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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Instant runoff voting is a trojan horse - letter by Voting activist to Cary Town Council

Verified Voting activist warns Instant Runoff Voting is a trojan horse. This is a letter sent on April 29, 2009 to the Cary North Carolina City Council by Andrew G Silver, Co Founder of the NC Coalition for Verified Voting.


Dear Mr. Mayor and Cary Town Council Members:

I paste here, and also attach, in case there might be distortions in email transmission, a three-page discussion of my reasons for opposing IRV, based on the history of the struggle to ensure verified voting in North Carolina. I speak only for myself, not my colleagues, who have further reasons for opposing IRV.

IRV as a Trojan Horse for Automation of Elections and Faith-based Voting

The next eight paragraphs are about the struggle for verified voting in North Carolina and the opposition to it. They lead to the final three paragraphs explaining how IRV threatens verified voting, hence election integrity. I apologize for the length, but I think that it is important to understand the background to appreciate the extent to which the integrity of our elections has been impaired in the past and still is threatened.

The verified voting movement in North Carolina became necessary in early 2004 when some of us learned of the number and seriousness of breakdowns and irregularities of vote counts attributable to use of paperless direct recording electronic machines (DREs). We also learned that the state board of elections was largely at fault, as it tended to advocate DREs and exhibited no understanding of the need for standards and tests of equipment for accuracy, security, and reliability. Moreover, existing organizations that ought to have been concerned – ACLU, NAACP, Common Cause, League of Women Voters, and Democracy NC - all were oblivious to the cause of election integrity.

North Carolina in 2004 had a hodgepodge of different voting machines in different counties, some probably reliable, but others from manufacturers such as Diebold and Unilect, subsequently found to have serious design flaws. It was a Unilect machine that led subsequently to the loss of 4500 votes in Carteret County in the 2004 election. Moreover, state and county election officials were very active in The Election Center, the organization of the National Association of Election Officials, which strongly advocates electronic voting, and is skeptical of paper ballots and auditing of elections. Its executive director, Doug Lewis, admittedly has expertise in computers. Before coming to the Election Center, he owned a business in Texas selling used computer equipment. For an example of Election Center propaganda see Mr. Lewis’s testimony to Congress at , particularly pages 3-7.

When the NC Coalition for Verified Voting began pushing the General Assembly first to place a moratorium on paperless electronic voting, then to enact a more comprehensive election reform bill, we did so on our own dime. We are not being paid for our advocacy, unlike the staff of Fair Vote and Democracy NC. We simply wish to have elections in NC that are honest, accurate, and publicly verifiable so that the integrity of elections will not depend on trusting either election officials or the voting machine manufacturers.

After the passage of the Public Confidence in Elections Act of 2005, and leading up to the elections of 2006, I attended most meetings of the Wake County Board of Elections in which was discussed the choice of new equipment to be purchased to comply with the new law as well as with the Federal HAVA law. During this period, Professor Gilbert as chairman of the board was a hero to me and my colleagues for steadfastly insisting on optically scanned paper ballots that can be simply preserved, audited, and recounted to verify elections, with a possible exception for use of DREs for handicapped voters. Cherie Poucher, for whom I have the highest respect as an honest and exceptionally capable election professional, just as steadfastly advocated purchase of DREs for early voting – touchscreen voting machines that up until then had been paperless so that voters simply had to have faith, with no proof, that the computer recorded and counted their votes as they intended. In order to comply with the Public Confidence in Elections Act, DREs in 2006 had to have a voter verifiable paper record as a cash register-like paper roll, but this enhancement was usually ignored by the voter, nearly worthless for auditing purposes, and unacceptable to verified voting advocates. The point of voter verification is that the ballot that is counted should be physically the same ballot as that on which the voter marks their vote. Having a paper roll on a DRE that a voter can look at, but usually does not, is not really helpful for verification. The tally used as the election result is not from the paper roll but from the electronic record, which can be falsified by faulty computer code. The paper is helpful only for an audit or recount, but the paper roll is so difficult to examine that the audit can not readily be witnessed publicly and is also prone to error.

Nevertheless, Ms. Poucher wanted Wake County to have DREs for early voting. The other two board members sided with her, outvoting Dr. Gilbert, so that the BOE decided to have touchscreen voting machines in Wake County. The purchase of DREs was stopped only by my colleagues and myself in NCCVV, with help from no other group – not from Democracy NC, not from the League of Women Voters, not from Fair Vote. We took the argument to the Wake County Board of Commissioners, where on February 13, 2006, we persuaded the commissioners to reject the decision of the BOE and preserve paper ballots for Wake County in early voting as well as on election day.

My impression from testimony during the hearings in 2004 and 2005 of the General Assembly’s Joint Select Committee on Electronic Voting that led to the Public Confidence in Elections Act is that election officials generally, as is true for any profession, defend their own professional interests first and the public interest second. One of their professional interests is convenience. They prefer that their jobs be made easier, not more difficult. Hence they have tended to side with advocates of computerized paperless voting, which relieves of them of a whole lot of work, like counting ballots. As practiced in many North Carolina counties before passage of the 2005 law, tabulation of votes by DRE was under the control of the private vendors and their unexamined software, not of the boards of elections.

Strong advocates of DREs during the hearings were the SBOE representatives, executive director Gary Bartlett and board member Robert Cordle. Possibly because of their influence, the law unfortunately still allows the use of DREs with the silly paper rolls. The bias of the entire SBOE in favor of a particular DRE manufacturer was exposed after the law was enacted when they voted to certify Diebold DREs for North Carolina, even though Diebold clearly would not comply with the provision of the law requiring that the computer code for the machines be placed in escrow for independent review. The certification would have gone through if Joyce McCloy of NCCVV, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, had not sued to stop it. The Diebold machines were subsequently found to be poorly functioning and insecure by the states of Maryland and California.

Now we are again battling to preserve election integrity – not just paper ballots, but election simplicity and transparency, allowing voters to be confident in the manual audits and recounts of their votes, even to observe them if they wish.

If IRV were widely used, the far more complicated voting procedures would put great pressure on election officials. Given the layers of complication that IRV adds to the counting of ballots, most election officials (excepting Dr. Gilbert), given their professional proclivities, are bound to favor conversion to touch screen voting to allow computer programs to do all the work, obviating keeping track of paper ballots, sorting them into piles, and scanning them multiple times. The NC law that now protects the integrity of election administration to some extent might slow the return to computerized voting, but the pressure from election officials would grow from election to election.

So IRV advocates really need to ask themselves whether they would be willing to change from paper ballots to touchscreen voting with all its proven insecurity, difficulty of auditing, and hiding of the tabulation process from public view. Do they wish to have faith-based voting, in which they can vote on the touchscreen but then must have faith that the computer is programmed absolutely correctly to tabulate their votes as they intended? With IRV we might have one or two or three elections using optical scan, but afterward, unless a major social revolution occurs among election officials to favor counting of paper ballots over automation, pressure from the election officials probably will lead to automation of elections. The susceptibility of elections to fraud or major tabulation errors will be vastly increased and actual fraud and miscounts almost impossible to detect.

We are taught that we live in a democracy. But we can not know that we do unless we are eternally vigilant, and keep a close watch on our elections and how the votes are counted. Otherwise, we can not know, but only have faith, that we live in a democracy.


Andy Silver
103 Danforth Dr.
Cary, NC 27511

Support Rights of NC State Employees to Organize

John Gideon, RIP - how he touched our elections, our lives, our work

If you've been paying attention to the election transparency issue, if you were concerned about rigged elections or lost votes, then no doubt you heard of John Gideon, the selfless activist who put out a Daily Voting News about voting machine meltdowns and problems for the past 6 years. And if you knew of John, you depended on his labors, and you will likely join me and activists across the country in grieving. More about John's passing on, and the people who honor him, their writing, and how he touched our lives and our work and our elections.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Tributes to John Gideon, RIP National Election Integrity Hero

Monday, April 27, 2009

Instant Runoff Voting Case Heads to Minnesota Supreme Court

Instant Runoff Voting violates voters' civil rights, according to a press release issued by the Minnesota Voters Alliance. If this ultimately goes to the US Supreme Court, it may help states like North Carolina where outside big money is pushing instant runoff hard and heavy.

The Minnesota Voters Alliance is a non partisan group who has been fighting IRV on the basis that it violates the US Constitution. At issue - IRV can cause you to harm your preferred candidate, thus impeding voters "right to association" guaranteed by the US Constitution. The group also points out that instant runoff voting violates their state constitution. Minnesota's constitution guarantees "one person one vote" . IRV gives voters the option of three votes per contest when used in the US. This results in some peoples' ballots having more impact than others. Unfortunately, in our state of North Carolina, the state constitution does not guarantee one person one vote. Ironically, groups claiming to promote "one person, one vote" are doing a hard sell of IRV. With instant runoff, not all votes will be counted or will count. So the claims that IRV makes your vote really count are ludicrous. IRV has been experimented with in North Carolina, but in the pilots, officials were not required to count or report all votes, and in the case of Hendersonville North Carolina, many voters were not aware they were voting in an instant runoff election.

Instant Runoff Voting Case Goes to the Minnesota Supreme Court

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Minnesota Voters Alliance case against the City of Minneapolis to prevent implementation of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is headed for the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday, May 13th. The Alliance filed an appeal of a lower court decision in January. The City filed for expedited appeal to the Supreme Court.
The voting rights affected by IRV and being fought over have national significance.
The initial ruling from Hennepin County District Court concerning the constitutionality of IRV was full of factual misconceptions and faulty legal arguments.

The court failed to grasp the concept embodied in State Supreme Court precedent that when a voter votes for the candidate of his choice, his vote must be counted as one, and it cannot be defeated or its effect lessened, except by the vote of another elector voting for one other candidate. IRV violates this fundamental principle.

Even though IRV fails to count all ballots equally and places voters in the position of not knowing whether their first choice vote will help or hurt their favorite candidate, the district somehow found that not to conflict with basic notions of constitutional principles.

IRV can force voters to either dilute the strength of their ballot by not ranking all the candidates, or to rank candidates they do not prefer at all. Thus, the voter must either violate his own equal protection rights, because other ballots would carry more weight, or violate his own association rights, by having to vote for a candidate he or she opposes.

We believe the Supreme Court will overturn the district's ruling and uphold the principle of one person, one vote!

From attorney, Erick Kaardal, "We hope all citizens, opposed and for IRV, pay close attention to the case. It is the most important case for our democracy in over 90 years."
The IRV case could easily end up in the U. S. Supreme Court because of the unique issues and arguments presented under the Minnesota and United States Constitutions. This case could lead they way to protect the rights of all voters, especially those who do not want to freely give them up.

We need your help to cover legal fees! Please consider a contribution to: Minnesota Voters Alliance, P.O. Box 4602, St. Paul MN 55104, or online at using secure PayPal.
SOURCE Minnesota Voters Alliance

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Real reason instant runoff voting being pushed in North Carolina

Did you wonder why a national organization is peddling instant runoff voting so hard in North Carolina? Why did Fair Vote set up a local shop in North Carolina to gin up support for IRV when there seems to be little appetite for it? The ultimate goal will shock you.

Hint: the real goal of Instant Runoff Voting isn't really about eliminating the "spoiler effect", or obtaining a better majority or helping third parties. In fact, it is arguable that IRV does none of those. The goal and real result of IRV is to force a radical, drastic change to our electoral system right here in North Carolina, and ultimately our entire country.

A group fighting STV (Single Transferrable Vote) in British Columbia has put up a very succinct video on You Tube that explains it well. Single Transferable Voting is similar to the IRV method but is used in multi seat elections.


Connect the dots, watch the video.

It becomes all to clear in under a minute. Ultimately, with STV, you end up losing local representation, and number of districts are way fewer but much larger. Less or no accountability to constituents.
Canada has managed to fend off efforts to computerize voting so far, but the push for the complicated STV elections will incentivize the use of unreliable voting machines. STV was the trojan horse that brought computerized voting to Scotland in 2007.

At least right now, in North Carolina we CAN accomplish some things at the state level that we could never do at federal level. That would change with STV. Instant Runoff Voting paves the way for its multi seat version, STV. The same groups pushing STV and IRV are also working at end runs around the US constitution on other issues. The same groups pushing IRV in North Carolina also peddled STV in Scotland. Fair Vote even had the gaul to say Scotland's first STV election was successful, while the media reported 100,000 spoiled ballots and called that election "A National Humiliation".

From the "NO STV" website:
Adoption of BC-STV would merge the 85 single-MLA constituencies that will be used in the 2009 election into 20 multiple-MLA electoral areas with populations of 200,000 to over 300,000. With STV's electoral areas it is possible to elect all the candidates for an area from one community, leaving others with no effective representation.

It is easy to understand our current system where there is one MLA to be elected and the winner is the candidate who receives the most votes.

Supporters of STV say voting is
as simple as 1, 2, 3, but the numbers are not separate votes. Two to seven MLAs would be elected in each of the 20 areas, but you only get one vote, hence the word single as the first word in STV. The numbers are used differently for each voter in the complicated counting rules in which fractions of some votes get redistributed (transferred) but the voter doesn't control the size of the fractions.
Do some of the talking points for STV sound familiar? The lie that IRV is "as simple as 1,2, 3"

If Instant Runoff Voting IRV can get a shoe horn into North Carolina, the next step is Single Transferrable Vote/STV. (Same groups promoting both). Forget the weird way of casting and counting votes, just look at the you tube video to see what happens to electoral districts and how you lose local representation.

Citizens in North Carolina are hardly clamoring for instant runoff voting:
In the first IRV pilot, only 2 cities out of a state with 5.8 million registered voters and 100 counties - volunteered. In the second IRV pilot, only 1 town has volunteered.

Alot of outside money is being spent to gin up interest in a voting method that is incompatible with our voting systems and government.

Now you know why.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Election officials tell Cary - Trust US - on Instant Runoff Voting process

The Cary News tried to report on the Cary Town Council's April 15th meeting discussing instant runoff voting procedures, past and present. It appears that the Cary News fell for the "trust us" talking points given at the Cary Town Council meeting. Since IRV is so complex, its hard to question officials about the process, especially when one official is a devoted advocate for IRV. The Wake BoE Chairman supported IRV so much he traveled to Minnesota to tell officials there how wonderfully it went here. Gilbert told a MN Legislative Committee that: "We say 'IRV is as easy as 1-2-3'; that's our not-too-original slogan," said John Gilbert, chairman of the Wake County Election Board in North Carolina, who told the committee that North Carolina's pilot program has worked successfully. "

The "Trust Us" election method is evoked when citizens insult officials by asking questions about the election process. The implication is that this is an insult to the integrity of the officials running the election, and if you trust them you won't ask questions. The mantra is that we have many checks and balances, blah blah blah so Cary Town Council should be reassured. But Wake BoE had "checks and balances" in 2007, and hello! How's that working for you? Do Cary Town Council members REALLY feel better after the April 15 Dog and Pony Show?

In Council weighs voting methods in the Cary News on April 21, 2009, Jordan Cooke says that Cary Town Council were reassured of the integrity of the Instant Runnoff Voting election process after their April 15th meeting. Cooke infers that Cary Town Council has more confidence in the process and that confidence may lead officials to choose Instant Runoff Voting instead of Plurality elections.

"Trust Us":
"Poucher went on to explain the process used to count, record and certify votes. She said that by her staff following the prescribed legal guidelines, 'the integrity of an election is guaranteed.'”

Sorry, no - once burned, twice shy:

it was Wake County in the first report ever in the US for loss of votes on paperless touchscreens. (E-Vote Machines Drop More Ballots Wired News)

it was Cherie Poucher who instructed consultant Glenn Newkirk to build a case against using optical scanners and ballot markers for Wake's early voting.

the Cary 2007 IRV election was not smooth, not for the candidates who watched vote totals change repeatedly as results were "corrected". Friday, the day after the "runoff" or count of the 2nd round, the election director performed an audit, according to the media. "Director Cherie Poucher said today that an audit of the votes found math mistakes: several votes for Frantz had been missed, and a group of 24 one-stop ballots had been counted twice for Maxwell. The new tally is 1,392 for Frantz and 1,339 for Maxwell, giving Frantz a 53-vote lead..."

Election officials from the Wake County Board of Elections and State Board of Elections were on hand April 15th to give "reassuring" answers that glossed over the real issues. You can watch the video of that meeting at the Cary Govt website here. I hear that more questions were answered off camera.

What Cary Town Council members wanted to know was:

-if North Carolina's voting machines could automatically count all instant runoff votes on election night,
-if NC's voting machines could report the IRV votes on election night, how long the process would take to get results from an IRV election

Election officials answers were full of platitudes and seemed to be as shallow as puddles of water. There was no more disclosure made than requested.

Officials from the NC SBoE inferred that our voting machines could easily count IRV votes with no complications. What they did not point out was that this process is not automated and still will not count 2nd and 3rd choice votes easily, nor rapidly, nor simply, nor on election night.

I got the feeling that some of the officials did not really understand the process, even after this superficial question and answer period. You know a voting method is too complicated if it takes an hour of question and answer, and at the end you can see that officials still aren't confident. I can't blame the Cary news for their reporting, because they observed a superficial presentation with that was intended to sell IRV, not to speak to the fact that Instant Runoff Voting is so complex to count that officials flubbed it in 2007, and so complex to count that it can't be tallied at the polling places, and so complex that it has taken several meetings of at least an hour each time for a city council to address this process.

"He who votes decides nothing; he who counts the votes decides everything."

Friday, April 17, 2009

IRV groups push method that makes ballot box stuffing easier

North Carolina. We have a disturbing development thanks to the Instant runoff voting pilots. Three NC groups promoting IRV/Instant Runoff Voting have come out endorsing counting votes away from where they are cast. This is also called central counting. North Carolina law requires that votes be counted where cast. This is a basic tenet of election integrity. BUT - it is not convenient for IRV advocates. Nor are requirements for certified software. * If these votes were money $$$$ would this be allowed? *

The LWV in NC, Democracy for NC and Fair Vote, all IRV advocates have come out with an endorsement for central counting of votes, in particular the IRV votes cast at the polling places which may only be counted if there is no winner in the first "round" of the election. The first round will still be counted at the polling places.

This increases the risk of ballot box stuffing. A valid ballot that is only partially counted is an invitation to steal an election. So counting votes away from where they are cast is akin to handing out signed checks with the amount left blank. That is why we have laws like § 163‑182.2 - it is to prevent election fraud. We weaken these laws at our own peril.

The groups are also endorsing a Rube Goldberg-esque way to count IRV votes with the optical scanners (ES&S M100) that requires using 4 different memory cards (instead of 1) for one Unity precinct, and running each ballot through the optical scanners 3 or 4 times (which means removing from ballot box several times as well.)

Interesting enough, the secret ballot came from Australia where they use a form of IRV, but they do not use central counting. Instead, precincts are in touch with a central office. They do first round, call it in, then count second round where they are cast. NC Verified Voting would support something like this, but it was deemed too cumbersome for the Instant Runoff Voting pilot. Also interestingly in Australia, IRV has esentially killed any third party which is the goal of many IRV proponents. NCCVV continues to argue that the integrity of our elections are most important, regardless if they are combersome.

Lawmakers and citizens get that we need our verified voting law, and we need to implement it correctly. Our standards for vote counting, voting systems, certified software and vendors are key to protecting our voters from harm caused by uncertified software or unscrupulous vendors, and we ignore those at our peril.

See our home website.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Durham Community leaders oppose Instant Runoff Voting at City Council Meeting

Instant runoff voting was not on the agenda at the Durham City Council meeting last night, but opposing it was on the minds of local community leaders. Further, one very influential leader threatened legal action if Durham City Council decided to try for Instant Runoff Voting. On April 6, the City Council after hearing comments from the public and voted 7-0 to keep Durham's current runoff system. The city had been considering a switch to "non partisan plurality" in order to avoid expensive runoff elections. The Raleigh News and Observer ran a brief article:
Durham council lets elections be Change to plurality system rejected By Jim Wise - Tue, Apr. 07, 2009
The N&O reported that the majority of folks wanted to keep the current traditional runoff system, and also that some citizens suggested instant runoff voting. The report failed to tell you that two of the most influential people at that meeting spoke strongly against against instant runoff voting.

What the News and Observer didn't report was what community leaders had to say in opposition to Instant Runoff Voting. Dr. Lavonia Allison, president of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, and the NC State Democratic Party Vice Chair Stella Adams had plenty to say. Both are influential leaders who voiced their strong opposition to instant runoff voting. Here is an excerpt of their comments, transcribed from video. Its pretty much to-the-point:

You can see video of the meeting at the Durham County City Govt website. There's a drop down list where you can jump right to the part of the agenda discussing Durham's elections:

44. Proposed City Charter Amendment to Change the Process of Conducting Durham Municipal Elections

Dr. Lavonia Allison - President of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People (around 2:49)
"I stand opposed to this. Democracy is an open process, you should not come up with any process which we limit participatory democracy. This whole idea is that voting is a landmark of the people… even if its expensive. We spend a whole a lot of money on…..
Just vote it down (non partisan plurality elections).
I’m not going to be for instant runoff voting either, because I’ve got a whole lot of things to say about that too.."

Stella Adams - Vice Chair of NC Democratic Party (around 3:02)
"I am here to speak, to inform and then to speak. I was an elected official in Durham 20 years ago and I …the Soil and Water races are local races that are plurality races…so and my daughter Danielle was elected in November in a plurality race… So it is not a new form of election in Durham County.. That’s just a fact.. I m not supporting or opposing.

But I am here, to absolutely put it on the record that I am absolutely to the core opposed to instant runoff voting. And I believe that the issue of Instant runoff voting has clouded the discussions. And I want to make it very clear that that will cost the city money, not save the city money. Because I promise you that I will be protecting my right to vote, with legal action should you choose to do that. .

People in my family have died for the right to the vote I mean buried in their graves for the right to vote… My aunt was denied the vote because she could not explain Article 3 of the constitution. Through a poll, a literacy test. We have a family ritual that which we will carry out on May 6 of this year, when my son turns 18 and we walk our children to register to vote. And we tell them that history.
Instant runoff voting disenfranchises black people, And I will fight to protect that.
NO to instant runoff voting!"

This took my breath away. Fierce defenders of our vote, thank you, and thank you especially to Stella Adams, who recognizes and who meets threats to the vote head on. Voters have a fierce advocate in Ms. Adams.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tell Hendersonville City Council to Say NO to Flawed Instant Runoff Voting Pilot

Did national IRV lobbyists think we are ignorant hillbillies who "just fell off the turnip truck"? I'm talking about Hendersonville NC considering the Instant Runoff Voting Pilot. Not only does this pilot erode election integrity, it makes no sense to use instant runoff voting for multi seat "pick two" contests. IRV is a sngle winner election method. This fake IRV would have voters "pick two" in their first round and then rank 3 more candidates. Having a threshold of 25% is even more ridiculous, given that IRV is touted by proponents of providing a majority outcome. No other place in the world has tried to use Instant Runoff Voting for multi seat contests

***North Carolina, 04/06/2009 ***NCCVVNewswire/NC Coalition for Verified Voting *

NCCVV urges the Hendersonville City Council to vote "NO to IRV" this Thursday, April 9th, 2009 at the City Council meeting. The NC Coalition for Verified Voting urges the Hendersonville City Council to resist lobbying efforts promoting the Instant Runoff Voting Pilot.

This isn't just about Hendersonville, this is about North Carolina.
IRV pilots that set a dangerous precedent of undermining election transparency while exposing elections to inaccuracy and fraud.

Urgent Contact the Hendersonville City Council
Mayor Greg Newman Mayor Pro-Tem Barbara Volk Councilman Jeff Collis Councilman Bill O'Cain Councilman Steve Caraker

City Hall, 145 Fifth Avenue East, PO Box 1670, Hendersonville, NC 28793. 828/697-3000

Regardless of whether you like Instant Runoff Voting or not, with the current Instant Runoff Voting Pilot Guidelines and Procedures, the pilot violates core principles of election integrity and harms voter confidence. IRV also can produce perverse outcomes and paradoxes, as demonstrated in the recent Burlington Vermont election for Mayor.

If the city goes ahead, Hendersonville may be the only volunteer for the IRV experiment this year. No other cities have voted for it at this time.

*What is Instant Runoff?* Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is a voting system used for single-winner elections in which voters can rank candidates in order of preference. It is not instant to count - it can take days to figure out who won the election. Not all votes are counted - only votes for the "top two" candidates are. It does not produce the same results as a runoff election.

1. The Instant Runoff Voting Pilot is a threat to our election integrity standards.
2. Experts oppose the use of spreadsheets to tabulate the instant runoff election results
3. Instant Runoff Voting discriminates against classes of voters.
4. Instant Runoff Voting is for single contest elections, Hendersonville is the only place in the entire world that has ever attempted to use IRV in multi seat contests.
5. Instant Runoff Voting Often Fails to Produce Majority Winner.

*When other cities asked the public, the answer was "no".* In cities like Raleigh, Rocky Mount and Asheville, that invited public comment on the adoption of IRV, the answer was "no" to the Instant Runoff experiment. This year, the Cary City Council held a public hearing on IRV, and decided not to participate a second time. (Cary tried it in 2007). Cary City Council member Don Frantz was elected in the only contest where the IRV ballots were counted, and he is strongly opposed to IRV.
See Cary North Carolina turns down second bite of Instant Runoff Voting Pilot, process still too flawed

*The Instant Runoff Voting Pilot is bad for Verified Voting - counting procedures not recommended by computer experts*

The procedures to tabulate IRV in touch-screen jurisdictions cut corners on election transparency. Since there is no federally certified software to tabulate IRV votes, the State Board of Elections has devised a work around. This "workaround" employs a spreadsheet using a five page single spaced algorithm to tabulate the votes. Doing manual recounts or audits of complex IRV ballots on the long paper trail rolls would be difficult if not impossible, since these printouts do not have a ballot summary. Until the touchscreens print a simple voter verified ballot summary, IRV should not even be considered, or Hendersonville should agree to use paper or optical scan ballots instead.

*The IRV Pilot is a threat to our election integrity standards.* The NC Coalition for Verified Voting argues that the uncertified "workaround" that Hendersonville would have to use to tabulate any IRV votes - is an encroachment on the hard fought for and nationally acclaimed standards of SL 323, The Public Confidence in Elections Law which requires federally certified software for tabulating the votes.**

*Experts oppose the use of spreadsheets to tabulate the instant runoff election results*

Berkely University Statistics Professor Philip Stark, warns against using a spreadsheet* to tabulate the instant runoff results. In a Dec 26, 2008 email
Professor Stark explained his concerns, here are a few:

1) The procedure proposed is very complicated, with many manual steps. Human error in such a complex task is almost inevitable. A slight slip can result in mis copying data, overwriting data, hitting the wrong function, etc.
2) Spreadsheets mix data and programming. It is not possible to tell at a glance whether a cell in a spreadsheet is data or the result of a calculation. *As a result, it is quite easy--deliberately or inadvertently--to corrupt a calculation or the data on which it is based. *In principle that can be detected, but it requires additional scrutiny--such as clicking each cell and looking at what is displayed. And even that is not foolproof. ...

Tom Dahlberg, of Dahlberg Business Logic Inc. (his business IS spreadsheets) also warns against using the excel work around /
to tabulate the instant runoff results. Here's an excerpt:

"How can the state prove, to those who have standing (all voters) consistent with the compelling state interest, that the automation is working properly and not committing fraud? And who has the burden of proof if not the election officials responsible for the integrity of the process?"

*Recounts and audits of the "voter verified" paper trail would be laborious and confusing*, since these printouts do not have a ballot summary. Until the touchscreens print a simple voter verified ballot summary, IRV shouldn't even be considered, or Hendersonville should agree to use paper or optical scan ballots instead.

*Instant Runoff Voting discriminates against classes of voters*

Political Scientist Tony Gierzynski, Supervisor for the Vermont Legislative Research Shop
has analyzed the exit poll data of the recent Burlington, Vermont Mayoral Election. The Vermont Daily Briefing has an article up by Gierzynski, here's an excerpt:

March 12th, 2009 Voting Paradoxes and Perverse Outcomes: Political
Scientist Tony Gierzynski Lays Out A Case Against Instant Runoff

Let's get right into it: Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is not good. It
is not good because it suffers from three fundamental problems: it
discriminates against classes of voters by adding complexity the
ballot; it has a very real potential to produce perverse outcomes or
voting paradoxes that are not majoritarian; and it fails to address
the real problem that arises when multiple parties compete in a
two-party system.....

The effect of adding such complexity to the ballot is not neutral or
random; it is more likely to confuse those same groups of
disadvantaged voters confused by the Florida ballots. This fact was
demonstrated by exit polls of both Burlington voters and San
Francisco voters who have also used IRV.

Even when used in a single contest, IRV caused greater confusion
among those on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. In other
words, IRV discriminates. Proponents of IRV like to frame this
argument by countering that what critics of IRV are saying is that
voters are stupid. We are saying no such thing.

These analyses are not impugning the intelligence of the American
voter, just recognizing the limits to what a political system can
ask of its citizens and recognizing that adding complexity to the
ballot will disproportionately harm some groups of people more than
others ... (more at the link )

*Instant Runoff Voting is for single contest elections, Hendersonville is the only place in the entire world that has ever attempted to use IRV in multi seat contests:

1. Henderson's election is a "vote for two", while IRV is defined as a voting system used for single-winner elections in which voters can rank candidates in order of preference. "Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is the American English term for a voting system used for single-winner elections, in which voters rank candidates in an order of preference." -

2. IRV proponents claim that IRV selects a candidate that has the support of the majority. Hendersonville multi seat pick two contests require a threshold of 25%, not majority support.

3. Instant runoff voting thwarts "bullet voting", also called "single shot" voting that some groups use as a strategy to elect candidates.

*Instant Runoff Voting Often Fails to Produce Majority Winner*.

October, 2007. Cary North Carolina.
After running voters 1, 2n and 3rd choices, Don Frantz obtained 1,401 votes,
which is 46.36% of all votes cast in the Cary District B contest.

Saturday, March 7, 2009 No Majority Winner in Instant Runoff Voting
election in Burlington Vermont Mayoral Contest

December 7, 2008 2 out of 3 Pierce County RCV "winners" don't have a true majority

Consistent Majority Failure in San Francisco's Instant Runoff Voting
A review of the results for San Francisco Ranked Choice Voting elections shows that IRV elects a plurality winner: These results are remarkably consistent. Out of 20 RCV elections that have been held since the referendum establishing it passed, when IRV was used, it elected a plurality winner

Please feel free to call or email me with any questions or comments that you may have.

Joyce McCloy, Director, NC Coalition for Verified Voting

The North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting is a grassroots non-partisan organization fighting for clean and verified elections. We study and research the issue of voting to ensure the dignity and integrity of the intention of each voting citizen. The NC Voter Verified Coalition has consistently fought for increasing access, participation and ensuring the voter franchise. Contact Joyce McCloy, Director, N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting - phone 336-794-1240
For more information about Instant Runof Voting, for reports, news and analysis see also see our blog