============================== CFJ 3533 ==============================
V.J. Rada initiated three elections on 27 June.
Caller: V.J. Rada
Called by V.J. Rada: 30 Jun 2017
Assigned to omd: 30 Jun 2017
Judged TRUE by omd: 02 Jul 2017
Judge omd's Arguments:
On 27 June, e indeed attempted to do so:
> Because I am rather bored, I initiate elections for Prime Minister,
> Herald and Report or by announcement.
The case turns on this clause of Rule 2154, describing a condition
under which elections can be initiated:
1. by announcement, if e is the ADoP, if the office has been
deputised for within the past two weeks, or if no election
has been initiated for the office either since the last time
a player won the game or within the past 90 days;
In short, "if A, if B, or if C": there was debate over whether this
means "if A, [and] (if B or if C)", or just "if A, or if B, or if C".
Grammatically, the latter seems more plausible, as "A, B,
[conjunction] C" is a standard way to write lists in English: the
conjunction is usually "and" but "or" works too. Two random examples
from different sources:
"Use commas to separate three or more words, phrases, or clauses
in a series."
"input source: The device, file, block, or other entity that
supplies characters to refill the input buffer."
We don't usually write "A or B or C". When all the clauses start with
"if", we do sometimes write "if A, or if B, or if C", but "if A, if B,
or if C" is still grammatical and common. Indeed, it can arguably be
seen as more grammatically correct. Examples:
"An ambiguous condition exists if fileid is invalid, if there is
an I/O exception reading fileid, or if an I/O exception occurs
while closing fileid."
"CG_INVALID_PARAMETER_ERROR is generated if name is NULL or not
a valid identifier, if type is not a simple scalar, vector, or
matrix-type, or if nelements is not a positive number."
Given that this construction is not only grammatically correct, but
arguably the 'most correct' way to express such a list, it would only
be reasonable to pick the alternate interpretation if the usual R217
factors strongly favored it, e.g. if the rule didn't make sense
otherwise. In this case, the rule basically makes sense either way,
although under the "A and (B or C)" interpretation, where only the
ADoP can take advantage of that clause, the language seems somewhat
awkward to me. Usually we would prefer to say "The ADoP CAN initiate"
rather than "A player CAN initiate ... if e is the ADoP". That
applies to both interpretations, but under the "A and (B or C)"
interpretations, we could write something like
An election generally CAN be initiated only for an elected
office for which no election is already in progress.
The ADoP CAN initiate an election for a specified office by
announcement, if the office [...]
Any player CAN initiate an election for a specified office by
...whereas under the "A or B or C" interpretation, splitting each of
the enabling conditions (ADoP, deputised, no election recently, with 4
support) into its own clause would result in 4 different paragraphs
repeating "initiate an election for a specified office", which feels
considerably more verbose than repeating it just twice.
Anyway, that doesn't really matter, because there's a different R217
factor strongly in favor of "A or B or C": game custom, in the form of
past versions of Rule 2154, along with what passes for legislative
history. The language in question dates back to 2009, when Proposal
6411 inserted this text:
A player CAN initiate an election for a specified elected office
for which no election is already in progress
a) by announcement, if e is the IADoP, or the office is vacant,
or no election has been initiated for the office within 90
days before the announcement;
b) with 4 Supporters, otherwise.
which unambiguously specifies "A or B or C". Later the rule was
amended to remove the "vacant" option, so it was down to just "A or
C"; then in 2014, Proposal 7658 was adopted:
Title: Election Danger
Adoption Index: 2
Amend Rule 2154 (Election Procedure) by replacing
a) by announcement, if e is the IADoP, or no election has been
initiated for the office within 90 days before the
a) by announcement, if e is the IADoP, if the office has been
deputised for within the past two weeks, or if no election has
been initiated for the office either since the last time a player
won the game or within the past 90 days;
[Add two ways to shake up offices a bit more. A mad scramble for
elections after a win could be interesting and will possibly lower
incumbent advantage, since offices represent such a huge source of
The result is the same as the current version of the clause, except
with the old name for ADoP.
The proposal annotation purports to "add two ways to shake up
offices". Under the "A or B or C" interpretation, it does add two
ways: 'office has been deputised for' and 'no election since last win'
(as opposed to in the last 90 days). Under the "A and (B or C)"
interpretation, it instead makes it much *more* difficult to shake up
offices, as now there are no conditions under which random players can
initiate elections by announcement.
Knowing scshunt, there's a slight chance that the proposal annotation
was meant as intentional deception, as part of a scam. However,
scams, to be successful, need to be supported by exceptionally clear
language in the rules, because judges will typically try their best to
rule against them under various R217 grounds. A phrase which could be
interpreted perfectly well in the intended way, in addition to a
(hypothetically) scammy way, would be a very poor basis for a scam.
Thus I believe scshunt did not intend the proposal to be a scam: he
expected the text to be interpreted as "A or B or C", and so (of
course) did the other players who voted for it.
Thus, game custom is also in favor of "A or B or C". I judge that
this is the correct interpretation.
Finally, to check the facts: in the 30 days prior to 27 June, there
was an attempt to initiate elections for Secretary, Superintendent,
and Tailor, but no others. Prime Minister, Herald, and Reportor are
all elected offices, and I judge that V.J. Rada's typo in "Report or"
is insignificant. Finally, V.J. Rada appears to have been a player at