Saturday, May 29, 2010

Instant Runoff Voting, Election Integrity and FairVote

Updated June 19
Some critics of instant runoff voting suggest that its backers, including FairVote, should take election integrity concerns like verified voting, manual audits and transparent elections more seriously.

Local activists for IRV often have been leaders in local election integrity efforts - people like Rick Lass, who led the effort to win instant runoff voting in Santa Fe (NM) in 2008 and Anthony Lorenzo who led the effort to win an IRV ballot measure in Sarasota (FL) in 2007. As to FairVote, we've proposed procedures for auditing ranked choice voting elections and periodicaly highlight our views in communications to our members, like in this November 2009 Innovative Analysis. Here also is a link to our statement on election security and audits overall.

More broadly, FairVote was the first national group to propose establishing an affirmative right to vote in the Constitution, and in so doing highlighting a full range of federal, state and local laws and practices undermining suffrage rights. For years, we have also been leaders in the call for public interest voting equipment, including open source software and removal of profiteering from elections -- for instance, see this excerpt from a commentary in 2004:

"Public Interest" voting equipment. Currently voting equipment is suspect, undermining confidence in our elections. The proprietary software and hardware are created by shadowy companies with partisan ties who sell equipment by wining and dining election administrators with little knowledge of voting technology. The government should oversee the development of publicly-owned software and hardware, contracting with the sharpest minds in the private sector. And then that open-source voting equipment should be deployed throughout the nation to ensure that every county -- and every voter -- is using the best equipment.

Getting issues of election integrity right are of essential importance in running fair elections, however, and we look forward to ongoing communication with election integrity advocates who have constructive suggestions on how best to implement ranked voting in elections that are secure and can be audited.