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 Voters repealed IRV last year.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 Since voters repealed Ranked Choice Voting, Pierce County can return to counting ballots at each polling place.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