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Re: Condorcet Voting and Supermajorities (Re: [CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT] Disambiguation of 4.1.5)

On Sun, Dec 03, 2000 at 06:11:07AM -0500, Raul Miller wrote:
> On Sun, Dec 03, 2000 at 05:02:29PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> > Well, you're welcome to disagree, but be aware that your definition
> > doesn't match the way the current system (the N+1 votes) works, and
> > doesn't match the way most systems work (which only provide "No, don't
> > resolve this" as a `status-quo' option).
> You're implicitly claiming here that:
> [1] The default option (further discussion) isn't a status quo
> option.

Eh? No, I'm claiming no such thing. If "further discussion" wins, then
no, we don't resolve anything. We may later have another vote, and we
may resolve something then, but we don't resolve anything as a result
of the vote.

I will assert that the options "no" and "further discussion" aren't
usefully different.

> [2] A.3(3) votes will not contain *any* status quo options.

I'll also note that your interpretation of A.3(3) isn't one I'm willing
to make, and as such, I'm not really inclined to speculate what options
the secretary might include in such a vote.

Either "further discussion" or "no" is a status-quo option though: nothing
changes as a result of the vote.

> Status quo options are, thus, options without supermajority.

You're basing this on the mechanics of how a supermajority might be
checked, not what it's there for in the first place.

  From WordNet (r) 1.6 [wn]:
    status quo
         n : the existing state of affairs

Passing some other possibility, even one without supermajority
requirements isn't keeping the existing state of affairs.

It would certainly be an odd situation where the status-quo required
supermajority support to remain that way, but not every possibility that
doesn't require supermajority support is equivalent to the status-quo.

> > Biassing the results towards options that don't require a supermajority
> > doesn't seem a particularly useful thing to do to me [0].
> Supermajority means that more than a majority of voters must be in favor
> of the option before it can pass.

The term "in favour" isn't really very helpful. Do you mean "exclusively
in favour of, in preference to all other possibilities", or do you mean
"in favour of, in preference to how Debian is at the moment"?

> If that's not biasing towards options which don't require a supermajority
> (which only need to exceed 1 voter in favor for every one voter against),
> I'd like to know what is?

I'd like you to show one other voting system in use where supermajority
is interpreted in this way.

> [And, if you want to claim that this isn't what the constitution claims,
> please supplement that claim with a relevant quote from the constitution
> and an explanation of your reasoning.]

I've done this a number of times on this list already. If you'd like to
provide actual reasons for your interpretation, perhaps it'd be worth
having a discussion about it.

> > [0] I say "biassing" since if you take a vote where you have two options:
> > 	* Modify social contract (M) (requires 3:1 supermajority)
> > 	* Do nothing (N)
> For there to be only two options you'd have to have a vote without a
> quorum.  

"Further Discussion" is a good enough stand in for "Do Nothing". You
could, alternatively add "Further Discussion" as a third option, which
everyone puts last.

> >     and M has unanimous support over N, and then add a third option:
> > 	* Evade constitution (E)
> If M really has unanimous support, you wouldn't add a new option --
> no one would want a new option.  Adding a new option only happens:

No, M has unanimous suppoer over N, that is everyone prefers it to
the current situation. That is, everyone wants to get rid of non-free.
A minority of those people would rather do it by exploiting loopholes in
the social contract ("We'll continue to provide non-free for download,
but we won't necessarily allow people to upload to it!! Muahahaha").

Why, exactly, is it so undesirable to modify the social contract that
we should just ignore the expressed preferences of half/three-quarters
of the developer body, and take the "easier" solution, instead?

Certainly, we should make sure that everyone prefers the modified social
contract to what it says at the moment, but there's no good reason to
accept *any* other option in favour of one requiring a supermajority.

> That's my understanding of how the constitutional voting system is
> supposed to work,

Considering, under the most liberal interpretation, the constitution
describes two methods, one of which works that way, and one of which
works the other way, it seems a little bold to say that the constitution
is *supposed* to act that way.

Certainly, I think the constitution pretty clearly indicates that's
*not* how votes are meant to be handled or interpreted.

> I'll note that there are other ways the ballot could have been
> constructed, as far as introducing a gradual phase out.  For example,
> the people proposing E could have proposed "amend the constitution AND
> phase out gradually".  If they proposed "phase out gradually and do not
> amend the constitution", then presumably they really are having second
> thoughts about amending the constitution, and don't want it amended.

Or there's someone obnoxious on the lists who makes a big stink about it
and they underestimate their support, so they try making an option that
only requires majority support rather than supermajority support.

If they then get their supermajority support, why then ignore the stated
preferences of the voters, and choose the unnecessary compromise position


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

     ``Thanks to all avid pokers out there''
                       -- linux.conf.au, 17-20 January 2001

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