Friday, February 5, 2010

Group sues to stop instant runoff elections in San Francisco, hearing 3-12

Instant runoff voting disenfranchises voters, and finally someone in San Francisco is doing something about it. As someone who cares about the voter franchise and about verified voting, the day I've waited for has finally arrived! Good to see someone in SF challenging the 21st century literacy test.

IRV is inherently unfair to voters and mathematically flawed. Further, the claim in the story that IRV votes are counted until someone receives a majority - is not true. San Francisco
changed its charter to redefine majority to mean majority of votes -after- others are eliminated.

Group sues to stop instant runoff elections in SF

Bay City News February 5, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO — Six San Francisco residents sued the city in federal court Thursday to challenge its instant runoff voting system.

The lawsuit claims that the way the city implements the system is unconstitutional because some voters are denied the ability to have their vote counted in later rounds of balloting.

The instant runoff system, also known as ranked-choice voting, was approved by a voter initiative in 2002 and put into effect beginning in 2004 for the offices of mayor, Board of Supervisors, district attorney, city attorney, sheriff, public defender, treasurer and assessor-recorder.

The system is intended to avoid the cost and the risk of low voter turnout in having a separate runoff election at a later date when no candidate in a race wins a majority.

Under the system, voters can rank three choices in each race. If no candidate in a race wins a majority, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and his or her votes are transferred to the second choices of each citizen who voted for that candidate.

The process continues until one candidate achieves a majority.

Some races, such as supervisor contests, sometimes have a dozen or more candidates.

The lawsuit claims the system violates the constitutional right to vote because voters whose candidates are eliminated in early rounds have no voice in the final rounds of ballot counting in the instant runoff.

The suit seeks a preliminary injunction that would require the city either to return to having a separate runoff election or to allow voters to rank all candidates in a race.

A hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction is tentatively scheduled for March 12 before U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco.

Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said lawyers for the city had not yet seen the lawsuit, but said, "It's the city attorney's job to vigorouslydefend the laws voters enact, and that includes ranked-choice voting."
Since it is very hard to count IRV, and with paper ballot systems there isn't room to allow for ranking more than a few choices, there is no way to allow voters to rank all choices at this time.

Could this be why FairVote, the main IRV advocates, had at one time publicly partnered with the for profit internet voting corporation EveryoneCounts ? This is yet another reason to reject instant runoff voting, because the only way to count large complex ballots would be with hackable, insecure, and non secret internet voting. Something computer scientists warn against.


November 5, 2009 Instant Runoff Voting really bad says former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown The Hon. Willie Brown, Former Assembly member and Speaker of the California Assembly, and most popular Mayor of San Francisco gives his opinion on Instant Runoff Voting (YouTube video)

October 29, 2009 San Francisco Instant runoff voting 2009 Most Boring Election Ever - incumbents always re-elected ... all the promises made about IRV never came true. We're left with paying for an expensive system that hasn't lived up to its promises.

October 10, 2009 NO challengers in San Francisco 2009 Instant runoff election San Francisco is having an instant runoff voting election in November 2009, but hardly anyone is running. Both citywide offices have ONE candidate EACH. But San Francisco has to run the numbers and go through the expense of IRV anyway. Voters will see an IRV ballot for both uncontested races.

September 6, 2008 Letter from San Francisco: Politicos turning against Instant Runoff and Politics are nasty as ever

July 3, 08 San Francisco Grand Jury Report: poll workers and voters do not understand instant runoff, voting machines not yet certified.... Grand Jury Report, Our blog

Voter turnout has declined. In the 2007 mayoral/municipal election, turnout was only 35.61%, with 100,000 fewer voters than in the mayoral runoff in 2003 where 54% of the voters turned out to vote.

There was confusion over ranking. According to a Nov 8, 2007 Electionline report . "Voters also questioned the value of ranked-choice voting." "There are a lot of people who only mark one [candidate] or the same person three times," "I don't want to vote for a second one, I want this one."

Kathy Dopp "Realities Mar Instant Runoff - 18 Flaws and 3 Benefits

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