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Sunday, December 26, 2010

N.Carolina's Statewide Instant Runoff Voting Contest - the facts, the regrets

48 days after the election, instant runoff voting produced a "winner" for the NC Court of Appeals, for the  "Wynn"seat. Thanks to IRV, an experimental tallying method was used, the election was almost a tie, a recount was called for, and we had a plurality result, not a majority win.

After counting the IRV votes,  the highest vote getter lost his 100,000 vote lead, and the contest became so close that a recount was requested. The declared winner won with 28% of votes from all ballots cast on election day. We do not know how many 2nd and 3rd choice votes each candidate got, as this data was not released to the public.

(Click on the above picture to enlarge.)

Footnotes to spreadsheet/chart:
[1] State BoE First Round results Nov 2, 2010 (page 20)
[2] State BoE IRV results Dec 13 2010  (screen shot)
[3] State BoE IRV results after recount

The reason for using IRV in this election:
"NC Court of Appeals Judge Wynn was elevated to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court o Appeals. Under the NC Constitution, the vacant office must be filled by an election this November. Thirteen candidates are running for the office. Too late to hold a primary, under NC law, this election will use an Instant Runoff Voting method. Voters indicate who they prefer among the candidates at the "instant" they vote, by ranking as many as three choices 1, 2, and 3. If your 1st choice loses, your 2nd or 3rd choice could determine who wins. Bobby Coggins.(blog)

There were 13 candidates in this non partisan contest and there was no primary. Candidates had access to public funding for their campaigns, but the limited funds had to be shared amongst a large field.

In the first round, Cressie Thigpen (D) was leading Doug McCullough (R) by 100,000 votes.

The top 2 candidates advanced to a runoff. The ballots were counted based on whether they ranked Thigpen or McCullough higher. 45% of those who voted in the Court of Appeals races voted for neither. 2nd and 3rd choice votes for Thigpen & McCullough were added, erasing Thigpen's 100,000 vote lead and putting McCullough about 6,500 votes ahead.

With IRV votes tallied, McCullough won with 28% of all voters' ballots cast on election day.The election was so close that Thigpen called for a recount. This was done by machine so it was no surprise that the results changed only slightly. Thigpen went down 120 votes, from 537,445 to 537,325. McCullough went down 43 votes, from 544,023 to 543,980. McCullough won by 6,655 votes.

McCullough got 19.7% of transfers, Thigpen 11.2%, and nobody 69.2%

The Democrat-registered incumbent appointed by a Democratic governor got a large share of the vote. But there were so many other Democratic candidates, that they weren't likely to result in many successful transfers, especially since the ballot instructions said simply to vote for the candidates in order of your preference - and not vote strategically so your ballot would not be stuck in the trash dumpster. 2.7 million voters went to the polls in November. Only 1.1 million had their vote count in December.

There were fewer Republican candidates, so there was a much greater chance of the vote counting, if you could just get voters to fill out the ballot. And there were more Republican voters in the first place.

News and Opinion:

Raleigh News & Observer, December 24, 2010. Instant analysis

Gary Robertson.AP. December 20, 2010. Concession after N.C. Court of Appeals recount widens lead

Doug Clark. Greensboro News & Record. December 16, 2010. Weak defense of IRV

Reid Overcash. News&Press.December 16,2010 “Instant Runoff Vote” loses its appeal when put to test

Gary Pearce.Talking About Politics. December 16, 2010 Instant Runoff, Eternal Confusion

Rocky Mount Telegram December 13, 2010 Instant runoff voting runs into issues, too.
That was one ugly way to elect a judge.

Charlotte Observer Dec. 13, 2010 Not best way to boost confidence in elections
Instant Runoff Voting was alot faster than the counting.

AP. Raleigh News & Observer December 9, 2010 Judge Thigpen wants Appeals race recount

Doug Clark. Greensboro News & Record. December 9, 2010 Editorial: Instant runoff failure

Gary Robertson. AP News. December 6, 2010 McCullough overtakes Thigpen in NC court race

Tom Sullivan. Scrutiny Hooligans. November 9, 2010. Short Cuts. 

Andrea Pacetti. News 14. October 28, 2010. Board of Elections decides how to count instant runoff votes (changes tallying method)

Bobby Coggins. October 19, 2010. 2010 Election and this IRV ballot for NC Appeals Court.

Sara Burrows. Carolina Journal. September 29, 2010 How the Instant Runoff for State Court of Appeals Will Work

North Carolina State Board of Elections. September 29, 2010 Meeting on Tallying IRV

Bobby Coggins. September 20, 2010. Instant Runoff Voting Strategy for NC Court of Appeals.

Joyce McCloy. IRVbad4NC blog. September 19, 2010.  2 Simple Rules for Voters in Instant Runoff Voting for NC Court of Appeals

Charlotte Observer September 9, 2010. Potential mess looms in judicial election

BY ROBERT ORR. Raleigh News & Observer September 5, 2010. Order in the court election!

Doug Clark. Greensboro News-Record September 3, 2010. Editorial: On the wrong track

Raleigh News & Observer. September 3, 2010. Test vote

Doug Clark. Greensboro News and Record. August 31, 2010. Lucky 13

GARY D. ROBERTSON AP. August 31, 2010. 13 candidates file for open NC appeals court job

ES&S and PrintElect voting machine co. August 31, 2010. Vendor letter on legal issues with NC Court of Appeals Instant Runoff Voting

§ 163-329.  Elections to fill vacancy in office created after primary filing period opens.

Sri Lanka Contingent Vote (method used in North Carolina)

Wikipedia Article on this contest,_2010#Court_of_Appeals_.28Wynn_seat.29

If you have other analysis on this contest, we'd love to hear from you. Comments on this blog are blocked but you can email me at joyce (at) ncvoter (dot) net

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Monday, December 20, 2010

After 48 days the instant runoff voting contest for NC Court of Appeals is over

Just in time for Christmas. 48 days after the election, instant runoff voting produces a "winner" for the NC Court of Appeals contest for Wynn's seat. Initially, Cressie Thigpen was leading by 100,000 votes but he only had 20% of the votes cast amongst the 13 candidates. Next, 2nd and 3rd choice votes for Thigpen & McCullough were added, erasing Thigpen's lead and putting McCullough about 6,500 votes ahead.  With IRV votes, Doug McCullough had the lead. Even after all the adding of IRV votes, McCullough won with 28% of all voters' ballots cast on election day.The election was so close that Thigpen called for a recount. This was done by machine. The results changed slightly. Thigpen went down 120 votes, from 537,445 to 537,325. McCullough went down 43 votes, from 544,023 to 543,980. McCullough won by 6,655 votes (including IRV). I'm basing this on numbers from data at NCSBE site on Dec 13 - see screen shot  and results now up at the State Board of Elections website on Dec 20 

Concession after N.C. Court of Appeals recount widens lead
The Associated Press © December 20, 2010 By Gary D. Robertson 
Doug McCullough is returning to North Carolina's Court of Appeals after a completed statewide recount Monday showed McCullough still in the lead and incumbent Judge Cressie Thigpen conceded the election.
Thigpen conceded defeat after the complete recount in all 100 counties had McCullough, a former member of the state's intermediate appeals court, leading by 6,655 votes. Nearly 1.1 million votes were recorded between the two candidates in the instant runoff race.
Thigpen sought the recount when unofficial results showed him trailing by about 6,000 votes, saying he wanted to make sure election officials counted properly ballots cast through the unusual voting method. The margin widened to more than 6,500 votes before the recount began.
The recount began as early as Dec. 10 in some counties and wrapped up early Monday. Election reform advocates have been keeping an eye on the race because the ranking concept hadn't been used in a statewide race anywhere in at least 70 years.
"I would like to thank the voters who showed faith in me during this process and to the N.C. State Board of Elections for their diligence to insure votes were properly counted," Thipgen said in a prepared statement. "The voters have spoken and I congratulate Judge McCullough for his victory and will do all I can to make any transition seamless."
McCullough is a former federal prosecutor from Atlantic Beach who served on the Court of Appeals from 2000 through 2008. He didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
State elections director Gary Bartlett said the next step for the board is to certify the outcome. It was the board's final unresolved race in North Carolina from the 2010 elections. No date had been set Monday afternoon.
Gov. Beverly Perdue had appointed Thigpen in August to serve through the rest of the year on the court and fill the seat vacated when Jim Wynn was confirmed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A 2006 state law required the instant runoff method to fill the seat because Thigpen and 12 other candidates ran for an eight-year term. Voters were asked to rank three candidates from the 13 on the Election Day ballot.
Thigpen and McCullough advanced to the second round of voting because they received the most first place votes. Election officials then separated the ballots of voters whose first-choice candidate was eliminated and counted how many of them made Thigpen and McCullough their next highest choice. Those choices were added to the original counts of the two. The candidate with the most combined votes was the winner.
McCullough trailed Thigpen by 100,000 votes in the first round.
Rob Richie, executive director the election reform group FairVote, said the statewide use of instant runoff voting was successful although it took 48 days after Election Day to finalize the winner. He said the method saved millions of dollars it would have cost to organize a separate runoff election. The state elections board and other groups provided voters information on how the ranking worked.
"It's a pretty fair reflection of a fairly close race," Richie said in a phone interview. "It seems like the voter education that was done was effective."
But critics said the process was still hard to understand for many voters, and the permutations of voting outcomes among 13 candidates hard for election officials to ensure the outcomes were accurate. Counties that used electronic voting machines also counted second-round totals with untested tabulating software, according to Joyce McCloy with the N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting.
"Instant runoff voting was not instant, nor was it like a runoff election," she wrote in an e-mail.
Bartlett said there were no major problems with the count and voters got to participate in picking the winner.
"Whether you like it or not, it worked," he said.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weak defense of IRV - Instant Runoff Voting in NC Court of Appeals oddities

Some say instant runoff voting did what it was supposed to do in the NC Court of Appeals Contest. For sure the IRV algorithm that sorts, allocates and eliminates votes is capricious in nature. IRV election is like a crap shoot. The top 2 candidates had 20% and 15% of first round votes. Thigpen led McCullough by 100,000 votes. After sorting, allocating, eliminating and reshuffling the IRV votes, McCullough and Thigpen had a near tie. The top two, Thigpen had 27.62% of the vote from all ballots cast, and McCullough had 27.96% of all votes. But with IRV, majority is redefined to 50% of "remaining" votes, and excludes about 800K voters. Thigpen lost his lead and now trails McCullough by around 6,700 votes. Close enough that Thigpen called for a recount. This was conducted by machine, not hand - last week. Results aren't in yet. 

Weak defense of IRV
Greensboro News and Record. Doug Clark. December 16, 2010.
It's disappointing that Duke professor Mike Munger calls our opposition to Instant Runoff Voting "absurd," and counters with arguments that are just plain wrong.
The IRV, which decides a winner in a multicandidate race by adding second- and third-choice votes when no one receives a majority, achieves a result "precisely the same as if we conducted two separate elections," says Munger.
Talk about an absurd statement. That would be true only if voter turnout wasprecisely the same in a second primary and no voter changed his or her mind about the candidates in the interim. But it's worse than that, because IRV effectively excludes a high proportion of voters from this runoff.
IRV was used in the special election for an appeals court seat, which drew 13 candidates. On Nov. 2, Cressie Thigpen led with 395,220 votes, or 20 percent. Doug McCullough was next with 295,619 votes, or 15 percent. As the top two, under the IRV rules their second- and third-place votes were added. Last week, five weeks after the election, the State Board of Elections announced that McCullough was now the winner with 544,023 votes to 537,445 for Thigpen.
This was, of course, not precisely like a separate runoff for another important reason: 1,943,771 people voted in this race on Nov. 2. But the votes for McCullough and Thigpen after the "instant" runoff totaled 1,081,468. What happened to the other 862,303? These were voters who did not mark McCullough or Thigpen as their first-, second- or third-choice candidates. So the "instant" runoff was like holding a second separate election in which 862,303 people who voted in the first election — 44 percent of the total — were excluded from participating. How does Munger think that yields precisely the same result?
Next, responding to our view that second- and third-choice votes should not count as much as first-choice votes, Munger says "the idea that the votes are second-place or third-place votes is balloon juice." I don't know what balloon juice is — hot air, maybe? — but I do know that the ballot instructed voters to mark their second and third choices as well as their first choice. So they indisputably are second- and third-choice votes. For many voters, they may have been an afterthought.
If these second and third votes are considered to count as much as first-choice votes, then they should have been counted for all 13 candidates. If they were, it's possible that a candidate other than McCullough or Thigpen could have received the most votes. We don't know because the State Board of Elections has not released how many 1, 2 and 3 votes each of the 13 candidates polled.
Finally, Munger employs some "balloon juice" of his own: "The editor seems to prefer plurality rule, but sophomore political science students learn that plurality rule rarely chooses the best candidate in simulations."
Simulations? Why don't we look at real elections? In Guilford County's Senate District 28 race, Gladys Robinson won a plurality election over Trudy Wade and Bruce Davis. There was no "instant runoff." On what basis would Munger contend that Robinson, a community leader for many years and a member of the UNC Board of Governors, was not "the best candidate"?
For that matter, how does Munger conclude that Thigpen was not the best candidate in the appeals court race and McCullough was? Thigpen led McCullough by 100,000 first-choice votes — meaning a lot more voters thought Thigpen was the best candidate. After adding 2 and 3 votes, McCullough led Thigpen by 7,000 votes (pending a recount). On that basis Munger says McCullough was the best candidate? That strikes me as more than a little absurd.
On top of its other faults, IRV is arbitrary. Why not just count first- and second-choice votes? If that had been done, Thigpen's initial lead over McCullough probably would have held up. Why add third-choice votes? That's sliding further from the voters' real preference. Or if the idea is just to count more votes, how about giving voters fourth and fifth choices? Or let them rank all candidates in order of preference? That would be worse, in my view, but it's no less logical than the IRV format applied in this race.
My question to IRV supporters is this:
Compared to a plurality election, does IRV produce an outcome that is faster, less expensive or more credible?
The first two answers are no, plain and simple. Those are facts. The third question requires an opinion. My opinion is no — and professor Munger sure didn't change it.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

North Carolina instant runoff voting: "That was one ugly way to elect a judge"

The Rocky Mount Telegram has withdrawn support for instant runoff voting. The RMT editorial dept promoted IRV over and over in spite of our warnings that Instant Runoff Voting isn't instant, and isn't the same thing as a runoff. We also warned that IRV is akin to a crap shoot. Well, we told you so.

Instant runoff voting runs into issues, too
Monday, December 13, 20100 Rocky Mount Telegram

That was one ugly way to elect a judge.

More than a month after the Nov. 2 election, North Carolina finally has decided that Doug McCullough is its newest member of the N.C. Court of Appeals, thanks to a new procedure called “instant runoff voting.”

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that we used this space several times before Nov. 2 to applaud the innovation. We had high hopes that instant runoff voting would make low-turnout, costly runoff elections a thing of the past. It might still do that, but it’s not without issues.

McCullough won his seat on the court as a result of counting second and third choices cast by voters in November. That’s the way the process is supposed to work, but consider the fact that Cressie Thigpen actually had about 100,000 more votes than McCullough in the count taken on Election Day. His total wasn’t a majority, however, in a field of 13 candidates.

Eighty percent of the voters cast first-choice ballots for someone other than Thigpen. Eighty-five percent of the voters cast first-choice ballots for someone other than McCullough.

It isn’t reasonable to argue that McCullough is the candidate that North Carolina voters prefer, based on those numbers. But let’s not forget that a runoff election — even one that’s statewide — traditionally draws a miserable turnout, as well. In the Democratic primary runoff for U.S. Senate last summer, for example, winner Elaine Marshall received fewer votes than her opponent, Cal Cunningham, received in the first primary.

There’s no clear answer to the runoff dilemma. Hold a runoff on a separate date and watch turnout plummet. Try something like instant runoff voting, and the results are awkward, to say the least.

We appreciate the innovative thinking behind instant runoff voting, but officials need to keep looking.

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N Carolina Instant Runoff Voting 'Not best way to boost confidence in elections'

Here's op/ed in Charlotte Observer (one of NC's top newspapers) about Instant runoff voting. And how it wasn't everything it was cracked up to be.. My comments below the article.

Not best way to boost confidence in elections
Instant Runoff Voting was alot faster than the counting.

Monday, Dec. 13, 2010 Charlotte Observer

Perhaps the best that can be said of North Carolina's new electoral experiment is that Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) accomplished two of its goals: It produced a winner, though the loser has asked for a recount. And it saved N.C. taxpayers upwards of $5 million because it wasn't necessary to hold a statewide runoff election.

But the IRV process was anything but instant. Voters cast ballots fairly quickly for their first, second and third choices among 13 candidates running for an N.C. Court of Appeals seat, and first-round ballots were tallied fast. But computing the impact of those second and third choices took more than another month. A glaring error, once discovered, resulted in a dramatic change in the apparent winner. And the vote was so close that one candidate is exercising his right to a recount just to make sure.

Out of all this, are voters reassured about the electoral process? Maybe so. The election did result in the selection of an experienced, solid judge in New Bern lawyer Doug McCullough, who served previously on the Court of Appeals.

And the apparent loser in this election, Raleigh lawyer Cressie Thigpen, may continue to serve on the court even if he falls short in the recount. Gov. Bev Perdue had appointed Thigpen to the seat late last summer to fill a vacancy, and she could appoint him to another vacancy caused by the election of Court of Appeals Judge Barbara Jackson to the N.C. Supreme Court.

But the most troubling thing about Instant Runoff Voting was not that it did not produce an instant winner, nor that it has taken so long to persuasively produce a winner. The most troubling point is that Thigpen led the Election Day voting with more than 395,000 votes - 20 percent of the 1.9 million votes cast, but lost to McCullough, who came in second with more than 295,000 votes, about 15 percent of the total.

In other words, Thigpen was not the first choice of 80 percent of the voters, while McCullough was not the first choice of 85 percent of voters. Yet when all the second- and third-choice votes were added, McCullough had a lead of more than 6,000. It will strike some voters as curious that second- and third-choice votes count as much as first-choice votes - with the result that the candidate who led the election in the first round loses.

That's the way Instant Runoff Voting works - and it may be the reason that a number of jurisdictions have stopped using it to determine victors in multi-candidate races. N.C. legislators should re-examine the law to determine whether it's the best way to maintain voter confidence in elections. We believe that case has yet to be made.

We think the better course is to avoid using the IRV process in statewide elections, because it takes too long to compute a winner. Lawmakers would be wiser to allow judicial appointees named to court seats after statewide primaries are over to serve until the next regularly scheduled statewide primaries. That would give the nominee time to concentrate on the job - and give voters a clearer result on Election Day.

Here's my comment posted online to this article:

There was no majority winner here. Worse, the tallying process is error prone, as stated in the OP, although the exact type of error is not stated. Why not? Voters weren't prepared to rank choices and the only voter education in our state, a voting rights act state, was a voter guide sent to households. Around 5 cents was spent educating voters about this voting method formally known as "Sri Lanken Contingency Voting".

IRV is very complex to tally - even if NC had federally tested software to tally it, which we don't! IRV is not additive. Thats right, you can't just add up the votes at the polling places. A complex algorithm is used to weigh each 2nd and 3rd choice - sorting, allocating, eliminating and reallocating votes until finally the deck is shuffled all into one pile and a winner announced. The complexity of counting IRV ballots leads to great logistical problems and time-delays. It is so complex that the validity of the results is not verifiable. Who really won?

I wager that if you recounted this contest multiple times, you would get different results each time.

What about the voters? Voters had to rank their "runoff" choices without knowing which of the 13 candidates would be the "top two" in the runoff. So if a voter didn't rank either Thigpen(D) or McCullough(R) for any of the 3 choices, then that voter was shut out of the runoff.

The state's IRV procedures violate the intent and statutes of the Public Confidence in Elections Act, a law passed in 2005 to protect North Carolina's voters and votes from voting machine software flaws and miscounts. This law was passed to prevent headlines such as we saw in 2004:

"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

Our situation was dire indeed: "NC has the worst election problem in the country right now." -- Computer scientist Dr. David L. Dill of Stanford University, about the votes lost in Carteret County. November 11, 2004.

We cannot implement IRV in North Carolina without exposing our future elections to fiascos as occurred in 2004, where over 50,000 votes were mis tallied - some missing, some double counted, some lost forever.

We warned you *before* 2004 that computer vote counting could result in lost or inaccurate vote tallies, and pushed for paper ballots and standards for voting vendors and systems. No one listened to us until the Nov 2004 fiasco.

We warned you ahead of time that this statewide IRV contest 1) was error prone and violated election transparency laws; and 2) we told you that IRV voting for this contest was akin to participating in a crap shoot.

IRV is very bad for democracy, very bad for voters, and sets a terrible precedent of non transparent unverifiable voting. If the objective of an election process is to discern the will of the voters, then that process must be the simplest, most transparent and most enfranchising method for all voters.

More more information about the problems with instant runoff voting see our website at

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

N. Carolina's instant runoff voting chickens come home to roost. Recount sought

The instant runoff voting contest for NC Court of Appeals is headed to a recount. Here we are, 38 days after the election, we get the results to the "instant runoff" and learn that we're going in for another round, due to lack of confidence in the tallying procedures. No surprise, since Larry Leake, the Chair of the NC State Board of Elections expressed concern about the tallying procedures when approved on Oct 28, 2010 in the middle of the election.

So, the instant runoff voting chickens have come home to roost. Proponents often have compared IRV voting to ranking different flavors of ice cream. They called it "progressive". Well, the "progressive" IRV chickens have come home to roost in NC, and those flavors taste like sawdust.

Judge Thigpen wants Appeals race recount
December 9, 2010 Raleigh News & Observer ...Spokesman Reid Overcash says Thigpen wants to make sure the count was performed properly because instructions may have been confusing to county officials.

Editorial: Instant runoff failure
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2010 (Updated 3:02 am)
North Carolina’s first try at statewide Instant Runoff Voting didn’t work out very well, except for Doug McCullough.

The second-place finisher in last month’s special election for a Court of Appeals seat apparently ended up winning. Although McCullough trailed Judge Cressie Thigpen by 100,000 votes Nov. 2, he gained enough second- and third-ballot votes to overtake Thigpen’s lead, pending a recount.

The outcome should convince legislators that this experiment failed and should be abandoned.

The goal, ironically, was to produce a more credible result in this sort of situation. The special election was called because a vacancy occurred on the Court of Appeals in August, far too late to schedule a primary. The last time a similar situation came up was in 2004 when a seat opened on the Supreme Court. Eight candidates filed to run, and Paul Newby won with only 23 percent of the vote. The legislature drafted a new law seeking to produce a larger mandate.

This time, the special election drew 13 candidates. Voters were asked to indicate a first, second and third choice — an exercise that surely taxed their familiarity with the relatively little-known contenders.

Only the first-choice votes were tallied Nov. 2: Thigpen received 20 percent and McCullough 15 percent. They advanced to a second round of counting.

Election officials added the second- and third-choice votes county by county. A mere five weeks after the election, a tentative result was reached. To help promote transparency, the State Board of Elections should release all vote totals so the public can see exactly how it came about.

Proponents of this experimental system say that 20 percent should not elect someone for such an important office. The additional second- and third-choice votes also indicate public support, they say. As things stand now, however, a candidate with just 15 percent of the vote has won. Only by giving second- and third-choice votes as much weight as first-choice votes can McCullough claim more public support than Thigpen.It’s simply not a democratic principle that a second or third preference counts as much as a first.

Fortunately, McCullough and Thigpen both are well-qualified for the position. Both have experience on the court. And Gov. Bev Perdue, who gave Thigpen a temporary appointment in August, can appoint him to fill another vacancy on the court — and should.

The best way to handle such vacancies would be for the governor to appoint a replacement who would serve until the next regular election two years later.

Short of that option, a special election ought to be decided more directly: Voters should cast a single vote for the candidate of their choice, and the candidate with the most votes wins. Having a candidate win with only 20 percent of the vote is a more acceptable outcome than having him lose to a candidate with 15 percent

Will a recount change the outcome? It could if some counties made errors in sorting, allocating, eliminating and re-shuffling the 2nd or 3rd choice votes. We saw how in Cary, NC in 2007 that officials had trouble tallying just 3,000 ballots correctly. How hard would it be to tally 2.4 million ballots cast in 100 different counties with different voting systems, correctly? With The saving grace is that the "winner" of the election is very qualified. The bad news is that this election method does not inspire confidence in the outcome and does not provide a majority winner, i.e 50% + 1 of the votes.

NC was fooled into using this convoluted chaotic non transparent boutique style election method. Lets not be fools again.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Instant runoff voting shocker-Thigpen loses 100,000 lead, is 6,700 behind

Incumbent Judge Cressie Thigpen had a 100,000 vote lead in the statewide IRV contest for NC Court of Appeals. He's lost that lead thanks to IRV votes and now is 6,700 votes behind. Although this was non partisan contest, voter education fell to the political parties mostly, because IRV was touted as a cost saving measure.

Monday Dec 6 2010 McCullough overtakes Thigpen in NC court race
AP News. RALEIGH, N.C. -- Nearly complete results from the instant runoff race for the North Carolina Court of Appeals show the second-place candidate overtaking the leading candidate from the first round of voting.
State elections director Gary Bartlett said Doug McCullough had a roughly 6,700-vote lead over incumbent Cressie Thigpen with counting complete in 99 of the 100 counties. The only one left - Warren County - didn't have enough votes cast to turn the race back to Thigpen.
If the race stays close, Thigpen would have until Thursday to ask for a recount.

Voters initially ranked up to three candidates among 13 who ran on Election Day. Thigpen was the top recipient of first-place votes - 100,000 more than McCullough. But McCullough caught up with second- and third-place votes.

DEMS did a poor job on voter ed, GOP did much better job. DEMS were told to bullet vote, to rank Thigpen 1st and 3rd, and other crazy stuff. Some voters mistakenly ranked 2 or more candidates in the first column. State funded voter ed was meager SBE flier to households. (Since IRV is easy as 1-2-3).

The winner will serve an 8 year term. The tallying method was error prone and risky. We have no way to know if vote tallies were accurate.

The irony is that IRV was pushed by Democrats and thanks to their reform, the democrat lost. The North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting can now say - be careful what you ask for and "We told you so".

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