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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New London CT- Instant Runoff Voting Issues with Confidence, Charter and Budget

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 additional comments regarding regarding New London's consideration of adopting instant runoff voting to elect your mayor.
Adoption of Instant Runoff Voting may impact public confidence in the outcome of elections, your city charter 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

Instant runoff voting represents a fundamental change in election administration and policy. IRV changes how political campaigns may be conducted, and how election results are tallied and interpreted. It may impact the voters’ confidence in election outcome.

New London should consider whether the adoption of IRV would necessitate further amendments to charter in order to avoid confusion and possible ethical issues.

1) An Instant Runoff Voting Majority is not what you think.

2) New London's campaign finance statutes may need to be amended to be compatible with IRV.

3) IRV may undermine the confidence in election results, as happened in Burlington VT. After two mayoral elections using IRV, the voters voted to repeal IRV.

4) IRV does not guarantee high turnout – Minneapolis Minnesota’s first use of IRV coincided with the lowest turnout in over 100 years.

Comments Expanded, With Examples From Jurisdictions that have used IRV: is an independent, unfunded effort to educate and inform the public about problems with instant runoff voting. See what computer scientists, mathematicians, political consultants, election officials, government officials, election integrity activists and voter advocates say about Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), also called Rank Choice Voting. See our news page for frequent updates. See our studies page for reports & analysis. Get facts, not talking points.

For more information or to obtain interviews with election experts contact Joyce McCloy, Director of InstantRunoffVoting.US via phone 336.794.1240 or email info (at)

1. Portland may need additional charter amendments to address change in meaning of "majority" as did San Francisco.

An Instant Runoff Voting Majority is not what you think

One of the claims in favor of instant runoff voting is that it provides a majority winner. That is true only if you redefine what "majority winner" means. San Francisco’s new definition of majority below.

San Francisco, “majority" is of the "continuing" ballots, not a majority of all ballots:

"If no candidate receives a majority of votes from the continuing ballots after a candidate has been eliminated and his or her votes have been transferred to the next-ranked candidate, the continuing candidate with the fewest votes from the continuing ballots shall be eliminated. All votes cast for that candidate shall be transferred to the next-ranked continuing candidate on each voter's ballot. This process of eliminating candidates and transferring their votes to the next-ranked continuing candidates shall be repeated until a candidate receives a majority of the votes from thecontinuing ballots."

SEC. 13.102. - INSTANT RUNOFF ELECTIONS.(D) go to this link and typ

e in the SEC. 13.102 in search box.

In other words, the majority consists of the votes left after others are eliminated. The elimination of ballots and the exhaustion of ballots (the point a ballot does not have choices marked) is part of the reason that in many instant runoff voting elections often suffer majority.


2. Portland may have to amend their campaign finance laws to allow candidates to endorse each other, as did San Francisco.

Instant Runoff Voting met campaign finance snag in San Francisco Any city considering Instant runoff voting should examine the charters for campaign finance laws and laws regarding majority requirements. After adopting IRV, San Francisco had to change their charter on majority requirements and and campaign finance snags. Here's the NY Times article about that.

San Francisco's New Election System Runs Into an Obstacle

By DEAN E. MURPHY Published: October 17, 2004
AN FRANCISCO, Oct. 16 - San Francisco's introduction in November of a new municipal election system known as instant runoff voting has hit an unexpected snag with the city's Ethics Commission.

One of the most noted byproducts of the unusual system - cooperation among rival candidates in races for the Board of Supervisors - might be in violation of city and state campaign finance laws. The commission is scheduled to consider the matter on Monday in response to queries from several campaigns worried about the political fallout of possible ethics charges

"It is important that we start discussing it and decide how we would like to interpret the law," said Mabel Ng, the commission's deputy executive director. "This is the first time this has come up."
Under instant runoff voting, voters are asked to rank their top three choices for an office. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, the second and possibly third choices are counted until one candidate receives a majority. The system eliminates the need for a separate runoff election.

With the instant runoff in mind, some of the 65 candidates have been identifying their preferences for the second and third slots in their races. Rivals have also held joint fund-raisers, shared Web sites and printed campaign literature that identifies their ranked choices.

But several campaigns have been advised by the Ethics Commission staff that city and state laws appear to ban cooperation among candidates if it involves the expenditure of campaign funds. For example, a candidate can walk door to door with a rival and endorse the rival in conversations with voters, but the candidate cannot print and distribute literature that makes the same endorsement.
The problem is a section of the city's campaign and government conduct code, which mirrors a provision in state law, prohibiting candidates from making independent
expenditures to support or oppose other candidates. The Ethics Commission has ruled in the past that the purpose of the ban was "to ensure that campaign funds are spent only for the candidate to which the donors provided the funds."

Greg Dewar, a consultant for Susan King, one of the candidates in District 5, said Ms. King wanted to list a rival, Ross Mirkarimi, in a campaign pamphlet as her second choice. But when Mr. Dewar contacted the Ethics Commission staff about the plan, he said, no one could say for sure if it was legal.

"The rules have not caught up with the election changes," Mr. Dewar said. "This was not quite thought out."

In nearby District 3, where three candidates have loosely joined forces, the campaigns have tried to avoid legal problems by dividing their joint expenses. But Chuck Thomas, who assists the

campaign of one of the three, Eugene C. Wong, said the campaigns want an official ruling from the commission.

"We don't want to have this come back at us the day before the election and have ethics charges," Mr. Thomas said.

With the election fast approaching, Ms. Ng said that the commission would probably make an interim decision, but that the question would ultimately be settled by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

A spokeswoman for the state commission, Sigrid Bathen, said the laws in question resulted from a statewide ballot measure that passed in 2000. Should the
San Franciscocandidates be found in violation, Ms. Bathen said, only a formal ruling by the state commission would exonerate them from prosecution.

NY Times San Francisco's New Election System Runs Into an ObstacleBy DEAN E. MURPHY Published: October 17, 2004

Blog “Instant Runoff Voting met campaign finance snag in San Francisco

3. Burlington VT repealed IRV after voters lost confidence in the results of election

See this brief video where Burlington Voters speak out about Instant Runoff Voting after voting to Repeal it on March 2, 2010.

Rutland Herald

Article published Apr 27, 2010
Instant run-off voting experiment ends in Burlington
MONTPELIER — Vermont's largest city saw its brief experiment with instant runoff voting end Monday with a stroke of Gov. James Douglas' pen, a move that supporters of the alternative election system concede is a setback for the movement.
Burlington residents rejected the use of IRV to elect their mayor in a vote earlier this year by a 52-48 percent margin. Responding to the vote, the Legislature approved the new charter changes and Gov. Douglas signed the revised voting procedure into law on Monday, removing the use of the runoff election system.

The city — the largest in
Vermont — used IRV for two election cycles.
"There is no doubt that this is a setback," said Paul Burns, the executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, which has lobbied to use IRV on all statewide elected offices. "It doesn't mean that IRV still can't happen statewide … and I don't think this is the last word on IRV for

Championed by Vermont Progressives and liberal Democrats, the IRV asks voters to rank candidates by their preference. If a single candidate doesn't get a majority - 50 percent of the votes plus one - the lower choices of voters are used when their top candidate is at the bottom of the pack.

Several major U.S. cities such as San Francisco andMinneapolis use the system for local elections and IRV, under different names, is also used in Australia, Ireland and Fiji. The runoff system is often praised because it removes the fear that a third-party candidate could "spoil" the election by drawing support away from the most-popular candidate.

Burlington, after electing Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss in the 2007 and 2009 elections, voted to dump the system at town meeting this year. That repeal effort was led by Rep. Kurt Wright, R-Burlington, who lost the mayoral race to Kiss last year.

"IRV confused a lot of people," said Steve Larrabee, the chairman of the Vermont Republican Party. "I think people are used to the idea of voting a candidate up or down and that the person with the most votes wins."
The Vermont Republican Party opposes IRV, Larrabee said, believing that the "traditional system" of one person, one vote has worked well. But he said he didn't believe the battle over IRV was over in
Vermont, noting that there are rumblings of a possible comeback in future years in Burlington.

Burlington has spoken and they don't like the system," he said.

Vermont lawmakers passed a bill, S.108, two years ago that would have used IRV for the state's U.S. congressional races. Although the bill passed both the House and the Senate, it was vetoed by Douglas, who once served as Vermont Secretary of State.

"Moreover, voters should not be asked to cast their ballots based on a wide range of hypothetical, theoretical or imaginary outcomes,"
Douglas wrote in his veto message. "Elections have always been, and ought to remain, contests among individual candidates and their ideas."
Since then, the IRV movement has seemingly died down in
Vermont. Several supporters at the Statehouse said they weren't even sure if there was an IRV bill introduced in this session (two bills were introduced last year, one to use IRV for the gubernatorial election and another to use it for the Congressional races. Neither bill came up for a committee hearing).

"I don't blame the state Legislature for taking a wait-and-see approach," said Burns.

Rep. David Zuckerman, P-Burlington, is a long-time supporter of IRV. He saw this year's town meeting vote to reject the system in his city as a referendum on the Kiss administration, which is at the center of several political controversies.
"We need to do a better job of sharing how IRV works," Zuckerman said. "The opposition had a great marketing slogan."

One of the reasons IRV may have failed in
Burlington is because of "partisan politics," said Rob Richie, the executive director of FairVote, a Maryland-based non-profit group supporting IRV. If the system had been used by the city to also elect its City Council, Richie said, politicians from all three major Vermont political parties would have been elected with IRV.

Burlington is only the second U.S. city to use IRV and then reject it several years later, he added.

"This doesn't help the effort in
Vermont in the short-term," Richie said. "But the national trend is toward using IRV. This year, three new cities will use it."
If the IRV movement gained new steam in
Vermont, it would also need to confront the legal decision as to whether or not implementing such a system would require a change in the Vermont Constitution. Gov. Douglas cited the state's Constitution as one of the reasons for vetoing the IRV several years ago.

Opponents, along with Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, say it would, setting up a long and complex legislative battle, but supporters believe IRV can be used for top statewide races without the change.

"It's a hurdle that would need to be overcome," Burns said.

Lea Terhune, of Repeal IRV Blog says that the IRV repeal was a non-partisan effort:

"IMHO, Mr. Barlow, IRV is finished statewide, because the problems with IRV are known now. KURT WRIGHT DID NOT LEAD THE CAMPAIGN TO REPEAL IRV, that's sour grapes on the part of losers who are looking for a way to diminish the non-partisan repeal and the fact that IRV is it's own worst enemy! Zuckerman blames Mayor Kiss? The mayor was hurt the most by IRV because it robbed him of a clean win, and voter confidence, at a time when he inherited serious problems and needed public confidence to weather the economic storms. IRV was repealed, with a vote of no-confidence that increased in every ward in the city, leading to a real majority win for repeal."

Blog link

4. IRV does not guarantee high turnout – Minneapolis Minnesota’s first use of IRV coincided with the lowest turnout in over 100 years.

Minneapolis instant runoff voting - lowest turnout since 1902

Minneapolis had its first instant runoff voting election on Nov 3, and had the lowest voter turnout since 1902, well over a hundred years. This was the lowest turnout since Mayor "Doc" Ames, also known as "The Godfather of Minneapolis left office while under investigation for corruption. So much for the claim that IRV magically increases voter turnout.

"Doc Ames"

Low-key mayoral contest depressed Minneapolis turnout, officials say
At 20 percent, turnout hit a low not seen since 1902. Results released Wednesday were good for incumbents. By STEVE BRANDT, Star Tribune November 11, 2009
Unofficially, 45,964 votes were cast for mayor this year, or the lowest since 35,837 were cast in 1902, when the city's population was about 54 percent of its current estimated population.

The article title incorrectly says "officials" claimed "low-key mayoral contest depressed Minneapolis turnout." But the reporter does not cite officials saying this, but does cite Tony Hill, a Minnesotan working on his phd in poli sci. The title should have said "political scientist says" rather than "officials say".
I thought it would be interesting to see what was happening with Minneapolis politics in 1902, the year with lowest turnout in the state until Minneapolis' first IRV election this year:

"The Godfather of Minneapolis"
Albert Alonzo "Doc" Ames (January 18, 1842 – November 16, 1911) held several terms as mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the late 19th century and very early 20th century. He was known for his geniality and assistance of the poor, sometimes giving medical treatment to those who could not afford it. However, he became much more famous for leading the most corrupt government in the city's history.

Blog link

Low-key mayoral contest depressed Minneapolisturnout, officials say

November 11, 2009

Turnout for Minneapolis elections last week was the lowest since 1902, before women got the vote, according to historical records.

That's the conclusion of Tony Hill, a Minnesotan pursuing a doctorate in political science who has done extensive historical research on Minneapolis politics and government.

In fact, Mayor R.T. Rybak's vote total, although lopsided in comparison to his challengers, ranks as the lowest for aMinneapolis mayor since 1910.

Hill agreed with city election officials in saying that the 20 percent turnout had little to do with the city's new ranked-choice voting system and almost everything to do with the lackluster contest at the top of the ballot. Incumbent Rybak was not seriously challenged by any of his 10 competitors and ran a nearly invisible campaign for mayor.

Hill said he's also concluded that two City Council incumbents have nothing to fear despite not attaining a majority in first-choice votes in the city's new ranked-choice voting regimen. That's because in studying Canadian parliamentary elections, he's not seen a situation where candidates like Barbara Johnson and Don Samuels -- who each drew 47 percent but had a wide gap over the next closest candidates -- wouldn't have won based on second-choice votes.

The city planned to release hand-counted tallies for several wards on Wednesday, but none of them were close enough to require second-choice rankings to settle the winner. The order in which the city is counting wards was determined by the drawing of lots at a pre-election media briefing. Asked why the city didn't count the closest wards first, interim Election Director Patrick O'Connor said election officials prefer to decide matters by lot.

Results released Wednesday showed these winners: Second Ward, Cam Gordon, 84.1 percent; Sixth Ward, Robert Lilligren, 52.9 percent; 11th Ward, John Quincy, 63.6 percent; 12th Ward, Sandra Colvin Roy, 64.3 percent; and 13th Ward, Betsy Hodges, 69.2 percent.

The city has hand-counted more than half of its precincts at a rate faster than anticipated because of the low turnout. But it has yet to complete the verification of results in some wards, which holds up the release of results beyond the raw totals released on election nights.

Unofficially, 45,964 votes were cast for mayor this year, or the lowest since 35,837 were cast in 1902, when the city's population was about 54 percent of its current estimated population. That helped to depress Rybak's vote total to an unofficial 33,220, the lowest since 25,576 people voted for the winner in 1910, according to Hill's research of city records.

A spokesman said that Rybak is proud of his victory and believes it shows confidence in his ability to get things done. "As a democratic community, we should all be disappointed that more people don't vote in local elections, and strive to improve voter turnout in future years," said mayoral spokesman Jeremy Hanson.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

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