Re: Fwd: Hand count elections

From: Danny Swarzman <danny_at_stowlake_dot_com>
Date: Tue Nov 27 2007 - 12:51:26 CST

There are six IRV contests in November 2008. The procedure in the
charter language pretty well requires that the number of rounds of
counting is about equal to the number of candidates minus 2. Contests
for Supervisor in SF typically attract many candidates. In one race
there were 22 candidates.

In each round of counting, the ballots need to be re-evaluated by
eliminating the names of the exhausted candidates. I imagine that
means some kind of marking on the ballots so that counters can easily
see which candidate has been promoted.

We can get some rough ideas from the data about the procedures
followed in 2007 but not enough for a really good estimate. The
procedures were very different. In the IRV contests, one candidate
had a majority in the first round. That isn't typical, particularly
not in contests for supervisor.

My rough guess is that counting an IRV contest costs about 20 times
counting a normal election. This is supposing that one step in IRV
counting takes about twice the time of one step in normal ballots
because of the extra time to distinguish the exhausted candidates. I
multiply that by 10 as a typical number of candidates.

I think the procedure spelled out in the Charter was not intended to
be done by hand. I vaguely remember that when the Charter was amended
for IRV, the first election after didn't use it because ES&S hadn't
implemented it yet. They didn't do a hand count, they just did
runoffs. I don't know if this was justified by a provision in the
Charter language.

One way to go would be to find a way to make an exception to the
Charter and have real runoff elections.

Does anyone know about the legal and practical constraints on using
volunteers? The Elections Commission and the Board of Supervisors
didn't seem to warm up to the idea.

I agree with Teresa. IRV has been oversold. I am particularly
surprised when Green Party people promote the idea. The runoff in
2003 was a high point in the history of the party. A runoff election
provides an opportunity for the people to rally around candidates
that isn't possible when the field is wide.

It is a difficult job to make realistic estimates about this stuff.
To do a good job, you need cooperation from John Arntz. It's unlikely
that whatever figures he does publish will be sufficient to get a
decent estimate.

At one time, I though I could get some idea by just observing. Even
with lengthy conversations with friendly elections board managers you
can't put all the numbers together.

Advocates of hand counting have their work cut out for themselves in
this one.

-Danny

On Nov 27, 2007, at 8:58 AM, Teresa Hommel wrote:

> I don't have that info. A discussion of different IRV types of math
> a few years ago convinced me that IRV was a bad idea, and that it
> was better to hold run-off elections where everyone knows who they
> are voting for and how the numbers work.
>
> Teresa
>
> Brent Turner wrote:
>> Teresa- Have you analyzed the Instant Run off / Rank Choice /
>> FairVote aspect- ? Id like to know how the math works-
>> Volunteer hours etc - BT
>>
>>

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Received on Fri Nov 30 23:17:28 2007

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