Fair Vote's talking points have been repeated over and over as if they were fact, instead of unsubstantiated opinion. Many people accept these talking points without question because the methods and mechanics are dauntingly complex, and because the idea of IRV sounds so appealing. People in North Carolina and Minnesota should be espcially alarmed since Fair Vote is pushing IRV so desperately in those states.
Kathy Dopp has laid out the facts and addressed the faults and myths about IRV in a second report on the flaws of instant runoff voting. You can read the press release here. Kathy enlisted the assistance of top national computer voting experts and also election method experts. Her report is the first one I've seen that addresses whether IRV works, and how it (negatively) impacts election integrity.
The hardest hitting section of the report is where Kathy Dopp deconstructs Fair Vote's rebuttal, "point-by-point". In effect she dismantled the pro IRV talking points. Additionally, in her rebuttal of a rebuttal, Kathy shows us how Fair Vote parses their words and responses. (In my opinion).
Appendix F: Rebuttals to Fair Vote's "De-Bunking Kathy Dopp's 15 Flaws of Instant Runoff Voting"
This appendix relies heavily on the expertise, writing, and research of Adb ul-Rahman Lomax and his rebuttals to Fair Vote on the email@example.com with some help by other email list members, including Warren Smith. This appendix rebuts the Fair Vote organization's attempted rebuttal of the first version of this paper.
(See http://www.fairvote.org/?page=2285 or http://www.fairvote.org/dopp for the full text of Fair Vote's rebuttals.) Note: The numbering of IRV flaws is slightly different in this revised version above than in the original version due to the addition of two new flaws in this addition.
1. "Does not solve the "spoiler" problem except in special cases…."
Fair Vote's rebuttal:"Dopp has her "special cases" reversed. In fact, IRV solves the spoiler problem in virtually all likely U.S. partisan elections. Whenever a third party or independent candidate is unlikely to be one of the top vote-getters …, IRV eliminates the spoiler problem"
Fair Vote does not contradict the point that "IRV does not solve the spoiler problem" except in the particular case where no third candidate is among voters' top choices. In other words, using IRV counting methods means that the presence of a non-winning "spoiler" candidate can still split the votes and cause a different candidate to win than would otherwise win an election contest.
The particular spoiler problems that IRV does not solve are not rare whenever there are three or more major candidates. IRV is mostly being proposed at this time in the U.S. as a replacement for non-partisan elections. For instance, that is what IRV is being used for in San Francisco. Three or more major candidates occur much more commonly in nonpartisan election contests than in partisan ones in a two-party system, so that the spoiler problem is particularly likely in the same local U.S. elections where IRV is usually tested.
Notice that Fair Vote's response uses many hedging or misleading words like "virtually all", 'likely", "unique", "final", and "partisan". Because simpler, more problem-free voting methods are available which do solve the spoiler problem in all cases, the fact that IRV solves the spoiler problem only in cases where only two major-party candidates are viable, is not a valid reason to support IRV.
2. Dopp: "Requires centralized vote counting procedures at the state-level…"
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
IRV creates no need to centralize the counting or the ballots themselves, although that is one possible counting procedure … all that is required to implement IRV is central coordination of the tally. If ballot images are recorded on optical scan equipment, the data from those images can be collected centrally for an IRV ballot. If a hand-count is conducted, vote totals need to be reported to a central tallying office in order to determine what step to take next in the count. In Ireland, for example, there are 43 counting centers in the presidential race. Election administrators count
ballots and report their totals to a national office that in turn instructs the administrators at each counting center on what to do next. The entire process takes less than a day even though more than a million ballots are cast.
Fair Vote renames "central vote counting" to "central coordination of the tally", but does not contradict our point that IRV requires centralized vote-counting procedures at the state-level for all races with districts that cross county lines. What Fair Vote describes is a system where actual ballot counting takes place in regional centers, but the tallies must be transmitted to the central facility and added together and announced before the next round can be counted at the regional centers. All ballots in the entire election contest must be counted for each round and its totals computed and announced, before the next round can be counted. This web page by warren Smith explains the need for centralized IRV vote counting: http://rangevoting.org/IrvNonAdd.html
Consider absentee ballots which frequently take some jurisdictions up to two weeks after Election Day to verify voter eligibility and count. If all the absentee voters' ballots must be counted first before proceeding to round two, then the statewide or nationwide (in the case of an IRV presidential election) would be held up for two weeks before being able to finish round one
Fair Vote's response hi-lights its push for new hi-tech optical scan voting equipment needed in order to implement IRV by saying "If ballot images are recorded on optical scan equipment, the data from those images can be collected centrally for an IRV ballot". The truth is that very few of today's optical scanners create ballot images.
There is a study at http://www.gregdennis.com/voting/sf_irv.pdf
that describes that the San Francisco machines are programmed to "interpret" the votes in creating "ballot images" and that the alleged "ballot images" are pre-processed and do not reflect the actual patterns of votes on the paper ballots. See appendix E of this paper for a description by computer scientists of the fact that most of today's optical scanning equipment is not designed to be able to process any ranked choice ballots or to count using IRV methods. Any voting system involving transferring all individual ballot images introduces new costs and security vulnerabilities; and introduces ballot privacy issues.
The method of counting votes in Ireland is that the two lowest-ranking candidates can be eliminated in the first round as long as the sum of their votes is less than the vote total of the next highest candidate. The full counting rules for Ireland are found here:
This makes sense because even if all voters were transferred to one of the other eliminated group of candidates, that candidate would still be eventually eliminated without enough votes to surpass the remaining group of candidates. While such a procedure helps shorten IRV counting, Ireland only has 1 million voters nation-wide and 43 total counting centers as opposed to the U.S. having millions of voters just in some cities and over 3300 separate election administration jurisdictions (dozens to hundreds in each state) with dozens to thousands of polling locations in each jurisdiction. The Irish Presidential election is held only once every 7 years and in 2004 it took one day to count but two days to make a decision because no candidate got a majority in the first and only round.
3. Dopp: "Encourages the use of complex voting systems and… [FairVote promotes] electronic balloting…"
Fair Vote's rebuttal:FairVote advocates that all such machines store a redundant electronic record of each ballot, as well as a paper ballot to allow for better fraud detection, and to simplify ranked ballot tabulations.
Most government IRV elections are in fact conducted with hand-count paper ballots, including national elections in Australia, Ireland and Papua New Guinea….
Fair Vote reinforces our point that "Fair Vote promotes electronic balloting" when its attempt at rebuttal asks for an "electronic record of each ballot… to simplify ranked ballot tabulations. Consider trying to manually audit an IRV election. It is not enough to look at the totals for each rank. One has to look at each round, and the ranks on ballots transferred in that round. Suppose A is eliminated. On some ballots A might be in the first position, on some in second position, and so forth. On each of these ballots where A is eliminated, there is the candidate in the second position. The exact sequence of eliminations that took place in the original election must be followed. Compare this with just counting the marks on the ballot and adding them up. How can Fair Vote IRV activists deny the complexity of IRV counting with a straight face?
IRV is far more complex to count than any other alternative voting system being considered. Elections in Australia, Ireland, and Papua New Guinea are held under very different circumstances than U.S. elections. Please refer to response #2 above for a discussion of Ireland's IRV election. Australia …
4. Dopp: "Confuses voters…"
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
All the evidence shows that voters are not confused by IRV. The rate of spoiled ballots did not increase in any of the U.S. cities when they switched to IRV.
All the evidence? Well then, let us look at the evidence. Fair Vote implies that the most confused voters would, of course, be in the "ward in town with the highest number of low-income voters". However Burlington is a college town and college students are known to be low-income. When I called the Burlington election office, I was told by the person answering the phone that IRV "confused voters". Fair Vote's claims about San Francisco are unfounded because there is no real ballot spoilage data from which to make their statistics. There is an analysis of over-vote rates available at http://rangevoting.org/SPRates.html or that found a 0.082% overvote rate in plurality races compared to a 0.60% overvote rate in the IRV races, a difference that is statistically significant. More information here:
http://rangevoting.org/Irvtalk.html#nospoilageincrease . There is also a study that goes into more detail at http://www.gregdennis.com/voting/sf_irv.pdf that is inconsistent with Fair Vote's conclusion that "All the evidence shows that voters are not confused by IRV." According to the paper, 14% of Latinos and 27% of Asian voters, in exit polls conducted by the Chinese-American Voter Education Committee found IRV difficult to use. Also, some patterns of overvotes did not show up in the ballot images used to determine the statistics because the software pre-processed and interpreted the voters' ballots, rather than simply reporting them.
The author(s) of Fair Vote's rebuttal attempt should read all the news articles on voter confusion that are provided in the endnotes of this paper. It is hard to imagine how anyone could deny that IRV causes some voter confusion.
5. Dopp: "Confusing, complex and time-consuming to implement and to count…"
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
IRV certainly is simpler for election officials and voters than conducting a whole separate runoff election to find a majority winner. ... Note that the winning threshold for an IRV election, as with any election, must be specified in the law.
Computer scientists who are voting system experts generally disagree with Fair Vote's unsupported assertion that IRV is "simpler" than an election plus a separate runoff election. If the required winning threshold for an IRV election is a majority of voters, then an IRV election could end by requiring a separate top-two runoff election afterwards. It took two years to implement IRV in San Francisco, and some jurisdictions have passed IRV but are still waiting to implement it whenever new voting equipment that can handle IRV elections can be purchased.
6. Dopp: "Makes post election data and exit poll analysis much more difficult to perform…"
Fair Vote continues to make the wholly unsupported assertion that election and exit polls analysis can "be done just as well under IRV". However, the fact is that no researcher or mathematician has yet been able to generalize exit poll analyses methods that could detect patterns consistent with vote miscount or with exit poll response bias in two candidate races, to any ranked choice voting methods. Imagine exit pollsters trying to accurately obtain all the ranked ballot choices of all voters for all election contests at the precinct-level and then trying to compare their sums statistically with the number of subtotals of votes equal to the number of candidates raised to the power equal to the number of candidates minus one for each precinct!
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
To date, IRV election can make it easier to do post-election and exit poll analysis. Because optical scan counts with IRV require capturing of ballot images, San Francisco (CA) and Burlington (VT) were able to release the data files showing every single ballot's set of rankings – thereby allowing any voter to do a recount and full analysis on their own.
Exit polls can be done just as well under IRV rules as vote-for-one rules. California requires a manual audit in its elections, which has been done without difficulty in San Francisco's IRV elections. Manual audits should be required for all elections, regardless of whether IRV is used or not.
Imagine the sample size exit pollsters would need to reduce the error due to random chance for such statistical comparisons! I have repeatedly challenged IRV proponents to generalize the methods explained in this exit poll analysis paper to IRV and none have been able to do so yet:
As pointed out above, the optical scan machines in San Francisco (and probably in Burlington) do not provide images of the ballots. The ballot data they provide are preprocessed and modified into abstracted vote data which is what San Francisco calls "images" that do not show all the rankings on the ballot. Data is processed out that is considered irrelevant for election administration purposes but very relevant for determining voter error rates and for analyzing election data. There are also legal, financial, administrative, and ballot privacy impediments to publicly releasing the images of all ballots.
Fair Vote's response suggests, also without supporting evidence, that if ballot images showing all voters' ranked choice votes were available, then an election data analysis would be easy to perform (and raw ballot images are not available in either location mentioned by Fair Vote because only interpreted and possibly incorrect ballot data is available), as explained in this study: http://www.gregdennis.com/voting/sf_irv.pdf
Fair Vote claims that San Francisco manually audited its IRV machine count accuracy "without
How could San Francisco manually audit 1% of its IRV election precincts according to California statutes in a publicly verifiable way? I ask Fair Vote to demonstrate that San Francisco did a publicly verifiable valid manual audit of its precinct machine counts which actually checked the accuracy of its IRV election results by providing the URL where San Francisco, prior to beginning its audit, publicly released all of the thousands of vote counts, more than N factorial
(exact formula in full paper) vote counts per precinct, along with each vote count's unique candidate ranking order, or alternatively, where San Francisco publicly posted all of its individual ballots' IRV rankings with humanly readable identifiers that are needed to manually audit an IRV election by randomly selecting ballots.
More discussion on post-election audits of IRV elections is below in the audit section.
7. Dopp: "Difficult and time-consuming to manually count…"
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
Manual counts can take slightly longer than vote-for-one elections, but aren't difficult, unless many different races on a ballot need to go to a runoff count. As cited earlier, Irish election administrators can count more than a million ballots by hand in hotly contested presidential elections in one standard workday.
See the response to Fair Vote's "Irish" story above which counts only one election contest using only 43 counting centers for only 1 million total ballots for only one IRV round because the election was not close, and actually took two days to decide. What does Fair Vote mean by "need to go to a runoff count"? Is Fair Vote is honestly admitting that if many different races on a ballot are counted using IRV, manually counting is difficult? Fair Vote fails to mention San Francisco where election workers put in 16 hour days and the counting took about a month to count their IRV election.
A number of vote counts equal to N raised to the power (N-1), where N is the number of candidates in the race, could possibly be used to tally IRV rounds in each precinct or voting machine. Errors in counting IRV ripple through the rounds. Machine programming errors are easier to make and more difficult to detect. An error in counting the first round can require the entire election to be recounted in all the precincts and in all the rounds. Absentee and provisional ballots that sometimes take weeks after Election Day to process could change the entire IRV election results, necessitating waiting until all absentee and provisional ballots have been counted to begin IRV counts. For all contests whose districts reside in more than one jurisdiction, unless all ballots are centrally tallied by the state, every local jurisdiction must wait until all jurisdictions have reported the prior round's tallies to the central office to tally and the central office reports back who won the prior round, before knowing how to tally the next round.
8. Dopp: "Difficult and inefficient to manually audit…"
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
IRV can be manually audited just as well as vote-for-one elections, although it does take more effort (since voters must be allowed to express more information on their ballot). A manual audit can either be done using a random sample of ballots from all jurisdictions, or a random sample of ballots from a random sample of voting machines, or by a complete re-tally from a random sample of voting machines. A complete re-tally of all ballots (a recount) is, of course, possible but unnecessary unless a court recount is ordered.
Notice this paper said audits are "difficult and inefficient" and Fair Vote says "can be manually audited". This is true. However, ordinarily with an audit, one can pick a sample precinct and count it. Period. But with IRV, the number of possible vote counts that could be used to tally any IRV election in each precinct or other auditable vote count is equal to more than N factorial (see full report for exact formula) if N is the number of candidates. With just three candidates, there are 15 possible ballot orderings or subtotals in each precinct. One cannot know if the overall IRV results are correct by randomly selecting and counting all the ballots from 1% of precincts, unless all those more than N factorial (exact formula in full report) counts for each and every precinct, including the unique candidate ranking associated with each of the å counts within every precinct or other auditable vote count, are publicly released prior to the audit, in order that auditors could:
1. check the accuracy of all the tallies for all those counts in all precincts for each IRV round, and then that
2. randomly select from all those counts (equal to the number of total precincts times more than N factorial (see full paper for exact formula) which had been previously publicly reported.
Alternatively, Fair Vote is proposing a ballot-selection method to audit an IRV election that (to be publicly verifiable) would necessitate first publicly releasing the ranked vote choices on each and every individual ballot, along with printing a humanly readable identifier on each ballot that could be used to randomly select identifiable ballots. To avoid ballot privacy issues the humanly readable identifiers for each ballot would have to be printed on the ballots after voters cast them.
With IRV's more than N! unique ballot preference orders for each precinct, if there were a lot of candidates, then individual voters' ballots could become easier to identify. Then ballots would have to be randomly selected from the entire election contest, including all precincts, so this might not meet California's requirement to manually audit 1% of precincts. See http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting_systems/pearson_rcv_letter_091407_07_0586.pdf
The only other possible way to validly audit an IRV election that takes more than one round to count would be to manually recount 100% of the ballots involved in the election contest. Perhaps since it took San Francisco about a month to count its IRV election, it simply manually counted all the ballots and called it an audit.
9. Dopp: "Could necessitate counting all presidential votes in Washington, D.C.…"
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
If the Electoral College were abolished and IRV were then adopted for future national popular vote elections for president, there would need to be national coordination of the tally in order to know which candidates got the fewest votes nationwide and needed to be eliminated –… Note that voters certainly would be pleased to have a majority winner in elections for our highest office.
Fair Vote has renamed "counting votes in Washington D.C." to "national coordination of the tally" and our two statements are in agreement. All 3300+ jurisdictions which count votes in a U.S. presidential election would first have to completely count the first choices on all ballots, including absentee and provisional ballots before transmitting first round numbers to Washington DC where these votes would be tallied and the winner of the first round announced, prior to any of the 3300+ jurisdictions being able to count round #2, and so forth. Of course each of these 3300+ jurisdictions have dozens to thousands of precincts in each of them. Alternatively, all the ballots could be sent to Washington DC for counting.
Fair Vote's misleading assertion that "voters certainly would be pleased to have a majority winner in elections for our highest office" is probably true. However, IRV does not find majority winners with any reliability. A majority winner occurs when a majority of those who voted in an election cast a vote for the winner. In Australia's IRV system, they find majority winners because Australia requires that all voters fully rank all the candidates, or the ballot is not counted. That a ballot containing a vote for an eligible candidate is eliminated is a violation of a basic principle of democracy and would never be adopted in the U.S. As the Australians know, once you have ranking optional, you can get majority failure. The only method being used that guarantees a majority winner is real top-two runoff voting.
If the same definition that Fair Vote uses for "majority" is used for "unanimous", why not, for the cost of a very complicated counting process, have "unanimous" elections by using IRV and continuing the elimination for one more round, until all the votes are for one candidate?
10. Dopp: "IRV entrenches the two-major-political party system …"
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
IRV neither "entrenches" nor "overthrows" the two-party system. It simply ensures no candidate wins over majority opposition. If a minor party has the support to earn a majority of vote, it can win in an IRV election. If not, it will not win.
IRV makes the continuation of a two-party system highly likely, and IRV has no record of assisting in the overturning of a two-party system, and IRV has several obvious ways in which it helps maintain a two-party system by eliminating minor political parties in the first round, with less risk to the major party candidates, so that major parties can safely ignore minor parties. Observant voters also notice immediately that ranking a minor party candidate first, could cause the early elimination of their major-party favorite, causing their least favorite candidate to win, and so voters quickly learn to rank a major party candidate first. Some information on how IRV entrenches the two-party system in Australia is in this article:
On the other hand, with an actual top-two runoff, a third party has only to muscle its way to second place to make it into the runoff, giving it a better chance of winning, as opposed to IRV which provides less chance for a minor party to convince voters that it is viable. Fair Votes' response does not say that the Green party won any seats, only that it ran candidates. Could it be that the Green party supports IRV against its own interests? With IRV they are defanged. Political scientist Maurice Duverger observed (See http://rangevoting.org/DuvTrans.htmlnote%20#3) that the top-2-runoff (2 round) election method is a single winner system which does not lead to 2-party domination, as is shown by historical experience.
Fair Vote's statement that IRV "ensures no candidate wins over majority opposition" is misleading because a candidate with more opposition than any other candidate could win an IRV election. In a simple 12 voter example in appendix A above, 11 voters prefer the Democrat over other candidates; 10 voters prefer the Green over other candidates; 9 voters prefer the Libertarian over other candidates; and only 6 voters prefer the Republican over others candidates; 6 voters rank the Republican dead last; 3 voters rank the Libertarian dead last; 2 voters rank the Green party dead last; and 1 voter ranks the Democrat dead last. Yet the Republican and Green party candidate tie for first place!
In Australia, it appears there were 9 Green "pair-wise majority winners" but IRV forced every single one of them to lose. Yet Richie considers it a "success" that the Green party "contested" and "won 8% of the vote" but did not win a single seat? The Greens are strong in Australia because of other elections in their senate which are not held using IRV.
11. Dopp: "Could deliver unreasonable outcomes…."
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
Unreasonable outcomes are less likely with IRV than with any other single-seat voting method in use today. Every single voting method ever proposed can deliver "unreasonable outcomes" in some scenarios, but real-world experience has shown IRV to be one of the best methods. The overwhelming number of election method experts agree that IRV is fairer and more democratic than plurality voting even if some might prefer other theoretical voting methods.
Fair Vote says "IRV is fairer and more democratic than plurality voting…" Sure, fairer than plurality voting, better than diving into a swimming pool with no water in it. Better than dictatorship. But is IRV fairer and more democratic than other methods in use today, such as "top-two runoff"? Absolutely not. Is IRV fairer and more democratic than other available voting methods including approval, Borda count, Condorcet, or range methods? Absolutely not.Fair Vote's rebuttal:
The American Political Science Association (the national association of political science professors) has incorporated IRV into their own constitution for electing their own national president. Robert's Rules of Order recommends IRV over plurality voting.
Look at the APSA constitution and, sure enough, you will find a provision that if there are three or more candidates for the office of President-Elect, the "standard method of the alternative vote" is to be used, and the method is described. The method is loosely IRV. However, how does the APSA actually elect its Presidents? The President, with the advice and consent of the elected Council, appoints a Nominating Committee which names a single nominee. If there is no other nominee, this candidate is elected at the Annual Meeting. However, it is possible to nominate other candidates by petition. The last time there was a petition candidate was about 40 years ago. In order for the APSA to use IRV, there would have to be a second petition candidate. The chances of that can be estimated at once in every 1600 years.
Wait, what about the elected APSA Council? They are elected by plurality-at-large. Voters vote for as many seats as are open and the candidates with the most votes win. So the APSA is actually not using IRV. They are using plurality. Period.
Next, Robert's Rules of Order do not actually recommend IRV. It says that "preferential voting" gives fairer results than plurality voting if it is considered impractical to used repeated balloting, which is what Roberts Rules actually recommend. Robert's Rules states that "there are many forms of preferential voting" and describes the Single Transfer Vote (STV) "IRV-like" method "by way of illustration". Robert's Rules require repeat balloting when no candidate gains a majority of all ballots cast. Then Robert's Rules discusses some of the problems of this specific method: it "deprives" voters of the opportunity to base later choices on the results of earlier rounds (which is provided with top-two runoff) and can fail to find a "compromise winner".
12. Dopp: "Not all ballots are treated equally…"
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
This charge reveals a lack of understanding of how IRV works. All ballots are treated equally. Every one has one and only one vote in each round of counting. Just as in a traditional runoff, your ballot counts first for your favorite candidate and continues to count for that candidate as long as he or she has a chance to win.
In an IRV "instant runoff" voters who sincerely rank their preferred candidates cannot participate in the instant runoff unless one of their top two candidates is still in the last runoff. So in the U.S., IRV does not treat all voters equally because voters only get to participate in the real election IRV runoff if the top two leading candidates are among their top three preferences. In addition, some voters' ballots have all their choices counted, other voters' ballots have only their top preference counted. In other words, IRV conceals votes because some votes are never
counted in determining the winner. Clearly Fair Vote has a different perspective on the meaning of when voters' ballots are "treated equally". On the other hand, the top two runoff method that IRV often replaces treats all voters' ballots equally by anyone's definition of "equal".
13. Dopp: "Costly. …"
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
The two main expenses associated with the transition to IRV are voting equipment upgrades and voter education. Both of these are one-time costs that will be quickly balanced out by the savings coming from eliminating a runoff election in each election cycle.
The increased voting equipment maintenance, programming, testing, and upgrade costs of IRV are on-going, not "one-time". If IRV saves so much money, then why did jurisdictions like Oakland adopted IRV "pending implementation"? And why did the Maryland legislature estimate that costs could be as high as an additional $3.50 per registered voter in their 2006 IRV bill, and a little less in the 2008 bill which did not include the cost of software, as cited earlier in this paper? While IRV supporters in North Carolina are claiming that the pilot was a success, why did no NC counties decided to participate in the 2008 county-elections IRV pilot?
IRV is being promoted by Fair Vote to replace plurality voting, not just to replace top-two runoff elections. Not every election requiring a majority candidate necessitates a runoff election. And because IRV does not always find a majority candidate, another runoff could be necessary after the IRV election anyway.
In nonpartisan elections, IRV tends to simply ratify the results of the first round because the vote transfers tend to happen in the same ratio as the already existing votes. In other words, if candidate C is eliminated, the C votes will be split in about the same ratio as A and B have already. There are simpler methods to count ranked choice ballots which find majority candidates more often than IRV, such as the Bucklin method. Top-two runoff elections more often cause the original second-place candidate to win the final runoff. Often top-two runoff elections are held during the next general election and are therefore relatively cheap. Fair Vote neglects to mention the increased costs of manually counting and manually auditing IRV rounds over any other voting method being recommended by voting system experts or inuse today.
14. Dopp: "Increases the potential for undetectable vote fraud and erroneous vote counts…"
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
Actually, just the opposite is true, so long as paper ballots (such as optical scan) are used. The reason that any attempts at fraud are easier to detect with IRV is that there is a redundant electronic record (called a ballot image) of each ballot that can be matched one-to-one with the corresponding paper ballot. Cities such as San Francisco (CA) and Burlington (VT) release these ballot files so that any voter can do their own count. Without such redundant ballot records (which are not typical with vote-for-one elections) there is no way to know for certain if the paper ballots have been altered prior to a recount.
Fair Vote's claim that "there is a redundant electronic record (called a ballot image) of each ballot" is:
1. False, as discussed amply above the alleged "ballot images" are interpreted ballot data,
2. prohibitively costly,
3. would open up new security issues and new avenues for electronic ballot box stuffing, vote tampering and fraud,
4. would require a humanly readable identifier printed on each paper ballot after the voter casts them to "match up" with electronic records,
5. would necessitate extra post-election auditing steps and expense, and
6. certainly does not make fraud "easier to detect" in the absence of post-election manual audits, that are absent in most states, and which IRV makes much more difficult to conduct.
In addition, the complexity of IRV counts makes any patterns caused by vote miscount much more difficult to detect by data analysis methods.
15. Dopp: "Violates some election fairness principles…."
Fair Vote's rebuttal:
This charge reveals either a general lack of understanding, or intentional mis representation. Every single voting method ever devised must violate some "fairness principles" as some of these criteria are mutually exclusive. …. When the field narrows to the two finalists in the final instant runoff count, the candidate with more support (ranked more favorably on more ballots) will always win. Some theoretical voting methods may satisfy some "fairness' criteria, such as monotonicity, but then violate other more important criteria such as the majority criterion, or the later-no-harm criterion.
After making unsubstantiated claims, the rest of Fair Vote's paragraph substantiates the original statement that IRV "violates some election fairness principles". In fact, this second version shows how IRV violates an additional fairness condition, the majority candidate condition that was not shown in the first version.
Sure, it is possible that "all voting methods violate some election fairness principles," but many alternative voting systems, including top-two runoff, range and approval and Condorcet voting methods satisfy many fairness principles that IRV does not satisfy. For instance, some voting systems always find majority winners, pick the pair-wise favorite among all voters, or eliminate the spoiler problem completely, whereas IRV does not do any of these except in particular cases. These same voting systems, besides being fairer in many respects than IRV and plurality voting, are easier to count and to administer and to audit than IRV.
For a more detailed rebuttal of Fair Vote's claims, see the full email responses by Abd ul-Rahman Lomax to the election-methods discussion list which will be posted here http://uscountvotes.org/ucvAnalysis/US/RCV-IRV