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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hendersonville: Instant runoff voting No friend to voters

Is the instant runoff voting a bit Orwellian? Hendersonville voters were never asked if they wanted Instant Runoff Voting. IRV was used in Hendersonville's 2007 & 2009 municipal election. Now more voters speak up.

No friend to voters
Sunday, November 15, 2009

To The Editor: "All men are created equal but some men are more equal than others." (George Orwell, "Animal Farm," 1945).

That was fiction but now our election officials have made it a reality with IRV. No not me, Irv. IRV, Instant-Runoff Voting, is double speak for tampering with the rule of "one man, one vote." When election boards can take my vote and divide it between several candidates or decide that it belongs to a candidate for whom I did not vote, our Republic is in deep trouble. IRV may be easy and cheap, but it is wrong and it is election tampering.

Irving Kasner


In 2007 and in 2009, there was no public hearing to ask for voter input or comment before the city council adopted. Thanks to new legislation, if Hendersonville's City Council wants to partipate in instant runoff voting again,they have to hold a public hearing first. Hendersonville voters should let their City Council and County Board of Elections ( and staff ) their feelings about IRV.

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Hendersonville: Instant Runoff Voting Process is not reliable

Not everyone likes instant runoff voting after all. An environmental activist in Hendersonville, North Carolina says that instant runoff voting is complicated, short changes the voter and its results do not always reflect the will of the voter.

IRV process not reliable
November 14, 2009 at 10:42 a.m.

To The Editor: I respect the work of the League of Women Voters. Their guest column favoring Instant Runoff Voting, however, begs several corrections.

The Heisman Trophy is not determined by IRV voting. They use a point system. Their system is simpler than IRV and doesn't include IRV elimination. (

IRV is not a "fair, effective method for electing a single winner." Ask Burlington, Vt. After analyzing the voting data for six weeks University of Vermont researchers concluded that the winner lost.


"The IRV process is not complicated." It was in Cary. Cary ditched it after the first try.

IRV doesn't "do everything a runoff system does." A runoff produces a majority vote candidate. If IRV goes to the third and fourth round, you get a candidate with a manufactured majority vote.

Corporations use IRV for single seat elections — secretary, treasurer — not multiple seat elections as in Hendersonville.

Yes, we do need primaries. They winnow the field allowing voters opportunity to more closely scrutinize candidates that will make important decisions.

Do the results reflect the will of the people? That is the goal of every election. With IRV, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't and that is the problem.

Eva L. Ritchey


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Monday, November 2, 2009

IRV: Santa Claus, Jesus Christ and Barack Obama did NOT endorse Instant Runoff Voting

Santa Clause and Jesus Christ didn't endorse Instant Runoff Voting and neither did Barack Obama. The St Paul Better Ballots group claimed lofty pro IRV endorsements on campaign mailers. Endorsement claims range from St Paul League of Women Voters, to the State DFL Party all the way up to President Obama. The St Paul League of Women Voters asked Better Ballots to correct their literature, but were ignored. Finally, though, the pro IRV group has run into a barrier called the Minnesota State Election Law. Its about time. We've stomached these so-called "endorsements" for long enough.
Anti-IRV group calls claims of Obama, DFL endorsement ‘evil’
By Paul Demko 11/2/09

At issue is a mailing that the Saint Paul Better Ballot Campaign, which is running the pro-IRV campaign, has sent out to potential voters. It claims a wide array of supporters for the ballot measure, from President Obama to the Star Tribune to the Minnesota DFL party.

But Chuck Repke, co-chair of the No Bad Ballots Committee, charges that the claims are patently false. Under state election law, a campaign cannot claim the support of an individual unless that person has provided written permission. Clearly President Obama, Repke notes, hasn’t taken time out from his schedule to provide written support for the local ballot initiative.

“I was surprised that Santa Claus and Jesus Christ weren’t on the list,” Repke says. “You can’t be more deceptive than to claim the endorsement of the President of the United States when you don’t have it. I’m just flabbergasted.”

Repke is particularly peeved that the pro-IRV group is claiming DFL support. He notes that at the St. Paul DFL convention in March, a resolution to support the ballot measure was explicitly voted down by party activists. And in a town dominated by Democrats, the party’s purported backing could carry weight with voters.

“They cannot claim DFL endorsement,” Repke says. “These people know that. They were at the convention. I saw them there. They were standing next to me.”

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Survey on Instant Runoff Voting in Hendersonville: did you understand it?

There's an Instant runoff voting in Hendersonville North Carolina, last day to vote is Tuesday November 3rd. The NC Coalition for Verified Voting is doing an informal voter survey on Instant Runoff Voting in Hendersonville. We hope to raise awareness about Instant Runoff Voting in Hendersonville North Carolina. We believe that the informal survey below is a good step in that direction. Could you please share this survey with voters as you see fit? It is also posted on the home page of our website, Thanks, Joyce McCloy, Director, NC Coalition for Verified Voting.

  1. Did you vote on election day, during early voting or absentee by mail?
  2. Did you know that you would be asked to rank choices on the ballot?
  3. Did you understand how to vote?
  4. Were the instructions clear?
  5. Did you like this new ranked choice voting method?
  6. What was source of your voter education about Instant Runoff Voting?
  7. Describe any problems you had in voting.
  8. Did you rank choices?
  9. If you ranked choices, how many did you rank?
  10. Do you understand how instant runoff votes are counted?
  11. Did you know that if your choices are not for the top two candidates, you will not be voting in the "runoff"?
  12. Did you know that your additional choices may go uncounted if there is a winner in the first round of voting?
  13. Do you want all votes, including the additional ranked choices - to be counted and publicly reported, so you can see how much support each candidate received?
  14. Do you prefer traditional one-to-one runoff elections or IRV?
    May we use your name? (Your name will be kept anonymous if you prefer)

Please email your response to and thank you for helping us.

About us: 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 Verifiable Voting - phone 336-794-1240

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hendersonville Instant runoff voting: IRV is verified confusion

If you vote in Hendersonville's instant runoff voting election, will your vote be counted? Will your vote, all of them, count? The answer, your first choice vote will get counted, but the rest might not. You also can hurt your preferred candidate just by voting for him or her. Here's food for thought on the matter by Eva Ritchey:

IRV is verified confusion
Sunday, November 1, 2009

86/14 is not always a good number. If 86 percent of high school students choose oranges and 14 percent choose apples for dessert, that's a good number. However, if 86 percent of the bridges in the state are sound and 14 percent are inferior, that's not a good number.

Which leads us to the question, why have election officials concluded that a pilot program, Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), is a good decision when 14 percent (or more) of the voters in Hendersonville's 2007 election found it confusing? Aren't clarity and confidence two requirements of an election system that should never be compromised?

In a traditionally conducted election primary, it's easy to determine the top two candidates just by counting the votes. Contrast that simplicity with IRV, which might be described as the political equivalent of musical chairs.

Using IRV, voters are asked to rank candidates in order of preference. IRV is really a tally-and-elimination scheme, re-tallying without re-voting, and repeating until a majority of votes are reshuffled into one pile.

If no one wins the "first" round of voting, then all candidates are eliminated except for the top two.

Counting and distribution is where the problem begins. History has determined that votes not counted on election night are sometimes prone to disappearance. For that reason, a state statute says, "Vote counting at the precinct shall occur immediately after the polls close and shall be continuous until completed." This was not the case in the Hendersonville 2007 election.

Any time a voter makes a selection that can affect the outcome of an election, it is a vote, not a preference. Third- and fourth-round votes cast in Hendersonville's 2007 election were not openly reported to the public because they were never counted. It's a bad practice for government to keep any expression by voters secret. Distributing remaining IRV votes is confusing, relies on more complex technology, makes audits and recounts more prohibitive, and can even change the outcome of an election away from the voter's original intent.

In the Cary experiment, the winner of an "instant runoff" in the District B Town council contest took office with less than 40 percent of the first-choice votes cast and less than 50 percent of the votes of people who showed up on election day. (

In Hendersonville, no meeting was held to get voter input or educate the voters before IRV was implemented, and over 33 percent of voters arrived without knowing it was an IRV election. The average voter has to place great trust in the reliability of the IRV counting method. Perry Woods, a Raleigh-based political consultant, says,
"Ranked choice voting violates a key principle in electoral confidence, and that is simplicity. If the desire is to eliminate runoff elections, than a plurality election will produce the same result as an IRV race in virtually every instance without the added confusion or risk."

IRV procedures as proposed will compromise the integrity of elections. Since state voting machines lack instant runoff voting capability, the State Board of Elections put together an uncertified "work-around," using a spreadsheet program, circumventing the legal method of manually sorting and counting "paper trails." Experts say this method is error prone and risky.

The cost savings IRV advocates tout are minimal and don't compensate for the erosion of transparency. Political Scientist Tony Gierzynski said it quite clearly: "Let's get right into it: instant runoff voting is not good. It's not good because it suffers from three fundamental problems: it discriminates against classes of voters by adding complexity to 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..." (3/12/09,

Can we really justify a voting system that is confusing, difficult to calculate, prone to error and fails to count every vote? Third, fourth and more place votes aren't "backup" votes as some IRV proponents define them, they're your votes and if your vote isn't counted, it doesn't count.

BlueRidgeNow has an op/ed by the Hendersonville League of Women Voters saying that they endorse IRV. And the LWV repeats the same old twisted talking points set forth by FairVote. They put out that false claim that IRV guarantees a majority of the votes. No, it is an engineered majority of the remaining votes, after many are eliminated.

Where was the LWV when Henderson County made the bad decision to purchase new touchscreens in 2006, when the rest of the United States is ditching them because of reliability factors? LWV has done many good thing but also has made mistakes. It is a shame to see the local LWV supporting something without researching it, something that that is detrimental to the voters and to election transparency.

IRV is bad, and that is why places that have recently tried it are rejecting it:

Places that Have Ditched Instant Runoff Voting or are Moving to Ditch It
-Getting rid of IRV will be on the ballot in both Aspen Colorado and Pierce County Washington.
-Cary North Carolina tried instant runoff voting in 2007 and said no more.
-British Columbia had it on the ballot this year and the majority of voters said NO!
-Georgetown University ditched IRV earlier this year.

Other jurisdictions that "adopted" IRV are not yet able to implement it because their voting machines cannot accommodate it.

see to learn more

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