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Monday, September 20, 2010

Vendor letter on Legal Issues with NC Court of Appeals Instant Runoff Voting

We may have a voter guide, and we may have an Instant Runoff Voting task force, but sorry, no cigar! We still do not have IRV tallying procedures for touchscreen counties as of Sept 17, 2010. Additionally, in an August 31 letter, the voting vendor warns that our voting system cannot legally tally instant runoff voting, and the vendor will not accept responsibility for an IRV related election fiasco.

I contacted a member of the task force set up to devise procedures, he advised me on Sept 13 via email that:

"there are still several options on the table and I do not know at this point what method we will end up with. I think we need to spend some time testing and evaluating the options before a decision is made. Might as well do it right the first time."

Meanwhile, the voting vendor warns about the legality of using our voting machines for this process. Here's excerpt from Print Elect & ES&S letter to the NC State Board of Elections dated Aug 31 2010:

"IRV is not an approved function at the federal or state level of current ES&S software, firmware or hardware. Subsequently, we will work at the direction of the SBE and counties to assist but cannot be held responsible for issues as a result of IRV....
IRV Tabulation
*Printelect and ES&S will only take responsibility for and support tabulating the IRV contests individually. Methods for deciding a runoff winner by others will not be supported by Printelect or ES&S. This risk will be the sole responsibility of NCSBOE and the counties.

*IRV voting tabulation methods are not an EAC or state certified portion of our voting system and have not undergone the testing that would normally be required to receive these certifications."
read the full letter here

But pro IRV advocate Bob Phillips of Common Cause NC expresses confidence:

"It's going to be a reliable, accurate count," ... "I'm very comfortable with what I'm hearing so far." ~ Study calls NC best among 10 at protecting voters" By GARY D. ROBERTSON.

Why does the voting vendor worry when Common Cause NC does not? Because the vote vendor is legally held to high standards set in 2005 to prevent repeats of headlines like this:

"A Florida-style nightmare has unfolded in North Carolina in the days since Election Day, with thousands of votes missing and the outcome of two statewide races still up in the air."AP Newswire, Nov 13

Here are North Carolina's standards for voting systems:
§ 163-165.7. Voting systems: powers and duties of State Board of Elections.

(a) Only voting systems that have been certified by the State Board of Elections in accordance with the procedures and subject to the standards set forth in this section and that have not been subsequently decertified shall be permitted for use in elections in this State.

...The State Board may certify additional voting systems only if they meet the requirements of the request for proposal process set forth in this section...

(1) That the vendor post a bond or letter of credit to cover damages resulting from defects in the voting system. Damages shall include, among other items, any costs of
conducting a new election attributable to those defects.

(2) That the voting system comply with all federal requirements for voting systems.

§ 163-165.9A. Voting systems: requirements for voting systems vendors; penalties.