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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.

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