Friday, March 12, 2010

Green San Francisco Supervisor switches party-if only SF had instant runoff voting -oh wait they do

The only elected official in San Francisco who is a member of the Green Party has just switched to the Democratic Party. Yes in San Francisco, the largest jurisdiction in the US that uses instant runofff voting. The argument FOR IRV has been that it helps third parties, is fairer, eliminates negative campaigning, increases turnout, guarantees a majority, saves money, blah blah blah and does everything but grow hair. Is instant runoff voting proving to be as big a scam as the Sham Wow? Is IRV nothing more than a fish bicycle?

Green Party San Francisco City Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi switches affiliation to Democratic Independent Political Report. March 11th, 2010.
One of the most successful Green Party politicians in California and the nation, Ross Mirkarimi, has switched his party affiliation from Green to Democratic. He is a San Francisco City Supervisor and member of the appointed California Coastal Commission. He was the party’s only elected official in San Francisco, and holds the same seat that Matt Gonzalez previously held as a Green.

Mirkarimi is considered a potential candidate for mayor of San Francisco and it has been said that if he ever sought higher office he might abandon the Greens...

But being a green wasn’t such a bad thing back in 2003, incidentally before IRV was implemented.

Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez was a very competitive challenger against Gavin Newsome in the 2003 traditonal runoff:

2003 Results
GAVIN NEWSOM. . . . . . . . . . 133,546 52.81
MATT GONZALEZ . . . . . . . . . 119,329 47.19

Turnout was awesome, apparently voters found the contest compelling.

2003 San Francisco Mayoral Contest – Traditional Runoff Election

PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 562). . . . . 562 (100%)
REGISTERED VOTERS – TOTAL . . . . .466,127
BALLOTS CAST – TOTAL. . . . . . . . . . . .253,872
VOTER TURNOUT – TOTAL . . . . . . . . 54.46

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Oakland League of Women Voters opposes more voter ed on instant runoff voting

And LWV disgraces itself. Two Oakland City Council members want to allocate funds to do voter outreach for the first instant runoff voting election. But the Oakland League of Women Voters opposes it! You would think that a so called voter advocacy group would approve of more voter education.

CityWise: Oakland proposal would divert funding for voter education
By Kelly Rayburn Oakland Tribune 03/11/2010 0

The city of Oakland, California is required by Measure O, the 2006 ballot measure to implement instant-runoff voting, to conduct its own outreach campaign. Two Oakland City Council members suggest that the cash strapped city use use the $225,000 in in the public campaign financing pot to pay for IRV voter outreach. The more the better! Consider that the City of San Francisco spent as much as $1.87 per registered voter in the first year, and conducted approx. 700 public presentations.

But the Oakland League of Women Voters,
who promoted instant runoff voting -don't want the city doing voter outreach:
"In this time of very tight budgets, we question whether Oakland should be spending extra money on a separate voter education effort," the letter to the commission said. "If the City Council decides to spend the extra money, please advise them to make sure that any city-funded voter education is well-coordinated with that done by the Registrar of Voters."

So Oakland LWV wants the city of Oakland to leave the voter education to LWV (who gets donations for voter ed) and other volunteer groups. There's a conflict of interest here - LWV is a non profit corporation that accepts donations to do voter education. The LWV is not an elected body and is not accountable to the public as is the City of Oakland.

Maybe the LWV is more interested in its own bottom line than anything. Because one of their two functions is voter education and they actively solicit donations for that end. But they oppose voter education if the city is doing it. Hmmmm.......

From the LWV page on voter education:

"The League of Women Voters Education Fund conducts voter service and citizen education activities...."
Donations to the Education Fund, a 501(c)(3)corporation, are fully tax-deductible where allowed by law

Instant runoff voting represents a drastic change in how votes are cast, counted and valued. Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country and outreach will be far more of a challenge than it would in a less diverse area. It will cost Oakland a significant amount of funds that it already doesn't have in order to implement instant runoff voting. It will create a demand on poll workers and voters and especially impact the more vulnerable voting populations.

The Oakland League of Women Voters has taken a reprehensible stand in this case that discredits them as a voter advocacy group.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Were the Oscars rigged? Did instant runoff voting decide the election?

Were the Oscars decided by instant runoff voting? Were the election results fair, accurate and honest?

Monday, March 8, 2010 Voter Fraud
Foot Locker beat out Avatar for movie of the year? You've got to be kidding me.

A movie that no one has seen lost to one that 80 gazillion people have flocked to see at least twice. So what does the Academy know that
serfdom does not?

We don't know if instant runoff voting decided the winner because we dont have the vote data. Instant runoff voting is complex to count and makes fraud very easy to hide, especially when the vote data is not public.

IRV is not additive and there are several variations with different algorithms that decide how votes will be sorted, re-allocated,re-shuffled and eliminated.

We have no idea if IRV came into play, but we do know that real life jurisdictions (Aspen CO, Cary NC, Burlington Vermont, Pierce Co Washington and maybe San Francisco next) are ditching IRV because of its complexity and sometimes bizarre results.

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Fractured democracy in Sri Lanka - if only they had instant runoff voting. Oh wait, they DO.

Sri Lanka has used instant runoff voting to elect its president since 1978. yet the current president is acting as a dictator.

Sri Lanka voices: 'Fractured democracy' Monday, 8 March 2010
The arrest a month ago of Sri Lanka's former army chief and defeated presidential candidate, Gen Sarath Fonseka, along with some of his supporters, has raised fears among rights groups in the country...
"I strongly suggest that the president discuss this matter with the parties who support Fonseka and do whatever is required to fix the democratic process which appears to have been seriously fractured." ~ NIRMALAN DHAS, PSYCHOTHERAPIST, COLOMBO
"When the election result was announced, I was surprised. I thought Gen Fonseka would win. We heard reports, although not in the mainstream media, that there was vote-rigging...
I really love this country, but I am not optimistic about the future. I see nepotism, corruption and a president who's growing more and more powerful. The country is going from bad to worse. The present regime is beginning to act like the military junta in Burma."...
"Everyone who values democracy in this country is worried that the president is getting too powerful. He thinks he is the king, all his relatives hold positions of power." ~ SHIRAN W, 30, PROJECT OFFICER, COLOMBO
"There has been lots of corruption in Sri Lankan politics for the last decade." ~ LAL KARUNARATNE, 58, TOURISM INDUSTRY, MARAWILA

Instant runoff voting is no magic potion to cure the ills of government, and in real life use in the United States, IRV has failed to meet its promise but has made elections more complex and far less transparent.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Burlington voters to mayor:the election is over! Instant runoff voting repealed

Mayor Bob Kiss hasn't accepted reality yet. Instant runoff voting was repealed by Burlington voters on March 2, 2010. 52% of the voters voted to Repeal IRV. Many of the pro IRV group have accepted the results. That makes sense given that the pro-IRV campaign called itself 50% matters. But mayor Bob Kiss who owes his current term to instant runoff voting is bent on denying reality. He knows that without IRV, he wouldn't have been elected the 2nd time.

Friday, March 5, 2010 Someone tell the mayor and [un]FairVote minions, it's over. ...Someone tell the mayor, the election is over! IRV has become a distraction in the city, and it is divisive in a way that serves only the embattled mayor, not the beleaguered city. It is being used to divert away from substantive issues, has set Dems against Dems, embarrasses Progs -- and now the mayor divides "Naysayers"in north end from downtown "Burlingtonians" by refusing to accept the citywide vote to repeal IRV.

Maybe Mayor Kiss hopes to distract the voters from the serious issues like the Burlington Telecom Scandal:

My Turn: If Bob Kiss is for IRV, I'm against it
By Alden Brown • Sunday, February 28, 2010
...While the Burlington Telecom web of deceit unraveled before the city's eyes, the mayor (in a fashion reminiscent of Rome's emperor Nero) was fiddling at a feel-good "conference" just a snowball's throw from
the Winter Olympics

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Screwing up the Oscars with Instant Runoff Voting

Instant runoff voting. IRV. For the Oscars. It had to happen eventually. It is human nature to do stupid things. This will go down in history as "whose #@!!%. bright idea was this?" Sadly, after it is all over, there is likely to be more media coverage and public outrage over an election for a movie award than there is when Instant Runoff Voting fouls up a "real" election. Well, if the purpose was to create lots of negative publicity over the Oscar awards, then someone made the right choice of election method.

Oscars' new voting system is a real puzzler
By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY

Explaining Oscar's new voting system for best picture is a little like watching a David Lynch movie: Sometimes you have to nod your head and pretend you understand.

As byzantine as the Academy Awards' new preferential voting format is, there's good reason to change from the one-vote, one-movie system of the past. With 10 nominees, a movie could ostensibly win with 11% of the overall vote.

The new system ensures that won't happen, but Oscar could probably use a statistics major by his side when counting ballots. In short:

•Academy members are asked to rank the 10 best-picture nominees in order of preference.

•If a movie gets 51% or more of the vote (unlikely), the contest is over. If not, auditors with PricewaterhouseCoopers will divide the movies into 10 stacks. The movie with the fewest No. 1 votes is eliminated, and that stack's No. 2 votes go to the remaining corresponding films.

•If a majority isn't reached with those No. 2 votes, the process repeats, eliminating
the next-lowest pile, whose votes are redistributed. The process continues until one film has a majority vote. Until that time, if a ballot's No. 2 choice has been eliminated, the auditors go to No. 3 and then as far down the ballot as necessary.

Though the new system ensures some consensus, it raises the possibility that a movie with more No. 2 and No. 3 votes could beat the film with the most first-place ballots.

"With 10 movies and this system, we have a real race for once," says Sasha Stone of "At this point, I wouldn't be surprised by any name they read."

The fun part is when the winning movie is one that everyone says together in unison: "Huh? How did this happen?"

Read more? Ok here you go:

Now, how did this guy get elected? June 10, 2007 San Francisco
...So, how did it come to pass that the city's newest supervisor, Ed Jew, apparently did not even live in the Sunset District and was the choice of just 5,125 (or 26.2 percent) of voters? And the FBI is looking into what this "citizen politician" was doing with $40,000 in cash from tapioca-shop owners who had sought his help with city permits...

2 out of 3 Pierce County RCV "winners" don't have a true majority December 7, 2008
...This is the big problem with people claiming IRV ensures a majority win in one election instead of two. if you don't have enough vote to get a majority win in the 1st column, all you are ever going to have is a larger plurality win...

Burlington Instant Runoff Election riddled with pathologies March 15, 2009 Burlington.
The instant runoff election in Burlington,Vermont suffered from nearly every pathology in the book...Instant runoff voting helped Burlington incumbent Bob Kiss win by getting the most 3rd choice votes. Opponent Kurt Wright had the most 1st and 2nd choice votes but lost the election

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Update-Instant runoff voting ditched by Sunnyvale, Burlington, Cary, Pierce CO, Aspen may ditch in Nov 10

Instant Runoff Voting is complex, doesn't meet its promise and can provide whacky results causing voters to lose confidence in the process. It is expensive in up front costs and requires repeated voter education. That is why the list of places that have rejected instant runoff voting continues to grow. Sunnyvale California, Cary North Carolina, Pierce County Washington, Burlington Vermont, the Utah Republican Party and even Georgetown University. Aspen Colorado (will hold another vote in Nov 2010 to make repeal binding), IRV has been controversial in San Francisco and a lawsuit was filed to try to block the limited pick 3 style IRV.

**Update on May 30, 2010**

Latest to ditch IRV: Monday, May 24, 2010 Sunnyvale CA scraps Instant Runoff Voting for selection of Mayor! Sunnyvale's City Council says no more to instant runoff voting after using it for first time since adopting it. The council said that IRV was "too complicated for the public to understand". Sunnyvale council changes the way it chooses the mayor By Mayra Flores De 05/20/2010 08:04:34 PM PDT
Burlington ditched IRV. On March 2, 2010 Burlington voters voted to repeal IRV. Voters decided that they would tell the politicians how they preferred to vote rather than let the politicians tell them. The grassroots stood up to a huge influx of out of state pro IRV dollars and to big politicians' last minute lobbying and robo calls. 7315 voters voted on the question in 2005, 326 less than this year. The difference between then and now is experience:

"Being charmed by it ideologically is quite different from experiencing how it twists the results of an election." - Lea Terhune of Repeal IRV blog.

...Ewing, a longtime Democratic leader in the city, called the measure a principled effort to repeal an overly complicated system, “a system which, on paper, persuaded people to give it a try but in reality resulted in a very confusing and poor system.”
Whatever the motive, FairVote, a Takoma, Md., group which supports IRV, as well as the League of Women Voters and Vermont Public Interest Research Group, showed interest in the outcome in a traditional way — they gave money. The League gave just $400, but VPIRG gave $10,000 and FairVote, $6,500, significant amounts for a small-city local ballot item.

Councilor Calls for Mayor Bob Kiss to Resign March 3, 2010
...Adrian said the defeat of instant-runoff voting, combined with the city council losses of two Progressives, and the loss of a Democratic ally of the mayor send a clear message that voters have lost confidence in the city's top elected official.

After the
Burlington Vermont 2009 IRV mayor election , reports showed that the election suffered from just about every pathology in the book: thwarted-majority, non-monotonicity, spoiler effect & other failures. See Nov 5, 2009 Burlington IRV repeal picks up momentum "...A lot of people think the mayor's race was invalid, that we have an invalid mayor..."

DITCHED ON JAN 7, 2010 Utah Republican Party
Utah Republican Convention Change Could Change Strategy for Candidates
There’s one big change coming to the Republican State Convention in May. The central committee has scrapped “instant run-off voting” in favor of the more traditional multiple-ballot system to determine their nominees.

MOVING TO DITCH. ON NOV 3, 2009. ASPEN COLORADO Aspen Instant Runoff Voting--Up for Repeal in November 2010 Aspen to reconsider Instant Runoff Voting this November - City Council cite problems with May election (blog)IRV still fails after all of the
ballots counted November 17, 2009November 3, 2009 Aspen rejects Instant Runoff Voting — by six votes.The city of Aspen launched its first-ever IRV election this past May. Shortly thereafter, doubts among elected officials and some residents surfaced as to whether the method was the best way to elect a mayor and City Council members.
Aspen voters to vote on how they vote — again Wednesday, July 22, 2009 Carolyn Sackariason The Aspen Times Aspen, CO Colorado (news article).
Also see Aspen Election Review May 5 2009 IRV single ballot audit unit

Majority of Pierce County voters reject Instant Runoff Voting on Nov 3 Instant runoff voting was rejected by an overwhelming majority of Pierce County Washington Voters. 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 voters ditch instant runoff voting - save $500K for taxpayers immediately
Nov 10 2009... Voters' repeal of Ranked-Choice Voting last week also freed-up $500,000 would have been needed to implement the voting system for the 2010 election.
Also see
Voters changing their minds on ranked-choice
Background: A poll from 2008 showed that
63% of Pierce County WA voters don't like Ranked Choice Voting. That is 56,751 out of 90,738 Pierce County voters who answered a questionnaire included with their ballots that asked, “Did you like this new Ranked Choice Voting method?” December 7, 2008 The News Tribute. The county could save $600,000 if they scrapped instant runoff voting now.

DITCHED. CARY NORTH CAROLINA Cary North Carolina rejected a second go at IRV, voted to keep current election method WRAL News Apr. 30 2009 Cary, N.C. — The Cary Town Council voted against a proposal Thursday to change the current election method. WRAL News and Protect NC Elections Stop IRV Blog . Also see Cary NC tries IRV, then says ‘no more’

DITCHED. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY. February 21, 2009 Georgetown University ditches Instant Runoff Voting - cites problems
The Hoya and No IRV in NC Blog

REJECTED. BRITISH COLUMBIA (2ND TIME) 61% of the voters gave a thumbs down for STV, Single Transferrable Vote, a ranking method in British Columbia. May 12, 2009. BC chose NOT to adopt STV for the 2nd time.

Instant runoff voting was invented in 1870 by American architect
William Robert Ware yet has not been widely adopted. IRV has also been rejected by a few jurisdictions that used it. Perhaps the problem is that IRV is loaded with the potential for perverse outcomes and is difficult to count in a transparent fashion (since it it not additive and votes are redistributed).

To learn more about Instant Runoff Voting problems see our website
Instant Runoff Voting in the US

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Marginal mayhem- Instant runoff voting results baffle UVA students

University of Virginia students were confused by the results of recent instant runoff voting election for student body. Strangely enough, the candidate with the most 1st and 2nd choice votes lost. Even the winner of the UVA's IRV election didn't understand the results. Consider that UVA "has ranked ...among the top 25 nationally since the first U.S. News rankings came out in 1988." What more do we need to know to tell us that instant runoff voting is bad for voters?

Marginal mayhem
The University Board of Elections should educate the student body further about its voting methodology Lead Editorial / Opinion March 3, 2010

Though polls are closed for the University-wide student elections, questions remain about the University Board of Election’s preferential voting procedures. For those unfamiliar with this system, the UBE uses a technique called instant-runoff voting.

UBE released a statement yesterday to address the confusion surrounding the results of the Third Year Council vice-presidency election. “If no candidate receives the absolute majority of first-rank votes, the candidate who has the least amount of first-rank votes is eliminated,” UBE Chair Jennifer Kim said about the system, “and the second-rank votes associated with the eliminated candidate are distributed to the remaining candidates in the race.” Essentially the system breaks down into a series of instantaneous rounds of eliminations. After a candidate is eliminated, UBE’s system distributes the votes of those students who chose that candidate to their subsequent preferences.

Abebe Kebede, the runner-up in the aforementioned election, received the greatest number of votes in both the first and second rounds, but neither amounted to an absolute majority. Thus, in the third and final round, which was decided by the thinnest of margins — one vote — Natalia Mercado was declared the winner.

This system, complicated as it may be, is designed to select the candidate that best
represents the student body’s interest. Imagine if a candidate participating in a five-way race was supported by a narrow segment of the student population but was overwhelmingly opposed by the majority of University students. Such a candidate might realistically receive the greatest number of votes — for the sake of this hypothetical, say about 25 percent. In an election decided by simple plurality, this candidate would be the winner. In a system of instant-runoff voting, however, the elected candidate would be the one who holistically represented the greater range of student opinion and consistently
received votes during each round. The candidate with the more polarizing campaign, however, would have minimal votes during the following rounds and would be eliminated.

In an e-mail to Kim, Kebede said it was “troubling that all four candidates after looking at the results could not understand the process.” Though candidates are required to know this information prior to entering the race, it is difficult to assume the voters understand the process.

UBE should recognize that if this process had been better communicated to students, much of this controversy could have been avoided. Kim acknowledged that “the average student voter … may not be aware of the intricacies of the IRV process.” UBE’s voting website provided an explanation about how to choose candidates based on preferences. No information, however, was included about how the winner would be determined.

Ultimately, it seemed as if most students were unaware about how winners were chosen. If this had been a more conspicuous election, such as the one for Student Council president, the controversy assuredly would have been much greater. Because instant-runoff voting is not the norm, UBE must be more open about its voting system.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Instant Runoff Voting Repealed by Burlington VT voters

IRV repealed. Burlington voters repealed instant runoff voting today. The votes are still unofficial but not likely to change before certification. Burlington has used instant runoff voting (IRV) to elect the mayor since 2006

Sandy Baird on @Ch_17 re: IRV.
"I'm perfectly happy with the time tested system, and I'm perfectly happy we're back to it."

Channel 17's Coverage

BURLINGTON - All Wards Reporting
5. Charter Change to Eliminate Instant Runoff Voting for Election of Mayor
YES 3972 52%
NO 3669
TOTAL 7641

Also see City voters will decide repeal question Politicians, FairVote Maryland, vpirg - BACK OFF!

Burlington instant runoff voting:-If you didn't vote for Kiss or Wright, then you didn't vote??Say what? (with video) "Repeal IRV" Blog says that even the instant runoff voting experts admit some votes just don't count...

Burlington - Instant Runoff Voting Interviews (fascinating video)Voters who supported implementing IRV have changed their minds.

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