For the past month, I (and Anthony) have been arguing, on debian-vote,
about voting mechanisms -- to the tune of around 100k of text. I'm
writing this message as a summary, so that it can be referred to in
That discussion loaded with mistakes, of various kinds -- a significant
number of which were mine -- and isn't really worth wading through.
Here's a set of conclusions (my interpretation of what Anthony and I
have been discussing):
 The current constitutional vote tallying mechanism is ambiguous about
what to do for circular ties (void the ballot? ignore preferences other
than 1st?). It consists of four independent vote resolution systems
(domination, single transferable vote, casting vote, voiding the vote),
and there are some ambiguities about which mechanisms should be used
where. We need a mechanism which is unambiguous about what to do for
circular ties, and when to fall back on casting vote as a tie breaking
 The debian mechanism for handling supermajorities is unique.
[I'd like a better resolution on this one, but even Anthony got tired
of discussing this one with me.]
 The debian balloting mechanism is ambiguous for final ballots
which are combined with amendment ballots.
 Ambiguities are subtle things, and hard to avoid.
Here's what I propose:
While we're voting on fixing the balloting mechanism, let's use A.3(1)
and A.3(2) to vote. In other words, we pick one choice and then have a
final ballot to decide if it's acceptable. That will avoid the balloting
ambiguity, and is likely to avoid the vote tallying ambiguities. And,
we hope that we don't run into a balloting ambiguity (about a 95% chance,
according to Norman Petry).
Once we've got the voting system fixed, we can tackle the DFSG issue
(Manoj and Branden have some proposals to make).
Also, I propose the following constitutional amendment (it's identical
to the one I posted earlier today). This fixes the balloting ambiguity,
the vote tallying ambiguity, and a couple spelling problems.
I believe that Anthony agrees with this voting mechanism, except for
the handling of supermajority. [Once this has been sponsored, there's
a chance he'll propose an amended version which deals with supermajority
in a different fashion.] I believe that this handles all the potential
ambiguities about how to construct ballots and how to count votes.
I'm looking for sponsors (we need 5, for this to go forward).
This is identical to the text that I proposed earlier today.
--- debian/constitution.txt Tue Sep 14 18:00:00 1999
+++ tmp/constitution.txt Mon Dec 18 10:10:18 2000
@@ -162,7 +162,7 @@
This does not apply to decisions which have only become gradually
urgent through lack of relevant action, unless there is a fixed
- 4. Make any decision for whom noone else has responsibility.
+ 4. Make any decision for whom no one else has responsibility.
5. Propose draft General Resolutions and amendments.
6. Together with the Technical Committee, appoint new members to the
Committee. (See s.6.2.)
@@ -197,9 +197,9 @@
nominated themselves and have not yet withdrawn, plus None Of The
Above. If None Of The Above wins the election then the election
procedure is repeated, many times if necessary.
- 7. The decision will be made using Concorde Vote Counting. The quorum
- is the same as for a General Resolution (s.4.2) and the default
- option is None Of The Above.
+ 7. The decision will be made using Smith/Condorcet Vote Counting. The
+ quorum is the same as for a General Resolution (s.4.2) and
+ the default option is None Of The Above.
8. The Project Leader serves for one year from their election.
@@ -259,7 +259,7 @@
including themselves; there is no None Of The Above option. The
vote finishes when all the members have voted or when the outcome
is no longer in doubt. The result is determined according to
- Concorde Vote Counting.
+ Smith/Condorcet Vote Counting.
8. The Chairman can stand in for the Leader, together with the
As detailed in s.7.1(2), the Chairman of the Technical Committee
@@ -470,8 +470,8 @@
amendments will be voted on instead of the originals.
6. The proposer of a resolution may make changes to correct minor
errors (for example, typographical errors or inconsistencies) or
- changes which do not alter the meaning, providing noone objects
- within 24 hours. In this case the mininum discussion period is not
+ changes which do not alter the meaning, providing no one objects
+ within 24 hours. In this case the minimum discussion period is not
A.2. Calling for a vote
@@ -508,18 +508,17 @@
procedure is set back to the start of the discussion period.
3. The vote taker (if there is one) or the voters (if voting is done
by public pronouncement) may arrange for these ballots to be held
- simultaneously, even (for example) using a single voting message.
- If amendment ballot(s) and the final ballot are combined in this
- way then it must be possible for a voter to vote differently in
- the final ballot for each of the possible forms of the final draft
+ simultaneously, even (for example) using a single voting message,
+ or a single ballot. If amendment ballot(s) and the final
+ ballot are combined in this way then the final ballot must
+ present every possible outcome as an option.
4. Votes may be cast during the voting period, as specified
elsewhere. If the voting period can end if the outcome is no
longer in doubt, the possibility that voters may change their
votes is not considered.
- 5. The votes are counted according to the Concorde Vote Counting. If
- a quorum is required then the default option is Further
+ 5. The votes are counted according to the Smith/Condorcet Vote
+ Counting. If a quorum is required then the default option is
+ Further Discussion.
6. In cases of doubt the Project Secretary shall decide on matters of
procedure (for example, whether particular amendments should be
considered independent or not).
@@ -544,48 +543,59 @@
otherwise dealt with for 4 weeks then it is considered to have been
- A.6. Concorde Vote Counting
+ A.6. Smith/Condorcet Vote Counting
1. This is used to determine the winner amongst a list of options.
Each ballot paper gives a ranking of the voter's preferred
options. (The ranking need not be complete.)
- 2. Option A is said to Dominate option B if strictly more ballots
- prefer A to B than prefer B to A.
- 3. All options which are Dominated by at least one other option are
- discarded, and references to them in ballot papers will be
- 4. If there is any option which Dominates all others then that is the
- 5. If there is now more than one option remaining Single
- Transferrable Vote will be applied to choose amongst those
- + The number of first preferences for each option is counted,
- and if any option has more than half it is the winner.
- + Otherwise the option with the lowest number of first
- preferences is eliminated and its votes redistributed
- according to the second preferences.
- + This elimination procedure is repeated, moving down ballot
- papers to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. preferences as required, until
- one option gets more than half of the `first' preferences.
- 6. In the case of ties the elector with a casting vote will decide.
- The casting vote does not count as a normal vote; however that
- elector will usually also get a normal vote.
- 7. If a supermajority is required the number of Yes votes in the
- final ballot is reduced by an appropriate factor. Strictly
- speaking, for a supermajority of F:A, the number of ballots which
- prefer Yes to X (when considering whether Yes Dominates X or X
- Dominates Yes) or the number of ballots whose first (remaining)
- preference is Yes (when doing STV comparisons for winner and
- elimination purposes) is multiplied by a factor A/F before the
- comparison is done. This means that a 2:1 vote, for example, means
- twice as many people voted for as against; abstentions are not
- 8. If a quorum is required, there must be at least that many votes
- which prefer the winning option to the default option. If there
- are not then the default option wins after all. For votes
- requiring a supermajority, the actual number of Yes votes is used
- when checking whether the quorum has been reached.
+ 2. A square "initial totals table" is constructed, recording the
+ ballot totals: the number in the table at row j, column k indicates
+ the number of ballots which prefer ballot option j to ballot
+ option k.
+ 3. A square "adjusted totals table" is constructed such that all
+ entries in row j from the initial totals table have been multiplied
+ by m and divided by n where option j has an n:m majority
+ requirement. For options with no such majority requirement,
+ the row in the adjusted totals table is the same as the row from
+ the initial totals table.
+ 4. A four column "winning criteria table" is constructed with one row
+ for each cell in the adjusted totals table: the "for" column
+ holds option j; the "against" column holds option k; the "votes
+ in favor" column holds the value from the adjusted totals table
+ for row j, column k; the "votes against" column holds the value
+ from the adjusted totals table for row k, column j.
+ 5. The winning criteria table is sorted in descending order based on
+ the "votes in favor" column (and, where values in the "votes in
+ favor" column are equal, in ascending order based on the "votes
+ against" column).
+ 6. Eliminate all rows from the winning criteria table where "votes
+ in favor" are less than the corresponding "votes against" column.
+ 7. If there is a single option in "for" column of the winning criteria
+ table which does not appear in "against" column, that option is
+ the chosen option.
+ 8. If there are multiple options in the "for" column of the chosen
+ criteria table which do not appear in "against" column, the
+ option(s) which correspond to rows in the winning criteria table
+ where "votes in favor" and "votes against" equivalent to those
+ of the first row are candidates for being chosen. If there's
+ more than one candidate for being chosen, the person with a
+ casting vote picks the chosen option from among the options listed
+ in the "for" column of the candidate rows. If there's only one
+ candidate, the option listed in the "for" column of the candidate
+ row is the chosen option.
+ 9. Until there is a chosen option, the last row of the winning
+ criteria table is examined and (permanently) removed from the
+ winning criteria table. At the same time, any adjacent row(s) are
+ removed, if they are identical to what the removed row has in the
+ "votes in favor" and "votes against" columns. Exception: if all
+ rows of the winning criteria would be eliminated, the person with
+ a casting vote picks the chosen option from those which remained
+ in the "for" column.
+ 10. Once the chosen option is picked, the ballots are re-checked:
+ if the number of ballots which mention the chosen option is less
+ than a quorum for the vote, the default option wins. Otherwise,
+ the chosen option wins.
When the Standard Resolution Procedure is to be used, the text which
refers to it must specify what is sufficient to have a draft
resolution proposed and/or sponsored, what the minimum discussion