# [EM] Burlington 2009 IRV election valid ballot rate

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Mar 31 15:29:10 PDT 2009

```P.S. Some more data on the problematic ballots (=gaps).

(1=one mark, 0=no marks, 2=two marks,
five numbers for the five columns)

"Regular votes" with one candidate in
the leftmost columns:

10000: 1475 bullet votes
11000: 1891 votes that marked two candidates
11100: 1775
11110: 873
11111: 2853 votes that used all the slots

00000: 4

Regular votes but with ties:

21000: 1
11200: 1
21110: 1
21111: 2

Votes with one one slot gap:

01000: 3
01100: 1
01111: 2
10100: 6
10110: 1
10111: 3
10121: 1 (with a tie)
11010: 3
11011: 10
11101: 38

Votes with one bigger than one slot gap:

00001: 3
10001: 14
10011: 6
11001: 17

In general the number of irregularly
marked ballots (ties and gaps) is quite
small (113). If we count the 1 slot
gaps as minor errors (that could happen
to anyone) then there are only 46
bigger errors left.

Some random observations:

In the one slot gap category there are
2 01111 votes that could be a result of
someone marking the candidates from
right (slot 5) to left (slot 1) in
reverse order. But since there are no
00111 and 00011 votes maybe these votes
are not that kind of mistakes either.

In the bigger than two slot gaps
category there were 3 00001 voters.
These could be intended to be negative
votes. The other votes in this category
could be intended to contain both
positive and negative rankings/ratings.

In the one slot gap category there are
38 11101 votes. Why so many? Did these
voters intentionally put the gap there
in the hope of making the last
candidate "lose more"?

Juho

--- On Tue, 31/3/09, Terry Bouricius <terryb at burlingtontelecom.net> wrote:

> Juho,
>
> The number of voters participating in the 2009 Burlington
> mayoral election
> was somewhat higher than typical recent, non-IRV elections.
> In general
> turnout is higher when there is a race with no incumbent
> and lower when
> there is an incumbent in the race. The Participation in
> U.S. municipal
> elections is notoriously low. In Burlington thre has been
> essentially no
> population growth in the past two decades according to the
> census, but the
> number of registered voters fluctuates based on when lists
> get "cleaned"
> and when there is a hot federal race (a LOT of new
> registers during the
> Obama McCain race). Thus while the percentage of
> "registered voters" might
> fluctuate unpredictably, the raw number and percentage of
> "voting age
> population" is relatively stable.
>
> After the 2006 mayoral election I went to city hall to get
> the voter
> turnout numbers from the recent elections. I will paste
> them below (I
> don't have numbers for the 2007 and 2008 non-mayoral
> election years --
> Burlington switched to a three-year term recently), but I
> expect they were
> lower.
>
> Terry Bouricius
>
>
>       Burlington March voter turnout
> summary
>       YEAR
>         TURNOUT
>
>       2001 Council only 6300
>       2002 Council and Mayoral 7751
>       2003 Council only 7791
>       2004 Council and Mayoral 8647
>       2005 Council only 7550
>       2006  Council & Mayor al with
> IRV 9865
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Juho Laatu" <juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk>
> To: "election-methods" <election-methods at electorama.com>
> Sent: Monday, March 30, 2009 5:34 PM
> Subject: Re: [EM] Burlington 2009 IRV election valid ballot
> rate
>
>
>
> There were thus 8984 votes out of which
>
> - 4 were listed as invalid in the official
> results. These seem to be blank votes.
>
> - 6 votes that contained ties. 4 of these
> were exhausted at the first round. According
> to Terry Bouricius 3 of these were found not
> to be ties after all in the partial recount.
>
> - 606 votes were exhausted before the final
> round. Part of these are likely to be
> intentional (voter didn't want to take
> position) but part of them were mistakes
> of the voter. Either the voter didn't
> understand how to cast an efficient vote
> or the voter made false assumptions on
> which candidates will make it to the
> last round.
>
> - 2458 votes ranked less than two of the
> three leading candidates. If we assume
> that any two of the three strongest
> candidates could have made it to the last
> round then these votes could have been
> exhausted before the last round (due to
> not listing any of the two last round
> candidates). Again, some of these must
> have been intentional and some voter
> mistakes (due to not understanding how to
> vote efficiently or due to miscalculating
> the probabilities).
>
>
>
> The percentage of ballots that were not
> filled properly was very marginal.
>
> The percentage of votes that failed or
> could have failed to indicate all the
> relevant preferences that the voter had
> seems to be higher (part of the 606 and
> 2458 votes).. This is not catastrophic
> though. Maybe people will learn, or
> maybe it is acceptable to have even
> this kind of numbers in the long run.
>
> (Some of the voters may also be bullet
> voters by nature. "All or nothing."
> "My candidate is the best and all
> others are out of consideration."
> Maybe they want to send this kind of
> message in their vote (even though
> they understand that they will cast
> a weak vote).)
>
> It seems that ballots were not too
> complex to fill properly, and most
> voters also filled them well enough
> to be counted also at the last round.
> One remaining concern is that someone
> said that the level of participation
> was low. The complexity of the method
> may partially influence this. I don't
> know what the usual participation
> level and participation level in this
> election was in Burlington but I hope
> that it will be at regular levels in
> the future. Otherwise the complexity
> of the method may have an impact on
> the results.
>
> Juho
>
>
> --- On Mon, 30/3/09, Terry Bouricius <terryb at burlingtontelecom.net>
> wrote:
>
> > Date: Monday, 30 March, 2009, 4:16 PM
> > Warren,
> >
> > Regarding the number of valid ballots in the
> Burlington IRV
> > mayoral
> > election:
> >
> > (I doubt anyone else is interested in this, but I will
> post
> > it to the list
> > just in case.)
> >
> > Now I understand the source of your confusion about
> the
> > number and rate of
> > "valid" ballots. The word "valid" has more than one
> > possible usage.. the
> > Choice Plus Pro software web output posted on the
> > Burlington web site uses
> > a non-standard definition...it includes all of the
> four
> > (although actually
> > discovered in the recount to be only one) first round
> > exhausted ballots
> > (that the scanner detected two ovals marked in the
> first
> > choice column) as
> > "valid," because they were genuinely cast by voters
> and
> > could be
> > incorporated into the algorithm.. We however refer to
> these
> > as "invalid"
> > ballots, meaning ballots which were cast with an
> intent to
> > participate in
> > the contest, but were apparently miss-marked so as to
> make
> > the voter
> > intent uncertain. However also note that four
> different
> > ballot cards were
> > BLANK....the voters completely skipped this particular
> race
> > and didn't vote
> > at all. Choice Plus Pro unfortunately uses the term
> > "invalid" where as it
> > should use the standard election administration and
> legal
> > term "blank" to
> > describe these four blank ballots. If you look at the
> > actual ballot data,
> > you will see 8,980 ballots with rankings marked, and
> four
> > blank ballots
> > with no votes at all. If one adds in the four blank
> ballot
> > papers, the
> > total is 8,984. Since voters often skip some races,
> and no
> > jurisdiction in
> > the U.S. that I am aware of includes blank ballots in
> the
> > base for
> > calculating spoilage rates, our analysis focuses on
> the
> > 8,980 ballots that
> > were cast for this particular contest. Of these, the
> > recount showed that
> > at most one was an invalid over-vote...thus the rate
> of
> > 99.99% valid.
> >
> > Finally, you can find the results of the recount on
> the
> > city's web site
> > www.burlingtonvotes.org. They are labeled as
> uncertified,
> > because the city
> > attorney says state law has specific requirements for
> > completion, and a
> > certification form to be signed by the Board of Civil
> > Authority at the end
> > of the recount. Since Kurt Wright, the petitioner,
> called a
> > stop to the
> > recount at the half-way point, the partial results
> could
> > not legally be
> > called official or certified. But the fact remains
> that the
> > three ballots
> > the vote scanner identified as invalid over-votes in
> Ward
> > 1, were in fact
> > found, and determined to have only stray marks in the
> > write-in oval, and
> > in fact to be valid votes, that were added to the
> candidate
> > totals during
> > the recount.
> >
> > I hope this clarifies the situation.
> >
> > Terry Bouricius
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Warren Smith" <warren.wds at gmail.com>
> > To: "election-methods" <election-methods at electorama..com>
> > Sent: Sunday, March 29, 2009 5:02 PM
> > Subject: [EM] Burlington 2009 IRV election pathologies
> -
> > updated web page
> >
> >
> > Bouricius and Richie ("FairVote")
> > objected to the fact that many of the lies in
> > their multiyear propaganda/lying campaign to mislead
> > millions about IRV had been refuted by us by
> analysing
> > IRV's pathologies in the Burlington 2009 mayoral
> election.
> >
> > (A lot of the FairVote lies
> > are conveniently outlined in GREEN in our
> > http://rangevoting.org/Burlington.html
> > and
> > http://rangevoting.org/BurlResponses.html
> > pages; more are documented at, e.g,
> > http://rangevoting.org/Irvtalk.html .)
> >
> > Although most of their new objections were as-pathetic
> and
> > misleadling as
> > their usuals, they did contribute one correct one.
> > As a result, we have added the following "update"
> section
> >
> > http://rangevoting.org/BurlResponses.html#update
> >
> > --
> > Warren D. Smith
> > http://RangeVoting.org <-- add your
> > endorsement (by clicking
> > "endorse" as 1st step)
> > and
> > math.temple.edu/~wds/homepage/works.html
> > ----
> > Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list
> > info
> >
> > ----
> > Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list
> > info
> >
>
>
>
>
> ----
> Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info
>
>

```