Updated Mon, Mar 21, 2011 by The Mittani
The CSM5 elections were touted as ones that ‘really mattered’, what with the new term lengths and the stakeholder status. While turnout was boosted over CSM4, only 13% of the playerbase participated. Notably absent from CSM5 was any significant representation from nullsec alliances, who only had one representative on the council. In the early days of the CSM, alliance candidates made up the bulk of representatives, as their superior organization allowed for more effective campaigns. But the alliances had essentially given up on the CSM, rolling their collective eyes as the yearly ‘this time it matters’ campaign kicked off.
Unfortunately for nullsec, CSM5 actually did matter - in all the wrong ways. With the year-long term, stakeholder status and a gaggle of bushy-tailed representatives, CSM5 and CCP prepared to tackle all sorts of issues - including the crippling failures of the Dominion system which alliance citizens must cope with daily. This meeting of the minds took place at a summit where the single remaining nullsec representative on the CSM, Vuk Lau, was not present, meaning that whatever discussions that took place could at best be described as ‘completely uninformed by actual experience’. The less polite reaction, from CSM Alternate Helen Highwater, described the CSM5 principals as “drooling retards.” In the aftermath of this, Vuk Lau resigned at the end of his term, forfeiting a free trip to Fanfest in protest.
Meanwhile, the forces in 0.0 awoke, and prepared for all-out electioneering.
The Council War
From the outset of the CSM6 election, it was obvious that the various nullsec blocs had banded together in mutual outrage at what CSM5 had vomited forth. For the nine seats on the CSM, nine of the fifty-seven candidates can claim formal backing of an alliance, roughly guaranteeing at least a thousand votes or more. Meanwhile, many of the CSM5 delegates declined to run for re-election, leaving several major players, such as Mynxee and Deidra Vaal out of the action, yet trying to influence the outcome through endorsements.
On the first day of official voting, over fifteen thousand votes were cast, compared to only four thousand the previous year. Massive output seemed to indicate that the nullsec alliances had effectively mobilized; by the second day, 21k votes had surpassed the turnout of the entire CSM4 race. By this point turnout has stabilized into a ‘long tail’ with votes coming in drips and drabs of about 1500 a day.
By the standards of most modern democracies, this election could only be described as utterly dirty. Candidates are allowed to offer bribes and ‘lotteries’ for support, as CCP says that one cannot force a player to vote for a candidate; ‘dead voters’ are appearing in the polls as 5-day reactivation offers from CCP have allowed candidates to harvest the votes of unsubscribed accounts. Votes have been sold, smear campaigns have been launched, and conspiracy theories are rampant.
The Usual Disclaimer
As always, I’m biased in my accounts of these affairs - though it’s impossible to be ‘objective’ about an election as dirty as this. Naturally, I myself am running for office, and even have my own spiffy campaign website. However, by the time this will be published, most of the voting will be over but for the screaming and the tabulating; if you’d like to rush to vote for me regardless, however, I will not complain.
Fanfest 2011 commences on March 24th, and I’ll be there using twitter to report on the hijinks. If you’re planning on attending, you may want to read my trip report from the previous Fanfest to have some idea what to expect. From a more ‘serious spaceships’ perspective, the most valuable time spent at the 2009 Fanfest was the roundtables with the devs; if you’re attending, you’ll find me parked at the Large Scale Warfare, 0.0, PvP and Unconventional Gameplay roundtables, which I expect will be fascinating. I’ll also be presenting a bit about Goonswarm at the Alliance Leadership panel on Thursday. See you there!