[EM] IRV proponents figure out how to make IRV precinct-summable

Kathy Dopp kathy.dopp at gmail.com
Tue Mar 17 00:34:23 PDT 2009


I had to laugh out loud after finally figuring out these instructions
that Chris Telesca of NC sent me in this PDF doc:

"Instant Runoff Voting, Single‐Seat Contests, ES&S Optical Scan
Tabulation Procedures"


Aren't IRV proponents (of the most fundamentally unfair voting method
that has ever been used) CLEVER!

IRV proponents have figured out how to count a NC-style IRV election
(where all but the top two candidates are dropped in the first round)
in the polling locations on Election Night in a way that makes
IRV-NC-style precinct-summable!

Wow. I'm really impressed for once by the skills of the IRV proponents
in figuring out a way to make round #2 of IRV precinct-summable -
which works in the NC version of IRV because all but two candidates
are eliminated in round #1.

However, there are some issues with the IRV proponents' method for
making IRV precinct-summable in this NC-style IRV contest that also
restricts voters to ranking at most three candidates and therefore has
at most two counting rounds altogether for a one-winner contest due to
eliminating all but the two candidates who receive the most first
choice votes (a method that could often eliminate the most popular
majority candidate as happened recently in Burlington, VT

Here is what I'd like to ask about conducting these IRV
precinct-summable counts for round #2:

1. Are election officials and poll workers genius-level enough and
focused enough to comprehend the instructions and to follow them
without making errors?

Link to the virtually incomprehensible instructions is here:

2.  Just how sturdy are the paper ballots?

 This "precinct-summable" IRV counting method requires (to accomplish
just one counting round - round #2 only) feeding each ballot one at a
time by hand through the precinct opti-scanners up to four times with
the optical scanner needing a differently programmed PCMCIA card in it
for each count for EACH IRV ELECTION CONTEST and poll workers must pay
close attention to whether or not each ballot is "rejected" or
"accepted" and put each ballot in a correct pile depending on which
stack it comes from and whether it is rejected or accepted by the

(Note this is to only count ONE IRV counting round since the first
round is assumed to be counted and all but the top two 1st choice
vote-getters are "eliminated" in the first step of M100 reprogramming
that the poll workers have to do between each count - as far as I
could tell. In fact, the PCMCIA cards may also have to programmed or
burned in three separate ways at the poll locs as well - the
instructions left out crucial details of exactly how to "burn" the
PCMCIA cards.

3. What an amazingly long time is it going to take to count all the
ballots in each precinct for each of the IRV contests for just this
one IRV round?

I.e. the ballots would have to be accurately sorted into four piles
during the first feed (one ballot at a time) into the precinct

and then sorted into five piles (sorted to four piles coming out of
the optiscanner plus one pile not run through it) during the second
feed (one ballot at a time) into the precinct scanners,

and then sorted into six total piles (sorted to three piles coming out
of the optical scanner plus two piles not run through it this time)
during the third feed (one ballot at a time) into the precinct

and then sorted into seven total piles (sorted to two piles coming out
of the optiscanner plus five piles not run through it this time (one
ballot at a time) into the precinct scanners.

It will be nothing short of a praise the Lord miracle if this process
is performed accurately in all polling locations.

The press might as well go home and come back in the a.m. and the poll
workers might as well plan to stay up all night to try to  get this
process right for EACH IRV contest. I hope that they plan on an
all-new shift of poll workers coming in to every polling place to
accomplish this task of counting all the IRV contests by running the
IRV ballots through the M100s one at a time four times for EACH
contest and reprogramming M100s numerous times to do it.

4. Are the election officials going to create the three PCMCIA cards
accurately for EACH precinct or poll loc for each IRV contest, label
them accurately and make sure that the right card is inserted at the
exact right time in the process?

Purchases must be made of at least 3 extra PCMCIA cards for EACH
polling place and buying 3 backup PCMCIA cards for each polling place
would be helpful as well in case any of them fail when poll workers
are trying to configure and burn them all.

I suppose another option in case the poll workers can't figure it out,
would be for the central county office to burn all the extra PCMCIA
cards after it is known which candidates did not receive the top-two
1st choice votes and poll-workers can simply wait until someone from
the county office delivers all the correctly programmed and correctly
labeled PCMCIA cards.

5. How are the poll workers going to correctly reprogram the M100
optical scanners between each of the four separate counts they'll have
to do for EACH IRV contest for EACH precinct or polling location (from
what I can tell)?

6. Wow. I would LOVE to see what happens if the late-counted absentee,
early, or provisional ballots changes who the top-two 1st choice vote
winners are, and the entire polling location counts have to be thrown
out and all the ballots have to be recounted!  Lovely thought for all
those poll workers who are going to stay up all night counting but
whose counts may be entirely scrapped later on whenever the number of
first choice votes is very close for the candidate with the second
most and third most first choice votes!

This should be an amusing MESS of gargantuan proportions if any NC
township or county is INSANE enough to attempt counting IRV ballots by
using this method!!

AMAZING.  No election official with any semblance of a right mind
would support doing these procedures in all poll locs on election
night IMO.

Combined with the recent evidence from the Burlington Nov 2008
election showing how IRV (including the NC variety) fails to elect
majority winners or solve the spoiler problem and can easily be
nonmonotonic, I hope that this proposed process will kill IRV
proposals, at least in NC.

Eventually sanity may prevail.

Notice how closely ES&S worked with IRV proponents to create these
instructions. If only the voting vendors would work that closely with
election integrity advocates - but then the financial benefits to
voting vendors if IRV is adopted are enormous and the costs to
election integrity and fairness of adopting IRV are enormous too.

It is interesting to see from this document how poorly designed the
ES&S programming of its machines is for doing things like checking the
accuracy of its machine counts after elections though.  ES&S obviously
was given the same design specifications as Diebold, Hart Intercivic,
Sequoia, were given.



Kathy Dopp

The material expressed herein is the informed  product of the author's
fact-finding and investigative efforts. Dopp is a Mathematician,
Expert in election audit mathematics and procedures; in exit poll
discrepancy analysis; and can be reached at

P.O. Box 680192
Park City, UT 84068
phone 435-658-4657


Post-Election Vote Count Audit
A Short Legislative & Administrative Proposal

History of Confidence Election Auditing Development & Overview of
Election Auditing Fundamentals

Voters Have Reason to Worry

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