What I would be endorsing is allowing mods to apply different standards in determining whether a vote violates the rules
How does that differ from what I understood your position to be?
Rock and a hard place comes with the job of being a mod. No matter what you do, you're going to piss somebody off and there will always be suspicions that you are corrupt and/or doing people favors...What really puts one between a rock and a hard place is the decision to continue doing debates while simultaneously having the ability to delete votes.
It certainly does come with the territory, but I think it is worth calling attention to the various demands and interests I am having to balance, so that the reasoning of moderation can be better understood. Moreover, I never adjudicate or remove votes on debates I participate in; those vote reports are always handed off to another moderator.
Any egregious mod action should be appealable to a mod/admin of higher rank
Your response does nothing to address my specific concern: your suggestion leads to unequal voting policy enforcement. That is an issue of fairness that appealing won't solve if the kind of moderation discretion you call for is exerciseable. It certainly doesn't address issues of moderator favoritism, and in fact makes it easier to accuse moderators of favoritism because their moderation would be less formulaic.
If the arguments in the comment section are indicative of the debate having been read and comprehended, what exactly is the issue here?
Again, this seems to miss the point. First, your analysis fails to address the concern that comments on voting logic often come only after a vote has been moderated. This means that voters who don't comment extensively in the comments will be disadvantaged relative to ones who do, and that doesn't seem fair to me. Second, moderators cannot be expected to read the debate in its entirety or the comments in their entirety in order to adjudicate the vote. In order to determine whether a debater really understood a debate, entire conversations might need to be read, adding greatly to the practical burden of moderation. Third, the comments are not the vote, unless the RFD was posted in the comments. It is the text of the vote which is up for moderation under the voting policy, and so it is not appropriate for the mods to make judgments external to the vote itself in determining the vote's sufficiency. Comments outside of the vote don't make the vote sufficient; only the content of the vote can make the vote sufficient.
Is it your position that no mod action ought to be taken against Type1's vote because his RFD was "valid?"
Of course that's not my position. But an admission of breaking the voting rules is altogether different from making inferences about comments which may or may not demonstrate that a voter understood the debate. Neither set of comments effect the sufficiency of the RFD itself, but the former demonstrates a different kind of voting policy violation altogether.
Scenario A) You pour 5 10k character rounds of your life into a debate and lose after a great and wide range of feedback/voting/discussion/interest from the voters/readers or Scenario B) You pour 5 10k character rounds of your life into a debate and see a tie as a result of not a single soul voting/reading.
This is a bogus scenario because you build in positive presuppositions which may or may not be the case. Of course, debaters want great votes as opposed to none at all, but that's not the issue here. Moderation doesn't remove great votes. The issue here is whether terrible (or even mediocre) votes are better than none at all. The answer to that, I explained thoroughly, is no. No votes and no readers are better than terrible votes with readers. As someone who has done hundreds of debates throughout the last decade, IRL and online, I can tell you I will always prefer a tie over an unjust loss. Unjust losses do just as much, if not more, to discourage debaters from continuing to debate as does a lack of votes.
It is worth repeating my analysis: "Your logic here proceeds from a mistaken paradigm. A tied debate, in theory, only injures the debater who ought to have one; yet, it injures them less than if they had unjustly lost. An unjust loss, therefore, is worse than a tied debate. While voting moderation is not about policing votes to ensure the "correct" decision, it does establish minimum standards of acceptability for votes in order to minimize unjust losses, given that better voting practices likely leads to better voting decisions. The notion, then, that non-voting is the ill we should be attempting most stridently to avoid is incorrect; rather, bad voting is the ill we should be attempting most stridently to avoid, because it inflicts the greatest injury. If maximizing votes is the goal, should voters be able to vote a particular way for any reason whatsoever?"