Icann election goes 'a little crazy'

In a surprise showing, some 158,000 Internet users have registered to vote on Icann board members

As Icann spokeswoman Pamela Brewster put it, things "got a little crazy".

More than 158,000 Internet users have registered to vote in an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) online election that will choose the five people to serve as Icann at-large board members.

That is nearly 30 times what Icann expected, and it could've been higher. Icann stopped registering voters after upgrading its ailing computers several times.

Icann decided to add the five new positions to its board last November via an online election.

To register, voters had to be 16 years old and have an email address. Icann members were so concerned no one would be interested they decided that just 5,000 people would have to register in order to conduct the election.

What followed may have been the result of overbroad outreach, a game of nationalism and one-upmanship, or just a basic misunderstanding of the dry technical nature of what Icann actually does, Brewster and other Icann members said.

"I'd be amazed if we get 158,000 actual voters in October," she said.

Icann President and chief executive Mike Roberts said in a prepared statement that some of the registered voters were "prompted by outreach efforts that significantly overstated the scope and significance of Icann's technical functions". He didn't elaborate.

In Europe, 35,942 people registered as voters in the election.

"In Europe they think Icann is the UN of the Internet," Brewster said. Icann's main function is to regulate the arcane world of Web addresses.

Japanese Web users were also interested because the latest Icann meeting was held in Japan. Plus, the Japanese apparently did not want to be outdone by their European colleagues, she said. The Chinese spotted what was happening in Japan and started registering. Koreans took their turn at nationalism and added thousands more to the voter rolls, Brewster believes.

As a result, 94,000 people in Asia registered to vote in the elections, the largest number for the five geographical voting categories.

In North America, there were 21,596 people hoping to register.

On the flip side was Africa, where 787 people have registered to vote.

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