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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rebutting FairVote misinfo on Cary, NC - Cary ditched IRV and is still glad

Rob Richie is doing his hard sell of Instant Runoff Voting again, claiming that poor, poor Cary North Carolina will have to suffer a one-to-one traditional runoff election. (All because they rejected IRV after using it once in 2007). How dare the little ole' city of Cary, North Carolina ignore the good advice of the FairVote and Rob Richie, who know what is better for everyone? Cary only has the most PHDs per capita for cities with population over 75,000. In one email, Rob Richie blamed the decision on politics, calling Cary, NC, a "Republican-leaning city." Using FairVote logic, can we assume that using IRV turned Cary into a "Republican-leaning city"? May I inject an "LOL" here? Neither candidate for Cary's runoff is complaining, not the republican candidate nor the democratic challenger. Nor are their colleagues complaining.

Voters are looking forward to the face off. The field has been narrowed from 4 candidates to 2. The only trauma is for Rob Richie, who uses any adoption of IRV as a "victory" to use to persuade other places to adopt it. He's seeing defeat
as places continue to ditch IRV or are considering ditching it.
Here's Rob Richie's latest spin - which has already caused some people to email me and ask "what universe is RR living in?"

Runoff misery from New York City to Cary (NC) builds support for instant runoff voting October 10th, 2009. Rob Richie ...Cary’s city council voted to try IRV in 2007, and its voters overwhelmingly supported it.

The misery is Rob Richie's alone. Cary North Carolina was rushed into the decision to try IRV 2007. After Cary found out what IRV really was like, they decided not to do it again.

Cary's choice to try IRV in 2007 was a rush job: In 2007, the Wake County NC Board of Elections voted to volunteer for the IRV pilot. The City Council made a quick decision to give it a try. Cary voters were not involved in the decision and there was definite controversy after the decision was made. Two years later, Cary considered the matter again, and held several public meetings. see
Cary NC tries IRV, then says ‘no more’ At Cary NC's City Council meeting on April 30, 2009, Cary City Council member Don Frantz reflected on the problem with the 2007 decision. He said:

"When our town agreed to IRV in 2007, it was kind of rush job..There was a lot of pushback, the public wasn’t involved …"
Rob Richie says but Cary voters polled loved IRV:

More than 70% of voters preferred IRV to their former runoff system in a North Carolina State exit poll, and a full poll conducted by Cary in 2008 affirmed an overwhelming preference for using IRV again rather than keeping the traditional runoff system — indeed, on a scale of to 9, with 1 being most opposed to 9 being most in favor, 67.1%indicated a 7 or higher (including 51% indicating the highest level of 9) while only 6.9% indicated 3 or less.

But liking does not = understanding. Liking does not = good practice.
At one time the majority of people liked literacy tests for voters, poll taxes, and butterfly ballots.
The fact is, a significant number of Cary voters did not understand instant runoff voting. When 22% just don't understand IRV at all, then it is just another glorified butterfly ballot, or a literacy test, 21st century style. Rob Richie also doesn't tell you how a FairVote employee admitted slanting the exit polling in Cary - see
Slanting the exit poll of Cary's instant runoff voting election

Cary's Bi-Annual Survey says: 22% polled did not understand IRV at all.

See Instant Runoff Voting Not So Good Polls: Cary NC, Hendersonville NC, Pierce Co WA, and San Francisco

The results of Cary NC’s 2008 bi-annual citizen survey indicate that a significant percent of voters do not understand IRV. The mean was 5.83 with 58.6% on the “understand” side (above 5) of the scale and 30.6% on the “not understand” side (Figure 19). This includes 22.0% who indicated they do not understand at all. Overall this indicates a degree of misunderstanding among the respondents. Keep in mind that Cary is the city with the most Ph.D.s per capita in the U.S. for towns larger than 75,000 people.

Rob Richie again:

Furthermore, the county’s board of elections indicated its support for administering its new system, reporting that it saved more than $20,000 by avoiding a second-round runoff in one city council race.
Why did the Wake County Board of Elections support Instant Runoff Voting?
The then, now former
Chairman of the Wake BoE was a active advocate of instant runoff voting. he even traveled to Minnesota to support IRV to a MN State Legislative Committee. His daughter-in-law, Elena Everett was the Director of Instant Runoff Voting, FairVote NC and worked very hard to promote IRV. While both are good people, they could hardly be objective.

Rob Richie continues to try to create "controversy" where there is none:
...The result in Cary fall on the heels of controversy stirred up in New York City by a hugely expensive, citywide runoff last month that was marked by bitter attacks between candidates before the runoff and a turnout of less than 8% of registered Democrats deciding two nominees....

Candidate Lori Bush looks forward to running in the upcoming runoff election:

No clear District A winner in Cary Oct 7, 2009.
Bush watched the election returns with a few dozen supporters at her home. She said it was nerve-racking to watch the votes come in. "I'm absolutely thrilled," she said. "This means it's one on one. It's time for us to show our clear differences to the voters of Cary."She said she hopes to engage Robinson in a series of debates for the runoff.

Don Frantz, Cary City Council member was asked if he regretted ditching IRV since his colleague, Julie Robinson is facing a runoff election. From the Cary Politics message board, Don Frantz answers a poster's question - does Don regret ditching IRV:

Re: Oct 6 2009 Election Predictions
Quote: Originally Posted by ncary42long

Don F, would you reconsider IRV again if Jennifer loses the runoff, knowing that she would have had a greater chance of winning this election with it? Just curious. Ruth

Why ask me?
Ask all of council as we are the ones who decided to not utilize IRV in Cary elections.But my answer is "no". I do not like instant runoff voting and have given my reasons as to why many times. I'll take in elections over funny math and 30% voter confusion any day. You also assume the initial results would be the same if IRV had been utilized. I don't believe that would be the case. __________________Don

Don Frantz was the candidate running for Cary City Council in 2007 whose contest was decided by the IRV votes in the 2nd and 3rd round. He is the only candidate in the state whose election outcome was decided by IRV. Don described his face to face experience explaining IRV to voters:

USA Today. Oct 17, 2007 To stem runoff votes, new ballots have voters rank top 3
Winning candidate Frantz said he heard from many confused voters on thecampaign trail ."I found myself, when I was at some places, that's all I was doing …explaining the new voting system," he said.
So please everyone remember, the outrage is all Rob Richie's and not that of Cary, North Carolina's. For further reading enjoyment, read How FairVote IRV propaganda has been very effective also read (more current) Responding to Rob Richie, IRV advocate

It is very easy to vote in North Carolina, we have 2 1/2 weeks of early voting, we have "no excuse" absentee by mail, and we have plenty of polling places with accessible entrances and accessible voting machines. If voters care about this election, they will vote.