Again, the point is this.
The Straight Dope, as I see it is supposed to be a site for straightening out all the things that people commonly believe incorrectly.
Ian’s article IS the things that people commonly believe incorrectly.
A couple decades ago, people believed that one had to be Italian. If I had pointed out that it is not becessary to be Italian, you would have responded, “It’s not a question of right or wrong, nor of errors, it’s a question of perspective. The questioner was not asking “What are the technical rules” but “How does one…” To respond as you did, with a description of canon law, would be ignoring what’s happened for the last 500 years or longer.”
Of course, it was realistically all but impossible for a non-Italian to become Pope. just as it is realistically all but impossible for an ugly, black, female atheist to become President.
As I pointed out, the article has other factual errors in there as well. Again, he wrote the things that people believe, not what is actually correct.
I. NOTHING ADDED TO FIRE IN CASE OF SUCCESSFUL ELECTION
The method for creating the different colored smoke is as follows: the ballots are burned after every round of voting. If a pope has been selected, nothing is added to the fire. If no selection has been made, straw straw is mixed with the ballots to create a special black sfumata, to show those waiting outside that there has been no selection.
II. SECRET BALLOT NOT REALLY SECRET - it is necessary to be able to determine how individuals voted.
The “secret ballot” is also not really secret at all, as we conceive of a secret ballot. That is another misconception. Each of the electors is given his own special stationary which contains a unique passage from scripture. The people in charge of the election know which passage goes with which Cardinal. In the case of a very close election, assuming the new Pope is one of the electors, the cardinals in charge may have to check the ballot of the Pope-elect, to make sure he did not vote for himself.
III. ACTUAL VOTE COUNT REQUIREMENT IS NOT A SIMPLE 2/3 - it is far more complicated than that.
The candidate is allowed to vote for himself, but the double-check and ballot accountability is required because of the actual vote count requirements.
The Straight Dope article says, “The new pontiff must be elected by a 2/3 majority of all ballots cast”. This is not correct. The successful candidate actually requires a two-thirds vote EXCLUSIVE OF his own.
If there were 90 electors, and the Pope-elect got exactly 60 ballots, they would have to check his vote. He would be elected in that case only if he did not vote for himself - so therefore they have to be able to determine how everyone voted. The election is sort of quasi-secret, I guess.
Similarly, if there were 91 electors, and one candidate got 60 ballots, that candidate could still be elected with less than 2/3 of the votes!!
(Provided that he voted for someone else, and therefore got 2/3 of the OTHER votes.)
On the other hand - if the electors give 61 out of 90 to a single candidate, there is no back-checking by individual elector, since it doesn’t matter who voted for whom. Even if the Pope-elect voted for himself, he still must have received 60 of the remaining 89 votes, so he’s in like Flynn, and the ballots remain secret.