Friday, May 29, 2009

IRV Carpetbaggers target Nebraska, South Carolina papers - misinfo abounds

Warning! Carpet baggers are heading to a town near you with Instant Runoff Voting talking points and misinfo. Just this May, Nebraska and South Carolina papers ran twin - pro instant runoff voting Op Eds for Fair Vote Director Rob Richie and local "co author". These twin opeds contain many of the same inaccuracies. The "co-authors" apparently did little more than allow their name to be signed to the OpEds. RR had to get local "co-authors" as the papers usually won't run OPs written by out of staters. That policy is intended to prevent carpet bagging. Is Instant Runoff Voting really a good idea if promoters have to use mis-leading talking points? Here are the "twin" op/eds:

May 5th 2009 Larry R. Bradley and Rob Richie:
To increase voter turnout, try a more efficient election process Omaha World-Herald Op-ed by author Larry Bradley and FairVote Executive Director Rob Richie on why Omaha should dump its low turnout primaries in favor of instant runoff voting....

May 21st 2009 Herbkersman, Richie:
Time to run off runoffs The State Runoffs after primaries can mean big plunges in voter turnout. Rob Richie and SC State Rep. Bill Herbkersman explain how IRV can achieve both majority consensus and eliminate separate, expensive runoffs....
See Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette link to view article and post comments
See The State
link to view article and post comments

Most claims in the PRO IRV OpEdS are wrong.

1. SC's voting machines DO NOT have the software to tabulate IRV. I called the South Carolina election commission on May 28 to verify that fact.
2.IRV DOES NOT SAVE MONEY. IRV has hidden but very expensive costs. See fiscal analysis by other states
3.North Carolina DID NOT adopt IRV. NC lawmakers set up a voluntary pilot for IRV, and only one town in all of NC has volunteered for 09. Cary NC tried it in 07 but City Council voted not to do it this year.
4. IRV often fails to find a majority winner and often the final winner is the same candidate who had most votes in the first round. See majority failure
5. Roberts Rules does not recommend IRV. See Roberts Rules explained
6. The South Carolina and Nebraska OPs are near clones, yet co-authored by two different people and contain the same misinformation. Just a few data are changed.

Just say NO to IRV Kool-Aid. Read more about IRV at these links:
Minnesota Voters Alliance

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Instant Runoff Voting is alot like Fizzbin

Instant Runoff Voting is quite simple, really, alot like the game Fizzbin. Fizzbin is a card game that was the center of a Star Trek episode. There are striking parallels to IRV counting procedures. Captain James T. Kirk explains the rules of the game, "its simple really...". Spock helps explain how to win.

"On Beta Antares 4, they play a real game, a mans game.. Its probably a little beyond you, it requires real intelligence.....of course the cards on Beta and Tarius 4 are a little different... each player gets 6 cards except for the dealer.. the second card is turned up except on Tuesday....Spock, what are the odds of getting a Royal Fizzbin?...."

Kirk explains Fizzbin, and if you understand Fizzbin, you will have no trouble understanding instant runoff voting. The rules are quite simple, really, and its a mans game. It gets a little rough near the end of the video.....

And like many reasons in support of IRV, it is made up, and in the end, just when you think you understand it, you get punched in the face.

You can read more about Fizzbin rules at this wikipedia article.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Was Aspen Colorado Election a South Park Plot? Pulling Votes Out of Asspen

First - time - everrr. Instant runoff voting as part of a South Park plot. This is the very first time I've seen a blog use the word "Ass" and the cartoon "South Park" in order to make a point about election transparency. Election integrity advocate Chris Telesca finds actual parallels in a South Park episode AND the recent Aspen Colorado instant runoff voting election.

Joyce McCloy, Kathy Dopp, and the folks at RangeVoting have posted a link to an open letter to Fair(yTale)Vote's Rob Richie in response to Rob's puff piece at the Huffington Post entitled "Good Things Come to Those Who Rank: Campaign Finance, Political Dialogue, and Instant Runoff Voting" (does that make it a "huff piece"?) from Marilyn Marks - one of the candidates in the recent Aspen Co IRV race. ....

....They stopped counting as soon as they got 1273 - which is why the winners in three different races have exactly the same number of winning votes. IRV advocate Terry Boricious claims that is Cambridge IRV rules, but it seems more like "street football" (comedy routine by Bill Cosby, where he who brings the football makes the rules). I say this is pulling votes out of your "Asspen" (funny "South Park" episode which you can watch here). If you have seen the episode - do you recognize any link between the timeshare organization that seems to control everything and the folks and organizations pushing IRV?

How can this possibly be a smooth election where IRV proved anything other than how complicated it is in the first place?

The first "instant runoff voting" election in Aspen Colorado was touted as a "success" by IRV advocate Rob Richie. How successful was the election? Weird stuff happened. In three different contests, the three different winners got exactly the same number of votes each, 1,273. Considering that the 3 different candidates did not all "go" the same number of "rounds", how can this be? Although IRV was sold as a happy -happy - feel - good sort of election method, (much the way some Jonestown folks thought of Kool-aid until Jim Jones served up a special flavor one day) many candidates and voters ended up feeling rather disturbed by the election method
How was this election decided? By Election Voodoo.

For Mayor
Mick Ireland (4) 0 1273 ELECTED -- 4th round

For Council Seat 1 - ttp://
Council Seat 1 Round 4.htm ROUND 4 -- Jack Johnson (2) has been DEFEATED -- transferring all votes.
Derek Johnson (8) +40 1273 ELECTED -- 4th round For Council Seat 2\und3.htm
ROUND 3 -- Michael Behrendt (5) has been DEFEATED -- transferring all votes. CANDIDATE THIS ROUND TOTAL STATUS
Torre (4) +200 1273 ELECTED -- 3rd round

Minnesota IRV elections may take month to count - not so instant after all

Citizens of Minneapolis are learning that instant runoff voting isn't instant, nor is it "as easy as 1-2-3." after all. It looks like IRV advocates will get what they want - the happy - happy - feel - good Instant Runoff Voting. But it will take weeks to find out who the winners of the election are, according to the City's election director. Gee, we could have told them that, it took Two and a half weeks to count Instant Runoff Voting in Pierce Co and San Francisco . Good thing that Minneapolis has so many breweries, the city council and mayor may need something to treat their anxiety during the long wait for results. The next step ( it always happens) is for IRV advocates to push for uncertified voting software, to make IRV seem more instant. (There is no federally certified software in the US).

Elections director says instant runoff tallies could take weeks to count
Curtis Gilbert, Minnesota Public RadioMay 21, 2009

Members of the Minneapolis City Council found out today that they'll likely have to wait a month or more after election day to find out whether they win re-election this year. City elections officials estimate it will take between 30 and 60 days -- working 8-hours-a-day, 7-daysa-week -- to tally ballots under the city's new instant runoff voting system.

Minneapolis — Up until this year, Minneapolis residents have voted for mayor, city council, park board and other municipal offices the old fashioned way. You choose your favorite candidate and vote for him or her. Whoever gets the most votes wins. But that's all going to change.

With instant runoff voting, you can cast your ballot for a first-choice candidate, a second-choice and a third. Counting those ballots is a complicated and time-consuming process; it involves a series of rounds, called runoffs. The city's vote-counting machines will be able to help a little bit, but most of the work has to be done by hand.

...Ostrow said, at this point, he would vote to delay instant runoff voting until there are machines to handle the counting. But he said he's in the minority on the city council.

IRV is hard to count by hand, because it is not additive. You can't just add up vote totals for candidates. Each individual ballot has to be considered and votes are allocated and re-allocated. It is very complex. If it is this hard to count by hand, do you really trust computers to get it right, given that there's so many problems with electronic vote counting now?

If you are unaware of the problems with computerized vote counting, then visit the website for electronic vote counting problems and failed elections 101.

Cary, North Carolina, the city with the most Ph.D.s per capita in the U.S. for towns larger than 75,000 people - tried IRV in October 2007. Cary saw the front end and back end of IRV, and based on the results - did not choose IRV again.

Just Say No to Instant Runoff Voting. Don't Drink the Kool-Aid!

May 6, 2009 Instant Runoff Voting Retreats in North Carolina
May 2, 2009 Instant Runoff? No. Cary votes to keep traditional runoff elections
May 2, 2009 Cary News: In our opinion: IRV too risky
April 29, 2009 Instant runoff voting is a trojan horse - letter by Voting activist to Cary Town Council
April 25, 2009 Real reason instant runoff voting being pushed in North Carolina
April 17, 2009 IRV groups push method that makes ballot box stuffing easier
April 7, 2009 Durham Community leaders oppose Instant Runoff Voting at City Council Meeting
March 23, 2009 Fake Instant Runoff Voting for Hendersonville NC in 2009? No One Asked the Voters Yet
August 29, 2008 North Carolina: Instant Runoff Voting is no solution, says election official who was there
August 18, 2008 Instant Runoff North Carolina: There Is No IRV Software For North Carolina's Voting Machines
June 27, 2008
Instant runoff forces Pierce County Washington to use uncertified voting systems

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crushing defeat for Single Transferable Vote (STV) in British Columbia

61% of the voters gave a thumbs down for STV, Single Transferrable Vote, a ranking method. Voters intead preferred the traditional election method known as FPTP, or First Past the Post. Fair Vote is the group pushing STV in Canada, and pushing election methods they label IRV/Instant runoff voting - in the United States. British Columbia just dodged a bullet, where STV and IRV go, computerized voting soon follows. The NO STV campaign was won fairly, the provincial government funded the opponents and proponents of STV, giving each $500,000 for their campaigns.

NEWS RELEASE Tuesday May 12, 2009
NO STV pleased and relieved that Single Transferable Vote proposal defeated in May 12 provincial referendum

VANCOUVER – NO STV, the group opposing the Single Transferable Vote, is pleased and relieved that British Columbia voters have rejected the STV proposal in the May 12 provincial referendum on electoral systems.
NO STV President Bill Tieleman said tonight that voters have spoken clearly in the second referendum on the STV.

As of 11 pm Tuesday, the results stood at 61 per cent in favour of maintaining the current First Past The Post system.

“NO STV said throughout this referendum campaign that the Single Transferable Vote was a bad idea for British Columbia and tonight voters agreed,” Tieleman said. “Our strategy was to give voters as much information as possible about the problems with STV and let them decide for themselves – that worked.”

NO STV Secretary-Treasurer David Schreck said the vote marks an end to debate about STV.

“Whether the province continues with our current First Past The Post electoral system or considers other alternatives, it is clear that STV is no longer an option,” Schreck said.

Shreck said NO STV has no position as an organization on future discussion of electoral reform but that some of its supporters believe there are other systems better than either STV or FPTP.

“It is now up to the provincial government and opposition to listen to British Columbians and respond democratically and openly to their views,” he said.
NO STV Vice-President Rick Dignard gave credit to British Columbians for BC-STV for running a strong campaign and encouraging public debate about our electoral process.

“Regardless of the rejection of STV, this referendum has energized discussion of our democratic institutions and that can only be positive,” said Dignard, a former BC Citizens Assembly representative for the Sunshine Coast who disagreed with the Assembly’s majority recommendation of STV in 2004.
NO STV’s other directors include former Social Credit cabinet minister Bruce Strachan and Vision Vancouver city councilor Andrea Reimer, a former Green Party Vancouver school trustee.

Other active members include former provincial deputy minister Bob Plecas, former NDP cabinet minister Anne Edwards, former Citizens Assembly member Jyoti Gill, Trinity Western University political science professor John Redekop and business owner Paul Gill.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Aspen Instant Runoff Election - spoiled ballots, voter confusion, corners cut

The theme for the Aspen Instant Runoff Election is voter confusion, mis-marked ballots, spoiled ballots, security measures ignored including some ballot boxes not sealed. Some voters frankly disliked the system, although others did like it. Voters did not understand how the election results were tallied , so how can they have confidence in the results? 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. That is not IRV.

Aspen’s instant runoff voting quick but confusing
Janet Urquhart The Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN — Aspen chose a mayor and two City Council members Tuesday in an election that left plenty of voters confused at the polls and equally mystified as the ballots were tallied in televised proceedings late into the evening.The city’s first use of instant runoff voting, which eliminated the need for a June runoff election, got mixed reviews at the polls. And the whirlwind runoffs after three hours of tallying votes left plenty of observers at a loss to explain exactly how the results were tabulated...

Aspen's first use of instant runoff voting for Tuesday's election featured a display of ballots on a screen at City Hall as they were scanned by the system. Only the first and second choices on this ballot were counted; it was invalidated in the third round of runoff voting because the voter ranked two different candidates as their third choice.
...Marks, who raised a number of concerns with instant runoff voting, and said the city’s test of the system on Monday was inadequate, said early in the evening that she was unsure if she’d challenge the new system.“Even if I win, I might still challenge it — it’s so messed up,” she said.
Voters apparently found the runoff ballots — which asked them to rank the four mayoral candidates and nine council candidates in order of preference — confusing. There were 168 spoiled ballots Tuesday; two is typical, said City Clerk Kathryn Koch.
Voters exiting Aspen’s Precinct 1 polling place Tuesday afternoon voiced decidedly mixed views on their first experience with instant runoff voting, or IRV. Some called the method confusing and others objected to a process that encouraged them to vote for candidates they didn’t actually want to win.
To ensure their ballot counted with each round of a runoff, voters were better off ranking all of the candidates rather than just those they hoped would prevail. Some mistakenly believed they were required to rank all of the candidates.

...Election judge Cindy Christensen reported plenty of miscues, including voters who forgot to cast a vote on the Aspen Art Museum question, placed at the bottom of the one-page ballot, apparently because they got caught up in ranking up to nine City Council candidates. Others gave both of their top picks for the council a No. 1 ranking, which invalidated the ballot.

“We’ve had quite a few spoiled ballots,” she said. Voters had up to three tries to fill out a ballot the scanning machine would accept. No one had required all three attempts by late afternoon, though, getting it right on the second try — usually after the first ballot was rejected because a voter ranked both of their top council choices as No. 1 picks instead of ranking one first and one second.

“I hate it. It’s very confusing,” said one voter emerging from Precinct 1 who declined to cast runoff votes. Instead, she voted for one mayoral candidate and her two choices for the two open council seats.

Others did the same, squandering their say in the runoff, should their top picks fail to win a seat.

Mark Lee said he voted for just one mayoral candidate and two council candidates, though he prefers instant runoff voting to returning to the polls in June for a runoff election.

“I know who I want and I don’t like any of the others,” he said, explaining why he didn’t rank candidates beyond the minimum.

“I didn’t like it,” said another woman. “I just want to vote for who I think is it. I didn’t like voting this way.”....

Here's more about the voter confusion, the costs, also one mayoral candidate hoping that "rules" were followed next time:

Aspen voter turnout breaks record
Aspenites come out in force to elect council members Carolyn SackariasonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado Wednesday, May 6, 2009

...Tuesday’s election generated increased attention because of a new election system that had voters rank their preferences for all 13 candidates so an instant runoff could be held.

While many voters were confused about how to fill out the ballot and how the results were tabulated, Koch said the election administrators, True Ballot Inc., who were contracted with the city for $7,500, plus additional costs, did a good job explaining how the system worked.

However, there are critics of the instant runoff voting method, like mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks. She questions whether all of the rules and procedures were followed to the letter of the law.

“I hope in the future we pay attention to our election laws a bit closer,” Marks said Wednesday.

About Aspen Colorado:

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the city population was 5,804 in 2005
Founded as a mining camp in the Colorado Silver Boom and named because of the abundance of aspen trees in the area, the city is now a ski resort and an upscale tourist center.

Its per capita income is among the highest in the U.S. In the late 20th century the average home price reached approximately $6 million and the city developed as an off-beat haven for celebrities, attracting such people as John Denver (who wrote several folk songs about the town, including "Aspenglow", and "Starwood in Aspen") and Hunter S. Thompson.

...As of the census of 2000...The racial makeup of the city was 94.94% White, 0.44% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.45% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.64% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. 6.14% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.