Friday, June 4, 2010


Dear Honorable New York State Legislators:

Regarding New York's Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) pilot program bill S3584B and a companion bill New York Passes Instant Runoff Voting Bill June 4, 2010

I am not from New York, but live in the state of North Carolina where lawmakers permitted two consecutive instant runoff voting pilots. Only two cities out of the entire state participated in 2007, and only one repeating IRV in 2009. I have studied instant runoff voting extensively and if you will permit, I'd like to comment on the potential impact of IRV pilots on your community. IRV is not widely used in the United States and several jurisdictions abandoned IRV after trying it. If you must have IRV Pilots, please consider building in an "escape clause" to protect jurisdictions against lawsuits, and also require public hearings so that voters have a say in how their votes will be cast and counted, how their leaders will be elected.

Please consider the following issues with Instant Runoff Voting:

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)

IRV DOES NOT INCREASE VOTER TURNOUT IN FACT, MINNEAPOLIS MN JUST HELD FIRST IRV ELECTION ON NOV 3, AND HAD LOWEST VOTER TURNOUT SINCE 1902 "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 your diverse 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. New York is a melting pot with an estimated 20.4 % of the population being foreign born. 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

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 be a large IT beta test for new voting software and or equipment? How will you effectively audit IRV? IRV may clash with New York's nationally respected verified voting law. Why endanger public confidence in elections when New York voters are still adjusting to major changes in voting? Will IRV capability take priority over reliability, accuracy, affordability, transparency and proven performance?

IRV ESCAPE CLAUSE NEEDED: Please consider installing an "escape clause" for jurisdictions to allow them to be excused from IRV pilots if they cannot afford the unexpected costs of instant runoff voting/IRV or if there is no federally certified software to tally the votes. Otherwise, in order to prevent lawsuits, (as occurred in San Francisco) these pilots can 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? 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).

IRV PILOTS SHOULD REQUIRE PUBLIC HEARINGS BEFORE JURISDICTIONS MAY VOLUNTEER: 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.

Several jurisdictions 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 and our blog


Joyce McCloy, Director of NC Coalition for Verified Voting, also Director of About Instant Runoff Voting Facts Vs 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. 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) Also see

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