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"Street Football" or how they crossed the threshold by pulling votes out of their "Asspen"!

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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-23-09 10:41 PM
Original message
"Street Football" or how they crossed the threshold by pulling votes out of their "Asspen"!
The first "instant runoff voting" election in Aspen Colorado was touted as a "success" by IRV advocate Rob Richie. How successful was the election? Weird stuff happened. In three different contests, the three different winners got exactly the same number of votes each, 1,273. Considering that the 3 different candidates did not all "go" the same number of "rounds", how can this be? Although IRV was sold as a happy -happy - feel - good sort of election method, (much the way some Jonestown folks thought of Kool-aid until Jim Jones served up a special flavor one day) many candidates and voters ended up feeling rather disturbed by the election method..

Well, here's the first time I've seen the words ass and phrase South Park used to illustrate an election transparency issue. But Chris Telesca, a verified voting activists in North Carolina takes it home! Chris throws zingers in almost every blog he writes. Posted in full with permission of author.





"Street Football" or how they crossed the threshold by pulling votes out of their "Asspen"!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

....folks at RangeVoting have posted a link to an open letter to Fair(yTale)Vote's Rob Richie in response to Rob's puff piece at the Huffington Post entitled "Good Things Come to Those Who Rank: Campaign Finance, Political Dialogue, and Instant Runoff Voting" (does that make it a "huff piece"?) from Marilyn Marks - one of the candidates in the recent Aspen Co IRV race.

Her letter to Richie is devastating to say the least. You have GOT to read it! There are links in the letter to a site which reported there was some sort of arts related issue on the ballot, and many people simply FORGOT to vote on it (I am guessing) due to the more complex IRV races. Her letter also contained a link to a report by her nephew, who goes to NCSU right here in Raleigh.

And while many people realize that all three winners in the races finished with the exact same totals - 1273 votes - few folks seem to understand how this happened.
Richie rightly claims that the process needed more explanation (and a headache remedy or several stiff drinks) in order to be understood. But even when he has explained it, the numbers still don't add up.

There was more than one race where:

1) only two candidates left standing AND

2) all the other ballots were exhausted AND

3) the threshold had not yet been crossed.

And yet they still declared a winner! Know how they did it? Instead of holding a traditional runoff election because they had no clear winner, it appears as though they took a look at the subsequent rankings for the ballots belonging to the second place finisher at that point, and saw if there were any votes for the first place finisher - then added just enough votes to cross the threshold.

They stopped counting as soon as they got 1273 - which is why the winners in three different races have exactly the same number of winning votes. IRV advocate Terry Boricious claims that is Cambridge IRV rules, but it seems more like "street football" (comedy routine by Bill Cosby, where he who brings the football makes the rules). I say this is pulling votes out of your "Asspen" (funny "South Park" episode which you can watch here). If you have seen the episode - do you recognize any link between the timeshare organization that seems to control everything and the folks and organizations pushing IRV? ;-)

How can this possibly be a smooth election where IRV proved anything other than how complicated it is in the first place?








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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-24-09 01:14 PM
Response to Original message
1. I find nothing to back this claim of 1273 votes repeating.
Perhaps there is, but they stopped counting since there were only, say, 2545 votes (twice 1273 minus 1) and with over 50%, mathematics dictate that no one else could win in any way. Also noted is that the result is listed as 1273 to 1140, a clear win.

This seems to be some sort of hidden agenda against IRV Instant Runoff Voting. I imagine Republicans wouldn't like IRV. They'd have to find new ways of stealing our elections other than giving Nader money to split our vote.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-24-09 02:45 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. you "imagine Republicans wouldn't like IRV."??? REALLY????
Edited on Sun May-24-09 02:49 PM by WillYourVoteBCounted
the hidden agenda?

That IRV screws up election transparency?

That in Aspen Colorado they didn't have a real election, but used bullshit rules to
enable them to quit counting the votes?

That IRV is so complex it can't be counted by hand?

That the few places in the US that use IRV also use uncertified software?


IRV MAKES IT EASIER TO CONCEAL ELECTION FRAUD, BECAUSE THE COUNTING IS SO CONVOLUTED.

IRV REQUIRES CENTRAL COUNTING OF VOTES, MAKING ELECTION FRAUD MUCH MUCH EASIER.


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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-24-09 03:04 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. We already have convoluted counting, e.g. dismissing absentees...
If the convolution is counting to over half the votes cast, that's already done sometimes.

True though, the rules do have to be correct.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-24-09 02:46 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. YES, FOOTBALL RULES, THEY JUST STOPPED COUNTING
3 DIFFERENT CONTESTS WON BY 1,273 VOTES.

FOOTBALL RULES, OR VOODOO VOTING.
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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-24-09 03:01 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Do you have a link on that? Which three. /nt
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-24-09 03:56 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. ALL 3. Mayor and City Council Seats 1 and 2 - the entire IRV election
Edited on Sun May-24-09 03:57 PM by WillYourVoteBCounted
The election was decided by Footbal rules. This is an election from a South Park Plot
and fittingly, entitled ASSPEN.

Aspen's 3 IRV contests, each was won with 1,273 votes.
How likely is it that the winner of Mayoral, Council Seat 1, and Council Seat 2 would each get 1,273 votes, with 2 of these going to 4th round, and one going just to 3rd round?
It only happened with Instant Runoff Voodoo, and election officials are the witch doctors to interpret the "magic" to the natives.

How was this election decided?

For Mayor -
http://www.aspenpitkin.com/pdfs/depts/38/Aspen%20Mayor%...

CANDIDATE THIS ROUND TOTAL STATUS
Mick Ireland (4) 0 1273 ELECTED -- 4th round

For Council Seat 1 -
ttp://www.aspenpitkin.com/pdfs/depts/38/Aspen
Council Seat 1 Round 4.htm
ROUND 4 -- Jack Johnson (2) has been DEFEATED -- transferring all votes.
CANDIDATE THIS ROUND TOTAL STATUS
Derek Johnson (8) +40 1273 ELECTED -- 4th round

For Council Seat 2 -
http://www.aspenpitkin.com/pdfs/depts/38/Aspen%20Counci... \und3.htm
ROUND 3 -- Michael Behrendt (5) has been DEFEATED -- transferring allvotes.
CANDIDATE THIS ROUND TOTAL STATUS
Torre (4) +200 1273 ELECTED -- 3rd round

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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-24-09 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Sir! You are mistaken. Your name calling is falsehood.
You have taken this as wrong, and instead your assertion is wrong. Your use of football rules, South Park plot, and ASSpen is balderdash.

There were 2544 votes cast. Half plus one equals 1273. When one candidate collects 1273, that candidate would be the first to have over half the vote. Thus the rest of the counting can have no possible further effect on the winner's status of elected. For each office on the same number of ballots, all they needed to do was to count to just over 50% of the vote, here 1273 votes. That's why all three races stopped at 1273.

On each of these tallies you can go to the Start and read in excerpt:
...
2,544 valid ballots.
Electing 1 candidate.
Winning threshold is 1273 votes.
There were no invalid ballots.
(2,544 total ballots processed.)
....
http://www.aspenpitkin.com/pdfs/depts/38/Aspen%20Counci...

Two of your three links failed. Corrected links follow.

http://www.aspenpitkin.com/pdfs/depts/38/Aspen%20Mayor%...

0 1273 ELECTED -- 4th round


http://www.aspenpitkin.com/pdfs/depts/38/Aspen%20Counci...

+40 1273 ELECTED -- 4th round


http://www.aspenpitkin.com/pdfs/depts/38/Aspen%20Counci...

+200 1273 ELECTED -- 3rd round
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-25-09 08:19 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. The IRV math makes no sense!
My colleague from Wake Verified Voting addressed that:

The IRV math makes no sense!
Submitted by WakeVerifiedVoting on Mon, 05/25/2009 - 9:28am.

The IRV election math doesn't add up in a way that makes any sense. There was more than one race where:

1) only two candidates left standing AND

2) all the other ballots were exhausted AND

3) the threshold had not yet been crossed.

And yet they still declared a winner! Know how they did it? Instead of holding a traditional runoff election because they had no clear winner, it appears as though they took a look at the subsequent rankings for the ballots belonging to the second place finisher at that point, and saw if there were any votes for the first place finisher - then added just enough votes to cross the threshold.

To read more about how IRV makes no sense in Aspen or elsewhere, go to http://noirvnc.blogspot.com /

Its a cockamamy system where you don't count all of the votes, and if you use different IRV rules, you get a different "winner".



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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-26-09 07:43 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Your link showed no math.
There are other ways to effectively call the election not reaching the half plus one, i.e. over 50% level. The exhausted ballots representing voters not having chosen to vote for the top candidates can be removed from the counting and bring the 50% threshold down.

More likely is that the tertiary and quaternary rounds will offer enough for the threshold of half the entire set of ballots under IRV. If not, when all the ballot votes from all levels are exhausted, the top vote getter should be called the elected.

It's not that difficult. And, since we do not have runoff elections for our multi-party presidential vote, we MUST have some method for instant runoff.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-26-09 01:05 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Does the Kool-Aid taste good? Has election been certified yet?
in fact, its not clear if the election has been certified, since results are in doubt

3 contests were won with exactly the same amounts?

Which ballots were CHOSEN to be redistributed?
How?
We don't yet know how the results were obtained, was it "eeny meenie miney moe?"

Who picked which votes would be allocated until eveyrone got the same number of votes, instead of
counting all votes, or all 2nd and 3rd choices, etc.



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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-26-09 02:04 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. I'm not buying your Kool-aid innuendo, nor your distractions.
Date of certification .. not relevant.

Reason for not certifying could be relevant but you don't ask about that, just if its done yet.

Order of count .. not relevant.

When over 50% have determined a candidate their first choice, then the majority is going to rule and the remaining votes will not be able to change that result.

Now, if you want to further complicate IRV, one could allow for the second and third choices to be given to more than one candidate. Such counting could then lead to a candidate further down receiving more votes. But, here, all these votes are prioritized votes, prioritized by the voter. And, having more than 50% of the prioritized vote.. elects.

Same number of votes .. not a problem. Discussed a couple posts ahead of this one.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-26-09 04:47 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Spoiled ballots, voter confusion the rule for Asspen's Instant Runoff Election
If the objective of an election process is to discern the will of the voters, then that process must be the simplest, most transparent and most enfranchising method for all voters. That is not IRV.

Aspens instant runoff voting quick but confusing
Janet Urquhart The Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado


...There were 168 spoiled ballots Tuesday; two is typical, said City Clerk Kathryn Koch.

...Election judge Cindy Christensen reported plenty of miscues,
including voters who forgot to cast a vote on the Aspen Art Museum question, placed at the bottom of the one-page ballot, apparently because they got caught up in ranking up to nine City Council candidates. Others gave both of their top picks for the council a No. 1 ranking, which invalidated the ballot.

Weve had quite a few spoiled ballots, she said. Voters had up to three tries to fill out a ballot the scanning machine would accept. No one had required all three attempts by late afternoon, though, getting it right on the second try usually after the first ballot was rejected because a voter ranked both of their top council choices as No. 1 picks instead of ranking one first and one second.

I hate it. Its very confusing, said one voter emerging from Precinct 1 who declined to cast runoff votes. Instead, she voted for one mayoral candidate and her two choices for the two open council seats.

...Others did the same, squandering their say in the runoff, should their top picks fail to win a seat....

http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20090505/NEWS/9050599...

About Aspen Colorado:

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the city population was 5,804 in 2005
Founded as a mining camp in the Colorado Silver Boom and named because of the abundance of aspen trees in the area, the city is now a ski resort and an upscale tourist center.

Its per capita income is among the highest in the U.S. In the late 20th century the average home price reached approximately $6 million and the city developed as an off-beat haven for celebrities, attracting such people as John Denver (who wrote several folk songs about the town, including "Aspenglow", and "Starwood in Aspen") and Hunter S. Thompson.

...As of the census of 2000...The racial makeup of the city was 94.94% White, 0.44% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.45% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 1.64% from other races, and 1.20% from two or more races. 6.14% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspen,_Colorado





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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-26-09 05:59 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Invalid ballots is a problem with the form, not IRV well instituted.
First, a form should have a NO VOTE vote, lest the machine be misaligned and drop all votes and not flag the voter.

Second, There should be no invalid votes. But, this would be a far more difficult to understand voting process, beyond the average American voter's intellect, but possible.

Next, casting a vote for one and only one vote in a column should not be that hard to understand. That the second, third, etc. columns are optional should also be easy enough to understand.

If a voter does vote for more than one in a column and does not correct that column when flagged, that is their inability and their loss of voting in that column. It should not invalidate their entire ballot, only invalidate that column and perhaps those behind it.

ASIDE, if my second point were implemented, any multiple voting in a column would be fine, it would raise the overall threshold needed for a clear win. (Also it would lessen the chance of two races having the same number outcome as they do now.) There would be no invalid ballots. Except that not voting at all would be flagged if not explicitly noted on the ballot per my first note.

Invalid ballots can be eliminated.

Catching two or more votes in a one vote only column works now, it works, it works in old multiple election runoff elections you prefer. So, flagging it in an IRV election is not hard. The form needs to aggregate the columns better. Not like the example shown with wide white space in all directions. Box the column, label it, and give reasonable instruction or implement vote casting under the use of computer.

Certainly, if computer printed ballots are used, the computer program printing the ballot can catch any errors with the person being able to print their own ballot from home. The ballot can be stamped with traceable inks by poll workers and also by a automated reading machine, on the backside of the page of course. Stamps can even automatically number to reduce any attempt at ballot stuffing that now is most easily done by incumbents in charge of printing ballots and for being in charge they often go unchallenged when they cheat.

Yours for a more perfect union,
--Fes
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-26-09 07:10 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. invalid ballot is the reality of Asspen IRV election
IRV sounds great in an academic setting, but in reality it is a muddled mess.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-26-09 10:19 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. The motivation for IRV makes a lot of sense to me.
And I long favored it. Elegantly administered, with all voters capable of fully participating, it seemed ideal. Then I began to study election management systems.

Butterfly ballots are the tip of the iceberg. Auditing of an IRV election? Unlikely. To the masses (including election officials), despite the good intention, it'll be like Fizzbin.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpGw6wbSb4g



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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-26-09 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. on Beta and Terry Spore, they play a mans game... the 2nd card is turned up - except on Tuesday
OMG thats too much.

When I clicked on the link, I thought I was going to get Rick Rolled.

:)
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VerifiedVoter Donating Member (4 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-27-09 11:27 AM
Response to Reply #15
18. At one time, IRV made sense to me
I also began to study election management systems. I realized that if we can't count single column ballots without error and much argument, there is no way that we could possibly utilize IRV with more than one column of votes. Way too many problems!

Then we have the issue of simple transparent voting - the least educated and literate citizens should be able to understand how to vote and be confident that their vote is being counted correctly. IRV turns the whole thing into one big black box that operates under the principle "trust, but verify?"

And by the way - your "fizzbin" example was much better than my "Asspen" example - congrats!

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting
http://noirvnc.blogspot.com
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-27-09 11:34 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. Just say no, Don't drink the Kool-Aid
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VerifiedVoter Donating Member (4 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-27-09 11:20 AM
Response to Reply #11
17. It's all relevant!
Date of Certification is very relevant - meaning it hasn't been done yet. Do you take office before the results of the race are certified?

Reason why it's not certified - way too many to list here.

Order of count is very relevant because you have to treat all the candidates alike otherwise you get nothing more than a fancier (and more expensive) version of a plurality winner:

Let's say for example that the threshold is 1273. Candidate A has 1100 votes and Candidate B has 1050 votes and all other ballots are exhausted. By this time, no one has counted any votes on the ballots for candidate A or B beyond the first column except to do the 1st round elimination (top 4). What they did in Aspen was only take a look at the votes beyond column 1 for Candidate B, and then transfer any votes to Candidate A. That isn't fair to Candidate B - why not also take a look at all the votes Candidate B got beyond the first column on Candidate A's original ballots?

You have to count all the votes!

What that might allow for is something that we have found to be true in traditional top-two runoff elections - is that the second-place vote getter in the original election can end up getting more votes in the runoff. There are many reasons for that - voters can make a real and better choice based on the issues between two candidates that they cannot make with more than two candidates. The candidates in the first round can chose to support one of the two remaining candidates in the runoff - something they couldn't do before the regular election.

A much fairer way of resolving the big problem IRV has with not crossing the threshold when there are only two candidates standing and after all ballots are exhausted is to hold a traditional runoff election between the top two candidates. But that defeats the whole purpose of doing IRV in the first place. You have the extra added expense and complexity of IRV plus the cost of a second election.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting
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VerifiedVoter Donating Member (4 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-27-09 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #1
19. There is no hidden agenda against IRV
But if you study the claims made for IRV, you will see that few if any ever come true.

In two of the three IRV contests you had a winner declared with:

1) only two candidates left standing AND

2) all the other ballots were exhausted AND

3) the threshold had not yet been crossed.

Know how they did it? Instead of holding a traditional runoff election because they had no clear winner, it appears as though they took a look at the subsequent rankings for the ballots belonging to the second place finisher at that point, and saw if there were any votes for the first place finisher - then added just enough votes to cross the threshold.

If you take votes from the second-highest vote getter finisher and give them to the top vote getter, you need to be able to see if there were any votes cast for the second-highest vote getter in subsequent rounds on the top-vote getter's original ballots - and allocate them in the same round.

That did not happen in Aspen. All candidates need to be treated the same in a round - otherwise you are merely manufacturing a preferential majority using ENRON vote counting techniques!

There does seem to be some sort of hidden agenda with the IRV folks - they are pushing for Proportional Representation as the end and IRV is the means to that end. Richie and Hill even put that down in print!

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting
http://noirvnc.blogspot.com
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