Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Unholy Alliance of Instant Runoff Group and Internet Voting Vendor

Will the push for Instant Runoff Voting incentivize Internet Voting? One thing about Instant Runoff Voting - it is so complex to count that advocates are desperate to find a system that can handle it. Jurisdictons that adopt IRV find that their voting machines can't count it. That has led to places like Pierce County Washington and San Francisco CA to the use voting systems that don't meet their state standards. How can IRV be spread if it is so darned hard to count?

So what to do if spreading IRV is your #1 objective? Fair Vote, the number one advocate for Instant Runoff Voting has partnered with the internet voting company "Everyone Counts" (E1C). Brad Friedman, long time verified voting activist and journalist wrote about the company "Everyone Counts" that just ran the internet election in Honolulu Hawaii here:

5/28/2009 12:20PM Virtually Voting: Bush's U.S. EAC Chair Cashes In to Head Company Running 'All-Digital' Elections Paul DeGregorio's 'Everyone Counts' was paid to carry out fully unverifiable, unsecure Internet, phone election in HonoluluVoter participation plummets 83% to boot...
Yesterday Brad blogged about how the spread of Instant Runoff Voting threatens democracy by making elections more complex in a time when we still can't count simple votes. Brad mentions internet voting in this blog too.

*Brad Friedman * on 6/2/2009 1:38PM 'Instant Runoff Voting' (IRV) Election Virus Spreads to Los Angeles County Joins 'Internet Voting' and 'Vote-by-Mail' schemes as the latest bad ideas poised to further cripple American democracy

For that matter, unless, and until, we can simplify our election procedures such that any and all citizens are able to oversee and verify the accuracy of their election results, no jurisdiction in this country should employ schemes like IRV, no matter how well-meaning supporters of it may be in hoping to allow a broader range of candidates and parties to have a shot at winning an election.

Along with the emerging nightmares of Internet Voting and
IRV is yet another one of the horrible wack-a-mole
schemes being endlessly advanced by advocates and profiteers who put winning elections and making money off them, over the idea of transparent, verifiable, secure democracy and self-governance expressed of the people, by the people and for the people.

Indeed, it would be much easier to hold IRV elections over the internet. Fair Vote helped the Arizona Libertarian Party run their primary over the internet in 2008. Computer scientist Dan Wallach blogged about it at Freedom to Tinker:

Internet Voting By Dan Wallach - Posted on February 4th, 2008 (or, how I learned to stop worrying and love having the whole world know exactly how I voted)

The recent push for internet voting prompted yet another public warning by computer scientists : See OP at Huffington Post where Dr. Barbara Simons rebuts a pro internet voting piece published by Huffington Post ("America's Newest State Holds America's Newest Election").

Barbara Simons: The Internet and Voting: Worth Doing Right (co-written with Dr. Justin Moore).
...It was written by E1C executive Aaron Contorer and is effectively a marketing piece for E1C that exaggerates the scope of the election, overlooks or insults other election methods, and glosses over the formidable technical challenges and dangers posed by the electronic submission of voted ballots.

...In response to multiple efforts to allow voting over the Internet in major elections, many of our nation's prominent technology experts have signed a statement cautioning against adopting Internet-based voting systems without first understanding and guarding against the numerous and well-documented dangers...

Instant Runoff Voting has incentivized computerized vote counting where there was none - like in Scotland and encouraged the use of uncertified software in some US jurisdictions. A nightmare like tabulation system has been proposed for the IRV pilot for Hendersonville NC for the 2008 multi seat contest.See July 17, 2008 Instant Runoff - If I Were Crazy, I'd Count Votes THIS Way

Its hard to count IRV. At the 2008 Federal Election Assistance Commission Roundtable, Fair Vote Director, Rob Richie advised that: "for instant runoff voting, or preferential voting methods, it often bangs up against the fact that voting equipment isn't flexible enough to handle these voting methods....

Instant Runoff Voting Fails to Meet its Hype , violates the KISS principle, increases the information burden on voters, and makes the election process less transparent. If the objective of an election process is to discern the will of the voters, then that process must be the simplest, most enfranchising method for all voters.