Monday, December 6, 2010

NC's crazy instant runoff election-Thigpen was ahead by 100,000 loses by 6,700

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".

Sunday, November 28, 2010

California. On the perils of 'Instant runoff' voting - a blindfold and a dartboard

Ranked choice voting or random choice voting? San Francisco has used instant runoff voting since 2004. They and other jurisdictions quickly renamed it "ranked-choice" voting. Oakland and San Leandro used it for the first time this November. Apparently there's never enough voter education with IRV, it is costly and doesn't reach enough people. Even the elite don't get it. John Diaz of the Chronicle says: "Voter confusion is a serious problem with "ranked-choice" voting.

On the perils of 'Instant runoff' voting
A blindfold and a dartboard

Berkeley resident David Reid decided to take a poll this fall on his daily walks, with poodles Lucy and Dora, in the city's Rose Garden neighborhood. How many of his neighbors in this upscale and well-educated swath of Berkeley, he wondered, understood how the new ranked-choice voting system worked?

"I asked city officials, academics, writers ... none of them understood it," said Reid, editor and an author of the 1994 book "Sex, Death and God in L.A."

"Don Perata certainly didn't," Reid added.

Perata's defeat by Jean Quan in the Oakland mayoral race was merely the highest-profile oddity in the ranked-choice results from the Nov. 2 elections in Alameda County and San Francisco. Perata was the first choice of 33.7 percent of Oakland voters, far ahead of Quan's 24.4 percent.

But once the computer started culling the field, dropping the last-place finisher and transferring second- and third-place votes to the remaining candidates, Quan emerged as a narrow winner. Quan appeared to have benefited from the "anybody but Don" strategy employed by her and fellow Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan.

Advocates of ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, like to claim that the system encourages more positive, substantive campaigns than a traditional runoff election between the top two finishers. In this case, however, the winning strategy was simplistic and decidedly negative.

Results in Oakland, the San Leandro mayor's race and two races for San Francisco supervisor proved every bit as "topsy-turvy" as Anthony Gottlieb warned in a scathing critique of ranked-choice voting in the July 26 New Yorker.

"They are what mathematicians call 'non-monotonic,' which means that something can go up when it should go down, or vice versa," Gottlieb wrote.

Perata, San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos and San Francisco supervisor candidates Janet Reilly (District 2) and Tony Kelly (District 10) all had the most first-place votes - and ended up losing.

Some of them might have lost in a traditional runoff, but it would have been through a democratic process - with the candidates forced to build coalitions with the also-rans, and, most important, all voters having the opportunity to decide between the two finalists.

Under ranked-choice voting, the resolution can become the equivalent of a blindfolded shot at a dartboard.

In San Francisco District 10, centered in the southeast Bayview district, ultimate winner Malia Cohen received just 11.8 percent of first-place votes and would not have qualified for a top-two runoff. Nineteen rounds later, after 19 candidates were eliminated, Cohen scored a narrow victory over Kelly - the candidate with the most first-place votes.

FairVote, a Takoma Park, Md., group that is promoting ranked-choice voting, issued an analysis of the District 10 race that bravely but unconvincingly attempted to characterize the system as a success and declaring Cohen the "strongest candidate" because of her ability to collect second- and third-choice votes. FairVote's analysis predicted that a December runoff (San Francisco's old system) would have produced "mudslinging and hack attack campaigning."

Perhaps. It is at least as likely that a runoff between the top two finishers would have drawn out meaningful differences between the candidates. In 2006, voters in San Francisco's Sunset District might have learned that Ed Jew (first-place choice of 26.2 percent) did not even live in the district. He prevailed in the ranked-choice runoff - and received jail time for his residency deception.

Voter confusion is a serious problem with ranked-choice voting. Forty percent of voters in San Francisco's District 10 did not list three choices for supervisor. Mayor Gavin Newsom acknowledged that he voted for the same candidate for supervisor three times. His mistake was spotted by a poll worker. Voters who make such an error on mail-in ballots do not get a chance to correct them.

The fatal flaw with ranked-choice voting is that voters whose top three choices do not make the final cut are effectively disenfranchised. This injustice was highlighted in District 10 - the ballots of the majority of people who cast a vote in that race had been disqualified when it came to the final choice between Cohen and Kelly. Cohen's winning "majority" represented less than a quarter of all votes cast in the race.

A system that confuses and disenfranchises voters is fundamentally undemocratic. Voters here should do what those in Burlington, Vt., did after two mayoral elections: Scrap this experiment in ranked-choice voting.

Ranked-choice voting: How it works

-- Voters rank their top three choices in order of preference.

-- If a candidate wins a majority, he or she is declared the winner.

-- If no candidate wins a majority, the candidate who received the fewest first-place votes is eliminated - and votes for the second choice of the eliminated candidate's voters (at least for those who named a second choice) are counted in the next round.

-- The process continues, eliminating the lowest-scoring candidate each round, until a candidate reaches a majority. The "instant runoff" for San Francisco's District 10 supervisor's race, which had 21 candidates, went 19 rounds.

John Diaz is The Chronicle's editorial page editor. E-mail:

This article appeared on page E - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

They adopted instant runoff voting but renamed it ranked choice voting

Several jurisdictions in the US have adopted instant runoff voting but quickly changed the name to ranked choice voting. The term instant runoff voting is a misleading one, it implies the same results as a runoff and instantly so. San Franciso, Minneapolis Minnesota and Pierce County Washington all adopted instant runoff voting but renamed it.

San Francisco:

11/5/2004 'Ranked-choice voting' experiment hits tech snag [1]
By Lisa Leff, Associated Press
Even before Tuesday's election, Arntz had warned it could take up to three weeks for his staff to complete and double-check the vote tallying process. Under state law, the department has until Nov. 30 to certify the election.

Wednesday's glitch nevertheless was received as a minor public relations setback for the new system approved by San Francisco residents in March 2002. Back then, the pioneering experiment was referred to by its catchier synonym, "instant-runoff voting." City officials switched names a few months ago when they realized there wouldn't be much particularly instantaneous about it.

November 11, 2010 "Garcia: Ranked-choice voting an undemocratic nightmare" [2]
By: Ken Garcia Examiner Staff Writer
“We made a decision long ago not to call it instant runoff voting,” said John Arntz, chief of The City’s Elections Department, “because obviously there is no instant runoff.”
Minneapolis, Minnesota:
2/2009 Ranked Choice Voting [3]
City of Minneapolis website. Updates on Planning and Implementation

City of Minneapolis 2/2009: Although it has commonly been referred to as Instant Runoff Voting, abbreviated “IRV”, we will be referring to this method in the future as “Ranked Choice Voting.” The term “Ranked Choice” more accurately reflects the process voters will use to rank candidates in single and multi-seat offices. Also “Ranked Choice” does not promise “instant” results from the process. Historical documents will not be renamed to reflect this name change.

Pierce County, Washington:
"Ranked Choice Voting Explained" [4]
Pierce County Auditor website
Why Ranked Choice Voting?
In November of 2006, the voters of Pierce County approved Instant Runoff Voting, which provides that the election of all county officials, except judges and the Prosecuting Attorney be conducted using instant runoff voting. All qualifying candidates will appear directly on the general election ballot.

Please note that from this point forward this method of voting will be referred to as 'Ranked Choice Voting'. The first Ranked Choice Voting election was held on November 4, 2008.


[1]11/5/2004 'Ranked-choice voting' experiment hits tech snag
By Lisa Leff, Associated Press

[2] November 11, 2010 "Garcia: Ranked-choice voting an undemocratic nightmare"
By: Ken Garcia Examiner Staff Writer

[3] 2/2009 Ranked Choice Voting
City of Minneapolis website. Updates on Planning and Implementation

[4] "Ranked Choice Voting Explained"
Pierce County Auditor website

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oakland instant runoff voting on Nov 2 - interview with voters - video

How did Oakland voters feel about instant runoff voting, also called ranked-choice voting? Here is a news update and also a video interview by an observer.

Oakland spent $3.51 per voter in targeted areas to educate them on RCV. Many voters were still confused.

Oakland voters flock to polls, struggle with ranked-choice voting
By Scott Johnson and Janis Mara. Oakland Tribune Posted: 11/02/2010

OAKLAND -- As Oaklanders cast their ballots today, one of the hottest subjects is not the issues and the candidates, but the method of voting, a new ranked-choice system used in the mayoral race.
Diana Toutjian, 57, a native Oaklander who attended Piedmont Avenue as a kindergartner, was baffled by the system. She didn't understand how it worked, and voted three times for the same candidate. This means her second and third votes won't count. "They should have had a red box there to explain what we were supposed to do," Toutjian said.

Most of the polling stations are staffed with workers who canvass voters about the system and help them if they have questions. Even so, some remained at sea about the process.

"I thought it was stupid," said Mary Johnson, 29, a graphic designer, who left the polling place at the East Bay Chinese Alliance Church confused by the whole experience. "I planned on coming in and voting for one person, and it forced me into putting someone else's name down. It felt sneaky."
"I guess it's all right," said another voter, Kitty Scott, a Department of Motor Vehicles employee, "But it's nothing to jump up and shout about. I read a lot, but did I understand it all? NO! Hopefully I made the right choice...."

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pierce Co WA poll sites open at lower cost - now that instant runoff voting is gone

Pierce County can now count votes at the polling places now that instant runoff voting is gone. Voters repealed IRV last year. See Majority of Pierce County voters reject Instant Runoff Voting on Nov 3 2009. 44,145 of 64,106 voters said yes to ditching instant runoff voting, also called ranked choice voting. That is 71.76% for eliminating IRV and 28.24% who wanted to keep IRV. Pierce is the only county in Washington that still has in person voting, and with IRV gone, they can use their precinct scanners again to tally the vote.

PR: Pierce County poll sites open at lower cost
Posted by Ben Sclair · August 11, 2010

Tuesday, Aug. 17 is Primary Election Day, and voters face important choices in federal, state and county races. The Primary Election will determine the top two candidates to advance to the General Election.

In Pierce County, voters have the option to Vote-By-Mail or go to a polling place. Of the state’s 39 counties, Pierce County is the only one that offers polling place elections.

Fifty-six (56) polling places will be open for both the Primary and General Election this year. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
“I’m happy to report we have been able to reduce the cost of conducting polling place elections by 47 percent,” said Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson. “By returning our tried and true precinct tabulators to the polls, ballots can be counted at the polling place rather than transported to the Election Center for counting.”
For the last three years, Ranked Choice Voting prevented the use of precinct tabulators. Since voters repealed Ranked Choice Voting, Pierce County can return to counting ballots at each polling place. This saves considerable time, labor and expense. Pierce County has also saved money with more efficient printing of polling-place materials.

Pierce County has approximately 404,987 active registered voters. Approximately 82 percent use a Vote-By-Mail ballot. The remaining 18 percent of voters have registered to vote at a polling place.

The Elections Division estimates that 37 percent of eligible voters will cast ballots in the Primary. According to the estimates, 44 percent of the Vote-By-Mail voters will return a ballot, and 6 percent of poll voters will participate on Election Day.
If you would like to Vote-By-Mail for the Primary Election, it is not too late. Call the Elections Division at 253-798-VOTE (8683) and a ballot will be mailed to you.
Poll voters continue to dwindle as more voters opt for Vote-By-Mail. As poll voters decrease, the cost per ballot cast is correspondingly more expensive. During the February 2010 Election, the cost per poll ballot cast was $12.76. In comparison, the cost per Vote-By-Mail ballot cast was $3.76.

“We want to increase the polling place participation rate to bring the unit cost down,” Anderson said. “It’s frustrating to provide a unique and excellent service, only to see it underutilized.”

The Pierce County Auditor’s Office is responsible for elections, licensing services, a variety of public records and animal control services. More information is available at .

History of problems with Pierce County special IRV Sequoia Insight voting machines:

Slow going for local counting; County blames ranked-choice voting for lines at polls, delayed results (WA)
The News Tribune. November 6, 2008
McCarthy blamed the delay on new voting tabulation software. When the office ran the software Tuesday night, it was so slow that technicians had to add memory to the computer system.
Pierce County published preliminary results from its new ranked-choice voting system early Wednesday morning. These results represent a snapshot in time, so no candidates have been eliminated yet. The county has tens of thousands of ballots left to count and is scheduled to publish another set of ranked-choice results at the end of the day Friday, and then again the following Friday. In each round, the last-place candidate is eliminated and the second and third choices from ballots for that candidate are redistributed

Pierce County Instant Runoff Voting System has new bug, says WA SOS - may affect San Francisco September 14. 2008
It has come to our attention that there is a very rare occurrence of a problem with the Rank Choice Voting results loading with Pierce County’s provisionally certified software.
During additional testing of Sequoia Voting System v 4.0, including Rank Choice Voting, Sequoia Voting Systems’ testing engineers found a discrepancy in the Rank Choice Voting module results.

Instant runoff forces Pierce County Washington to use uncertified voting systems
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Pierce County tested the new Sequoia software, found some problems, and asked the Secretary of State to certify parts of the system on an emergency basis since it would be too hard to count manually.

Pierce County officials said: they tried hand-counting just 14 RCV ballots with seven ranked contests and found that it was “horrendous.” Using software to tally this sort of balloting was absolutely essential. She found that it simply couldn’t be done any other way.
The Secretary of State of Washington granted "emergency" permission in May 2008 for Pierce County to use the uncertified software on Seqouia machines, even though flaws were found in the WinEDS (central tabulating system). The "Insight" optical scanners for precinct voting were not approved, but the touchscreens and central count scanners were - on an emergency basis.

Up the Rabbit Hole: (testing the Sequoia Insight touchscreen & optical scan system)
A day of transparent, participatory democracy
Voting System Certification Hearing in Washington State, May 23, 2008
the Sequoia system checked one set of electronic ballot records and reported an “empty ballot box,” but then used a different set of ballot records to tabulate the votes. This is exactly like checking one ballot box to ensure that it’s empty before opening the polls, and then using a different, unchecked ballot box for the voted ballots to be tallied at the end of the day. But the unchecked box hadn’t been empty.
Debbie Cook then summed up the options concisely, said it was time to take action, and made a motion to recommend approval for the system, with a stipulation prohibiting the use of the Insight scanner.

John Gideon Written Testimony Against State Provisional Certification of Sequoia WinEDS 4.0 And Associated Voting System
Ellen Theisen testimony

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Don Frantz, the only person elected by instant runoff voting in NC speaks out

And yes, Don points out that with instant runoff voting there is voter confusion, lack of confidence in the system, and often the result of IRV is a plurality "win". Don, the only person ever elected with IRV votes says IRV is not worth it. Don says "To me the number one concern is election integrity. If we can’t trust the election process we’ve got, I don’t care what it costs. I don’t care what the turnout is."

Statement of Donald Frantz, Member of Cary Town Council
March 12, 2009 Meeting of Cary Town Council
Transcribed by Andrew Silver from video recording at

I’d like to preface my comments just letting folks in the audience know that I was elected utilizing instant runoff voting. I’m actually the first candidate in the state of North Carolina to ever be elected utilizing instant runoff voting. So if you ever play trivial pursuit and that’s the question, then you know what the answer is. So I kind of know a thing or two about it and unfortunately I was the guinea pig. And It wasn’t really the best experience I ever had to go through. But those were the rules and we all played by them. There’s actually a gentleman sitting in the audience whom I do respect quite a bit that believes I won my election because of instant runoff voting, and while I would argue with him – you know – tooth and nail, he’s entitled to his opinion and I’ve got mine, and I really didn’t think there was much broken with our current system. But, you know, Hank, we always have to try something new.

There’s a number of factors to consider – very important factors to consider – when deciding what type of election we want to go with. There’s cost, voter turnout, participation, time. . .whatever. To me the number one concern is election integrity. If we can’t trust the election process we’ve got, I don’t care what it costs. I don’t care what the turnout is.

Instant runoff voting – the machines count the first vote. We all know on the first go round who got what. But then the votes are transported to the board of elections. They’re taken out of their locked box. They’re put in little baggies and sorted. and then when it’s time to count the ballots, they’re actually all pulled out of the bags and put on the table, and a bunch of different hands are in the pile, and you’re moving one over here and one over there. You’re getting the first and second place finishers out. You set them in one pile. You go through and you get the third place finishers, fourth place finishers. If they didn’t pick a second and third candidate, you put them in another pile.

You end up with all these piles on the table. And then you try to narrow it down to the non-top two vote getters that did pick a second or a third. And then you start trying to count those by hand. My election district, B, it’s a very small district in town. I’ve got 8 precincts. Alittle over 3000 votes were cast. And it took the better part of a day to hand count those ballots, and it took all of a day to hand count them and get the math right. When I left the process, I had won by 48 votes. An hour later to find out I was up by 25 votes, because somebody didn’t clear out a number on a calculator. To find out the next day I was up by 49 votes.

The numbers kept changing. I wasn’t very confident in what I was experiencing. I would feel a lot more confident about IRV if the machines could actually count the ballots, first, second, and third. When – after the ballots were hand counted and sorted and all that initial stuff was done, they go back in their baggies and back in their little boxes and what not. And then the elections director, by herself, recounted all those ballots in a room. No observers – I didn’t get to observe, put it that way. So, that was a big concern of mine, you know. I’m glad the – I mean I respect Cherie Poucher a lot. I had a great experience with her. I’m glad she doesn’t hate my guts, because I probably wouldn’t have won if she did.

We’ve heard that the machines can now somehow count the ballots, but they couldn’t count them two years ago. We’ve heard that the state is going to allow that. I’ve still got questions as far as – you know – where’s the software coming from? Who’s providing it? Is it something that Fairvote’s come up with? Is it something designed by a special interest group? Has it been tested, or are we a guinea pig now on can the machines count the ballots? I don’t know, but I don’t know that I want to subject three of my colleagues to this experiment. And actually I took exception to the word “experiment.” That just rubs me wrong.

I think IRV treats voters ballots unequally. Some ballots get counted twice. Some only get counted once. In 2005, in the primary election, I voted for one candidate. But as the runoff went on, I changed my vote. I voted for a different candidate come the final election, because I heard some things that changed my mind. I saw people in a different light. With IRV, I don’t have the option to change my mind. It assumes I am going to come back and cast my ballot for the same candidate. I can tell you the time that I didn’t do it.

There is some confusion as evidenced by our biennial survey. Obviously the majority of Cary citizens did find the experience pretty easy to understand and didn’t have that many problems with it. But over 30% did find it somewhat confusing and over 20% found it very confusing – or did not understand at all, I think is what it says here. When you come to show up to vote and you just have one box to mark I don’t know anybody that finds that confusing. So to me – even if you just confuse 10% of the people, that’s 10% too many. When we’re confusing 20% of the people, that’s really too many.

I do have some concerns with special interest groups that have been diving into this issue. I just – I appreciate the Cary citizens that have shown up to speak tonight. There’s issues of manipulation involved. My next election I’m worried about one of my opponents - I get one of my well-liked buddies in the community to run and we do this whole run on us “Vote for us 1-2” campaign, ensuring at least one of us wins. It actually happened in my race. One of the candidates contacted my other opponent to see did they want to run 1 and 2 together. Now thankfully that opponent said “Heck, no.” and then we talked about it and we decided that was not something we wanted to do. That concerns me.

Voter turnout. The argument for that is really weird. It’s we want to increase voter turnout, so let’s play with the way we elect people. Let’s change the process. Quite frankly – we just saw it in the last presidential election. If you want to increase voter turnout, get some good candidates to run. Most of the time you are voting for the lesser of two evils. The majority of candidates that we have to choose from these days suck, you know. The candidate is the one that motivates people to get out of bed or get off the couch and go to the polls and cast a vote. I’m not going to show up at the polls and go “Whoo! I get to mark 3 bubbles now instead of one.” It’s not inspiring me to vote, you know. But like we just saw Barack Obama. He inspired folks. He motivated folks. He got people to the polls. That was pretty impressive. I agree with Mr. Smith’s comment. You know, we want to increase voter participation, but yet we hold our elections in October when nobody’s looking for an election, and then we hold them in off years when we’re not running with state candidates or presidential candidates. “Election – what, that was yesterday?” Nobody knows. So if you want to have 50% voter turnout in the Cary council election let’s do it the same time as state races. We’ll do it in November.

Cost is a concern to me. Especially this year, given the budget, you know. We’re all going to have to make some really tough decisions. IRV is considerably cheaper than traditional runoffs. But, seeing that, in my research – trust me, I have researched it. When I had to go through this I had no idea what I was getting myself into, so I did a lot of research on IRV. Basically – I would estimate 90% of the elections I studied, the person who won the first go round won the second go round. It did not change the outcome. So if you really want to view the right election, give citizens one voice, one vote – do plurality. You know, you show up and you mark one bubble and you go home. The person with the most bubbles wins. If there’s a concern over 8 people running for the same office, then maybe we should consider setting a threshold. Instead of saying, “OK, well 50% - well, OK maybe you have to break 35 or 40 percent on the first go round, and if a candidate does, no instant runoff, no runoff. The election’s over. You got the most votes, you win.” But if there’s 5 people running and they all get 20% and one got 21% - I can see the need for some form of runoff system. I really can, and yes, instant runoff is going to be the cheapest, but with the other concerns I have, I just, I don’t know if it’s the way to go.

Durham is currently – the Durham board of elections is currently trying to convince their city council to go back to plurality elections. Ronald Gregory, who’s the chair of the Durham board of elections states “The plurality method is the only method that ensures one vote, one election voting process,” and he also (inaudible). My preference is to go to plurality elections. If there is some form – have a concern with multiple candidates and no clear winner then maybe we should look at some kind of threshold that they have to break.

# # #

Note - Cary, North Carolina ultimately decided to keep their majority elections with traditional 1-1 runoffs. They considered plurality but decided they wanted what they had before IRV.
April 13, 2009 Cary to Hold Public Hearing to Consider Changing Election Method

A Cary City Council election goes to traditional runoff in November 2009, no one from Cary says they wish they had IRV:
November 6, 2009 Jennifer Robinson Wins Run-Off in District A
As previously reported, the October 6 election for Cary Town Council (District A) ended in a run-off between incumbent Jennifer Robinson and challenger Lori Bush. In October, Ms. Robinson garnered 49.9 percent of the vote to Lori Bush’s 42.3 percent. On November 3, Jennifer Robinson won her third term representing Cary’s largest district.

November 3 results:
Jennifer Robinson 53.76% 2,337 votes
Lori Bush 46.12% 2,005 votes
Write-in .12% 5 votes
Congratulations go out to Jennifer Robinson.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Instant Runoff Voting Lie, as told to Cary, North Carolina

IRV was sold to Cary North Carolina as providing a 50% + 1 majority win, along with the other false but clever claims.

From the 2007 powerpoint presentation given to the Cary Town Council to persuade them to volunteer for the IRV pilot
From Page 4:
"It preserves majority rule by ensuring winners must have 50%, plus one."

In a May 2007 press release, see the claims reiterated:
"Instant Runoff voting increases convenience to voters; preserves majority rule by ensuring winners receive more than 50 percent of the votes; and saves taxpayers and candidates money by holding only one election."\df
The results? Don Frantz won with a plurality of votes.

October 9, 2007 Cary District B City Council contest won with 46.36% of all votes cast. Cary participated in an IRV pilot that year.

After running voters 1, 2n and 3rd choices, Don Frantz obtained 1,401 votes, which is 46.36% of all votes cast in the Cary District B contest. He was declared the winner after receiving less than 40 percent of the first-choice votes cast, and less than 50 percent of the votes of people who showed up on Election Day.
Don Frantz . . . . . . . . . . 1,151
Vickie Maxwell. . . . . . . . . 1,075
Nels Roseland . . . . . . . . . 793
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . . . 3\.htm

The total number of ballots cast in Dictrict B was 3,022.
You can get an engineered majority when you remove Nels Roseland's 793 votes and the 3 write ins.

Here are results only showing vote tallies for top two candidates Frantz and Maxwell

Once pro IRV groups learned that we had proven the majority claims to befalse, they revised their talking points to say that IRV provides a "better plurality". At least that was what they were saying to Durham NC.

What does Cary City Council member Don Frantz say about IRV?

"When our town agreed to IRV in 2007, it was kind of rush job..There was a lot of pushback, the public wasn’t involved … I do not like instant runoff voting and have given my reasons as to why many times. I'll take in elections over funny math and 30% voter confusion any day." ~ Don Frantz Cary City Council member.

There are lots of false claims for that aren't true either, but are clever distortions.

Joyce McCloy
Director, NC Coalition for Verified Voting
Instant Runoff Voting Facts V Fiction

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Damn the voters, damn honest elections, Instant runoff voting full speed ahead

Damn the facts, damn the voters,damn election transparency, damn the Public Confidence in Elections Act we worked so hard for, its Instant Runoff Voting full speed ahead says the Charlotte Observer and Bob Hall of Democracy for NC.

It gets tiring trying to protect elections in NC. Will we haul our ballots to Raleigh so we can count them since IRV has to be centrally tallied? All this to make a few non profits happy? Even the Washington Post reports that traditional runoffs benefit minority candidates, so why are some groups trying to replace that with IRV, which will hurt vulnerable groups? Why push IRV in a state traditionally known as a Jim Crow state? What really galls is that we know IRV is greatly flawed and it doesn't work as advertised.

North Carolina's runoff system is a costly relic

Time to consider other options: 'instant runoffs' might do.

Charlotte Observer. Thursday, Jun. 24, 2010

Really? Tell the Washington Post that we shouldn't have statewide runoff elections, tell that to minority groups who benefit from runoff elections in state and local elections.
June 22, 2010 ..."Charles Bullock, a runoff expert and political science professor at the University of Georgia,also points out several cases in which runoffs have actually aided African-American candidates"
Where's the beef? No one else is complaining except the pro IRV groups who look for any excuse to promote their flimsy agenda. But if all you want is to save money, then don't hold runoff elections, 42 other states don't have them.

So soon do they forget! Who will clean up the mess? We did it in 2005 by hard work getting the Public Confidence in Elections Act written and passed. We've had good elections since 2006, even cutting our undervote rate for President down to only 1% in 2008, a miracle, and good thing with Obama and McCain only 13,000 votes apart.

Our Elections haven't been really screwed up since 2004, so some folks must miss that, and have found a way (IRV) to push the envelope and make North Carolina elections a national embarrassment again. Like in 2004 when our election nightmare might have resulted in the Supreme Court picking our President again, had it been a close enough election:

North Carolina's ballot blues

Winston-Salem — We've got a problem

"North Carolina has the worst election problem in the country right now."

Computer scientist Dr. David L. Dill of Stanford University

"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, November 13,2004

Our key decision-makers are ignoring the seriousness of the problem

"Except for the lost votes in Carteret County, Gary Bartlett, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, called the problems 'easily remedied and lessons learned.'AP Newswire, November 13, 2004

November 26, 2004 — North Carolina's election problems will not be that easily remedied. This year's disaster shows that many election workers are in over their heads.
Problems with voting machines, central tabulators using outdated and secret software, registration confusion, poll worker training, provisional ballots and absentee ballots are not easily remedied.

Add to all this the lack of a voter-verified paper ballot and you have no disaster recovery plan.
This is the case with more than 40 counties using touchscreen or "dial a vote" machines. The security of their votes depends on the software, source code and hardware of the voting machines. Election workers' ability, or lack thereof, to operate and troubleshoot the machines can affect the security of the votes as well.

• Lost: 4,500 votes in Carteret County — paper ballots verified by voters and retained by the election officials would have saved these votes.

• Omitted: an entire precinct of 1,209 votes in Gaston County.

• Missing: 12,000 more votes in Gaston County not reported. The election director hired a voting machine technician to upload the county vote totals and did not oversee the process.

• Bamboozled: Guilford County bought vote-tabulating software that used outdated technology and with insufficient vote storage. As a result, Guilford County's public vote totals for president were off by 22,000 votes.

• More votes than cast: Craven County reported 11,283 more votes for president than cast, voting with the same software as in Guilford County.

The State Board of Elections has relied on the advice of voting machine salesmen and turned a deaf ear to the good advice and warnings of computer scientists.

Voting machine salesmen gain access to some election officials via a private organization called the Election Center. This organization's mission is to educate and inform election officials, yet it admits to accepting money from voting-machine companies. The Election Center hosts conferences for election officials at which salesmen provide parties, prizes and even a dinner cruise on the Potomac. North Carolina's director of elections, Gary Bartlett, sits on the board of directors of the center.
Continued computer breakdowns and miscounts prove the need for a voter-verified paper ballot. This is not a receipt but a paper printout of the ballot, to be verified by the voter and kept by the election officials in case of recount, audit or computer breakdown.
The State Board of Elections can do the right thing by consulting computer scientists to recommend real requirements for our voting systems. It should also allow sufficient time for a thorough review by outside experts, to ensure that North Carolina's voting system is the most secure and trustworthy in America.

Joyce McCloy is coordinator of the North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting.
(originally printed in the Raleigh News & Observer on November 26, 2004 )

About us: The North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting is a grassroots non-partisan organization fighting for clean and verified elections. We study and research the issue of voting to ensure the dignity and integrity of the intention of each voting citizen. The NC Voter Verified Coalition has consistently fought for increasing access, participation and ensuring the voter franchise. Contact Joyce McCloy, Director, N.C. Coalition for Verifiable Voting - phone 336-794-1240 - email Join the NC Coalition for Verified Voting website and

Protect our votes, protect our voters, say NO to Instant runoff voting
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Port Chester New York - 1 Person, 6 Votes. $100 Per Person in Voter Ed

Wouldn't bullet voting have been simpler? Did Luis Morano win because of Cumulative voting or the $100-per-voter education
A judge ordered Port Chester New York to change their election method to cumulative voting in an effort to level the playing field for Hispanic candidates.

The judge said Port Chester's at large system was thwarting Latino candidates from winning elections. Instant runoff voting had been another option, but Port Chester's preference was cumulative voting.

FairVote was involved consulting with with Port Chester on this new election method. FairVote also was involved in voter survey, posing a conflict of interest since FV's mission is to spread these voting methods.

Although the village of about 30,000 residents is nearly half Hispanic, no Latino had ever been elected to any of the six trustee seats, which until now were chosen in a conventional at-large election. Most voters were white, and white candidates always won.

Federal Judge Stephen Robinson said that violated the Voting Rights Act, and he approved a remedy suggested by village officials: a system called cumulative voting, in which residents get six votes each to apportion as they wish among the candidates. He rejected a government proposal to break the village into six districts, including one that took in heavily Hispanic areas.

It's the first time any municipality in New York has used cumulative voting, said Amy Ngai, a director at FairVote, a nonprofit election research and reform group that has been hired to consult. The system is used to elect the school board in Amarillo, Texas, the county commission in Chilton County, Ala., and the City Council in Peoria, Ill.

The judge also ordered Port Chester to implement in-person early voting, allowing residents to show up on any of five days to cast ballots. That, too, is a first in New York, Ngai said

At least it is additive and they were able to use lever machines to vote on it. No funky algorithm. It was expensive, at $100 per voter in education.

By JIM FITZGERALD The Associated Press
Friday, June 18, 2010; 6:29 PM

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- The court-ordered election that allowed residents of one New York town to flip the lever six times for one candidate - and produced a Hispanic winner - could expand to other towns where minorities complain their voices aren't being heard....

"We put so much emphasis on education - we may have spent $100 a voter - because we knew it would be critical to success," said village spokesman Aldo Vitagliano

Seems to me it might be easier and cheaper if they just bullet voted. At least it is additive, even if it is confusing.

The Brennan Center for Justice has on the election and planned followup study:

Jenny Shen and Nic Riley

On Tuesday, June 15, 2010, the Village of Port Chester, NY, elected its first Latino candidate to public office. With just over 10 percent of the vote, Luis Marino, a Peruvian-born custodial worker and long-time Port Chester resident, earned a seat on the Village’s six-member Board of Trustees.

Mr. Marino’s victory represents the culmination of a four-year struggle to change the face—as well as the structure—of local elections in Port Chester. The effort began in 2006 when the Department of Justice filed suit against the Village under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, alleging that Port Chester’s at-large system for electing its Board of Trustees marginalized Latino citizens by diluting their voting strength in Village elections. Although Latinos make up nearly half of the Village population, no Latino had ever been elected to local office.

In 2008, a federal judge agreed with the Justice Department and ordered the Village to replace its existing election system with another, less discriminatory process for electing its Board of Trustees.

The court considered a variety of proposed remedies for Port Chester’s voting rights violation. The Department of Justice argued that Port Chester should be divided into districts with individual representatives—the most common remedy for discriminatory at-large election systems. Such a system would allow the Village to draw Latino-majority districts with the power to elect their preferred candidates.

As an alternative, the Brennan Center, which represented FairVote as amicus curiae, urged the court to consider an election system called “choice voting.” Under choice voting, voters rank candidates in descending order of preference. Candidates who receive high rankings from a sufficient number of minority voters can still gain representation on multi-member legislative districts even if white voters support other candidates.

Ultimately, however, the court selected Port Chester’s own proposed remedy: a system called “cumulative voting,” which the Brennan Center also endorsed. Under a cumulative voting system, voters can distribute their votes in whatever combination they choose. In Port Chester, for example, each voter had six votes to cast as they chose. They could cast all six for a single candidate or distribute their votes among a group of candidates. This system’s flexibility allows minority voters to pool their votes in order to elect their preferred candidates. The results from this week’s historic election—which also saw the election of the first African-American candidate to the Village Board—suggest that Port Chester’s minority voters may have done exactly that.

While the selection of Port Chester’s first elected minority Trustees certainly represents important progress for this New York suburb, in order to fully understand whether the new system was responsible for that progress we need more information about how minority voters actually voted. Cumulative voting can only empower minority voters if they understand the system. The federal judge that decided the Port Chester case seemed to recognize the importance of community education in his consent decree, which required the Village to undertake a major voter education effort—including mass mailings and public seminars—to teach voters about cumulative voting. Still, questions remain as to whether these efforts ultimately succeeded in giving voters a complete understanding of cumulative voting.

Fortunately, we may soon have this information. FairVote, in conjunction with Port Chester and the New York City Bar Association, organized volunteers to survey Village voters about their voting experiences as they exited the polls. Political scientists will evaluate the responses of these surveys to determine how well voters understood the new system.

We were among the volunteer surveyors stationed at Port Chester’s ten polling precincts on Election Day and had an opportunity to witness voters’ reactions to the new election system first-hand. As some news outlets anticipated, voters’ opinions on the new system ran the gamut, with some lauding cumulative voting for creating new opportunities and others denouncing the change as unnecessary.

But while voters displayed a variety of different attitudes towards the new voting system, one thing was apparent to us: Port Chester residents care deeply about their local elections. Many of the voters we met had clearly taken the time to reflect on the recent changes to their local democratic process. Our experience revealed that—contrary to certain media coverage depicting Village voters as merely pawns in a broader political struggle over race and voting rights—these voters saw the court-ordered exit surveys as a genuine opportunity to share their thoughts about their new election system. Some even viewed the survey as a chance to shape future elections, both in their Village and around the country.

In the end, we still have to wait for the survey results before we know whether the new Trustees were the preferred candidates of minority voters in Port Chester; however, with the increased diversity in Village government and improved turn-out among voters, last week’s election has already offered plenty to celebrate.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

To New London CT: How Instant Runoff Voting May Impact Your Elections

Robert M. Pero, Mayor
Adam Sprecace, Deputy Mayor
Michael Buscetto III, Councilor
Rev. Wade A. Hyslop, Jr., Councilor
Martin T. Olsen, Jr., Councilor
Michael E. Passero, Councilor
John Russell, Councilor

Honorable New London City Councilors:

Please accept these comments regarding regarding New London's consideration of adopting instant runoff voting to elect your mayor.

I am not from New London, but live in the state of North Carolina where lawmakers permitted two consecutive instant runoff voting pilots. Two cities participated in 2007 and only one in 2009. I have studied instant runoff voting as used around the United States, rather extensively and if you will permit, I'd like to comment on the potential impact of IRV on your community and your budget.

Best regards, Joyce McCloy

Instant Runoff Voting Facts V Fiction

"We study the impact of instant runoff voting on voters rights, election administration and election outcome. Our goal is to ensure the dignity and integrity of the intention of each voting citizen. We welcome inquiries from the media, public officials, voter advocacy groups and concerned citizens." See email Joyce McCloy info (at) or phone at (336) 794-1240


IRV has added an additional $244,000 in costs each year, according to a report to City Council .See IRV cost estimates or actual cost information for Maine, Maryland, Minneapolis MN, Pierce County Washington, Vermont and San Francisco.It cost Pierce Co 2 million to implement an un-certified system for 375,589 votes – or $5.33 per registered voter! That is on top of the regular costs of their election system. (And Pierce rejected IRV last Nov 3 2009 by huge majority vote)

IN FACT, MINNEAPOLIS MN JUST HELD FIRST IRV ELECTION ON NOV 3, AND HAD LOWEST VOTER TURNOUT SINCE 1902 says the Minnesota Star Tribune. "Turnout for Minneapolis elections last week was the lowest since 1902, before women got the vote,according to historical records." ~ Minneapolis Star Tribune, Nov 12, 2009

IRV DOES NOT EMPOWER COMMUNITIES OF COLOR AND MAY HARM THEM: If you move ahead with instant runoff voting/IRV, will you expend what is necessary in labor and funds in order to educate all segments of your community? Did you know that rather than help communities of color, IRV may harm them?

IRV USUALLY PRODUCES A PLURALITY WINNER.AND OFTEN SUFFERS FROM MAJORITY FAILURE: IRV has produced a plurality result in 2 out of 3 contests in Pierce Co WA. In other words, winners achieved victory with less than 50% of the votes. In San Francisco, CA., out of 20 RCV elections that have been held since the referendum establishing it passed, when IRV was used, it elected a plurality winner.


THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH VOTER EDUCATION:After 4 years of IRV and a fortune spent each year in San Francisco, a Grand Jury Report: said that poll workers and voters do not understand instant runoff. How many different languages will IRV voter education have to address?

IRV LEAVES SOME VOTERS BEHIND: Instant Runoff Voting not so good polls- Cary NC, Hendersonville NC, Pierce Co Washington and San Francisco 22.0% of Cary voters did not understand IRV at all

IRV IS DIFFICULT AND COMPLEX TO COUNT: IRV increases reliance on more complex technology, making audits and recounts more prohibitive, further eroding election transparency. Because IRV is not additive, no matter what voting system is used, the ballots, (electronic or optical scan) have to be hauled away from where they are cast to a central location to be counted. This increases the chance of fraud or lost votes. The tallying software utilizes a complex algorithm that makes the process even more opaque. Are you willing to bea large IT beta test for new voting software and or equipment? How will you effectively audit IRV? How would you recount ballots that have 3 choices per contest rather than just one? If you thought the Minnesota US Senate recount was lengthy, laborious and contentious, how much more so would an IRV recount be? Why endanger public confidence in elections? Once you obligate to IRV, your backs will be against the wall - ready or not, IRV will take priority over reliability, accuracy, affordability, and transparency.

IRV ESCAPE CLAUSE NEEDED: Please consider installing an "escape clause" allowing your city to be excused from administering IRV unable to accommodate the unexpected costs of instant runoff voting, also in the event that there is no federally certified software to tally the votes. Otherwise, in order to prevent lawsuits, (as occurred in San Francisco) Instant Runoff Voting may cannibalize funds needed for police, fire and other basic city services, and result in layoffs of city workers. What if the IRV voting system/software you purchase cannot work as proposed? You will be stuck trying to make the system work or you will end up with another costly charter amendment to repeal IRV. This happened in Pierce Co Washington, causing increase in labor and costs. (New precinct scanners could not be used and ballots had to be hauled to a central location to be counted).

NEW LONDON SHOULD REQUIRE PUBLIC HEARINGS IF CONSIDERING IRV: To be a truly democratic society, the public should have a say in how their votes are counted. Public hearings should be held by both the local elections boards and also local governments that are considering volunteering for IRV. These meetings should be publicly advertised with ample time for citizens to prepare to comment and attend meetings. This provides advocacy groups an opportunity to ask questions and testify as to their concerns.

Several jurisdictions have tried IRV and abandoned it. There's a reason why. Please see Instant Runoff Voting rejected by Sunnyvale, Burlington, Pierce Co, Cary. Aspen in Nov? and also Aspen Instant Runoff Voting--Up for Repeal in November 2010

There can be unintended consequences of IRV such as increased cost, labor, changes in procedures and policies, and in some cases a decreased confidence in the outcome of election results. For more about IRV based on news and reports, see our blog

Read this letter on the web at

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