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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Minneapolis drank the instant runoff voting kool-aid, now they are sorry

Instant gratification - delayed, in fact denied. Minneapolis' City Council learns that thanks to instant runoff voting, it may be weeks to possibly 2 months before they know the outcome of this years' municipal elections.

Elections director says instant runoff tallies could take weeks to count by Curtis Gilbert, Minnesota Public Radio May 21, 2009 Members of the Minneapolis City Council found out today that they'll likely have to wait a month or more after election day to find out whether they win re-election this year. City elections officials estimate it will take between 30 and 60 days -- working 8-hours-a-day, 7-days a-week -- to tally ballots under the city's new instant runoff voting system.

Minneapolis — Up until this year, Minneapolis residents have voted for mayor, city council, park board and other municipal offices the old fashioned way. You choose your favorite candidate and vote for him or her.

Whoever gets the most votes wins. But that's all going to change. With instant runoff voting, you can cast your ballot for a first-choice candidate, a second-choice and a third.

Counting those ballots is a complicated and time-consuming process; it involves a series of rounds, called runoffs. The city's vote-counting machines will be able to help a little bit, but most of the work has to be done by hand. ...Ostrow said, at this point, he would vote to delay instant runoff voting until there are machines to handle the counting.But he said he's in the minority on the city council.

Turns out the only thing instant about instant runoff is the situation where you have to decide your second and third choices before knowing how that choice will impact the outcome of the election. Counting IRV is certainly not instant. Unlike with regular elections, you can't just tally up totals. You have to consider each individual ballot and each choice on that ballot and re-allocate as that jurisdiction rules indicate. In Aspen, this meant stopping the count when a candidate in each of 3 contests had 1,273 votes each. But in Minneapolis, they do not have software to tally IRV, and they have different counting rules, so officials there will count until they drop, or somewhere from a few weeks to 2 months.