Saturday, August 29, 2009

Aspen WILL reconsider Instant Runoff Voting in November.

This November Aspen voters will get to vote on whether to keep or ditch instant runoff voting. Aspen voters and officials have experienced IRV first hand, the good and the bad.
Aspen's City Council has agreed to put the issue on the ballot this November- keep or ditch IRV.
Instant runoff voting is clunky - it is like trying to put a square tire on a car. Some voters and officials expressed a lack of confidence in how instant runoff voting elections are administered. Also, some felt that IRV deprived voters of the chance to learn more about candidates and to choose from the top two frontrunners.

Aspen didn't know how to run an IRV election so the city hired a private company, TrueBallot to tally the votes. Then TrueBallot programmed the voting software incorrectly. This error was later found and TrueBallot re-programmed the software with the right algorithm, re-tallied the votes and came up with new results. Here are several articles about the lead up to Aspen's decision, also link to the blog by Harvie Branscomb who is part of an independent group auditing the election:

Aspen voters to weigh in on election method
August 25, 2009. ASPEN — Aspen residents will be asked this November an advisory question on whether they want to continue using Instant Runoff Voting in municipal elections.The Aspen City Council on Monday unanimously passed a resolution that will place a question on the November ballot that asks voters to weigh in on the city's first-ever IRV election method, conducted this past May for the seats of the mayor and two council members...Some council members have said in the past that they didn't have enough confidence in, or an understanding of, the IRV process.

Show us our ballots!
Letter to the Editor Friday, August 21, 2009Editor:Is this Iran? I implore you to assign a reporter to investigate the issue of why the city refuses to let the public see CDs of the anonymous ballot images from the May election....Ballots are anonymous, and not personal. What is the city’s real objective here after hailing their “transparency” for this election?

Whose election is this anyway? BY HARVIE BRANSCOMB AND AL KOLWICZ Friday, August 21, 2009...The city says trust: but don’t verify....The record of the collective intent of the voters is contained on ballots and on a disk which, although made for the purpose of transparency, is being withheld from the public- locked away in the “ballot box.” (cached version)

Secret ballots: A matter of law
August 21, 2009 The city of Aspen has not released the ballots or images of the ballots for the 2009 spring election because we have a legal responsibility rooted in the state constitution, statutes and Supreme Court decisions to protect every citizen’s right to a secret ballot.

Make the ballots public
If I may quote the actor Slim Pickens from the Mel Brooks movie “Blazing Saddles,” “What in the wide wide world of sports is going on around here?”...Marks and Branscomb should be granted their request, knowing the facts stated above and that the city issued a press release on May 28 stating that there were errors in tabulations of the mayoral race exposed by TrueBallot (the company that ran the election).

Aspen May 5 2009 IRV Election Review
This is a blog by Harvie Branscomb, a computer expert and e-voting activist.
You will find reports, analysis and videos related to the Aspen IRV election.

Minnesota group takes aim at Aspen’s election
August 19. A Minnesota group which says instant runoff voting is unconstitutional said it plans to file a federal lawsuit challenging Aspen’s May election and the voting system it used. “This is the essence of the main argument against IRV — your vote can be changed in its value and effect by the votes cast by others,”

Do you think Aspen City Council should disclose the ballots from last May’s election? (Poll)

City sticks to position not to release ballots
August 12, 2009...Aspen for the first time used an instant runoff voting system in the May election, which required complex software to count the ballots. Branscomb said he is interested in a full analysis of the election that could be shared with other communities who might be interested in some of Aspen’s tactics.

What's the secret behind ballots?
The city should err on the side of openness and disclosure. An honest review of the IRV process is in everyone's best interest, regardless of political affiliation, and refusing to release the ballots makes it look like the city is either stonewalling a political opponent or trying to hide something.

It's all about transparency
August 8...Despite that on election night in May, each anonymous ballot was projected during scanning for the public to see, the city no longer considers these ballot images to be public information...The ballot images are required by a team of Colorado election quality experts undertaking an Independent Review of our May election....Voters request the opportunity to change the charter in November to again allow the traditional style of elections with subsequent run-offs

Aspen voters to vote on how they vote — again
July 22, 2009.
The Aspen City Council on Tuesday agreed to put an advisory question to voters on the fall ballot on whether the IRV election method — a system never tried before in Aspen until this past May — should be scrapped or kept in place.

Instant runoff voting going back to voters
Aspen voters will most likely see a question on this November’s ballot to gauge support of instant runoff voting....Aspen’s IRV election also suffered an after-the-fact setback when it was discovered that a glitch in the software used to count the votes resulted in 16 fewer votes going to Mick Ireland than should have.

Premier AccuVote Machines Missed 0.4% of Ballots in Aspen (CO) Elections
Error’s discovery shows value of redundant ballot-counting methods
By Terrill Bouricius, FairVote Senior Analyst

June 5, 2009 Instant Runoff Virus errors found in Aspen vote totals They incorrectly used Cambridge voting rules and software in Aspen...It took two weeks to detect these problems. But what about the fact that TrueBallot was allowed to use the wrong software for the job? How come no one in Aspen made sure the correct software was being used before hand?

June 4 Aspen City Council Race---Non-monotonicity Examined On-going debate about the Aspen Colorado Instant Runoff Voting election.

June 1, 2009 Aspen Instant Runoff a Lemon? IRV Leaves Bitter Aftertaste

May 23, 2009 Has the Aspen Election Commission certified the May IRV elections?

May 23, 2009 Was Aspen Colorado Election a South Park Plot? Pulling Votes Out of Asspen

May 23, 2009 Votes aren't the only things being pulled out of someone's "Asspen"!

May 20, 2009 "Street Football" or how they crossed the threshold by pulling votes out of their "Asspen"!

May 18, 2009 Aspen IRV makes my head hurt!

May 7, 2009 Aspen Instant Runoff Election - spoiled ballots, voter confusion, corners cut