Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The end of the beginning: Bradblog calls IRV an "election virus"!

Joyce McCloy just called me up and asked me if I was sitting down and had some beer handy. I said I was outside finishing up the last bit of painting I have to do before getting my new roof installed.

She told me something BIG had happened - and she was right! Brad Friedman, who blogs at BradBlog.com, just published a piece on IRV. And it was devastating!

Blogged by Brad Friedman on 6/2/2009 1:38PM

Joins 'Internet Voting' and 'Vote-by-Mail' schemes as the latest bad ideas poised to further cripple American democracy

PLUS: IRV count fails in Aspen's first instant runoff election...

Gautum Dutta, of the Democratic-leaning Asian American Action Fund blog notes a recent L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting which "discussed a study on the cost of special elections and Instant Runoff Voting (IRV)" [emphasis added]...

While speaking to the Board of Supervisors, Registrar Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan testified how low voter turnout and high costs have plagued our special elections. Logan urged the County to seriously consider anything that would reduce voter fatigue and save money.

In the past two years alone, $9.3 million of taxpayer dollars have been spent on special elections. Of that amount, over $3.6 million dollars were spent on special runoff elections (counting the upcoming July 14 runoff in CA’s 32nd Congressional District).

If IRV had been used instead of special runoff elections, taxpayers could have saved up to $3.6 million.

Note to Messrs. Dutta and Logan: Taxpayers could save even more money if we simply allow you two to just decide for us who gets elected!

As Logan, chief election official of the nation's largest voting jurisdiction (larger than 43 states combined) has had more than enough problems with the current voting system which can't even add one plus one plus one accurately, such that it is virtually impossible for anybody to verify the accuracy of results, the last thing this county needs is to complicate the math even further by confusing matters with IRV's complicate scheme of ranked choice voting where voters are asked to select a first and second place choices, etc.

For that matter, unless, and until, we can simplify our election procedures such that any and all citizens are able to oversee and verify the accuracy of their election results, no jurisdiction in this country should employ schemes like IRV, no matter how well-meaning supporters of it may be in hoping to allow a broader range of candidates and parties to have a shot at winning an election.

Along with the emerging nightmares of Internet Voting and Vote-by-Mail, IRV is yet another one of the horrible wack-a-mole schemes being endlessly advanced by advocates and profiteers who put winning elections and making money off them, over the idea of transparent, verifiable, secure democracy and self-governance expressed of the people, by the people and for the people.

Addendum... From last Friday's Aspen Daily News:

More than three weeks after Aspen’s first-ever instant-runoff election, city officials announced an error in the tabulation of the final-round vote totals for mayor. ... The error did not surface in either of the council tallies or in any other rounds of the mayoral instant runoff voting tally, officials said. ... Accuracy tests were publicly conducted before the election but they did not catch the problem that ultimately occurred.

I feel good about this latest development. We have IRV on the run in NC. Only two communities wanted to pilot IRV in NC in 2007. None in 2008 (but our State Board of Elections knew IRV wouldn't be used in 2008) and only one community voted to pilot IRV. The only NC community that used IRV to tabulate votes for a winner beyond the 1st column turned it down flat and voted to continue using traditional non-partisan majority elections with runoff if needed. Next year there will be a big Senate election in NC and I know the SBOE won't want to risk using IRV in violation of state election law and federal regulation during a big federal election. So IRV is on the way out in NC.

And thanks to verified voting bloggers, we've kept people aware of the problems with IRV, and shown how it's a danger to election integrity. And we've done it in the face of people who call us all sorts of names (liar comes to mind - I'm still waiting for my appology Elena!), and been called a "Republican" by the Democratic Chair of my county Board of Elections (I am a die-hard Dem who is an officer in my county's Progressive Democrats club). At times it's felt like Joyce and I (and a few others) have been going it alone.

But we are seeing people wake up to the dangers IRV poses to election integrity and to democracy itself. in places like Aspen, Burlington, Pierce County even while Rob Richie and Co. (aka FairyTaleVote) crow about how well IRV elections work. Now that a visible progressive like Brad has called IRV an election "virus", I feel I am not standing alone against the really bad idea that is IRV.

But I was stuck by the symbolism of this posting today - and finding out about it at the same time as I finished painting the last of the roof trim prior to getting the roofers over. Just like my home-improvement work, I saw this posting by Brad in the words of Sir Winston Churchill:

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning!

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