sailed at the 2024 Olympic Regatta in Marseille. A month later when the draft Minutes were circulated with a Voting Sheet attached it showed that the four had been recorded as either voting in the affirmative, when they had spoken to Reject an Urgent and late Submission, put forward by the World sailing Board after the Conference started.

Update: Overnight World Sailing's Council voted by 22-11 and two abstentions to confirm the Minutes (and Event voting) for the 2024 Olympics in Marseille.

In the Mid-Year Meeting in May 2018, that Submission for a new Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat event missed selection by just a few votes - being headed off by a new Mixed One Person Dinghy.

After the November Council meeting had started in Sarasota, the World Sailing Board introduced a "Late and Urgent" Submission to re-open the Mixed One Person Dinghy event, and substitute it with the same Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat event that did not gain majority support six months earlier.

World Sailing claimed that several Member National Authorities had raised questions about the format of the new Mixed One Person Dinghy event, and decided to make it the subject of a "Late and Urgent" submission. The list of those concerned MNA's was not publicly supplied.

Many questioned whether the Late Submission genuinely met that criteria.

Further, the Events Committee, a specialist Committee of the Board instead of producing competition formats for the new Mixed person One Person Dinghy event, endorsed the Late and Urgent Submission by a vote 6-7 with two Abstaining.

Minutes and Votes trigger complaints

A month after the meeting in Sarasota, the draft Minutes of the Council Minutes were issued along with the voting sheet of the way each Councillor had voted on each of the questions put to the Council.

A feature of the voting process was the use of handheld voting pads, on which the Councilors had the option of pushing one of three buttons to record their vote - usually Button 1 for "For"; Button 2 to "Reject" or Button 3 for "Abstain".

The voting system was hired in by World Sailing using a product Turning Point Audience Response System marketed by

On the Capterra website it is described as "Web-based polling software that speeds up interaction with students during PowerPoint presentations."

It transpires that it is most often used as an in classroom polling and response system during school lectures, seminars, presentations and the like. The disclaimer by the company warns that it takes no responsibility for the results.

The vote, and indeed two days of Council meetings and one day of the Annual General Meeting, were live streamed via YouTube, and the Meeting can still be reviewed online.

Two tests both fail

During the live streaming of the vote, it was apparent that there were issues with the voting devices, which were claimed to have been extensively tested the preceding evening, and again on the morning of the Council meeting.

While extensive testing sounds impressive, it is clear from a review of the video of the voting that there were major issues with the voting process - be it the devices used, the software and infrastructure used, or some other fault.

As is usual in such cases the blame is always put down to "operator error" meaning that the view is that Councillors all collectively made a mistake in their voting, and negated their speeches in the debate on the Submission.

It is hard to believe that extensive testing would be undertaken if the units were passing with flying colours. More so when the tests were held using the Live audience, and both failed, in IT terms.

In the Council Meeting, the intention was to hold one Live test to check the system finally and then proceed to the formal voting. Part of the reason for the Live Test was to ensure that Councillors were familiar with the voting pads.

The first Live Test failed (in IT terms) with one unit failing to register a vote at all (and may have been replaced).

A second Live Test was ordered but produced similar results and issues as the first.

In each Live test, the intervention on the voting floor by a Tech Support staff member was required to bring the test to an end.

The third and actual vote on Submission 037-18 Part 1 also required the intervention of a Technical Support team member to conclude the vote.

All three votes were notable for the pattern of about 75% of the voting pads registering on the first 1--15 secs of the votes opening - which is a reasonable response. However to get the remaining 10 or so voting units to register required multiple calls to revote.

"Press again, please. It reconfirms your vote," was a frequent instruction from the World sailing employee leading the voting process, during all three votes to get responses registered.

"You can press as many times as you want."

"Press as many times as you want."

In a transcript taken from the video shows that the CEO, Andy Hunt remarked during the second test. "Push it again if you are unsure whether you have done so [voted]. Your votes have not registered. "

"There are still people whose Voting Pads were working last time, that cannot have pushed, have pushed [sic] the button", Hunt noted in the second Live Test.

It is difficult to believe that under this situation that votes were being accurately recorded. All that is known is that a response has been registered. From the CEO's comment above, it is apparent that the voting devices were behaving inconsistently in tests.

User ratings not great

Today the name of the company providing the voting devices was revealed by US-based sailing website , where Tom Ehman, a veteran of 25 years of attendance at Mid Year and Annual Meetings of the world body produced an internet sourced report on the voting devices. The Italian Sailing website confirmed Ehman's assertions.

On the website quoted by both sources, the Turning Point system used is reviewed by previous users. In terms of ease of use, three of six reviewers say the Turning Point technology is only rated at 3.5 on a five-point scale for ease of use.

User comments included: " I'm usually spending hours trying to troubleshoot the day before I want to give the presentation."

"TurningPoint can be buggy to use. I have had several instances where the app crashed, or the remote clickers would not connect."

"It is an easy way for students to poll, but only when it works. Too many behind the scene items have to fall in place for a good result."

The review comments above seem to reflect the issues apparent in the Live broadcast of the Annual Conference votes on the Late and Urgent Submission.

Test and transaction script developed off the Live Video of two tests and one Live vote.
(Timings are based on the Youtube times for the above video clip. The video was slowed to half and quarter speed to construct this script of the test and actual vote. AH is Andy Hunt, World Sailing's CEO - Hunt was the leader for the two-Test votes
JN is Jon Napier, World Sailing's Director of Legal Affairs and Governance - Napier was the leader for the Vote on Submission 037-18

Test 1

1m.16secs (00 sec) First Test Vote starts
1m.34secs (18secs) (Andy Hunt: "A few more to come" (Seven issued units showing no response)
1m.43secs (27secs) AH: "A couple more" (Five units in total yet to respond)
1m.44secs (28secs) AH: "Please just check you've pressed...."
(There are still three live units which have not responded.)
1m 53secs (37secs) AH: "Has everybody placed a vote?"
2m.00secs Inaudible discussion at the top table.
2m.01secs (45secs) Andy Hunt: "OK we are going to have to check those Voting Pads that are not registering.
2m.07secs: (51secs) AH " Can I just ask the team, we'll have to hold on for a couple of minutes while we check those specific voting pads, which are not registering. Can I just ask the team to do that please?" Still, five units total, three allocated voting pads showing on the overhead as awaiting a response.

2min 22sec: (66secs) AH: "Please bear with us while we do this - it is very important, that they are all registering."
2min 40secs: (84secs) Tech support approaches AH and has an inaudible discussion.
2min 55secs: (99secs) AH: "Can I ask you to reconfirm your vote? Just push your vote buttons again" Still five units showing as unresponsive, three of which have been allocated to Councillors for voting.
3m.02secs (106secs) AH : - Server gets one new response. Four units still to respond (2 allocated, 2 unallocated)
3m.10 secs (114secs) Another Response is received. Three units still to respond (1 allocated two unallocated).
3min 17sec (121secs) "Could you push it? It doesn't matter what it is" (Speaking to a Council member on his right close to the right-hand corner of the top table). Chuckles. "Important subject" - [a reference to the test question about the number of alligators in Florida.]

3m. 31secs (128secs) Andy Hunt: "OK so we have one voting pad which is not operating properly.
4m.44secs (201secs) The final allocated Voting Pad, drops off the overhead view. No indication if it has responded or been cleared by Tech Support. Two Voting Pads are shown yet to respond (assumed these are the two unallocated pads).

4min 49 secs. (206secs) AH: OK thank you we now have 41 votes registering. Can we re-do the test vote again? Please just so we can be completely sure. Don't vote yet, please. The vote is not open. Can you reclear the question (to Tech Support).

Analysis: After 28secs 36 units had responded. After 91 secs there were still five units (12%) to respond. After 114secs all but one vote pad had responded. That is just short of two minutes to get 40 responses.

Test 2

5min 25secs: AH Are we ready to re-open the vote? [Pauses.] OK, hang on one second.
5min 33 secs: AH: Just to be clear. There are 41 Voting Pads. There are two spare pads, which we hold hence why it shows 43 [Voting Pads]. There are 41 [voting pads allocated to Councillors].

Question is cleared, along with all previous responses, and the panel of Voting Pads is refreshed on overhead.

5min 43secs (00secs) AH: "OK please go ahead and Vote."
5min 44secs: 901secs) AH has an indistinct conversation with Councillor to his right as voting responses are being made.

5min 52secs (09 secs) Kim Andersen: Can you repeat your answer.
6min 15secs (32secs) AH: Can everyone please go ahead and place their votes. Quite a lot of people haven't done so. [10 pads have not responded (8 live pads and 2 unallocated)

6min 21secs (38secs) AH: Push it again if you are unsure whether you have done so [voted]. Your votes have not registered.
6min 47secs (64secs) AH: There are still people whose Voting Pads were working last time, that cannot have pushed, have pushed the button.
6m 51secs (68secs) The overhead shows seven units yet to make a response, there are five units which have been allocated to Council members which are yet to make a response which is received.

6min 56secs (73secs) Still no response from seven total units

6min 57 secs: (74 secs) One unit responds - still six total units yet to respond - of which four are allocated to Councillors.

6min 58 secs: (75 secs) One Unit responds - Still five total units yet to respond. Three of which are allocated to Councillors.

7m.04secs (81 secs) AH: "Three more."
7min 7 secs (84 secs) AH: "Please, please can you each make that you've done so" Still five total units showing.

7m.14sec (91 secs) One more unit registers a response (still two allocated and two unallocated units yet to respond)

7m.22sec (98 secs) Further response - one allocated unit yet to respond (two unallocated units showing)
7min 23 secs (99 secs) AH: "40 coming up, one more please" [40 of the 41 allocated voter pads have responded]
7m.27sec (103secs) "There's still somebody who has not confirmed their vote."
7m.43sec (119 secs) AH: "Can we identify that Voting Pad?" [Turning to his left and presumably speaking to Tech Support]
7m.49 sec (125secs) Technical staff member walks in front of the camera and goes to Council member sitting out of sight to the left of the camera. (A different person than in the first vote.)

7min 56secs: (132 secs) The final allocated unit responds, and only the two unallocated Voting Pads are shown on the overhead.

7m.59sec (135 secs) To light applause AH declares they have 41 votes
8m.04sec (140 secs) AH: I'd like to close the vote please and can we see the results?

8min 10 secs?146 secs) Vertical bar graph appears on overhead showing the vote result.

Analysis: After 32 secs responses were received from 33 units and 20% of units yet to respond. Aside from faulty unit, the vote takes 91secs to complete without intervention from technical support. CEO notes the inconsistency in response from voting pads between first and second test.

8min 20 secs: Kim Andersen: Andy how are we doing it when we are voting? Because we cannot sit here and wait until we have a full view of whose voting and which pad is ..... OK, thank you.

8min 35sec: Kim Andersen "I think I handover to you Jon [Napier].

8m.40sec Jon Napier comments on the Submission 037-18 noting that it comes in two parts, of which the first Part [to reopen the 2024 Olympic Event for the Mixed One Person Dinghy, which required a 75% majority to re-open. If that were achieved then Part 2 to substitute a Mixed Two Person Offshore Keelboat event would only require a majority vote of votes cast for and against. "Abstentions do not count in the calculation of the 75% majority. If the 75% vote passes on Proposal 1, then there will be a vote on Proposal 2........

The Debate on Submission 037-18 proceeded

Live Vote:

Jon Napier then outlines the voting procedure stating again that the 75% is for and against only and the abstains do not count.
"As a reminder please press the button very hard. That's where we are finding that the votes don't register. So please press your button hard."

"Press 1 to Approve. [Press] 2 to Reject and 3 Abstain on Proposal 1.

10m.20sec (00secs) Vote screen populated for Submission 037-18
10m.30 sec (10secs) 11 total voting pads still to respond – (9 allocated and 2 unallocated). Voting pauses.
10min 35sec (15secs) JN: "Press again please.
10min 36sec (16secs) Two more units respond to call now nine units showing - seven allocated and two unallocated
10m.38sec (18secs) JN: "It reconfirms your vote. You can press as many times as you want."
10m.39sec (19secs) Two new votes received (Now a total of seven units showing).

10m.39sec "Press as many times as you want."
10m.40sec (20 secs) Five units yet to respond, three of which are allocated to Councillors
10m.50sec (30secs) New response received (Four total units two allocated units yet to respond.)
10m.50sec JN: "Two more please."
11m.18sec (58secs) New response received just as JN asks if the ones not registering can be checked.
11m.20sec (60secs) JN says "one more"
11min 23 sec (63 secs) Tech Support member appears and goes to Board member sitting second in from the left (or three from Kim Andersen's right)
11m.39sec (79 secs) Final Response from the allocated unit is recorded.

11min 43 secs: (83secs) "That is 41, thank you. Can we close the vote, please?

Bar graph of the result is shown on overhead with the majority voting to Re-Open, the Reject option received the next most votes, and there were some Abstains.

"So that is 75%. 31 is 75%. So it is 79%, so Proposal 1 is approved. Therefore there will now be a vote on Proposal 2 to change the Mixed One Person Dinghy to the Mixed Two Person Keelboat Offshore.

Analysis of Live vote on Part 1 of 037-18: After 10 secs 32 units had made a response 9 (22%) were yet to respond. Council members told on three occasions during the vote to press the button multiple times. One new response was received after the second multi-vote instruction. And one new response was received after the third multi-vote instruction. Total vote process takes 58secs and 79 secs after technical support intervention.

12:17 JN "This is a simple majority vote 50% plus 1. If we can open the vote.
12min 23 sec: (00secs) The overhead vote is populated.
12min 34 sec: (11secs) 11 units total still not showing a result.
12min 35 sec: (12 secs) One more response registered (8 Councillor units yet to respond)
12min 36sec: (13 secs) Another response (7 Council units yet to respond)
12min 42 sec: (19 secs) Another response (6 Council units yet to respond)
12min 43 sec: (20secs) Another response (5 Council units to respond)
12min 48 Sec: (25 secs) Another response (4 Council units to respond)
12 min 49 sec: (26 secs) Another response (3 Council units to respond)
12min 50sec (27 secs) JN: "Three more please."
[Unidentified comment "How much harder do you have to push the thing?]
12min 57sec (34 secs) JN: "Shall we close it?"
13min 06sec: (43 secs) Another response (2 Council units to respond)
13min 12sec: (49 secs) Another response (1 Council unit to respond)
13min 15sec: (52 secs) Kim Andersen "Shall we close the vote here?"
13min 21 sec: (58 secs) JN "Close it please" (Still one Council unit to respond)
13min 26 sec: Bar chart of vote appears on the overhead showing a majority in favour, some votes against and a few abstentions.
13min 26sec: JN " So that's approved, thank you."
13min 31sec: Kim Andersen "Thank you Council members and now I think we deserve a coffee break."

Video of two test votes, the debate where the complainants Peter Hall, Zvi Zblat, Gyorgy Wossala and Hector Duval all speak and then the two actual votes on Late and Urgent Submission 037-18

We apologise for having to produce a story like this, however it is an important issue of credibility and integrity for the Councillors concerned.

A key decision was also taken for the sport and it is important that such decisions are made in a fair manner and more importantly in a way that is perceived to be fair.

Outside a being a freelance sailing journalist Sail-World NZ's Editor, Richard Gladwell spent 40 years in IT including 18 years working in Operations and Networks including 10 years in real-time online systems operation, where developing scripts like the one above are a standard way of identifying and reporting faulty hardware, software and systems .

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