Both of the past Arbitration Committee elections have been held with approval voting, with all of the candidates running against each other in one pool. Approval voting allowed each Wikipedian voter to vote for as many candidates as s/he wished, with only one vote allowed per candidate. The originations of using approval voting began with the July 2004 elections, when ArbComVote software was designed for approval voting. There was discussion before the vote, with many proposals to change the voting system used. However, the first ever vote was held using approval voting, with the top vote-receivers filling the number of seats available.
The December 2004 elections were also held using approval voting. However, the election had a higher level of interest and participation than the previous one, and more proposals were made to change the voting system. Some suggested allowing both for and against votes, with each vote against detracting from the total. Others suggested using Condorcet voting, where voters would be able to rank their choice of candidates. This idea was considered seriously for some time, with Jimbo Wales even considering the move given the amount of community input. Developer and elections manager Tim Starling also commented that the software could possibly be changed to reflect the method of voting. However, such a change was never accomplished.
Other suggested methods of voting included Single Transferable Vote and run-off voting, where the large field of candidates would be narrowed down in preliminary elections. In addition, proportional voting was also suggested, where voters would be grouped into blocks in an attempt to ensure that every group of voters would be represented.
In August of 2004, Jguk created a page in an attempt to reform the 2005 elections. Included were proposed changes to the voting system; bloc voting, where a voter could only approval vote for the number of open seats, run-off voting, and Condorcet voting were proposed. All three were met with significant opposition.
The 2005 elections were assumed to be held with approval voting; however, with Jimbo's reforms of the election, the vote will be similar to confirmation hearings — once a candidate is nominated by Jimbo, the community can then either approve or disapprove of the candidate. No further details have been released yet.