Tuesday, April 6, 2010

San Leandro deadlocks on ranked choice voting ordinance

San Leandro CA City Council changed their mind about instant runoff voting after learning the drawbacks. Often when people who initially support IRV change their mind once they learn how IRV acts in real elections. The use of Instant runoff voting is fairly rare, yet has existed since the 1850s. Could it be because IRV is bad for voters, bad for candidates and bad for confidence in elections?
Council Deadlocks on Ranked Choice Voting Ordinance City Hall
The San Leandro City Council failed to pass a ranked choice voting (RCV, also known as instant runoff) ordinance when Councilmember Diana Souza switched her vote at the April 5, 2010, City Council meeting. If the vote stands, San Leandro may end up paying the additional costs of RCV while holding a traditional election and runoff in November 2010. The RCV ordinance is the last step needed to use RCV for the November election. At the January 19, 2010, City Council meeting, Souza had voted with the majority to approve the RCV cost sharing memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Alameda County and the cities of Oakland and Berkeley and to move the election to November. Souza joined Councilmember Bill Stephens and Joyce Starosciak in voting against the ordinance.
After the vote, Mayor Tony Santos declared that he would "set aside" the vote by exercising a provision of the city charter that permits the Mayor to essentially ignore the vote and to vote again on the same item at the next meeting.

The next regular meeting of the San Leandro City Council is April 19, 2010.

San Leandro still comes out ahead by saying NO to IRV even if the city gets stuck with some IRV costs.

The city, by saying no to IRV will not have to endure the lack of confidence in election outcome that has been experienced in other places that tried IRV (and ditched it later).

By saying no to IRV, San Leandro will not have to overhaul its elections administration system nor will the city have to create an intense voter education program to reach all vulnerable segments of the voting population.

Cary, NC, Pierce County Washington and Burlington Vermont ditched IRV after trying it. Aspen Colorado will be reconsidering the method after one IRV election that left many voters baffled on how the votes were counted. Worse, Aspen had to outsource its election to a specialized vendor who programmed the voting machines with the wrong IRV algorithm.

IRV is a very complex voting system and the only one I know of where you can't simply tally the votes up at the polling places on election night. IRV is not additive and you have to haul votes away from where they are cast in order to go through the complex sorting and reallocating process which includes eliminating some votes.

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Rob Richies latest instant runoff voting promo in "tribute" to Granny D

Rob Richie never misses an opportunity to plug instant runoff voting. Rob Richie has a "tribute" to Granny D (RIP) posted to his blog at Huffington Post. Maybe you remember another one of Rob's such "tributes" to another beloved national voting activist, last year. One that even RR admits drew criticism of exploitation. RR even edited that article to ad " I've heard that some readers thought I was capitalizing on this tragedy to suggest that John Gideon was an ally on instant runoff voting...I apologize to anyone offended by this piece".

Apparently Granny D liked instant runoff voting, at least she did 10 years ago, right after the pain of the disastrous 2000 presidential election. It sounded like a good idea then, if you didn't ask too many questions. Other reforms also seemed a good idea, and sadly one of those, paperless electronic voting was actually adopted. After 2000, e-voting sounded like a good idea- at the time.

Goodbye, Granny D: Doris Haddock's Long March.
Rob Richie, Huffington Post Blog
"I met Granny D in 2001 at a pro-democracy conference in Philadelphia, where our tables adjoined one another... As we talked about lessons from the 2000 election, she was fascinated by the idea of instant runoff voting, the ranked choice voting system that accommodates multi-party politics. A year later, she had woven 'IRV' into her speeches, including in a searingly acute analysis of the major parties as we hurtled toward the Iraq war...

Well, for once Rob Richie is allowing comments, but someone is moderating them, and there is a good chance my comment won't pass muster, so, I am blogging it here:

Whether you like IRV or not, it would not be feasible to conduct a presidential election in the US with it.

"...IRV is not additive. There is no such thing as a "subtotal" in IRV. In IRV every single vote may have to be sent individually to the central agency (1,000,000·N numbers, i.e. 1000 times more communication).... If the central agency then computes the winner, and then some location sends a correction, that may require redoing almost the whole
computation over again. There could easily be 100 such corrections and so you'd have to redo everything 100 times. Combine this scenario with a near-tie and legal and extra-legal battle like in Bush-Gore Florida 2000 over the validity of every vote, and this adds up to a complete nightmare for the election administrators." citation: Center for Range Voting.

IRV is like 3 card monte, the rules vary. Most US voting systems or ballots can't allow for more than 3 rankings to be counted. So if you want to rank 5 people, sorry.

IRV puts even more reliance upon complex software to sort, allocate, reallocate and eliminate choices and declare a winner.

I think that ALL votes should be counted and reported, and with IRV that doesn't happen.

Cary NC, Pierce Co Washington, and Burlington VT voters ditched IRV after trying it.

If Granny D were alive today, who knows, she might change her mind, others have.

Edited to ad: Rob Richie misleads further in the comments, so I have to correct that too:
Look at Rob's own words in his April 2009 "tribute" to another beloved national voting activist. RR even had to edit his own "tribute" article to apologize: " I've heard that some readers thought I was capitalizing on this tragedy to suggest that John Gideon was an ally on instant runoff voting...I apologize to anyone offended by this piece".

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