Don Perata: Message to City Council: Instant Runoff Voting: Protect Our Civil Rights

13 Nov

This guest post was written by Don Perata, who was the President pro Tem of the California State Senate from 2004-08. He chaired the Senate Elections and Redistricting Committee in 2001 charged with protecting the Voting Rights Act when drawing congressional and legislative districts following the 2000 census. There were no allegations of minority voting rights violations and no lawsuits. The plans won bipartisan approval.

In 2006, Oakland voters approved the so-called Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) to be used in municipal elections. IRV was developed from a similar voting scheme implemented in San Francisco.

The Oakland ballot ordinance set forth criteria for adopting the IRV by the Oakland City Council, on whose authority it may be implemented.

The key criterion is a “public education and awareness” campaign in anticipation of the potential confusion and difficulties voters may have understanding this unusual ballot voting system. In fact, IRV may only be implemented if determined “practicable”, as by the City Attorney.

Although I initially opposed IRV, my present concern is that if it is to be implemented it needs to be implemented carefully and thoughtfully. It is on this very point that I have urged extreme caution.

Anyone knowledgeable of American history is protective of our voting franchise, especially those who lived through this nation’s civil rights movement. Many citizens died in the fight to obtain the right to vote for women and minorities, especially African Americans.  Making voting easier should be our goal, not creating more complex systems.

The right to vote is the cornerstone of civil liberty.

Therefore, it is only natural for many to be skeptical of any basic changes on how elections are conducted by the government.  IRV, adopted in San Francisco to save money by eliminating a December runoff election – will actually require voters to receive and cast two separate ballots.

One ballot is to cast your vote for state constitutional officers, state propositions, local ballot measures, and legislative, judicial and county and regional offices. This is the familiar ballot where one vote is cast for each candidate or ballot proposition/measure.

The IRV is separate from the state ballot. No one knows how this ballot will look, how to use it or how votes will be tabulated. This is another point of concern. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters (ROV) is responsible for conducting both elections – simultaneously. Yet the registrar’s office has not proved particularly competent in conducting elections with only ONE ballot, much less two. Examples of errors and omissions in past elections are numerous.

To date, the ROV has not produced its plans for the requisite and all-important public awareness and education campaign among Oakland voters; nor the training protocols for poll workers likely held to answer many unprecedented questions; nor the ballot and instructions that must accompany each sample and actual ballot.

Finally, the Oakland City Council must approve the use of IRV and pay all costs associated with it. To date the costs remain unknown. San Francisco said it spent over one million dollars on voter-education related to IRV. Oakland has a $19M budget deficit this year that will require more cuts in police, fire and other basic city services, as well as layoffs of city workers.

I find it hard to fathom how the council could justify cutting these services in favor of paying for an experimental election. But that decision is theirs.

As a candidate for mayor, I want this election to be above reproach in its conduct and outcome. I want the Registrar to accept this onerous responsibility and clearly explain how he intends to dispatch that responsibility in a timely and through manner.

There is also the question of the mechanics of how IRV will work. Can the voting machine and vote tabulating be hacked or tampered with? Will every vote be counted equally? Is it likely or fair for someone who gets the most first place votes to lose? Or, that the voters who voted for a fourth or fifth choice have their votes not counted?

This is a new and almost untested system. Can it be gamed?

These unknown and unanswered questions are precisely why voter awareness and education is so vital. Bi-lingual and older voters in particular will require special attention. (Many of whom won’t vote-by-mail; preferring instead to go to the polling place, cast their ballots and watch them placed in a locked box by the poll worker).

IRV would confuse any voter when two separate sample ballots – one familiar, one unknown – arrive by mail.

Unless the County Registrar prepares and conducts a thorough, timely public awareness and education campaign, the potential for fraud, disillusionment and anger is too great to warrant. The right to vote is simply too important.

(Note from Becks: You can read my take on these issues in my blog post about instant runoff voting and a post about the mayoral campaign.)

36 Responses to “Don Perata: Message to City Council: Instant Runoff Voting: Protect Our Civil Rights”

  1. Patrick November 13, 2009 at 9:04 pm #

    Uhhhhhhhhh…we have all seen exactly how these ballots will look – and they’re all on one ballot, not separate.

    Sorry, Perata, the real question here is why you are so interested in quashing a voter mandate. As the Declaration of Independence states “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. We have the right to know why you so strongly desire to delay the implementation of a voter-approved mandate. Disingenuous concern about cost aside, could your reasoning be any more pathetically self-serving? Hint-hint: the answer is “NO”.

    • Becks November 14, 2009 at 2:51 pm #

      While I support IRV, Perata is correct on the separate ballots. There will be one ballot for Oakland elections that has IRV and another ballot for everything else (County, special districts, state, federal) that will be the unranked ballot that we’re used to. I think people can get used to that, but there will be two separate ballots.

      • Patrick November 15, 2009 at 7:33 am #

        I apologize – the way it was written I thought Perata was suggesting that the IRV portion of the ballot was in itself two separate ballots. In any event, 1, 2 – what does it matter? When I lived in San Francisco we routinely had 3 or 4 ballots – and yet we all still managed to vote without too much hand-wringing.

  2. Madeline F November 13, 2009 at 9:31 pm #

    Anyone remember some years back when Perata was in Sacramento, and he sent a recall on an email he’d sent to his mailing list, and then a recall of the recall, and then a recall of the recall of the recall? Bless his heart, I’m glad to see him engaging with technology by posting to blogs and email lists, but it’s clear that the part of his anti-IRV stance that isn’t self-serving is based on a bafflement with the modern world that is less prevalent than he probably imagines. Have you ever encountered someone else who didn’t know that an email sent could not be recalled? Have you ever encountered someone else who would be confused by a request to rank their preferences?

  3. 14oaklander November 13, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    Wow, what a completely uninformed and bias post from a major mayoral candidate for our fair city. Notably the mayoral candidate with the most name recognition and therefore probably has the most to lose from the implementation of IRV. Since IRV is about providing voters with better choice in who represents them, rather than feeling like they must choose between a limited field of candidates that voters feel have a realistic chance of winning.

    A breakdown of Don’s post paragraph by paragraph:

    Paragraph 1 –
    “In 2006, Oakland voters approved the so-called Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) to be used in municipal elections. IRV was developed from a similar voting scheme implemented in San Francisco.”

    Actually it is called Instant Runoff Voting, no so-called editorialization needed.

    Paragraphs 2-6 kind of provide some background information, kind off topic, but ultimately aren’t that substantive so I’ll bypass them.

    Paragraphs 7-9 discuss that IRV will require two ballots. Assuming that’s the case (and no evidence was provided to support that claim) and not being privy to specific election cost figures, I’m still pretty sure the most expensive part of an election is opening the polling stations, mobilizing polling workers, etc. Assuming that is the case, IRV would save money, by instantly holding the runoff rather than going through an entire new runoff. And if there was a runoff under the old system, the ROV is going to have to count the first round of ballots, and then later the round of runoff ballots, so I really don’t understand Don’s argument here.

    Paragraphs 10 “To date, the ROV has not produced its plans for the requisite and all-important public awareness and education campaign among Oakland voters; nor the training protocols for poll workers likely held to answer many unprecedented questions; nor the ballot and instructions that must accompany each sample and actual ballot.”

    True. The election is also about a year away, there is ample time for ROV to perform their job.

    Paragraph 11-12 “Finally, the Oakland City Council must approve the use of IRV and pay all costs associated with it. To date the costs remain unknown. San Francisco said it spent over one million dollars on voter-education related to IRV. Oakland has a $19M budget deficit this year that will require more cuts in police, fire and other basic city services, as well as layoffs of city workers.

    I find it hard to fathom how the council could justify cutting these services in favor of paying for an experimental election. But that decision is theirs.”

    Actually the citizens of Oakland voted to enact IRV, its not the City Council’s role to override the citizens will.

    Talking about the costs, which is fair, Oakland is about half the size of San Francisco, and those costs are a one-time cost, just to offer some perspective on your comparison. So let’s say IRV will incur a one-time $500,000 cost to Oakland.

    Also let’s compare it to Oakland’s revenue’s rather than Oakland’s deficit (which is also certainly a concern, but this is for comparison’s sake as we’re comparing the cost figure to random Oakland budget numbers here). According to an article in the Trib (http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_13724559?source=most_emailed) Oakland’s projected revenues this year are $411M. $500,000 then seems like a far smaller number when compared to that figure, barely more than 0.12% in fact.

    Paragraph 13 “As a candidate for mayor, I want this election to be above reproach in its conduct and outcome. I want the Registrar to accept this onerous responsibility and clearly explain how he intends to dispatch that responsibility in a timely and through manner.”

    Thanks, way to tell ’em.

    Paragraph 14-15 “There is also the question of the mechanics of how IRV will work. Can the voting machine and vote tabulating be hacked or tampered with? Will every vote be counted equally? Is it likely or fair for someone who gets the most first place votes to lose? Or, that the voters who voted for a fourth or fifth choice have their votes not counted?

    This is a new and almost untested system. Can it be gamed?”

    Not really, please do some research before planting your flag like this. IRV is well tested in this and other countries, I suggest you read this webpage to find where its currently used in the US:
    http://www.fairvote.org/?page=1960

    The mechanics:
    http://www.fairvote.org/?page=178

    Paragraph 16 “These unknown and unanswered questions are precisely why voter awareness and education is so vital. Bi-lingual and older voters in particular will require special attention. (Many of whom won’t vote-by-mail; preferring instead to go to the polling place, cast their ballots and watch them placed in a locked box by the poll worker).”

    You’re right, voter awareness is important, but as previously mentioned there is still ample time. Furthermore, the public officials in Oakland and Alameda Co. are aware of the demographics of the citizens they serve, and are as capable of serving them in this capacity as in the old system.

    Paragraph 17 “IRV would confuse any voter when two separate sample ballots – one familiar, one unknown – arrive by mail”

    As a voter in Oakland let me assure you that I am capable of reading instructions and flipping ballots.

    Paragraph 18 “Unless the County Registrar prepares and conducts a thorough, timely public awareness and education campaign, the potential for fraud, disillusionment and anger is too great to warrant. The right to vote is simply too important.”

    As stated several ways above, their is a kernel of truth in this comment, “public awareness and an education campaign”, are important, and there’s time to do it. The “potential for fraud” is no more than other election systems. IRV has been used effectively countless times before, to suggest otherwise is a misrepresentation. The potential for “disillusionment and anger” is a bit dubious since this is a system the citizens of Oakland supported themselves at the ballot box.

    Ultimately, IRV has nothing to do with civil rights, it has to do with providing voters with choice. The choice to vote for candidates who don’t argue causes with hidden motives, and not feel like they’re throwing that vote away by not voting for a “popular” candidate like Don Perata. Please don’t make dubious arguments claiming to be working for the voters interests, but really just promoting your own self interest.

  4. Robert November 13, 2009 at 10:07 pm #

    I guess I just have trouble taking anything at face value from one of the primary architects of the gerrymandering of districts intended to preserve party power.

  5. John Klein November 14, 2009 at 8:49 am #

    I hope the mayoral candidates all have the good sense to stay out of IRV implementation. IRV is not, and should be, a campaign issue.

    Mr. Perata seems concerned about the cost of IRV and about an effective education and outreach program for IRV. Fine – he has made his point. Now, he should leave it alone and walk away from it. The same goes for any other mayoral candidate feeling the need to jump in so as not to lose an opportunity to be heard and seen.

    IRV is NOT a campaign issue. I also hope the candidates understand that Oakland voters don’t want be subjected to public squabbling or brawling over IRV by the candidates. Nor do they want to see IRV hijacked by one of the campaigns.

    I suggest that the mayoral candidates publicly take a “Hands Off” pledge with regard to IRV implementation. It should be over to the LWV. The candidates must then get out, and stay, out of IRV.

  6. Dave Kadlecek November 14, 2009 at 9:36 am #

    Don Perata has it exactly wrong in his second two paragraphs:

    The Oakland ballot ordinance set forth criteria for adopting the IRV by the Oakland City Council, on whose authority it may be implemented.

    The key criterion is a "public education and awareness" campaign in anticipation of the potential confusion and difficulties voters may have understanding this unusual ballot voting system. In fact, IRV may only be implemented if determined "practicable", as by the City Attorney.

    The Oakland City Charter (not an ordinance) requires that IRV be used starting in 2008, but allows the city to delay implementation until the county is able to conduct the election for the city. It doesn’t grant authority to the City Council to decide when to implement IRV based on some criteria. In fact, Berkeley’s charter provision for IRV gives Berkeley’s City Council the authority to determine whether listed criteria are met for IRV to be used in Berkeley. Perhaps Mr. Perata, being from Alameda rather than Oakland, is hazy about the difference between Oakland and Berkeley?

    Though the Oakland City Charter doesn’t make the readiness of any "public education and awareness" program a criteria for implementing IRV, it does require that the city "conduct a voter education campaign to familiarize voters with ranked choice
    voting". This is something the city is required to do, not something Perata’s allies on the City Council can undermine in order to provide an excuse to delay implementation of IRV.

    The Registrar of Voters has already said his office is ready to conduct IRV elections for Oakland (and Berkeley, and San Leandro) once the state approves use of the county’s voting equipment in IRV elections. The Secretary of State’s office has already approved the same equipment for use in IRV elections in San Francisco, and should approve it for use in Alameda County based on whether it works to conduct elections in accordance with Alameda County’s IRV rules (which are substantially equivalent to San Francisco’s, but not word for word identical). Whether or not Oakland’s budget for a particular year suffices to fund a voter education campaign shouldn’t enter into the state’s decision (and, in any case, the savings from holding one city election in 2010 instead of two should cover the cost of the voter education campaign).

    If there’s an inadequate voter education campaign for the first implementation of IRV in 2010, the responsibility will lie with Don Perata and his allies on the Oakland City Council. They would be the ones who prevent an adequate voter education program from taking place in a failed attempt to delay the implementation of IRV for their self-perceived political advantage.

    • anne S/ November 16, 2009 at 8:39 pm #

      Great post Dave.

  7. Angry LOLCat November 14, 2009 at 10:43 am #

    Meow. Can I has alternative candidate?

  8. greg dewar November 14, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    Don Perata should be applauded for resisting the urge to go with a fad that is unproven and has never worked out the way extreme ideologues claim it will.

    Good for you , Don. Don’t let the violent left get you down on blog comments.

    • OP November 15, 2009 at 7:17 am #

      The “violent left”? Are you a Stephen Colbert character?

      Yes… shame on people like the League of Women Voters for having this novel concept that when 70% of voters vote to change the city charter (in 2006…) maybe, just maybe, the elected officials should try and fulfill rather than thwart the voters’ will. People sure are “violent” for writing letters and posting blog comments insisting that candidates not interfere with the democratic process for self-interested purposes.

      Really the only argument being made is that we shouldn’t do IRV because the voter education program will fail. An IRV election would be more than a year away… could it really take the city more than a year to put together a voter ed campaign? Even for Oakland, I don’t think that’s the case.

      And if IRV has been such a disaster, why is it that in every exit poll done after the first IRV election voters prefer the new system over the old system, generally around 3-1?

    • Patrick November 15, 2009 at 7:41 am #

      I think the unproven “fad” we should be resisting is the election of state and federal government career politicians to the office of the Mayor of Oakland.

      “Extreme idealogues”. That’s hilarious! What exactly is so extreme about recording voter’s ranked preferences all at once?

    • John Klein November 15, 2009 at 7:43 am #

      Hi Greg Dewar. You seem to be politically aware and well informed. This is evident from your various websites and blogs, starting with http://www.dewar.us/.

      So, I’m not sure why the need for such inflammatory, derisive, and divisive language about those with whom you disagree. “Violent left”?

  9. voter99 November 14, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    NOV 3 INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING LOSSES – THEY TRIED IT THEY DIDN’T LIKE IT

    Some jurisdictions that recently implemented instant runoff voting have developed buyers remorse. They tried IRV and they didn’t like what they saw.

    THESE JURISDICTIONS ARE MOVING TO DITCH INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING OR HAVE ALREADY DITCHED IT:

    MOVING TO DITCH. BURLINGTON VT.
    After the Burlington Vermont 2009 IRV mayor election , reports showed that the election suffered from just about every pathology in the book: thwarted-majority, non-monotonicity, spoiler effect & other failures.
    Voters in Burlington began a push to get IRV repealed. WCAX News reported April 29, 2009 of a petition drive to get the repeal of IRV on the next possible ballot. WCAX News. The movement to repeal IRV is gaining traction. See Nov 5, 2009 Burlington IRV repeal picks up momentum
    The controversy over Burlington Telecom finances has energized the effort to repeal instant run-off voting, say those involved in the petition drive to put the issue on the city ballot in March….”A lot of people think the mayor’s race was invalid, that we have an invalid mayor,”

    DITCHED ON NOV 3, 2009. ASPEN COLORADO.
    November 3, 2009 Aspen rejects Instant Runoff Voting — by six votes.
    The city of Aspen launched its first-ever IRV election this past May. Shortly thereafter, doubts among elected officials and some residents surfaced as to whether the method was the best way to elect a mayor and City Council members.
    Also see Aspen Election Review May 5 2009 IRV single ballot audit unit

    DITCHED ON NOV 3, 2009. PIERCE COUNTY WASHINGTON.
    Majority of Pierce County voters reject Instant Runoff Voting on Nov 3 Instant runoff voting was rejected by an overwhelming majority of Pierce County Washington Voters. 44,145 of 64,106 voters said yes to ditching instant runoff voting, also called ranked choice voting. That is 71.76% for eliminating IRV and 28.24% who wanted to keep IRV.

    Pierce voters ditch instant runoff voting – save $500K for taxpayers immediately
    Nov 10 2009… Voters’ repeal of Ranked-Choice Voting last week also freed-up $500,000 would have been needed to implement the voting system for the 2010 election.
    Also see Voters changing their minds on ranked-choice
    Background: A poll from 2008 showed that 63% of Pierce County WA voters don’t like Ranked Choice Voting. That is 56,751 out of 90,738 Pierce County voters who answered a questionnaire included with their ballots that asked, “Did you like this new Ranked Choice Voting method?” December 7, 2008 The News Tribute. The county could save $600,000 if they scrapped instant runoff voting now.

    DITCHED. BRITISH COLUMBIA (2ND TIME) 61% of the voters gave a thumbs down for STV, Single Transferrable Vote, a ranking method in British Columbia. May 12, 2009.

    DITCHED. CARY NORTH CAROLINA Cary North Carolina rejected a second go at IRV, voted to keep current election method WRAL News Apr. 30 2009 Cary, N.C. — The Cary Town Council voted against a proposal Thursday to change the current election method. WRAL News and Protect NC Elections Stop IRV Blog . Also see Cary NC tries IRV, then says ‘no more’

    DITCHED. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY. February 21, 2009 Georgetown University ditches Instant Runoff Voting – cites problems The Hoya and No IRV in NC Blog

    Instant runoff voting was invented in 1870 by American architect William Robert Ware yet has not been widely adopted. IRV has also been rejected by a few jurisdictions that used it. Perhaps the problem is that IRV is loaded with the potential for perverse outcomes and is difficult to count in a transparent fashion (since it it not additive and votes are redistributed).

    more at http://tinyurl.com/irv-fails

    • Dave Kadlecek November 17, 2009 at 10:27 am #

      The voters of Oakland decided three years ago that we wanted to use IRV in our municipal elections. It appears that this decision will finally be implemented in 2010, though for self-serving reasons Don Perata and his allies are trying to delay it further.

      If the anonymous, but clearly not from Oakland, voter99, wants Oakland to reverse its decision, s/he should move here and start a campaign to do so rather than make false and misleading pseudonymous posts about IRV on the internet.

      If voter99 doesn’t want to move to Oakland, s/he should wait for someone in Oakland to begin a campaign to modify our charter to repeal IRV and donate to that campaign.

      Don’t encourage our elected and appointed officials to violate the city charter and other laws. They already do that too often on their own!

  10. Kathy Dopp November 15, 2009 at 6:05 am #

    Don Perata has it right. IRV is not only confusing and disenfranchises voters, it is the worst method of counting rank choice ballots.

    IRV violates the 14th amendment by treating voters’ votes unequally, not counting the 2nd choices of all voters whose 1st choice loses, removing the rights of voters to cast a vote that has a positive effect on the candidate, allowing voters of the least popular candidates to have the most say on who is eliminated first, prohibiting many voters from participating in the final counting rounds, and tending to elect candidates on the extreme right or left while eliminating the majority favored candidates in the center.

    IRV also eviscerates election integrity and verifiability and has to be centrally counted only after all ballots are ready to be counted.

    There are many good alternative voting methods that achieve proportional representation, but IRV is not one of them.

    • Dave Kadlecek November 16, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

      Before addressing her actual comments here, I’ll note that Kathy Dopp is the Utah high school teacher whose internet postings Don Perata cited (in an unsigned memo attached to his September 2009 letter to county administrator Susan Muranishi) as a study by a university “Professor of Mathematics”.

      Don Perata has it right.

      Don Perata’s guest blog has it wrong in many respects, as I and others have pointed out in other replies. However, what is more relevant here is that Perata’s posting here doesn’t actually claim, as Dopp does here, that IRV is confusing, disenfranchises voters, and is a bad way to count rank choice ballots. Perata merely raises questions about ranked choice voting generally, IRV specifically, and the ability of the Alameda County Registrar of Voters to implement them in 2010. His intent is clearly to impact the 2010 election
      schedule, in order to make the election in which he runs earlier and at a time at which a lower turnout would be expected. If Oakland’s IRV measure called for IRV to be implemented as standalone elections in April once the county could conduct them instead of consolidated with the high turnout November gubernatorial and presidential elections, you can bet that Perata would be maneuvering to make sure that IRV is implented in 2010. His principal interest is to keep the most important election in an earlier, lower-turnout June primary rather than in November.

      IRV is not only confusing

      Not according to surveys of voters who used IRV in San Francisco and elsewhere.

      and disenfranchises voters,

      Hyperbolic nonsense, even if you accepted Dopp’s arguments about problems with IRV. No knowledgable and sane person would deny that how voters vote in an IRV
      election determines who is elected.

      it is the worst method of counting rank choice ballots.

      Obviously untrue. For example, electing the candidate who receives a plurality of third choice votes (ignoring first and second choice votes) is clearly a worse way of counting ranked choice ballots than IRV. Most who have studied election methods, though not quite all, would agree that electing the candidate who receives a plurality of first choice votes (ignoring second, third and lower choice votes) is worse than IRV, though that is the method now used in California elections for state and federal offices.

      IRV violates the 14th amendment by treating voters’ votes unequally,

      Untrue. The courts have rejected this argument, most recently in Minnesota (in a lawsuit brought against the city of Minneapolis by opponents of ranked voting). This argument was also rejected in Michigan in the 1970s in a failed lawsuit by the Republicans against IRV’s use in partisan local elections in Ann Arbor.

      not counting the 2nd choices of all voters whose 1st choice loses,

      Depending on what is meant by “counting the 2nd choices” and “voters whose 1st choice loses”, this might be technically true, but missing the point. In an IRV election voters rank the candidates (as many as they choose to
      in an ideal situation, in reality up to the maximum number allowed by the voting equipment), and these rankings are used to simulate a series of runoff elections, eliminating last place candidates until some candidate wins a majority of the votes. In every round, each ballot is counted for the highest-ranked continuing candidate (one who hasn’t been eliminated in a previous round) on it. If a voter’s first choice candidate is eliminated after his or her second choice candidate, then the voter’s ballot will never be counted for the second choice candidate in the sense of being part of a vote total next to the second choice candidate’s name, but in every round after the first choice candidate is eliminated, the tallying process will check that the second choice candidate is one who has already been eliminated before going on to add the ballot’s vote to a third or lower choice candidate who hasn’t yet been eliminated.

      Additionally, if some other candidate wins a majority of votes in a round before a voter’s first choice candidate is eliminated, then his or her second choice will never be examined in the counting process. This is analogous to what happened to me in the 2006 mayoral election using Oakland’s current two-round runoff system. In June 2006, I voted for Nancy Nadel, who came in third place. If there were a runoff in November 2006, I would have voted for Ron Dellums (who came in first in June 2006) over Ignacio De La
      Fuente (who came in second in June 2006), but Dellums got just over 50% in June so there was no runoff.

      removing the rights of voters to cast a vote that has a positive effect on the candidate,

      Sometimes no vote a voter casts can have a positive effect on the candidate: if some candidates get too low a percentage of the votes they are depressed because
      people don’t like them, if they get too high a percentage they are anxious because they worry they can’t meet high expectations, and if turnout is too low or too many voters skip the race they’re in, they’re upset that people don’t think the
      work they do (or seek to do) is important.

      Presumably, Dopp meant to imply that some votes for candidates in IRV elections have a negative effect on the candidate’s chances of being elected. If this is meant to be something peculiar to IRV, then it’s untrue, because the scenarios which appear to show this apply equally to all runoff election schemes. Further, the results that purport to show this (at least, those of which I’m aware), don’t actually show that more votes for a candidate can hurt that candidate’s chance of election, but either that fewer votes for one of a candidate’s opponents can cause a winning candidate to lose or that more votes for a voter’s first
      choice can cause a voter’s second choice to lose to a third candidate.

      The scenario where fewer votes for one of a candidate’s opponents can cause a winning candidate to lose is that from Kathy Dopp’s video described in Patrick’s post below; I’ve responded to that in more detail in a reply to that post.

      The other scenario often touted by opponents of IRV is where more votes for a voter’s most preferred candidate C1 get that candidate into a runoff, causing his or her least-favored candidate C3 to win instead of his or her second-choice C2.

      before C1’s campaign:

      30%: C1, C2, C3
      15%: C2, C3, C1
      20%: C2, C1, C3
      35%: C3, C2, C1

      first preferences: C1 30%, C2 35%, C3 35%

      C1 vs C2: C2 70%, C1 30%
      C2 vs C3: C2 65%, C3 35%
      C1 vs C3: C3 55%, C1 45%

      after C1’s campaign:

      35%: C1, C2, C3
      15%: C2, C3, C1
      15%: C2, C1, C3
      35%: C3, C2, C1

      first preferences: C1 35%, C2 30%, C3 35%

      C1 vs C2: C2 70%, C1 30%
      C2 vs C3: C2 65%, C3 35%
      C1 vs C3: C3 55%, C1 45%

      Here C1 loses no matter what, but after a campaign aimed at those of C2’s supporters for whom C1 had been a second choice, wins enough of them to reach the second round instead of C2, losing then to C3 who was defeated by C2 when C1 was eliminated in the first round. This is seen as a perverse result because more votes for a group of voters’ first choice helps their least-favored candidate to win instead of their second choice, a less desirable result. This is the conventional wisdom of what has happened in recent California elections for U.S. Senate, where Barbara Boxer (seen as to the left of most California voters) has been elected three times by defeating far-right Republicans who won the Republican primaries against “moderates” to whom Boxer would have lost.

      allowing voters of the least popular candidates to have the most say on who is eliminated first,

      An election, whether conducted using IRV, two-round runoff, first-past-the-post or some other election system, is to determine who is elected to office. Unless the law gives some other special meaning to the order of elimination in an IRV election (which Oakland’s charter and current election laws do not), all of the candidates who were not elected were defeated, period. Some defeated candidates may, with greater or lesser justification, point to the votes they received as support for their policy positions; others may read their order of finish and margin of defeat has indicating prospects for themselves (or their parties or factions) in future elections.

      prohibiting many voters from participating in the final counting rounds,

      Under most people’s understanding of “many”, this is untrue.

      If a voter ranks all candidates running, then his or her ballot will be counted in the final round of counting. If voting equipment and the election rules prevent voters from ranking as many candidates as are running, then it is
      possible that all the candidates ranked on some voters’ ballots will already be eliminated in the final rounds of counting.

      Oakland’s charter requires ballots to allow voters to rank all candidates running, but allows election officials to provide for ranking fewer candidates (but no less than three) if the voting equipment can’t support more rankings. The voting equipment Alameda County will be using in 2010 only allows voters to assign three different rankings to candidates in IRV elections.

      I can’t find the exact figures (so those of you who are skeptical may take this with as many grains of salt as you wish), but analysis of IRV elections in which voters could rank as many candidates as were running (for example, in
      Australia and Ireland where they’ve voted for decades by writing the ranks as numbers next to the candidates’ names on hand-counted paper ballots) has found that the overwhelming majority of ballots were counted for one of their top few choices in the final round of counting. I believe it was something like 70% counted for their first choice, over 80% for their first or second choice, and over 90% for one of their top three choices.

      For voters who are aware that they have a limited number of choices and respond accordingly, we can expect that the number whose ballots are exhausted in the final rounds of counting to be even less. In a two-round runoff as is now
      used in Oakland municipal elections, most voters who supported a losing candidate in the primary will vote for one of the two who make it to a runoff, though some will deliberately abstain from the runoff because they don’t like either candidate. Similarly, in an IRV election limited to three rankings, voters whose first choice isn’t expected to make it to the final rounds can use their third choice (or second and third choices, if it’s unclear before the election which candidates will make it to the final rounds) to support candidate(s) who they prefer among the “leading candidates”, though some will deliberately rank only
      candidates not expected to do well because they don’t like any of the leading candidates.

      and tending to elect candidates on the extreme right or left while eliminating the majority favored candidates in the center.

      History, political theory and mathematics all show that this is untrue.

      Australia and Ireland have used IRV for decades, and San Francisco has for six annual election cycles. The winners in their IRV elections have been well within the mainstreams of their respective political cultures, not skewing to the extreme
      right or left (or bouncing back and forth between left and right). Conservatives in Wyoming may see the winners in San Francisco as coming from the “extreme left”, but that’s because Wyoming’s political culture is far to the right of San
      Francisco’s.

      Characterizing candidates and voters as “extreme right”, “right”, “center”, “left” and “extreme left” assumes that the variation in candidates’ and voters’ political perspectives can be measured on a single axis. This is done as a conscious or unconscious oversimplification by political journalists and activists, but it is clearly not generally true. Witness the proliferation of terms such as “soccer mom” and “Joe Sixpack” to describe various combinations of “economic
      liberal”, “economic conservative”, “social liberal” and “social conservative”. In some situations, it may be reasonably accurate to characterize people on a single political axis, and in some of those situations, depending on how voters
      and candidates are distributed along that axis, it may be true that IRV will tend to elect candidates from the extreme left or extreme right. However, it is clearly not generally true in all such theoretical situations, nor, as history shows, is it true in the actual situations where IRV is used.

      Using simple arithmetic, it can be seen that if a majority of voters in a community do support centrist candidates, IRV will result in a centrist candidate winning, while first-past-the-post or two-round runoff electionswill often result in extreme left or extreme right candidates winning (unless the centrists are a disciplined group that can effectively limit the number of centrist candidates who run in elections). Consider a community where around 60% of voters are “centrists”, and around 20% each are “extreme left” and “extreme right”, and assume that all the centrist voters prefer any centrist candidate to any extreme left or right candidates (while varying in who they’d prefer if
      forced to choose between extremist candidates from the left and right). If five centrist candidates, one extreme left candidate and one extreme right candidate run in an election, chances are that the vote-splitting in the center would result in the extreme left and right candidates coming in first and second, with either one winning outright in a first-past-the-post election or a runoff with no centrist candidate in a two-round runoff system.

      IRV also eviscerates election integrity and verifiability

      A broad claim which is untrue. See, for example,
      FairVote – Ranked Choice Voting and Election Integrity for a detailed refutation to such claims.

      and has to be centrally counted

      Ireland elects its President by IRV. This national election for a single office is not centrally counted, though it is centrally coordinated. Regional counting centers count their ballots for each round, report the results to the central coordinator, and are told which candidate(s) to eliminate for the next round of counting.

      only after all ballots are ready to be counted.

      San Francisco reports IRV results based on the ballots processed so far, updating the results as more ballots are processed. Occasionally the order of elimination or the winner changes as more ballots come in, but in most races, the difference over time is just as one would see in non-IRV races, with margins increasing or decreasing slightly, depending on whether the additional ballots coming in are
      from a population more supportive of one candidate or another than the electorate as a whole. Since Oakland (and other Alameda County cities using IRV) would use the same software and hardware as San Francisco in 2010, we’d expect something similar here.

      There are many good alternative voting methods that achieve proportional representation, but IRV is not one of them.

      This is true, but it misses the point. IRV is an election method for a single-winner election. Any single-winner election is inherently non-proportional because it is winner take all.

  11. Kathy Dopp November 15, 2009 at 6:08 am #

    For the truth about how IRV really works stay well away from the Fair Vote web site and see some of the online videos and links listed here:

    http://kathydopp.com/serendipity/index.php?/categories/2-Instant-Runoff-Voting

    and read this report

    http://electionmathematics.org/ucvAnalysis/US/RCV-IRV/InstantRunoffVotingFlaws.pdf

    Learn about what IRV/STV really does, before supporting it.

  12. Patrick November 15, 2009 at 11:34 am #

    Kathy’s youtube link (the first one) is very interesting. It shows 2 scenarios. In the first, the candidates ranked first get the following percentages:

    C1 – 39%
    C2 – 35%
    C3 – 26%

    In this scenario, C1 wins, because he gets the 26% added to his own 39%, and has a majority.

    The second scenario revolves around C1 organizing a magnificent campaign, and gets 10% of C2’s voters to defect. But even though he is ranked first by 49% of voters, he still loses.

    A flaw in the argument shown is that C1 only takes away potential voters from one of the 2 other candidates. He takes 10 first place votes from C2, but his hardcore campaign work does not take any first place votes from C3, nor does it alter C3’s 2nd place votes for those who ranked C2 first. Furthermore, his standing amongst the C2 voters he supposedly targeted does not change – he is still ranked third.

    I am willing to concede that this is a possible, but unlikely scenario. I can only think of one scenario where this might happen: in a city which has a divided electorate, and portions of the electorate would always vote for a candidate of the same gender or race, regardless of any other factor. Is that city Oakland?

    • Dave Kadlecek November 16, 2009 at 11:23 am #

      The scenarios Patrick cites from Kathy Dopp’s video are misleading in two ways.

      First, they imply that the relevant difference is more votes for C1, when actually the relevant difference is fewer votes for C2; there would be the exact same effect if the voters who switched from C2 as first choice to C1 instead went on vacation and didn’t vote at all.

      Second, they imply that this is a problem with IRV particularly, when it is actually an example of Condorcet’s paradox, a well-known problem with runoff elections generally from before anyone ever thought of IRV (at least, before anyone ever publicly proposed the use of IRV).

      before C1’s campaign:

      39%: C1, C2, C3
      35%: C2, C3, C1
      26%: C3, C1, C2

      C1 vs C2: C1 65%, C2 35%
      C2 vs C3: C2 75%, C3 25%
      C1 vs C3: C3 61%, C1 39%

      after C1’s campaign:

      49%: C1, C2, C3
      25%: C2, C3, C1
      26%: C3, C1, C2

      C1 vs C2: C1 75%, C2 25%
      C2 vs C3: C2 74%, C3 26%
      C1 vs C3: C3 51%, C1 49%

      Both before and after C1’s campaign targeting C2’s supporters, C1 beats C2 in a one-on-one contest, C2 beats C3, and C3 beats C1. The campaign resulted in C1 facing a runoff against C3 (to whom C1 loses) rather than a runoff against C2 (who loses to C1). This is the case whether the runoff occurs through another round of counting, as with IRV, or in a separate, second election, as with the two-round runoff system Oakland now uses.

      It is interesting to note that the video states C1 undertakes the campaign targeting C2’s supporters in order to try to win a majority in the first round without going to a second round of counting. There is actually little incentive for a candidate to avoid a second round of counting in an IRV election, unless the candidate expected to lose then, while under a two-round runoff system, candidates do try to avoid even a second round they expect to win in order to save the expense of campaigning for a second election. Thus
      the perverse scenario described in the video is actually more likely to occur under a two-round runoff system than under IRV.

      Further, I’d suggest that any candidate with the resources and political savvy to win over more than a quarter of an opponent’s supporters with a targeted campaign would know which of his or her opponents would be a tougher opponent in a one-on-one contest. Thus if C1 knew that s/he would probably beat C2, but lose to C3, in a runoff, any targeted campaign would be aimed at C3’s supporters, not at C2’s.

      • Patrick November 16, 2009 at 11:52 am #

        Kudos, Dave, for the excellent analysis. I knew there was something fishy about the video; I just don’t possess the skill set to explain it as superbly as you.

        And that’s what is wrong about this IRV hysteria. Virtually anyone who watches that video would come away with the impression that IRV is not in anyone’s best interest. And in our 2 second culture, it would usually be accepted as fact. It takes someone like Dave, who can analyze the data presented and put it in a form that anyone can understand to get an opposing opinion for balance.

        Fascinating, Dave. Thanks.

  13. NinerFan November 16, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    Seems like the Mayor of San Francisco doesn’t like Instant Runoff Voting.

  14. Andy K November 16, 2009 at 11:36 am #

    Well, if Willie Brown and Don P are against it, how bad can it be? Next, someone will say that Ron D is against it.

    This is not that dificult to figure out – at least it should not be. I am loosing more faith in Americans all the time.

    It would be nice if it could be expected that people would do a little home work before they go to the polls.

  15. Judy Belcher November 16, 2009 at 3:08 pm #

    yes Don Perata as you say in your letter
    “The Right to Vote is the cornerstone of civil liberty” but not only voting but implementing the laws that we vote for. The way it looks to me is that you are trying to take away our civil liberties by your campaign against Instant Runoff Voting. If you want to be Mayor of Oakland, run a honest, clean campaign and stop trying to manipulate your way into office by undermining Instant runoff Voting(approved by 69% of Oakland Voters)

    • anne S/ November 16, 2009 at 8:50 pm #

      Yea Judy!

  16. Judy Cox November 16, 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    I am writing in response to ex-Senator Don Perata’s unfortunate and misleading post on this blog. I am a former co-president of the Oakland League of Women Voters, current president of MGO Democratic Club, and a member of other community groups. I am also one of two-co-founders of the Oakland Instant Runoff Voting campaign, in which we joined with five other people to lead the campaign which resulted in 69% of the people voting to implement IRV in our City.

    When we put IRV before the voters, we did so because it is a reform which will foster many more people voting in local elections, by moving local elections to November when almost 60% more people vote; IRV will also save the City money by PERMANENTLY eliminating costly runoff elections, which can run $400,000 each. None of the leaders of the Oakland IRV campaign were politicians or candidates and so we had nothing to personally gain from IRV except the knowledge that we had helped Oakland enfranchise many more voters, especially voters in communities of color, and to save money.

    It is now pathetic and disheartaening to see a politician so desperate for victory that he is willing to misrepresent the facts to try to deny the people of Oakland the election reform which they have chosen. It is interesting that ex-Senate Perata did not take any part in discussion of IRV during the 2006 campaign nor did he issue any public statements related to the election reform; now, however, when he has become a candidate who will run under the new IRV system when it is implemented, he has developed intense interest.

    Ex-Senator Perata’s posting contains many unfortunate errors, starting with his lack of knowledge of the City Charter changes which were made when IRV won the 2006 election–Ex-Senator Perata is evidently under the impression that there were “ordinances” which implement IRV, not City Charter changes.

    Ex-Senator Perata is also evidently unaware that the Charter mandates that IRV must be implemented when the Registrar of Voters says he is ready to do so. Instead, Ex-Senator Perata INCORRECTLY claims that the City Council must approve IRV implementation “when it is determined practicable by the City Attorney”, a concept that does not appear in the City Charter or any other place. Since City Attorney John Russo was a strong proponent of IRV, Ex-Senator Perata could have corrected his misapprehension by checking with Mr. Russo–if he had wished to do so.

    Ex-Senator Perata claims that IRV is an “experimental” voting system, which is untried. Again, this is wrong information. San Francisco has successfully run six elections with IRV; other cities and jurisdictions such as Burlington, Vermont; the states of Louisiana, South Carolina and Arkansas for overseas voters; the city of London; and the entire countries of Ireland and Australia, which have been using IRV at national and local levels for decades, have all used IRV.

    The ex-senator also claims that IRV is untested, which will come as a surprise to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who has suabjected all voting systems to rigorous and substantial testing and review by computer specialists.

    Ex-Senator Perata claims that “no one knows how this ballot will look or how to use it,” still another false statement made in his post. The Alameda County ballot was designed in 2007, when the campaign leaders, City Clerks and the Registrar first began meeting to plan the implementation of IRV. It is modeled after the ballots which have been successfully used in San Francisco for six elections with great positive public support.

    The former senator also claims that no one knows “how to use [the ballot]”, still another misleading comment and that “to date, the Registrar of Voters has not produced its plans for the requisite and all-important public awareness and education campaign nor the training protocols for poll workers.” These statements are also incorrect.

    Those of us who led the IRV campaign knew that voters would need to be trained to use IRV, just as San Francisco voters were trained. In our meetings beginning in 2007, we worked with the Registrar and the City Clerks to plan a variety of means for explaining the ballot to voters, using tactics which we knew worked in San Francisco when they implemented IRV. Mass mailings to all voters in Oakland, Berkeley and San Leander are planned by the Registrar, along with an interactive website, explanatory pages in the voter handbook and a wide variety of trainings in the community given by candidates, League of Women Voters members and people representing churches and other civic groups such as Family Bridges, the Spanish Speaking Citizens Foundation and many others. Special poll workers trained to be IRV specialists will be added in all polling places to assure that voters are not confused. The Secretary of State’s office has thoroughly reviewed the educational plans and is very pleased with the extent of the education planned to help voters learn the new system. Because this is a reform which will enfranchise many more voters in Oakland, those working for the benefit of our citizens are willing to get behind the training effort.. And, as a person who has worked herself for 30 years in the field of training and development, I know these plans are more than adequate to educate the people of Oakland on this new voting system.

    Ex-Senator Perata claims that using separate IRV ballots will prove too confusing for voters, when it has caused no problem at all in San Francisco. He also asserts that San Francisco spent over $1 million on IRV. He neglects to clarify that $750,000 was the total spent on voter education and training in San Francisco, which has TWICE as large a voting population as Oakland! In addition, he does not know (or chose not the reveal) that San Francisco’s costs were in part for soft and hardware, for whcih Oakland will not have the same expenses: Oakland will pay for only part of the system costs for IRV in Alameda County, because the costs will be shared with the Cities of Berkeley and San Leandro.

    IRV is a game changer: moving Oakland local elections to November will add almost 60% to the number of voters; in addition, almost 100% MORE Oaklanders from communities of color vote in November compared with June, when there is very low turnout. By holding our local elections with many more voters and with an electorate that looks more like Oakland, we will change the game for experienced politicians who only know how to run under the present system when few people turn out and few voters are non-white.

    My father used to tell me that when someone tells you something, ask yourself what he has to gain by your believing him before you take it as truth. I’d like to ask Oaklanders to ask themselves what Ex-Senator Perata has to gain by his misrepresentations and wrong information before they believe what has been placed before them.

  17. Colin November 16, 2009 at 7:03 pm #

    Thanks, Mr. Perata, for engaging in a discussion on this forum. I appreciate your willingness to do so.

    However, you’re trying to make a case that just isn’t there, as others have pointed out. This isn’t a particularly complicated system, and there’s plenty of time to teach people how to use it. I’m not particularly concerned about that. I mean, they use it Papua New Guinea for crying out loud.

    Then, there’s this:

    Finally, the Oakland City Council must approve the use of IRV and pay all costs associated with it. To date the costs remain unknown. San Francisco said it spent over one million dollars on voter-education related to IRV. Oakland has a $19M budget deficit this year that will require more cuts in police, fire and other basic city services, as well as layoffs of city workers.

    Running one election will still prove cheaper than running 2, so
    unless you manage to get more than 50% of the vote, your notion of how to run this election is significantly more expensive.

    If I thought this was a sincere concern of yours I’d expect you to change sides, but everything you’ve written on the subject reads more like a well-flowed argument off of a debater’s legal pad than a serious concern of yours.

    That’s my problem with all of this. I’m having trouble discerning what your actual concern here is. Clearly it’s not fairness or a fear of disenfranchisement – your arguments have shifted too often for that to be the case. It’s easy to assume that it’s because you think you stand a better chance without IRV, and maybe it really is that simple. But you’re a shrewd politician, and you know this is a popular idea, so perhaps there is something else you’d like to tell us? Is it a lack of understanding? Not seeing the merits? Or do you truly not understand the mathematical flaws in Kathy Dopp’s arguments? If you think there is a unique potential to game this system, do tell – I’m all ears.

    I cannot for the life of me figure out what you’ve been railing against in IRV. I’m trying not to doubt your sincerity, but I’m having a hard time coming up with rationales for this that aren’t based on political calculation.

  18. LWV Oakland November 16, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    The League of Women Voters of Oakland is a strong supporter of IRV and worked with those leading the 2006 campaign to see it come to Oakland. We were gratified when IRV passed with 69% of the vote. We would like to correct a number of errors in Mr. Perata’s statement.

    1. Measure O, the measure adopting IRV in Oakland, changed the City Charter, not the City ordinances.

    2. The City Charter states that “The City shall use ranked choice voting once the Alameda County Registrar of Voters is able to conduct the election on behalf of the City”. There is nothing about the authority of the City Council to implement the election. Dave Macdonald, the Registrar of Voters, has stated that he is ready to conduct a ranked choice election on behalf of the City.

    3. As Mr. Perata states, a public education campaign is critical. Both the County Registrar and the City are well aware of this, and both have good plans for voter education in place. In addition, the League of Women Voters and other volunteer groups will supplement these campaigns.

    4. Mr. Perata’s concerns about disenfranchisement seem well-founded, but he needs to look at the statistics that show that Oakland’s current system disenfranchises these voters. Most elections have been decided in a March or June primary election, when the voter turnout is disproportionally low citywide, and even lower among minority communities.

    5. In US jurisdictions using IRV, there is little or no evidence of voter confusion. In San Francisco, where they had three different ballot types, uncountable ballots were about the same as in any other election. Does Mr. Perata think that San Francisco voters are smarter than Alameda County voters?

    6. The ROV has produced its education plan. He presented the plan to the Secretary of State. He presented the plan to the City Clerks. The ROV Advisory Committee has seen the plan. All of these groups have made suggestions which have been integrated into the plan. The plan includes training for pollworkers and sample ballots.

    7. Mr. Perata is concerned about the cost of the education plan, assuming that the total cost will be borne by the City of Oakland. First let’s look at the real costs in San Francisco. San Francisco spent approximately $750,000 on voter education. The rest of the money they spent was for software and voting equipment. Alameda County doesn’t need to spend as much as San Francisco because we don’t have to reach as many voters – less than half the number. We can also use a large amount of the work that San Francisco has already done to develop good voter education material, another cost savings. So while we do expect the City to spend some money on voter education, it will not be a large amount. The bulk of the voter education money will come from the Registrar of Voters.

    8. Mr. Perata asks about the security of the system and whether it can be ‘gamed’. Alameda County takes it voting security very seriously, as does the whole of California. This is not a new system; it has been successfully used in San Francisco. It has been tested and re-tested. The testing includes troubleshooting to ensure that the system cannot be accessed by hackers, malicious code or other attempts to game the system.

  19. Myles November 16, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    Miss Cox wrote: “using tactics which we knew worked in San Francisco when they implemented IRV”

    SF: in 2004, 33% didn’t even know about RCV when they showed up to the polls, and that was after spending over $700,000. Then SF stopped spending on education, and in 2005 46% polled said they didn’t know about RCV. African Americans were considerable more likely than other racial and ethnic groups to not know about RCV (59.1%)

    48.4% polled didn’t understand RCV well.

    And you call this a success? Enfranchisement? All to save a couple hundred thou?

    Democracy doesn’t come cheap babe. You may think your heart is in the right place, I don’t doubt that. But you are misguided, and you should have done your homework.

  20. voter99 November 16, 2009 at 9:28 pm #

    Oakland should do a fiscal analysis before trying to implement IRV. There are logistical and technical issues with IRV, even if you ignore its impact on voters.

    IRV IS COSTLY:

    See IRV cost estimates or actual cost information for Maine, Maryland, Minneapolis MN, Pierce County Washington, Vermont and San Francisco.
    It cost Pierce Co 2 million to implement an uncertified system for 375,589 votes – or $5.33 per registered voter! That is on top of the regular costs of their election system. (And Pierce rejected IRV this Nov 3 by huge majority vote)
    http://tinyurl.com/irvcosts

    IRV DOES NOT INCREASE VOTER TURNOUT
    http://tinyurl.com/irvturnout

    iN FACT, MINNEAPOLIS MN JUST HELD FIRST IRV ELECTION ON NOV 3, AND HAD LOWEST VOTER TURNOUT SINCE 1910
    http://tinyurl.com/lowestturnout

    IRV USUALLY PRODUCES A PLURALITY WINNER.AND OFTEN SUFFERS FROM MAJORITY FAILURE
    IRV has produced a plurality result in 2 out of 3 contests in Pierce Co WA,
    Out of 20 RCV elections that have been held since
    the referendum establishing it passed, when IRV was used, it elected a plurality winner.
    http://tinyurl.com/IRVmajorityfail

    IRV LEADS TO 2 PARTY DOMINATION
    http://tinyurl.com/2partyrule

    THERE’S NEVER ENOUGH VOTER EDUCATION:
    After 4 years of IRV and a fortune spent each year in San Francisco, a Grand Jury Report: said that poll workers and voters do not understand instant runoff.
    http://tinyurl.com/sfgrandjury

    IRV IS DIFFICULT AND COMPLEX TO COUNT:

    IRV increases reliance on more complex technology, making audits and recounts more prohibitive, further eroding election transparency. Because IRV is not additive, no matter what voting system is used, the ballots, (electronic or optical scan) have to be hauled away from where they are cast to a central location to be counted. This increases the chance of fraud or lost votes. The tallying software utilizes a complex algorithm that makes the process even more opaque.

    http://tinyurl.com/tally-irv

    Unfortunately, the talking points in favor of IRV do not pan out and reality and the IRV chickens will come back to roost.

    For more about IRV that is based on news and reports, see http://www.instantrunoffvoting.us and our blog
    http://instantrunoff.blogspot.com/

  21. voter99 November 16, 2009 at 9:37 pm #

    Can Oakland afford IRV?

    Do a fiscal analysis. Make it for 1,2 3, and 4 years.

    Once you adopt IRV you have to pay increased expenses.

    If you can’t afford IRV, do you prefer to cut police and fire services, as well as other city jobs?

  22. Colin November 17, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    One other note on the Dopp video linked to (and from what I’ve been able to glean her misunderstanding of the issue): the field and sample set is wrong. If there are 3 candidates, there aren’t 3 possible ballot arrangements, there are going to be 6 – 1 for each candidate in first, followed by the other 2 in second or third:
    C1>C2>C3
    C1>C3>C2
    C2>C1>C3
    C2>C3>C1
    C3>C1>C2
    C3>C2>C1

    Why does someone with a “Masters of Science” misunderstand this?

    In practical terms, this matters because it greatly lessens the odds of the scenario of the most popular candidate losing even in the unrealistic hypothetical she presents.

    • voter99 November 17, 2009 at 9:36 am #

      HOW ORWELLIAN.
      The posts to this blog are proof that Instant Runoff Voting is ridiculously complex.

      And just how many policemen and firemen’s jobs will Oakland give up to pay for this boutique style voting, in order to satisfy the vanity of the academics?

      Here’s a great LTE in a Hendersonville NC paper, a city that tried IRV twice but never counted the IRV votes either time:

      No friend to voters

      November 15, 2009

      To The Editor: “All men are created equal but some men are more equal than others.” (George Orwell, “Animal Farm,” 1945).

      That was fiction but now our election officials have made it a reality with IRV. No not me, Irv. IRV, Instant-Runoff Voting, is double speak for tampering with the rule of “one man, one vote.” When election boards can take my vote and divide it between several candidates or decide that it belongs to a candidate for whom I did not vote, our Republic is in deep trouble. IRV may be easy and cheap, but it is wrong and it is election tampering.

      Irving Kasner

      Etowah

      http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20091115/NEWS/911159998?Title=-No-friend-to-voters

      • Dave Kadlecek November 17, 2009 at 11:11 am #

        Once again, the pseudonymous voter99 cites propaganda and misleading information from far across the country to tell Oakland what to do.

        Presumably, s/he is far away from Hendersonville, NC, as well as from Oakland. While Hendersonville, NC, was one of the North Carolina cities that took advantage of a state pilot program to use IRV in its municipal elections, the surrounding county did not use IRV in its county elections. According to maps and internet references, Etowah, NC, is an unincorporated community several miles outside of Hendersonville.

        Thus the letter to the editor quoted is analagous to the letters to the editor we often see in the Oakland Tribune from residents of Castro Valley, Newark, Piedmont and San Leandro trying to tell us how to run the city of Oakland.

        • voter99 November 17, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

          this is Voter99, I only use that in order to post to this wordpress article. I live in Winston Salem NC.

          CAN OAKLAND LEARN FROM OTHERS WHO’VE TRIED IRV? While IRV advocates may not want to hear about IRV failures, others have a right to know.

          IRV is rare and a few years ago, there was little information about it except from pro IRV groups.

          IRV has had alot of chances to spread in our state, thanks to 2 separate pilots, starting in 2006. But 2 cities tried it (without public hearings first) in 2007, and then only 1 tried it in 2009, (again without public hearing). Cary NC said no more.
          http://twi.cc/tpWZ

          The main push for IRV in North Carolina came from the Maryland group, FairVote, who set up a FairVoteNC, hired the (former) chair of the Green Party to run FVNC. The FairVote NC Director just happened to be married to the Wake County Chairman of Board of Elections, and her father-in-law/BoE Chairman pushed IRV hard to Cary NC. It was all in the family and everyone bought into it. Cary tried IRV in 2007 and they heard from the public and they ditched IRV.

          When Cary was considering whether to repeat the IRV experiment in 2009, FairVote sent out a national alert asking activists from around the United States to bombard Cary’s City Council members with phone calls and emails. The message was clear – the push for IRV was coming from FairVote, not from Cary voters.
          This national alert went over poorly.

          Then there was that slanted exit poll of Cary voters, where the FairVote America Director (from Maine) boasted about faking a southern accent and being “incognito” while educating voters AND doing exit polling. We have her own words right here:
          http://twi.cc/Tlwx

          So perhaps folks in Oakland can benefit from learning what happens WHEN you implement IRV by learning from others’ experiences.

          IRV IMPLEMENTATION IN THE US

          San Francisco, Aspen CO*, Burlington Vermont, Minneapolis MN, Pierce County Washington*, Takoma Park Maryland have adopted and implemented IRV.

          Pierce County WA voters voted to repeal IRV by an overwhelming majority.

          Aspen voters voted on Nov 3 to place a binding charter amendment question on a future ballot.

          In Burlington Vermont, a petition to repeal IRV is gaining more traction.

          Takoma Park MD has never had the IRV votes come into play, and has had very low turnout.

          Minneapolis Minnesota implemented IRV and had the lowest turnout since 1910. 56% polled by MPR liked IRV, a whole 44% didn’t like IRV. Thats a large percent to dislike a voting method.

          The State of North Carolina set up a pilot program to allow 10 cities and 10 counties to volunteer for instant runoff voting. Only 2 cities have ever volunteered, even though FairVote pushed very hard.

          Cary, North Carolina participated in an IRV pilot in 2007 and counted the IRV votes, and said no more.

          Hendersonville North Carolina participated in an IRV pilot in 2007 and 2009 and never once counted or reported any of the 2nd or 3rd choice votes. Their purpose for IRV in the non partisan election was to avoid a runoff. But voters are speaking up now that they are aware of this change that was made without their input.

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