***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
Email addresses:firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
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 http://irvbad4nc.blogspot.com/2009/03/instant-runoff-voting-pilot-remains.html
*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 http://www.ncvoter.net/downloads/Henderson_County_IRV%20Tabulation.pdf 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 www.ncvoter.net 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
*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 http://www.ncvoter.net/downloads/12_26_08_Philip_B_Stark_Comment_Exel_Workaround.pdf
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)
www.business-analysis-using-spreadsheets.com also warns against using the excel work around /www.ncvoter.net/downloads/12_28_08_Tom_Dahlberg_Comment_Exel_Workaround.pdf
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
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." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting
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 www.ncvoter.net
For more information about Instant Runof Voting, for reports, news and analysis see www.instantrunoffvoting.us also see our blog http://irvbad4nc.blogspot.com/