Elections director says instant runoff tallies could take weeks to count
by 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 http://www.votersunite.org/ 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.
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June 27, 2008
Instant runoff forces Pierce County Washington to use uncertified voting systems