Wednesday, May 26, 2010

IRV/RCV ain't saving money in Mineapolis!

Leave it to Rob Richie and the folks from IRV Factcheck (shhhssss! - don't tell anyone they are really all from FairyTaleVote) to put a positive spin on the high costs of the 2009 Minneapolis RCV election: sure it cost $365,000 to do IRV/RCV in Minneapolis, but it was only the first time. When we do it more often, and buy new voting machines, the cost will come down. Of course they will Rob - we all know you wouldn't BS us about IRV/RCV, would you?

But let's take a real close look at those numbers.
Actual Expenditures:
Total Elections Budget 2005 adj 2.5%/yr (Municipal Primary & General) $ 1,124,602.12
Total Elections Budget 2007 adj 2.5%/yr (No Election) $ 666,591.09
Total Elections Budget 2009 (RCV Municipal General) $ 1,470,329.00
Difference between 2009 and 2005 $ 345,726.88

In other words, the last time there was a municipal election in Minneapolis, there was a primary election as well. There were 16 different contests including the mayor's race, which means it was a citywide primary election. It cost Minneapolis $1,124,602.12 to hold two elections.

Move forward 4 years after all the IRV/RCV hype and BS. For 2009, Minneapolis spent $1,470,329.00, which was a $345,726.88 difference between 2005 (with a primary and general election) and 2009 (where one single IRV/RCV was supposed to save all that money).

Here's the voter turnout in the 2005 and 2009 races:

32,185 votes cast in the 2005 primary election
68,481 votes cast in the 2005 general election
45,117 votes cast in the 2009 IRV/RCV election the lowest turnout in over 100 years since 35,837 votes were cast in 1902, when the city's population was 54% of it's current estimated population!

But there were also 32,185 votes cast in the 2005 primary election - only a 5.81% difference in turnout of registered voters compared with the 2009 IRV/RCV race that was supposed to improve voter turnout!

IRV/RCV advocates like to claim that their method improves voter turnout. Well, the much-ballyhooed IRV/RCV only had a little more turnout than the low-turnout primary elections they are supposed to be an improvement over.

I've used costs per registered voter to show how expensive IRV is, but I've been told by fellow travelers from FairyTaleVote that's not a fair measurement - I must use cost per voter that turned out. OK - I will do that. But it makes matters even worse!

Adjusted for inflation, Minneapolis spent an extra $365,000 for one single IRV/RCV election than they spent for both a primary and a general election in 2005. Even though all IRV/RCV advocates like to claim that an IRV/RCV election is cheaper than holding two elections.

Dividing up the costs per registered voter, once single IRV/RCV election cost each registered Minneapolis voters only $1.46 than the cost of a separate primary and general election in 2005. But that's just per registered voter. Often there are fixed costs that don't change no matter how many voters show up.

IRV advocates like to cite the high cost per vote cast in a primary or runoff election. Adding the total number of votes cast in both the primary and general election in 2007, that antiquated system cost Minneapolis voters $11.17 per vote cast vs. $31.99 per vote cast in the 2009 IRV/RCV election - almost 3 times as much!

But even though you have no way of knowing how many voters show up at the polls, you still gotta keep the precinct polling places open. And Minneapolis had 131 precincts in 2009, the same number in 2005. But in 2005, they had to keep each of those precincts open for the general election as well as the primary election - so it's fair to say that Minneapolis had a cost per precinct of $4292.37 for each of the two elections in 2005 compared with a cost per precinct of $11,223.89 - almost 3 times the cost per precinct! And if you add up both 2005 elections - they cost $8,584.75 per precinct vs. $11,233.89 in 2009.

Oh - and one more thing. The IRV advocates on IRV Factcheck like to claim that there was only one defective ballot out of the 45,968 cast. Bullshit! Maybe only one defective ballot made it through the scanners in 2009, but the Minneapolis Election Department provided information about a higher number of spoiled ballots in 2009, which suggests some serious problems with IRV/RCV
Spoiled Ballots: In the polling place, if a voter makes an error, the voter can return the spoiled ballot to an election judge and receive a new ballot. This number is not included in Total Ballots Cast because the voter received a new ballot.
That makes perfect sense. So let's take a look at the spoiled ballot numbers for the 2005 primary, 2005 general, and the 2009 IRV/RCV election:

Holy Cow Batman - do you see the number of spoiled ballots in Minneapolis?

Compare the number and percentage of spoiled ballots in the 2005 primary election vs. the 2009 IRV/RCV election.

Both elections had many candidates on the ballots. In the 2005 primary you only had to pick one candidate in most of the races. But in the 2009 IRV/RCV race, you not only had to consider who was your favorite candidate (as you did in 2005) but you also had to rank other choices - two additional choices for a total of three possible choices in each race. Think that was easy? Guess again - the spoiled ballot numbers and percentages were three times higher in the 2009 IRV/RCV race as they were in the 2005 primary election.

And when you look at the spoiled ballots as a percentage of the 45,968 total votes cast in the 2009 IRV/RCV race vs. the 100,666 votes cast in both the 2005 primary and general elections. In both 2005 race, the total # of spoiled ballots was 1366, or 1.35% of the 100,666 total votes cast.

In the single IRV/RCV election of 2009, there were 1888 spoiled ballots out of 45,968 ballots - or 4.11%. In other words, a much higher number of spoiled ballots for a smaller number of voters. At that rate, if 70,00 voters would have turned out in 2009, you would have had 2875 spoiled ballots compared with 1366 for November 2005 and 1366 for both 2005 elections.

I don't know where anyone at IRV Factcheck gets off claiming that IRV saves money, and is easy for voters to understand. The number and percentage of spoiled ballots say otherwise - and they also say that the folks pushing IRV - including those at IRV Factcheck - are doing some misrepresentation.

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time they have misrepresented information about IRV - and in one notable case, the courts said IRV/RCV advocates have broken election laws as well:

The panel has concluded that these violations, which were reflected in approximately 40,000 pieces of campaign literature, were multiple and deliberate. They were made despite the clarity of the statutory prohibitions, and the Respondent remains completely unapologetic.
The St. Paul Better Ballot Campaign, which broke the law, was part of Jeanne Massey's FairVoteMN group and in fact FairVoteMN has held "Get out of Jail" fundraising party on January 19th to raise money to pay the $5,000 fine for deliberately breaking MN election law.

IRV Factcheck takes the cake when it comes to misrepresenting the facts about IRV!

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