...in Raleigh on September 1st. And boy - is IRV ever making a mess of our elections so far!
First off, we can thank Larry Leake for stating yet again that there is no certified software we can legally use to do IRV on our election equipment. Hopefully that also means there will be no more discussion of using un-certified MC Excel spreadsheets to tabulate IRV elections - the method Hendersonville developed for their two IRV pilot elections but never had to actually use.
There was discussion whether or not our election law requires hand counted votes from the actual voter verified paper trail (the "Real Time Log"), or could DRE counties use the "audit log", or ballot images?
Funny thing - at this meeting someone said that Hendersonville was seriously thinking about cutting up all the thermal paper trail rolls and tabulating IRV by hand that way. A collective groan (or a chuckle) rose from the room from all but two people - and they know who they were! No one could possibly imagine anything good could come from counting an election from thousands of thermal paper receipts that would get scattered if someone sneezed, or would be ruined if they were cut in the wrong place. And I wonder if anyone realized how long it would take to properly ID each separate vote and cut them all up? Can you say "carpal tunnel"?
Owen Andrews of PrintElect was there, stating that his company wouldn't be responsible for any election screw-ups caused by the state using IRV, a tabulation method not included in the EAC certification process for the voting equipment we purchased back in 2005.
Left unanswered is - who will be responsible if there is an election meltdown due to IRV? Who will one (or more) of the losing judicial candidates (all lawyers by the way) sue if things get screwed up?
Will we be using normal election methods (DRE or op-scan) for early and precinct voting like we did in recent elections?
In the paper counties for in-person voting, and for Absentee by Mail in all 100 counties - what size ballots will we be using? 14", 17" or 19"? Will we be able to get enough of the right paper to use for printing ballots? When will the Absentee By Mail ballot styles be settled on and distributed around to the counties so they can start sending them out to voters?
Also it appears SBOE will follow our recommendations to canvas all votes before tallying second round. Meaning that we won't be starting to count the IRV votes until all the Absentee By Mail and Provisional Ballots are counted.
There is simply no way to do IRV in NC that doesn't in some way break other NC and Federal election laws. This is something that NC Rep. Paul Luebke and others who claim that IRV is as easy to use as 1-2-3 ought to have thought about back in 2005-2006 when they pushed this through the General Assembly.
And to be honest and fair - this is something that ALL the Legislators should have thought about. I mean - COME ON! - what were you thinking by not questioning or pulling the section mandating IRV judicial elections in the same bill where you created IRV pilots to test the concept? Didn't it ever occur to you that we could statewide IRV elections before we had piloted them in smaller elections? Perhaps some of our legislators need to eat more fish to increase their critical thinking skills? Or perhaps they just shouldn't trust everything that non-profit groups push across their desks?