The success of an RFA system rests squarely with the bureaucrats. This needs to be a small group of people who are absolutely trusted by the community and who absolutely have the good of the project at heart. Anybody else elected to this position who does not have these traits should be removed immediately. Bureaucrats should be helpful, dedicated, inspiring. They should love the project so much that they would be willing to leave it voluntarily if they thought it would improve the project. Being a bureaucrat isn't some kind of trophy to put in the trophy case, or another badge of honor to place on the lapel: it's a promise to put the well-being of the project above any other concerns, above any personal relationships, and above any personal ambition.
That said, bureaucrats need to be both trusted and empowered to make processes like RFA Just Work. The question in an RFA is exactly this: "Is this nominee trusted enough to use the new tools to help the project?" During the process people from the community vote, optionally leaving rationales to support their votes, and then the job of bureaucrat begins. Bureaucrats need to look at each individual vote, and they need to look at the ebb and flow of overall community opinion as a whole to come up with a resolution. Here are some guidelines:
- Reasons to promote the candidate are listed in the nomination, and the user has a track record that should be self-explanatory. Any oppose vote needs to have an accompanying rationale. Why do you not agree with the nomination? What part of the nomination specifically do you disagree with? What other information do you have about the candidate that should be known and considered? The more information you give, the more powerful and persuasive your vote becomes. Without any information, an oppose vote really isn't anything.
- Votes should deal with the matter at hand: Is the nominee trusted to use the tools for the benefit of the project or not? Any voter whose voting rationale doesn't address this question directly isn't relevant and isn't counted. Saying "Oppose because user has only 423 edits and my algorithm requires 500" or "...because the user is a woman" or "...because the user is only 17", or "...because the user misuses commas sometimes" are all non-votes and really don't matter.
- Any votes that are unreasonable or irrational don't get counted. This counts votes from known Friends and Enemies of the nominee who obviously vote they way they do because they publicly like/hate the person in question. If your judgement on the topic is clouded by your personal feelings, you shouldn't vote. The question isn't "do I like this person?" it's "Do I trust this person to use new tools for the good of the project?" There have been several occasions where I promoted RFA candidates who I did not like or agree with personally, but who I knew to be good Wikibookians. Notice that "Good Wikibookian" is not the same as "Agrees with my opinions about Wikibooks".
At the end of any discussion, the question has to be "which of these two alternatives will be best for the project as a whole?". Any decision-maker who doesn't take this question into account, or who willingly answers it incorrectly should be removed from their position immediately. Because it really doesn't matter what I want, or what you want, it's what the project needs that's important. Hopefully, all your bureaucrats know that.