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The Voting Literacy Test of the 21st Century

By       Message Joyce McCloy     Permalink

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Instant Runoff VotingThe Literacy Test of the 21st Century

Demand one person, one vote, on paper, publicly audited, no exceptions

North Carolina adopted a pilot program for instant runoff voting for up to 10 cities in 2007 and up to 10 counties for 2008. "The State Board of Elections shall closely monitor the pilot program established in this section and report its findings and recommendations to the 2007 General Assembly." The city of Cary used IRV for municipal elections in October 2007 and the city of Hendersonville will use IRV for municipal elections in November 2007.
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The IRV proponents' next step is to quickly rope in 10 Counties.  The best way to do this is without public discussion.
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Instant Runoff Voting is not Instant, and not as easy as 1-2-3
San Francisco re-named it "Ranked Choice Voting" because it isn't "instant"
It opens us up to a gaming of the ballot, and makes election transparency as clear as mud.
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We have done a lot to clean up elections in North Carolina.
Some special interests kept us from ditching all the touch screens, so we are still very vulnerable in some parts of the state.

Efforts to block the vote just keep coming:

1st, only certain people could vote.

then, some people only had 3/5 of a vote

next, came poll taxes,

then, came literacy tests,

We would never tolerate these barriers to our franchise today.

Today's barriers to voting are more sophisticated and promoted sometimes by people we trust and respect: 

Paperless Electronic Voting. 
Votes are lost, switched, added or subtracted by voting machines with no paper record to check the electronic count against. We corrected that by passing the Public Confidence in Elections Act in August, 2005.
Voter registration databases.
When registering to vote, people have to provide a social security number, and a drivers license number (if they have one) etc on it. 
Then the State Board of Elections has to match this information with the DMV and the Social Security databases.  20% of social security numbers don't match, and they don't give a reason why.  The last 4 digits are what are used to run the match, and any woman who has had a name change, or anyone with a mis spelling etc can be disenfranchised.  If you didn't match,  then "No Match, No Vote"! They aren't registered. We corrected North Carolina's "No Match No Vote" rule  in August, 2007
Once approved by the DOJ (we are a Jim Crowe state and have to get clearance) then if you don't match, you will just have to provide the typical NC required id the first time you vote.  You will be registered!

What is new in Blocking the Vote?

How about Instant Runoff Voting, a new, sophisticated voting method -marketed as "Its as easy as 1-2-3". (some voters took this promo too seriously and put numbers on their ballots instead of shading in the circles).

Lucky you, you get to mark 3 choices for one contest in a local election!

Many people will be embarrassed to say - but I don't get it, how is my vote counted?

What if I rank the only candidate I care about  - 3 times? (hint - your 2nd and 3rd choices won't count)

What if I don't have a 2nd and 3rd choice, will my vote count as much as other peoples? (No!)

What if I don't read the same papers and hear the same radio that "educates" the public about IRV?  (You won't be on equal footing.)

Even SOME intelligent, well educated people in Cary, North Carolina found it confusing. Cary Demographics are unusual, this is a predominently white, educated and upper income community. The City Council website boasts that  "This year, 94.3% of the respondents had internet access" But still IRV confused some folks:

Cary election previews vote in Hendersonville By Jordan Schrader, October 15, 2007
...When the count ended, Frantz led by a couple of dozen votes, with an official total due Tuesday.  Frantz said he wouldn't support another instant-runoff.
Hundreds of people he met left the polls not understanding the system, he saidHe prefers an actual runoff with a clear choice of two candidates.
"Even after all this is said and done, none of us got a clear majority," Frantz said.
IRV was "tested" in Hendersonville, NC using touchscreens (anyone say "incentivizing touch-screens?).  One voter complained about the confusing ballot, and was bashed by the officials. On October 19, 2007 He told the "Blue Ridge Now" reporter:
"I call it instant confusion"....
He said the elections worker he spoke with didn't seem pleased when he questioned the system.   "She acted almost like she was offended, like 'you idiot, can't you figure it out?'" he said.

IRV and its effect on election integrity and transparency 

Dr. Rebecca Mercuri  Internationally respected computer scientist and e-voting expert warns - "

"IRV and other proportional balloting methods have been proven to incentivize the introduction of electronic ballot tabulation in places where none previously was needed or has existed, and they further complicate what has become an increasingly closed process for the determination of election results.

Since these methods lend themselves to potential "gaming" of the ballot set that may not be independently detectable or auditable, these run-off styles must be prohibited. The present climate of distrust regarding election integrity will only be further undermined by skepticism invoked by increased complexity of alternative balloting methods, especially if the vendors are allowed to continue to obfuscate their vote tabulation products."

More on What They Don't Tell You about IRV:  

1)negatively impacts election integrity,
2)increases costs and labor for elections, audits and recounts, making them more onerus, 
3)disenfranchises certain segments of the population,
4)does not meet its political promise,
5)does not allow voters 2nd chance to elect their preferred candidate,
6)it does nothing about the problem of ballot access for third parties.

Have a conversation with one of your friends and try to explain to each other how the ballots are counted.

See the instructions here (pdf file) 

IRV in Australia and Ireland - third parties are shut out 
IRV is more compatible with countries like Australia, or Ireland - that have only 1 or 2 contests on the paper ballot counted by hand. But Australia and Ireland don't vote for lots of contests like we do in the US.  They vote for party tickets, or parliament, and then most other offices are appointed.
Even with IRV, Australia's government is dominated by two parties , and Ireland is dominated by one. Third parties are still mostly shut out.
North Carolina doesn't even have "real" IRV, it has a "modified" form that ranks only three candidates and eliminates all but the top two.
Cary,  North Carolina's election was a mess, provisional ballots weren't even counted until canvass, after the "first" and "second" rounds, perhaps because the law was so poorly written.  Election officials had to back up and re-insert the approved provisionals.
IRV is just a 21st century version of a literacy test.

Learn more at Instant Runoff Voting US

Demand one person, one vote, on paper, publicly audited, no exceptions


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Editor of the Voting News. The Voting News is a free national newsletter about election integrity issues, voting machines, election fraud, voter access and legislation in United States and international news.

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