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Monday, June 16, 2008

NEDA Press Release: Instant Runoff Voting - Not What It Seems

While North Carolina is in the middle of a statewide runoff election for State Labor Commissioner, some groups are pushing 'instant runoff voting", a radical voting method as the solution. Their unstated goal is that they hope that with "instant runoff voting", (IRV) people will be less afraid to vote for candidates they expect to lose. Their purported goal is to "save" the state money and make voting "easier". The problem - IRV is too dangerous to use with complicated elections like our May primary, there is no IRV capable software for our machines, and with IRV, every election costs more.

RELEASE: Instant Runoff Voting - Not What It Seems

By The National Election Data Archive
Park City, UT June 16, 2008


After its report criticizing the increasingly popular instant runoff voting method aroused cyberspace debates and flame wars last week, the National Election Data Archive released a second version"Realities Mar Instant Runoff Voting - 17 Flaws and 3 Benefits".

The National Election Data Archive, on June 9th, 2008 released a report "15 Flaws and 3 Benefits of Instant Runoff Voting or Ranked Choice Voting" that provoked criticism and comment on the Internet,including a web page called "De-Bunking Kathy Dopp's 15 Flaws of Instant Runoff Voting" by the organization Fair Vote. On the other hand, computer scientists, voting system experts, and election methods experts responded to the report by providing additional insight and information on alternative voting methods, including the flaws of instant runoff voting.

Instant runoff voting (IRV) is a method for counting "ranked choice"ballots where each voter ranks the candidates – first choice, second choice, etc. The IRV counting process proceeds in "rounds" where the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated in each round and that candidate's votes are reassigned to the remaining candidates using voters' choices. IRV sounds enticing to voters who can express their preferences, but according to the new report, IRV does not solve the problems it is promoted as solving and causes significant new problems.

The National Election Data Archive recommends restoring verifiable integrity to elections first before implementing alternative voting methods, and reminds readers that not one U.S. State today utilizes all the basic measures required to ensure fundamental election integrity such as public access to election records, observable post-election manual audits, ballot reconciliation, and public oversight of ballot security.

The revised new report differentiates between the ballot style and the counting method, discusses alternative voting methods, describes an"IRV-like" solution that would solve some of IRV's counting problems,and responds to Fair Vote's attempt to rebut the first version of the report. According to Kathy Dopp, the report's author, "Instant runoff voting is a threat to the fairness, accuracy, timeliness, and economy of U.S.elections. The U.S. needs to solve its existing voting system problems and then carefully consider the options before adopting new voting methods."The full report "Realities Mar Instant Runoff Voting - 17 Flaws and 3Benefits" is found on-line at

This press release will be posted online at

Press Contact: Kathy Dopp 435-658-4657

The National Election Data Archive is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organized for educational and scientific purposes of promoting fair and accurate elections by researching, developing and promoting methods and procedures to detect voter disenfranchisement and vote count inaccuracy. Such methods include independent manual vote count audits, exit poll discrepancy analysis, and the public release and scientific analysis of election data along with public release of election records necessary to verify the integrity of elections. NEDA relies on the donation of time by volunteers who donate their time and expertise because of their dedication to vote integrity and public service. The project depends on donations from from citizens who are concerned about fair and free elections in the U.S. in order to continue its work. All donations are tax deductible.

To make a donation or become involved in the project, please visit Dopp, Executive Director, National Election Data Archive P.O. Box 680192Park City, UT 84068"

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day," wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1816