I'd largely echo what Jeff has to say about the NDP Convention as it relates to the eventual Liberal leadership. The Liberals would be wise to poach a few of the ideas from the NDP, particularly the made for TV flare, as well a centralized location to give an old style convention flavour. While it may seem like early days, the Liberal Party would be wise to start fleshing out the nuts and bolts of our leadership race now, because our format presents unique challenges.
The online voting component of the NDP race was a utter failure, both in terms of abysmal turnout, as well as the process being hijacked. Given the Liberals will be conducting an "open primary" across the country on a single day (I still hold out hope we reconsider and stagger), we are looking at a herculean organizational challenge, particularly when it comes to polling stations. A robust online option will cut costs and organization, meaning we can have fewer concrete polling stations in ridings, a more manageable undertaking. As well, the concept of "open" should embrace as many ways to participate as possible, there is much room to fully realize the potential of online inclusion.
While the Liberals will have an open primary, I maintain it is important that the eventual winner achieve a majority mandate from voters. I would support a preferential ballot, it isn't perfect, but with only "one" voting opportunity, Liberals should see the wisdom of perceived unity coming out of our exercise. It is quite conceivable, if we just have one raw vote, we will end up with someone taking the helm with less than 50% of support, perhaps not a big issue, but why not canvass further to find a more unified choice in the end? I see little downside in having voters give preferential choice, although I would argue this should be the sole option. Liberals could still have live voting at the Convention venue, but it should also be preferential and we merely read each "ballot" result in successive fashion, creating an air of anticipation as the process unfolds. To my mind, a preferential component creates some intrigue as we potentially wait between announcements to see how the results shake out.
I also agree with the notion that candidates should have speeches the night prior to the actual vote and the notion of riding meet ups to watch the proceedings, a no brainer to enhance participation. I'd even push for a vote eve DEBATE, held live in the convention hall, which would garner national coverage and create much high stakes drama, quite a visual spectacle, loud and boisterous. As well, in this way, you give the Convention venue added importance, a centralized place of action, to make up for the lack of traditional elements.
Now, let's just hope we actually have a competitive race...