[EM] Debian 2003 (Re: I could use some help with advocacy)

Rob Lanphier roblan at gmail.com
Sat Apr 17 02:03:30 PDT 2021

Hi Robert,

Other parts of your email also deserve reply, but I just wanted to
follow up on the "Debian 2003" reference

On Fri, Apr 16, 2021 at 3:25 PM robert bristow-johnson
<rbj at audioimagination.com> wrote:
> Now I would like to know more about this Debian 2003 thing.  I thought it was
> a city, but was it about this: https://www.debian.org/News/2003/20031010 ?

Sorry for the confusion; it was about a different election, but you
found the right organization. "Debian" has long been a very popular
distribution of Linux, which serves as the foundation for other
popular Linux distributions (e.g. Ubuntu Linux, Mint Linux,
elementaryOS, PopOS, and many others).  When I refer to "Debian 2003",
I mean the "Debian Project Leader" (DPL) annual election for 2003,
which is usually that project's most important election of the year.
The Debian project has been electing their project leader using
Schulze/Condorcet since the very early days of the project, thanks to
several of us (led by Mike Ossipoff and Markus Schulze, among others)
convincing their leaders that the "Concorde method" they were using
was a mildly-flawed implementation of a Condorcet method.

Debian has published their annual election results for the DPL
elections, and 2003 was interesting:

My interest was for similar reasons to yours (as you wrote):
> I would like solid information about any other time (other than Burlington 2009) that
> Hare RCV did not elect the Condorcet Winner.

Before Burlington 2009, that 2003 DPL election ("Debian 2003") was my
standard example of a real-world Condorcet<->IRV discrepancy.  Shortly
after the Debian 2003 election was held, I analyzed the results, and
wrote up my findings, publishing an essay on Electorama.  I recently
republished those findings on Electowiki:

The DPL election wasn't a municipal election, so it's not as
interesting as government-administered elections.  Still, it's
interesting because the people voting in the election were not voting
nerds, but rather, were keenly interested in the results of the
election for the sake of their project.  It appeared to be a close
election in 2003.

> FairVote claims there is only one case out of more than 300 [of a Condorcet <-> IRV discrepancy].

I don't think I would book a flight out of any airport that claims
that 299 out of every 300 airplanes makes it off the runway, and then
tries to dismiss every 300th airplane as rare flukes that aren't
worrying about ("just look at the other 299 flights!").  I share a bit
of your skepticism about the ballot data, but it wouldn't entirely
surprise me if FairVote's analysis is accurate.  It seems relatively
rare for the Condorcet winner to be different from the IRV winner.

It may be that we just haven't looked hard enough (where "we" is the
group of people who prefer Condorcet winners prevail in ranked ballot
elections), or it could be that there are very examples involving
real-world election outcomes.  Like you, I'm really interested in
other election data which either confirms or disproves the rarity of
Condorcet<->IRV discrepancies, since my hunch+fear is that they'll be
more common than IRV advocates suggest.


More information about the Election-Methods mailing list