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I suppose this is a technical question and may also be suitable for SO proper, but since it concerns the election I thought the target audience would be more likely to find it here.

When trying to run the results of our recent Stack Overflow Moderator Election Armadillo, OpenSTV chokes with a UnicodeDecodeError. This makes determining the winners somewhat difficult. What gives?

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FYI, the latest version of OpenSTV supports unicode. – Jeff Nov 23 '11 at 18:45
Oooh vote fraud! Recount! :P – John Nov 23 '11 at 20:35
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The download link provided by SO is version 1.7 of OpenSTV. This version does not support unicode but the latest version, 2.0, does. The latest version is available from the website, and it costs $5.

Full disclosure, I run the OpenSTV project.

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It seems that OpenSTV is assuming that the ballot file is ASCII-encoded, but the chosen handle of one of the candidates, NullUserException ఠ_ఠ contains some characters which aren't.

The quick fix is to simply remove the offending characters1 from the ballot file. Change line 5014 from:

"NullUserException ఠ_ఠ"



Adding or modifying other lines, such as the actual votes, is possible, but sadly, will have no effect on the real world.

You will then be able to welcome our new ASCII-friendly overlords devoted volunteer stewards.

1By which I do not mean the candidate!

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I am so glad I broke everything. – NullUserException อ_อ Nov 22 '11 at 20:52
It's clear to me that this was a plot, hatched by you many many months ago, to destroy democracy by not allowing the votes to be tallied. I'm somewhat sorry to have foiled your plans; it was quite clever. – Josh Caswell Nov 22 '11 at 20:55
(Congrats, BTW!) – Josh Caswell Nov 22 '11 at 21:02
Did I earn a spot? That's impossible. – NullUserException อ_อ Nov 22 '11 at 21:04
That's what my run of the results says. – Josh Caswell Nov 22 '11 at 21:05
This is extremely surprising. I was 6th in the primary phase, and I predicted I would just miss it. – NullUserException อ_อ Nov 22 '11 at 21:18
@JoshCaswell: Make sure you're calculating the result with the "Meek STV" method. – Tim Cooper Nov 22 '11 at 21:25
@Tim: Indeed I am. Looks like NullUserException collected a lot of transferred votes from other candidates who were eliminated. – Josh Caswell Nov 22 '11 at 21:28

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