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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Exit poll Hendersonville instant runoff voting shows mixed results

Exit poll does not prove Instant runoff voting was popular in Hendersonville NC. If anything, the exit poll provided inclusive or mixed results. 322 Hendersonville voters were surveyed. Looking at the actual data, there were more than twice as many people who said that they preferred ordinary voting as said that they'd be upset not to have IRV in future elections -- so it's not as if Hendersonville is FIRED UP for IRV. As for whether IRV actually worked, obviously the exit poll doesn't go there.

New Data Support Use Of Instant Run-Off Voting (from Press Release)December 3, 2009 ( -- New data collected as part of a North Carolina State University study during the 2009 municipal election in Hendersonville, N.C., show that voters prefer instant run-off voting (IRV) to traditional voting - a finding that may build support for IRV.

Professor Cobb's survey on IRV is available on his web page

"I recently conducted an exit poll of Hendersonville, NC, a city that used Instant Run-off Voting (IRV): Here is the survey and here are the preliminary results. Here are the 2007 findings."

So this is the actual survey, it takes up two pages of a scantron style paper
Here are the preliminary results
Here are the results of the 2007 survey of Cary and Hendersonville.
Cary has since dropped IRV.

The exit poll methodology is not yet available as of Dec 10, 2009. 322 voters responded to the poll.

Here are the instructions given to exit pollsters

Election results are posted at the State Board of Elections website here:

Hendersonville, located in the county of Henderson. (Do not confuse Hendersonville with the town of Henderson. Henderson is in Vance County and is not the town using IRV. )
Here is the Henderson County Board of Elections website

State law requires that at least one early voting location be open, and in Hendersonville, early voting would be done on the touchscreen voting machines. Early voting is considered "in person absentee voting". There is always one early voting site but more if funding and demand allow. Early voting has become more popular since our state offers same day registration during early voting only.

Voters also had the option of voting by mail, which is fairly popular in Henderson County, since this area has alot of retirees. Absentee by mail ballots are cast on optical scan ballots.

Hendersonville uses E&S iVotronic touchscreen voting machines, with a "paper trail" that prints on a cash register type roll. This is called an RTAL printer, it prints all voter selections and de-selections, and does not print a summary. The screens could be disconcerting to voters who aren't forwarned about IRV.

Here is what that ballot looked like:

Voter Education: Henderson County Board of Elections Director Beverly Cunningham described it as presentations and "educating all votersthrough the Hendersonville TimesNews, WLOS and our website."
Presentations were done at the continuing care retirement community Carolina Village (and also a polling place), city bill-pay dept, League of Women Voters presentation & the Apple Festival

Here is the 5 page single spaced set of instructions for using an excel spreadsheet to tally the IRV votes.
Experts warn that this spreadsheet tallying method is error prone, lacks an audit trail, and is not good enough for elections.
Philip B Stark Comment Exel Workaround
Tom Dahlberg Comment Exel Workaround

The spreadsheet tallying method was never used in 2007 or 2009, since a winner was found in the first round. The additional rankings were never reported or counted to the public.

At this time, we await Professor Cobb's IRV methodology as well as a reply from the NC State Board of Elections in answer to our request for all vote data.

Some questions: Did Hendersonville voters flood the polls to take advantage of the new system? Were their preferences reflected with exquisite precision? Did the system even work correctly? You won't find the answers in the exit poll results...

We have real concerns with the fact that IRV votes were considered back up votes, only to be counted or reported upon later, if it were determined that they were "needed". Votes are votes and should be counted or at least reported to the public. We also have serious concerns about the tallying method, which is not transparent to voters and is error prone.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Rebutting Rob Richie misinfo: why evoting activists oppose instant runoff voting

Instant Runoff Voting promoter Rob Richie often posts messages on the internet misrepresenting my positions regarding IRV and election integrity. Hard to believe he is a director of a well funded national organization. Since I have a long history of voting activism, it is important to clear up any such misrepresentations.

Here's an excerpt typical of one of Rob Richie's misleading and also insulting comments posted to a news article:
Joyce McCloy (the first comment posted) is the anti-IRV Captain Abab (sp)of the internet seas, relentlessly sharing bits of information that support her views while ignoring the rest. She's driven by her mistaken fear that somehow IRV will lead to touchscreens in her home state of NC even though that's not the case.

So, for all of that, Rob, here's a shot across your bow:

Joyce McCloy here. Since Rob Richie has misrepresented my position, let me clear it up.

Here's my view on how IRV is a threat to democracy, posted on the home page of my website:

"IRV violates core principles of election integrity, whether using optical scan voting systems or Direct Record/Touchscreen machines. IRV increases reliance on more complex technology, making audits and recounts more prohibitive, further eroding election transparency. Because IRV is not additive, no matter what voting system is used, the ballots, (electronic or optical scan) have to be hauled away from where they are cast to a central location to be counted. This increases the chance of fraud or lost votes. The tallying software utilizes a complex algorithm that makes the process even more opaque."

I'm not alone. Liberal Blogger Brad Friedman calls Instant runoff voting a Virus. On his blog he says: Instant Runoff Voting "Joins 'Internet Voting' and 'Vote-by-Mail' schemes as the latest bad ideas poised to further cripple American democracy"

My organization worked to get a paper ballot law passed, improved election audits, and eliminated the "no match no vote" rule that was blocking eligable voters from casting ballots. I also won the NC ACLU 2006 award. We continue to work to protect and increase the voter franchise.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

St Paul Pro instant runoff voting group gets $5,000 fine for lying to public: dirty deeds, done dirt cheap

St Paul Better Ballot Campaign for instant runoff voting caught red handed. Three judges ruled against St Paul Better Ballot campaign on every single point, and then fined the maximum, a slap on the wrist of $5,000. Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap, that's them.
Judges rule: St Paul IRV group made knowingly false claims - $5K fine
St Paul pro instant runoff voting group showed a pattern of deliberate lying. So the pro instant runoff voting group with a name St Paul Better Ballot Campaign might more accurately be called "St Paul Deliberately Deceptive Campaign". Three judges say - the deception was deliberate, the perpetrators unashamed!....

more at the link

Isn't St Paul Better Ballots' idea of election reform just as twisted as their idea of an honest election campaign? Of course, some of the pro IRVers are already saying this isn't really a crime, just a technicality. We and the three judges just misunderstand.. Riiiiiiight.

Cheating is worth it to win for the mere price of a $5,000 fine.

New motto for IRV campaigns: "Just trust us, we'll tell you who won."

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