Monday, May 31, 2010

Nothing is sacred to Rob Richie when it comes to IRV!

In Rob Richie's latest screed against Joyce McCloy where he compares her to Joe McCarthy, he brings up the memory of verified voting advocate John Gideon by claiming that Joyce McCloy was behind an alleged attack on Rob Richie after he "memorialized" election integrity activist John Gideon after his death last April.

It's hard to pick a "lowlight" from her litany of attacks on us and other backers of instant runoff voting, but I suspect it was her effort in the wake of verified voting champion John Gideon's death last year to spread the allegation among his friends that I was seeking to use his death to promote instant runoff voting. I received tearful communications asking me how I could do this, given his neutrality on the subject when in fact my blog post featuring a tribute to him was entirely focused on a subject he and I regularly had discussed at our conferences he attended and by email: public ownership of voting equipment.

What exactly was Richie's tribute to John Gideon? Here is the part that dealt with IRV that so many verified voting activists had a problem with:

With such limited competition, it's easy for these companies to shake money out of state governments via unscrupulous means: They can stop producing, and stop servicing, certain models artificially early, compelling states to buy new ones. They have reason to meet just the bare-bones requirements of contracts and limit the plasticity of their hardware so that they can force upgrades on states that want to reform their voting systems — making it difficult to implement innovative voting methods like instant runoff voting (IRV). (The firms also may have reason to stymie IRV because more elections means more business.)
You later posted a note on April 29, 2009:

(Note added by author on April 29: Although FairVote promotes a range of electoral reforms, we are particularly well-known for our advocacy of ranked voting systems, particularly instant runoff voting. 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

To be clear, John liked the idea of IRV, but believed that advocates should not push for implementation before certified equipment was ready to implement it. But this article is not about IRV. It's about another subject that John and I had several email exchanges about -- kicking private vendors out of our elections and having a publicly owned process. We both liked how Oklahoma did that years ago with its optical can equipment and New York with its equipment.

I apologize to anyone offended by this piece. I knew John a little from his coming to conferences we organized and from several email exchanges, but I did not know him in the way that so many leaders in the election integrity struggle did. I do think he might have liked the idea of a Gideon Initiative to pursue publicly owned election administration, but at this point I'm only raising the idea as part of my effort to salute his dedication.

OK Rob - in own words, you wanted to make it clear that John Gideon liked IRV. Really - you claim that John Gideon liked IRV? Let's read John Gideon's own words on IRV from The Daily Voting News on the Voters Unite website:

'Daily Voting News' For November 27 and 28, 2008

I have been asked often about my position on Instant Runoff Voting [also known as Ranked Coice Voting]. My answer is always that I just haven’t formed an opinion on the basics of IRV.

Rob - you still want to claim that John Gideon "liked" IRV when he stated that he hadn't formed an opinion on the basics of IRV? Or that he was neutral on IRV when in his own words he hadn't formed an opinion on the basics of IRV?

When are you going to retract your statements about Joyce and make an apology?

I do, however, have a problem with the fact that those who are avid supporters of IRV quite often favor IRV over voting system issues.

Gee Rob - who do you think John had that problem with? Here's a hint: look in a mirror!

They tend to be willing to turn a blind-eye to the use of voting systems that I would never support because there are no voting systems that actually support IRV that are federally certified.

Rob - he was writing about you and the rest of the gang at FairVote and all the other groups you claim that support IRV when you support the use of voting systems that place election integrity in jeopardy because they aren't at bare minimum federally certified. Is that pain enough for you?

Two west-coast counties, Pierce in WA and San Francisco in CA, used Sequoia systems that were a mix and match of certified parts and tested parts that were never tested and certified to be used together.

Kinda like the use of IRV on both op-scan and DRE touchscreen voting systems that were never tested and certified to be used with IRV...

Officials in Minnesota are now talking about IRV for the future. When asked about a second or third count election officials said they would hand-count those ballots but officials who have done IRV say that would be a “huge nightmare”. One of the two west coast counties is even now thinking of going back to the voters to ask that IRV voting no longer be used. We agree with this position but only until there is a system that can actually count the ballots and not be a “huge nightmare”.

In other words, John Gideon did not support IRV until there is an election system that can actually count the ballots and not be a "huge nightmare". So far, every system that has been used to count IRV is either a huge nightmare and/or can't be verified easily.

And as if all that wasn't bad enough, did you know who took over doing the "Voting News" after John died? Joyce McCloy did.

Do you know who got the "John Gideon Electronic Voting Integrity Award" this year? Joyce McCloy did.

So how dare you try and smear Joyce McCloy by comparing her to Joseph McCarthy by claiming that she spread an allegation that you were using John Gideon's death to promote IRV!

Rob - the fact is that you use every opportunity to promote IRV, even when google allows people to see that you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. To some you claim that IRV helps 3rd parties, and to others you claim it doesn't support 3rd parties.

Everyone sees you "pimping" IRV, and we roll our eyes in amazement. I read your tribute to John and I felt you were promoting IRV even before Joyce and I and others talked about it.

Rob - have you no shame?

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