Sunday, June 29, 2008

Action Alert - protect election integrity in NC by opposing IRV!

Here is a very important action item for election integrity in NC from Joyce McCloy with NC Verified Voting:

This is a CRITICAL action alert. Please share this message with anyone who cares about verified voting and wants to keep our Public Confidence in Elections Law intact.

We have voters from every background (liberal, conservative, disabled groups, minority groups) who agree they don't want their votes experimented with, they don't want more confusing ballots, and they don't want the paper ballot law compromised.

Take action now or be sorry later!

Rep Luebke has asked to have the IRV Pilot Program "extended" by adding it as an amendment to an existing election bill, S 1263. The excuse is that we need IRV so we won't have to spend money on expensive low turnout runoffs. But IRV is expensive! They don't tell lawmakers that.
The House Election Law Committee will be discussing Luebke's amendment on Wednesday, July 2 at 1:00 PM.
Please send an email to the House Election Law Committee and also cc your own lawmakers - its their job to protect their constituents. My email to lawmakers is lower down:
Chairman Rep. Goodwin
Vice Chairman Rep. Kiser
Vice Chairman Rep. Luebke
Vice Chairman Rep. Ross
Members Rep. Bryant, Rep. Church, Rep. Current,
Rep. Fisher, Rep. Harrison, Rep. Holmes,
Rep. Justice, Rep. Lewis, Rep. Martin,
Rep. Michaux, Rep. Stam, Rep. Starnes
Subject: S 1263-say no to IRV pilot

Please say no to adding an IRV pilot to S 1263 or any other bill.

No more Instant Runoff Experiments. Our votes are too precious.
We are told that Rep Luebke will ask to amend SB 1263 to extend the Pilot Program for Instant Runoffs.
The title of the bill is "Election Law Amendments" and is here:

If you recall, the previous pilot allowed for 10 cities in 2007 and 10 counties in 2008 to participate. Two cities, Cary and Hendersonville
participated, and no counties volunteered. The pilot expired. The people have spoken!

Cary was a disaster: besides the miscounting of the ballots, the provisional votes were not counted until after the "instant runoff"
was run. I don't know how you can "add back in" the provisional ballots after counting all three rounds of votes, do you?
In a inner office memo, the State Board of Elections admitted that IRV was too dangerous to try during the May 2008 primary.

In addition to the obvious problems with Instant Runoff (IRV) including that our machines can't handle it, many of our standards for voting systems
and vendors would be have to be lowered to allow this experimental voting system. Recounts and auditing elections are exponentially more complex
with IRV as well.

If the state is anxious to end statewide runoffs, then they could easily abolish them and join about 42 other states who do not have statewide runoffs.

The fact is that IRV is a well intentioned idea that produces unintended consequences, and fails to deliver as promised. It does not save money, is confusing and violates the KISS principle of elections (Keep it Simple). If we had a parlimentary system where you just voted for the party, and not mulitiple individuals for office, it might make sense.

Let some other state work out the many problems with IRV implimentation and voter education.
Why does North Carolina have primary runoffs? Most states don't

Kentucky repealed its provision to hold gubernatorial primary runoff elections in April 2008.
IRV disenfranchises everyone. Remember the long time voter in Hendersonville:
Oct 19, 2007 Voter finds new system frustrating By Harrison Metzger Times-News.
Hendersonville: Bill Modlin wasn't happy with his first experience with the new "instant runoff" voting when he cast his
ballot for Hendersonville City Council on Thursday. ..."It doesn't make any sense to me, and I can guarantee you because
of the way they have it set up there are people in this town that are going to lose their vote," he said. ...
"I call it instant confusion," he said. (Cached) Blue Ridge Now Oct 19.

North Carolina, Instant Runoff Voting and the Flying Car

Instant Runoff was a disaster in Cary North Carolina

On May 6, 15,000 ballots in Wake County and 2,500 in Mecklenburg County were double counted,[1] and 4,000 were omitted in Onslow County.[2]
[1]May 8, 2008 Mecklenburg, Wake find vote flaws News 14 Carolina, NC
[2] May 9, 2008 Thousands of votes missed in Tuesday tallies Jacksonville Daily News, NC

Intellectually dishonest claims for IRV

Recent pro-IRV op-ed pieces, letters to the editor and blog entries have claimed the statewide runoff election for Labor Commissioner cost about $4 million to operate almost 3,000 polling places across the state for about 75,000 voters - about more than $50 a voter. And some supporters are pushing to extend the IRV pilot for another 3 years starting in 2009 - with little or any real discussion of the issues.

It's not intellectually honest to calculate election costs that way. And we really need to have a open discussion and debate about IRV someplace other than a committee meeting dominated by pro-IRV lobbyists.

If you really want to calculate election costs, you do it based on the on the number of registered voters - not on the number of voters who turn out. And so if a runoff cost about $4 million, that works out to be 69 cents per registered voter this year, and 17 cents each year spread out over 4 years (which is how often you have needed a runoff). If you use $3.5 million, it's even cheaper - 60 cents per registered voter this year and 15 cents per year spread out over 4 years.

Our own General Assembly doesn't know how much it would cost to implement IRV. That is because so far they have let the State Board of Elections staff and non-profit IRV advocates run the show. Other states don't let advocates call all the shots. The Maryland General Assembly considered IRV three times - in 2001, 2006 and 2008 - and each time it failed. But at least they did fiscal studies to determine costs for implementing IRV - and those costs are high. If you use the $3.08 to $3.52 costs per registered voter from the Maryland General Assembly fiscal studies for the first year implementation and 48 cents voter education each year after that you are looking at taking the costs per year for the first 4 years of IRV between $1.01 and $1.13 - a whole lot more expensive than 15 to 17 cents for traditional runoff elections that don't get used often. And you gotta spend that money even if you get a winner without the IRV tabulation.

But it would cost $18 million to implement IRV statewide even if all candidates crossed the threshold with the first column votes. By the presidential election year of 2040, you are looking at spending between $37 million and $67 million more with IRV than with traditional elections and a separate runoff election. Does it make sense to always have to pay a lot of money for something you may not even need to use, or pay a little money for something whenever you need it? And what is the cost of lowered election integrity and public confidence in elections if the average citizen saw how badly the Wake BOE did the Cary IRV tabulation? Do you think that the public wants a non-profit to manage a pilot program that the General Assembly charged the SBOE with running? Do you think they wanted FairVote and The Election Reform Society to pay for Johnnie McLean to travel to Scotland to observe their elections and write a glowing report on their election - but not even show up for the Cary IRV tabulation?

We would do better to spend money on voter education and increasing voter turnout at all our elections rather than spending it on a complex, confusing and costly method that won't do a thing to increase voter turnout for the first election.

Rep. Paul Luebke from Durham is already pushing for an extension of his 2006 IRV pilot program bill. He has already amended a Senate Election Law bill (SB1263) to extend the pilot program. And even though some members of the committee that is considering that bill are aware of the risks IRV posed to the May primary election - they are still going to vote in favor of the bill.

Why - because they care getting a distorted report on the results of the pilot - consisting almost exclusively of information from IRV advocacy groups. Do you think they know that the Hendersonville didn't need to tabulate IRV for their elections, and that Wake County BOE didn't follow the SBOE procedures and screwed up the IRV tabulation?

Rep. Luebke claims that he wants to have a discussion about IRV if and when he returns to the General Assembly in 2009. Maybe we should have that discussion NOW, before we talk about extending the pilot? Especially when the SBOE knew there was a risk in using it for the May 2008 primary election.

Chris Telesca

Monday, June 16, 2008

North Carolina voters - please sign my petition!

Make sure to check out and sign my Petition to Restore Election Integrity in NC by opposing Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) at

Friday, June 13, 2008

Welcome to NO IRV NC!

This is the first of what I hope will be many postings about my efforts to keep Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) from creeping into North Carolina under the disguise of election reform.

Please check back soon and often!