These guidelines describe the process that has been established by the community to elect members of the Arbitration Committee. In accordance with the Arbitration Policy, elections are organised by the community independently of the current Committee and its members.
The original Arbitration Committee were appointed by Jimbo Wales in December 2003, and consisted of 12 members. In making these appointments, Jimbo indicated that in the future, members of the Arbitration Committee would be elected by the community. Elections have duly been held in the December of every subsequent year, in a process which has evolved considerably over time. The Arbitration Policy, adopted in June 2011, formalised the custom across most Wikipedia projects, that the election process is organised by community volunteers, independent of the Arbitration Committee.
Arbitrators have normally been appointed for terms beginning on January 1, the month after they were elected. To stagger the terms, four of the original appointments (tranche alpha) were subject to re-election after one year, and four more (tranche beta) after two years, the remaining four (tranche gamma) serving for the full three years. This system has been perpetuated ever since, and resulted in a third of the positions being open for election on an annual basis. In
Traditionally, elections to the Arbitration Committee only advise Jimbo on who to appoint, and have not thus far been binding, Jimbo being free to appoint other people to the committee, and not to appoint those elected.
The Arbitration Policy gives the community discretion over the number of Arbitrators, the lengths of their terms, and when they are elected and seated (with the provision that elections must be held at least annually). Since 2009, the agreed size of the Committee has been 15 members, with each member serving for no more than two years, and all terms finishing on 31 December.
An election of Arbitration Committee members is held in December each year, with the terms of the Arbitrators elected beginning on the following January 1 and finishing on December 31 of that or a subsequent year. If an interim election is called by the Arbitration Committee in accordance with the Arbitration Policy, then the elected Arbitrators' terms will begin on the first day of the month after they are elected, and finish on December 31 of that or a subsequent year.
At each election, enough new Arbitrators are elected to ensure that (barring resignations) the following January 1 will begin with 15 seated Arbitrators.
At each election, the lengths of terms are selected such that, barring resignations, as close as possible to eight of the Arbitrators who are seated in the following January 1, will have their terms expire on the December 31 of that year. No Arbitrator shall be given a term of more than two years.
The Electoral Commission will announce the number of terms, and their lengths, in advance of each election, and may adjust the number if necessary (for instance, in the event of unexpected resignations). The number of available terms will not be changed after voting has begun on an election.
The timings of each election will be based around a defined voting period
The Electoral Commission
Candidates and candidacies
The Electoral Commission will