Thursday, June 24, 2010

Now Terry Bouricius has no shame: falsehoods about IRV cost-savings in North Carolina!

When I realized we'd be having a statewide runoff for the Democratic party nominee for US Senate, I knew I'd be reading a lot of editorials, op-ed pieces, letters to the editor, blogs, etc., calling for IRV because it's cheaper and saves time. And I knew I'd be refuting the intellectually misleading and (in some cases) dishonest claims supporting IRV - I had already done it it after the 2008 statewide primary runoff.

But some of the claims are just outrageous nonsense! Especially the claim on FairyTaleVote's IRV Factcheck 10:03 AM today about cost savings in Cary NC in 2007 :
Cary (NC) and Hendersonville (NC) are two cities that have participated in a state pilot program similar to the program envisioned in the New York legislation – a law first passed in 2006 and extended and expanded for three more years in 2008 after two IRV elections in 2007. The Wake County Board of Elections director Cherie Poucher estimates that IRV saved Cary $280,000 in its election in 2007, and would have saved as much as four times that amount if the mayor’s race had gone to a runoff.
Terry - this is totally wrong. Cherie Poucher claimed that IRV only saved $28,000 in the election of 2007 because there was only one district of 8 precincts that needed to use IRV tabulation.

Your claim of saving four times $280,000 (somewhere around $1.2 million) if the mayor's race had gone to a runoff is also bogus. Your own buddy Bob Hall of DemocracyNC (one of your front-line troopers pushing IRV in NC) made a different claim:

How much money is IRV expected to save?

About $62,000. That's what the Town of Cary would have had to reimburse the county if they had to hold a second election, open all 36 precincts, print ballots, pay staff and so on. All elections are paid for by local governments.
And it gets better. Here are the dollar amounts for the entire Town of Cary and Wake County from the Wake BOE Chair Dr. John Gilbert and BOE Executive Director Cherie Poucher:

Gilbert said the instant runoff would save the county about $62,000. The savings will come because polling places, and workers to staff them, will not be needed in Cary in November.

For a full countywide election, the savings could be about $337,000, Poucher said. That amount is what the board has budgeted for second primaries, currently the closest comparison the county and state have to runoffs.

Terry - are you math-challenged? Don't you realize that $62K for the ENTIRE Town of Cary is a lots less than the $280,000 savings you claim for 8 precincts and the $1.2 million you claim for the entire Town! Cherie Poucher said that IRV for the entire county would save only $337,000 - which is a lot less than the amount you claim for the entire Town of Cary.

Geeze - if you can't get those basic facts right in a blog called IRV Factcheck, what the hell good is it?

NOTE on June 26, 2010: I checked the IRV Factcheck blog and the extra zero had been taken out, bringing the figure down to $28,000 - in keeping with the figure provided by Wake BOE ED Cherie Poucher. But they still haven't fixed the totally false claim for a savings of four times the amount of the single District Race. 4 times $28K is $112,000 - still $50,000 more than the amount alleged by Dr. John Gilbert for the Mayor's race. Furthermore, nothing has been done to tally up the value of the in-kind services provided to the IRV pilot program in Cary by non-profits by FairVote, FairVoteNC, DemocracyNC, the League of Women Voters, NC Center For Voter Education, and the pro-bono work by commercial businesses.

Until the value of the in-kind services provided by non-profits and pro-bono work done by commercial businesses, any amount of money claimed to have been saved by using IRV cannot be taken seriously.
Hendersonville has implemented IRV with little cost, and while no runoffs have been avoided, savings would have been immediate if there had been runoffs. After voting unanimously to use IRV for a second time in 2009, the Hendersonville city council in 2010 voted to explore how it could make IRV a permanent part of its elections.
Geeze Terry - are you lying or can you not check your own FairyTaleVote archives? The 2009 Hendersonville vote was not unanimous - it was 4 to 1!

Council approves instant runoff for next city election

By John Harbin
Published April 10th 2009 in Times-News

The Hendersonville City Council voted 4 to 1 to use the instant runoff voting method in this year’s election.
The person who voted against using IRV was Councilman Steve Caraker:

“I was elected under the process,” Councilman Steve Carker said. “In information I have received since then, I feel this system needs more trial. I will vote against it.”
Yet another official elected under IRV who doesn't like it - just like Don Franz from Cary.

Part of the problem with these claims for saving money is the way that IRV has been implemented both in Cary and Hendersonville is that it was done under the table and off the books. All the cost savings have been shifted of the taxpayer's books. So we will never know exactly how much IRV cost Hendersonville in 2009. But with IRV, you pay for all the extra costs (whether on or off the books) even if you don't have the instant runoff. You always pay more for IRV whether you need it or not!

IRV advocacy organizations like FairVote (and their local FairVoteNC affiliate), DemocracyNC and the League of Women Voters performed "in kind" work that was not valued properly. FairVoteNC hired a part-time worker named Elana Everett, who ironically was the daughter-in-law of the Wake BOE Chair Dr. John Gilbert, who was one of the biggest advocates of IRV in the state. She was the former head of the NC Green Party, which pushes IRV across the state and nationwide.

Elena, along with Bob Hall and many others, performed many hours of work to promote IRV and do voter education. They even helped design the ballots set up the procedures for doing the IRV tabulation. Some mysterious outside PR firm did work on the IRV pilot in Cary, but no one will name that firm. Elena even called me a liar and claimed I made up the detail about the PR firm until I provided a copy of an e-mail from her father-in-law referring to that PR firm.

What was the value of the services performed by FairVote's Dianne Russell, the paid Director of IRV America when she not only provided voter education for Cary voters but also did exit polling when they came out of the polling place? She admitted in writing that she boiled down her voter education instructions to something quick so that voters would get it and have a positive experience with the system - then presumably tell her how great it was on the way back out. Should we trust exit polls that were influenced by pollsters trying to push something? Then - Russell admitted she faked a southern accent while she was interviewing voters. I presume that voters being interviewed by Russell on the way out would notice if she had a Maine accent on the way into the polls - does that mean Russell faked a southern accent the whole time she was "working" for FairVote in NC?

No one has ever kept track of or placed a value on those hours. If they had done that - would there have been any money saved?

The MD Legislature did fiscal studies of the costs of implementing IRV, and found that IRV would not be cheap. I analyzed those costs, and applied them to NC, and found that it would cost $20 million to implement and $3 million for voter education. There is no way you would break even with IRV - it would always cost more.

And when IRV was used in real elections and all the costs were accounted for (not done under the table and off the books like in NC), IRV DOUBLED the costs of elections in Pierce County, Washington.

And you may have read my blog posting about the higher costs of IRV in Minneapolis during the 2009 election that also had the lowest voter turnout in over 100 years!

So Terry - either you made a mistake by including an extra "zero" you shouldn't have, or you meant to exaggerate the cost savings for IRV. Which is it?

And that's not the only bogus claim you made in that IRV Factcheck posting, but I'll deal with the rest of them at a later time.

But please - if you can't check your facts accurately, stay the hell out of my state. We already have enough people who play fast and loose with the facts here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, I knew Terrill Bouricius had no shame, but he's really outdoing himself lately it seems. Like in this gem,

"After voting unanimously to use IRV for a second time in 2009, the Hendersonville city council in 2010 voted to explore how it could make IRV a permanent part of its elections."

He really said that, even though the election was 4 to 1?! Sheesh.

Good work Chris.