December 11, 2019

HERE WE GO AGAIN...Let's get it right this time.

Dec. 10, 2019 
"A group of Progressive city councilors introduced the ranked-choice voting proposal earlier this month. Burlington used ranked-choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, from 2005 to 2010. Voters rank candidates in order of preference, and if their first choice is eliminated, their vote is reassigned to their second choice. The process continues until one candidate earns 50 percent or more of the vote. The current voting system only requires a 40 percent majority to win. 
The city council voted 9-3 on December 2 to send the measure to the charter change subcommittee for review. Shannon was one of the three no votes. At that meeting, she told her colleagues that she supports ranked-choice but felt the charter committee would need more time to study it or 'other election methods.' Constituents had told her that ranked choice was too complicated, Shannon said.
The public should be given more time to vet the proposal since 'confusion in our voting system is not a good thing,' she said." 
Charter Change Committee took no action because Shannon and Paulino were going to a Dem party strategy session. This time around, Dems are nervous about IRV, now called RCV, because their mayoral candidate likely will not clear the 50% requirement, triggering the new tallying system. Well, here we go again.

September 18, 2010

Voters Must Take Charge for Change To Occur

Sept 13, Burlington City Council hears report from Charter Change Committee. The only proposal they can agree on is to increase mayoral election bar from 40% plurality to 50%. Addition of recall provision to City Charter and removal of CAO voting power on FB was returned to committee. The latter were deemed personal, as related to Kiss and Leopold's debacle.

However, it's the the 50% change that is personal, very personal, never mind political -- EVERYTHING CC does is political. Apparently Councilor Shannon fears the possible election of Kurt Wright, Republican, as mayor with 40% plurality vote. She apparently thinks that she or a Democrat could get elected in a real run-off with coalition of Dem/Prog support. Too many councilors are already running for mayor. Rigging an election by charter change,  to prevent one party or person from winning, is unjust.

This change will go nowhere. Voters don't think election rigging is fair. As for the important changes that the committee can't deliver, recall and CAO staff to FB (not a voting member), voters will need  to petition for the right to vote on those changes.

City Council needs HELP. Every ward needs to carefully consider whether their councilor is part of the problem, or can work with council to solve problems in the city and initiate change.

July 24, 2010

BURLINGTON's TOPSY-TURVY IRV ELECTIONS RESULTS -- New Yorker, "The Mathematics of Voting," Anthony Gottlieb

...At first glance, [IRV] is an appealing approach: it is guaranteed to produce a clear winner, and more voters will have a say in the election’s outcome. Look more closely, though, and you start to see how peculiar the logic behind it is. Although more people’s votes contribute to the result, they do so in strange ways. Some people’s second, third, or even lower preferences count for as much as other people’s first preferences. If you back the loser of the first tally, then in the subsequent tallies your second (and maybe lower) preferences will be added to that candidate’s first preferences. The winner’s pile of votes may well be a jumble of first, second, and third preferences.

Such transferrable-vote elections can behave in topsy-turvy ways: they are what mathematicians call “non-monotonic,” which means that something can go up when it should go down, or vice versa. Whether a candidate who gets through the first round of counting will ultimately be elected may depend on which of her rivals she has to face in subsequent rounds, and some votes for a weaker challenger may do a candidate more good than a vote for that candidate herself. In short, a candidate may lose if certain voters back her, and would have won if they hadn’t.

Supporters of instant-runoff voting say that the problem is much too rare to worry about in real elections, but recent work by Robert Norman, a mathematician at Dartmouth, suggests otherwise. By Norman’s calculations, it would happen in one in five close contests among three candidates who each have between twenty-five and forty per cent of first-preference votes. With larger numbers of candidates, it would happen even more often. It’s rarely possible to tell whether past instant-runoff elections have gone topsy-turvy in this way, because full ballot data aren’t usually published. But, in Burlington’s 2006 and 2009 mayoral elections, the data were published, and the 2009 election did go topsy-turvy.

Read more:

June 2, 2010

IRV is for Dummies

IRV promoters are desperate as FairVote and IRV lose credibility and market share. You can only fool SOME of the people, SOME of the time. After a few IRV elections, people get wise to the game and may not know exactly how the game is run, or why it feels slimy, but they know the odds are always in favor of the house. Check out IRV for Newbies.

Now the pitch in Burlington, VT is "elect officials with 51% majority." 40% plurality is required in local, strate, and national elections. Having lost mayoral IRV, the hype is now to change 40% plurality in mayoral elections to 51% majority. Like all the other word games played by IRV advocates, 51% amounts to nothing substantial -- it's a mere 2.5% increase in threshold.

So what's the payoff? It's a ploy by the majority parties so they don't have to build coalitions with minority parties, to lessen the chances of newcomers threatening the advantage of incumbents, and thus give major parties a chance to gang up against a candidate like Bernie Sanders -- who was elected mayor in Burlington as a third party, minority candidate. If Bernie had been forced into a runoff election, the major parties could have crushed him. The goal is to force run-offs and keep major parties in control. If you can't accomplish this quietly with IRV, then up the plurality to lessen the chances of a newcomer getting in.

This comes at a time when Burlington, VT desperately needs fresh, new leadership in the city -- top to bottom, in every department and on every board and commission.

April 26, 2010

Governor Visits North Burlington, Signs Bill to Repeal IRV

The Seven Days Staff Blog: IRV Repeal Signed into Law 

Before about a dozen onlookers, Gov. Jim Douglas signed into law Saturday a charter change that eliminates the use of instant-runoff voting to elect Burlington's mayor.
"I'm signing this today for two reasons: One, to respect the decision of the people of Burlington, and two on the substance of the issue," said Douglas, who reminded onlookers that he was Secretary of State for 12 years.
"Voting ought to be transparent and easy to understand, and affects the will of the voters in a direct way," said Douglas. "I'm glad the city has agreed to a more traditional process.".....

7-Days article went on to list the 2010 vote tally in each ward. When you contrast the 2010 repeal vote to the 2005 vote that implemented IRV, you see that in EVERY WARD opposition to IRV increased significantly
Ward 1, 180/ 264  = 47% increase
Ward 2, 150/ 185  = 24% increase
Ward 3, 210/ 292 = 39% increase
Ward 4, 721/ 1203 = 67% increase
Ward 5, 395/ 545 = 38% increase
Ward 6, 329/ 477 = 45% increase
Ward 7, 630/ 1006 = 60% increase

By Daniel Barlow, Vermont Press Bureau - Published: April 27, 2010

MONTPELIER — Vermont's largest city saw its brief experiment with instant runoff voting end Monday with a stroke of Gov. James Douglas' pen, a move that supporters of the alternative election system concede is a setback for the movement.

~Burlington residents rejected the use of IRV to elect their mayor in a vote earlier this year by a 52-48 percent margin. Responding to the vote, the Legislature approved the new charter changes and Gov. Douglas signed the revised voting procedure into law on Monday, removing the use of the runoff election system. The city — the largest in Vermont — used IRV for two [mayoral] election cycles.

~"There is no doubt that this is a setback," said Paul Burns, the executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, which has lobbied to use IRV on all statewide elected offices. "It doesn't mean that IRV still can't happen statewide … and I don't think this is the last word on IRV for Burlington." Championed by Vermont Progressives and liberal Democrats, the IRV asks voters to rank candidates by their preference. If a single candidate doesn't get a majority - 50 percent of the votes plus one - the lower choices of voters are used when their top candidate is at the bottom of the pack.

~Several major U.S. cities such as San Francisco and Minneapolis use the system for local elections and IRV, under different names, is also used In Australia, Ireland and Fiji. The runoff system is often praised because it removes the fear that a third-party candidate could "spoil" the election by drawing support away from the most-popular candidate.

~But Burlington, after electing Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss in the 2007 and 2009 elections, voted to dump the system at town meeting this year. That repeal effort was led by Rep. Kurt Wright, R-Burlington, who lost the mayoral race to Kiss last year. "IRV confused a lot of people," said Steve Larrabee, the chairman of the Vermont Republican Party. "I think people are used to the idea of voting a candidate up or down and that the person with the most votes wins." The Vermont Republican Party opposes IRV, Larrabee said, believing that the "traditional system" of one person, one vote has worked well. But he said he didn't believe the battle over IRV was over in Vermont, noting that there are rumblings of a possible comeback in future years in Burlington. "Burlington has spoken and they don't like the system," he said.

~Vermont lawmakers passed a bill, S.108, two years ago that would have used IRV for the state's U.S. congressional races. Although the bill passed both the House and the Senate, it was vetoed by Douglas, who once served as Vermont Secretary of State. "Moreover, voters should not be asked to cast their ballots based on a wide range of hypothetical, theoretical or imaginary outcomes," Douglas wrote in his veto message. "Elections have always been, and ought to remain, contests among individual candidates and their ideas."

~Since then, the IRV movement has seemingly died down in Vermont. Several supporters at the Statehouse said they weren't even sure if there was an IRV bill introduced in this session (two bills were introduced last year, one to use IRV for the gubernatorial election and another to use it for the Congressional races. Neither bill came up for a committee hearing). "I don't blame the state Legislature for taking a wait-and-see approach," said Burns.

~Rep. David Zuckerman, P-Burlington, is a long-time supporter of IRV. He saw this year's town meeting vote to reject the system in his city as a referendum on the Kiss administration, which is at the center of several political controversies. "We need to do a better job of sharing how IRV works," Zuckerman said. "The opposition had a great marketing slogan."

~One of the reasons IRV may have failed in Burlington is because of "partisan politics," said Rob Richie, the executive director of FairVote, a Maryland-based non-profit group supporting IRV. If the system had been used by the city to also elect its City Council, Richie said, politicians from all three major Vermont political parties would have been elected with IRV. Burlington is only the second U.S. city to use IRV and then reject it several years later, he added. "This doesn't help the effort in Vermont in the short-term," Richie said. "But the national trend is toward using IRV. This year, three new cities will use it."

~If the IRV movement gained new steam in Vermont, it would also need to confront the legal decision as to whether or not implementing such a system would require a change in the Vermont Constitution. Gov. Douglas cited the state's Constitution as one of the reasons for vetoing the IRV several years ago. Opponents, along with Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, say it would, setting up a long and complex legislative battle, but supporters believe IRV can be used for top statewide races without the change. "It's a hurdle that would need to be overcome," Burns said.

Note: IMHO, Mr. Barlow, IRV is finished statewide, because the problems with IRV are known now. KURT WRIGHT DID NOT LEAD THE CAMPAIGN TO REPEAL IRV, that's sour grapes on the part of losers who are looking for a way to diminish the non-partisan repeal and the fact that IRV is it's own worst enemy! Zuckerman blames Mayor Kiss? The mayor was hurt the most by IRV because it robbed him of a clean win, and voter confidence, at a time when he inherited serious problems and needed public confidence to weather the economic storms. IRV was repealed, with a vote of no-confidence that increased in every ward in the city, leading to a real majority win for repeal.

April 22, 2010

H.773 to be signed into law at the Miller Center

The Miller Center, center of Repeal IRV activity, will host the official signing of H.773 into law. Governor Douglas will conduct the official signing right here.

March 12, 2010

H.773 Update 3/30/10 Passed by House. Sent to Senate Gov Ops Com.

3/12/10: Read First Time, and Referred to the  House Gov Ops Committee.  3/19/10: Hearing Wed Mar24 @ 9AM. Kurt will meet people in the Lobby, and show you where to go. Third Floor, Rm 49 if you arrive late.  3/24/10: Repeal IRV charter change bill passed Gov Ops,  8Yea - 0Nay.  Floor vote Friday...stay tuned! 3/26/10: Favorable report, 2nd reading. The bill, having appeared on the Calendar one day for notice, was taken up, read the second time and third reading ordered. 3/30/10: Third reading, and PASSED House. 4/2/10:First reading. Senate Gov Ops Com.  4/13/10: Favorable report. Check here: Legislative Bill Tracking System
  4/15/2010 SJ 55 P.   New Business/Third Reading
  4/15/2010 SJ 55 P.   Read the third time and passed in concurrence
  4/15/2010 SJ 55 P.   Rules suspended and messaged to House forthwith, on motion of Senator Mazza
On to the Governor for signature.

March 9, 2010

The Process by which a Citizen Initiative becomes Law

Gregory Sanford
Vermont State Archives and Records Administration
(802) 828-2369

THE LAW: 17 V.S.A. §2645

Here is what municipality will certify, 10 days following the election:
  1. The petition with the proposed charter change (plus certification that it was signed by the required number of voters) 
  2. Warnings to the two public hearings to discuss the proposal (often held in conjunction with regular municipal board meeting)
  3. Copies of minutes from those public hearings if there is discussion on proposed change (or certified that no discussion occurred)
  4. Ballot with results certified
DEADLINE Thursday, March 11, 2010

.Gregory Sanford receives the material and reviews it for completeness. Even if he requests more material from the municipality, he will forward the proposed charter change to the designated parties [AG Office, Sec of State, Clerk of House] as well as to the Legislative Council in case they have not already received a copy from which to draft a bill. 

.Then it goes through the normal process for a bill. The House Government Ops Committee will schedule hearings on the bill.

March 8, 2010

IRV repeal expected to sail through legislature

Montpelier, Vermont - March 8, 2010

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate say they are going to follow the will of Burlington voters and approve a charter change repealing Instant Runoff Voting. Some had been pushing for a delay on the vote.
When Burlington residents voted to repeal Instant Runoff Voting, it still needed to go through one more step to become final. The legislature must approve any charter change, and both leaders in the House and Senate say they will take it up and pass it.
"Our hope is to bring it forward as quickly as possible," said Rep. Shap Smith/D-Vt. House Speaker.
Sen. Peter Shumlin/D-Vt. Senate President Pro Tem: "I expect the legislature will move and support the will of the voters."
Reporter Kristin Carlson asked: "And that includes you?"
Sen. Shumlin replied, "Absolutely."
"It seems to me that the people of Burlington have spoken on this issue and I would concur with them on their viewpoint," said Rep. Smith.
A united front that hurts the effort of people still fighting to save IRV, and bolsters IRV opponents who had worried Progressives would seek a delay. Some had talked behind the scenes about trying to stall a legislative vote for a year, so Instant Runoff Voting could be brought back to Burlington residents. Both House and Senate Leaders say if there's a change, then they'll simply hold another vote.
"It's our job to follow the will of the voters and that's what we do here in charter change requests," said Sen. Shumlin.
In response Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss says he remains disappointed in the outcome of the IRV vote, but that the charter change is not his decision, it's the legislatures, and he will leave it to them.
Kristin Carlson - WCAX-TV

Opposition to IRV increased significantly in each ward after trying IRV twice.

Opposition to IRV increased significantly in each ward after trying it twice.  For example, in Ward 1, 180 people voted "NO" in 2005 to implement IRV.  IN 2010, 264 people in Ward 1 voted to repeal IRV.  That's a 47% increase in people who didn't want IRV.

"IRV is instant coffee. IRV campaign debates are junk food." Burlington, home of deep, rich fair trade coffee and organic farms, chose real democracy.
Here's the 2005/2010 "anti-IRV" vote count

Voter disapproval of IRV increased in every ward in the city.

Ward 1, 180/ 264  = 47% increase
Ward 2, 150/ 185  = 24% increase
Ward 3, 210/ 292 = 39% increase
Ward 4, 721/ 1203 = 67% increase
Ward 5, 395/ 545 = 38% increase
Ward 6, 329/ 477 = 45% increase
Ward 7, 630/ 1006 = 60% increase

March 6, 2010

FairVote's BLAME GAME. The Playbook:

 The defeat of IRV [in Burlington] stems from a simple fact: the only candidate ever to win with IRV in Burlington is current mayor Bob Kiss, who won two hotly contested races for mayor in 2006 and 2009. In a city with three major parties, all with roughly comparable support, those victories left a majority wishing someone else had won. With new controversies in the Kiss administration in the past year, it was clear that in a referendum on the mayor, he would lose badly. Read more:

The rest is the playbook the mayor was following in the VPR interview:
Despite winning in five of the city’s seven wards, the use of instant runoff voting (IRV) for mayor was repealed this week by a margin of less than 4% in Vermont’s largest city of Burlington. It’s a disappointment, particularly with a growing appreciation in Vermont for IRV.
In fact, the voter distribution in 2010 was identical to the distribution in 2005 when the IRV experiment was approved by voters (42% North End). After two IRV mayoral elections, citywide voter approval dropped dramatically and became voter disapproval. IRV was repealed by 52% of the voters citywide in a direct election.

As for the growing appreciation in Vermont, Vermont This Week, Mar 5 2010, called it "the kiss of death." chuckle, chuckle.... Watch for Deb Markowitz to drop this from her campaign platform like a hot potato! Dem SoS in Aspen is up for re-election, where voters ditched IRV in an advisory vote, and she's not recommending IRV to anybody!

March 5, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities, and two Campaigns

Listen on VPR -- Mayor discusses IRV and voter rejection of the instant runoff. 


    The mayor calls for a re-vote, heating up the IRV debate in the more modest sections of the city.  We need to move on to BT and the pension fund.  IRV has become a distraction in the city, and it is divisive in a way that serves only the embattled Mayor/CAO, not the beleaguered City/Taxpayers.  It is being used to divert attention away from substantive issues, it has set Dems against Dems, it embarrasses Progs,  -- and now the mayor divides "Naysayers" in the North End from Downtown "Burlingtonians," refusing to accept the citywide vote to repeal IRV.  


    Burlington will reject this ploy. The so-called "new" north end is the site of the first homestead in Burlington. Mayors, governors and many old Burlington families have lived there, as well as  Burlington civic leaders today. It was a real 52% majority vote that eliminated IRV and returned the city to a minimum 40% plurality voting system. This system has served Burlington well for decades and in recent history we elected mayors from 4 different parties. Statewide, in legislative races, simple plurality is the rule.
Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss discusses the repeal of Instant Runoff voting.....


Instant Runoff Election Results - Bianca Slota, WCAX, election night

March 3, 2010


 Is this really the end of IRV in Burlington?

Burlington politicians are examining the best way to move forward in the wake of the vote to repeal instant runoff voting. The main IRV supporters say they accept the outcome and are willing to move on, but Mayor Bob Kiss says this may not be the end of the debate. More>>


Bianca Slota followed up on Bob Kiss' comments -- high voter turnout in wards 4 and 7 vs. low voter turnout in the rest of the city, north end naysayers vs. Burlingtonians. He says if "we" "heat up that debate, we might get a better measure of Burlingtonians view of IRV." Surprise! Bianca Slota had the real voter turn-out numbers, comparing 2005 when the IRV charter change was supported by voters, to 2010 when that charter change was repealed.

More people voted in 2010, same voter distribution across the wards!
2005 -- 7,550, 42% of the total vote was in Wards 4 and 7, 58% in other wards.
2010 -- 7.695, exactly the same distribution, 42% in wards 4 and 7.

So the only difference is that after Burlington voters had the experience of two IRV elections, more people voted, same distribution among the wards, and 52% citywide don't want IRV.

Hopefully the Mayor and city administration will accept the vote of the people, and turn their attention toward substantive problems, like working in partnership with Council to protect the city's investment in BT, stabilize the pension fund, and  restore open government to our city.

March 2, 2010


People of Burlington have told the politicians how we want to vote, and it is NOT by instant runoff. We want real runoffs, and will defend the 40% threshold to protect minority rights.

Congratulations! Many have been cheering you on from afar. Some of us are fighting this unfair voting method in our own back yard.

I've been studying IRV since FairVote tried to insert an amendment into our paper ballot law back in 2004/2005. That amendment could have killed our bill and then my state would still be voting on paperless voting machines.

Yours is a true David v Goliath battle and you won. You beat the outside money and the undue political influence foisted on your city. You refused to be cowed.

And I know the intimidation that had to have come your way.

IRV is just plain bad for voters and also terribly bad for election transparency. It also causes votes to be thrown away, something I deplore!

Well done, you fought a good fight, and those of us still battling on will learn from your efforts and success. 
 Thanks, Joyce. IRV has hit the wall. Being charmed by it ideologically is quite different from experiencing how it twists the results of an election. Heavy IRV endorsements by major political figures -- "you have the power" Dean was robo-calling local voters, McCain/Dean/Sanders were glaring down on folks from an ad that looked like WANTED posters in the Post Office, City Councilors and legislators were signing on to pro-IRV flyers -- but the people voted conscience, without fear or favor, and we told the politicians how we want to vote.

February 28, 2010

People will tell the politicians how we want to vote! This is a citizen initiative and we have the power.

Ballot Question #5 is a CITIZEN INITIATIVE. 

Politicians, FairVote Maryland, vpirg -  

IRV activists campaign in Burlington: City voters will decide a repeal question brought by petition by IRV opponents.

Citizen initiative on IRV. Let the people tell the politicians how we want to vote. Howard Dean, who told us over and over that we have the power -- Ha! Not when it comes to deciding how we want to vote apparently -- made a TV ad to tell us that his candidate lost in FL because they didn't have IRV, and then he tells us not to vote based on whether our candidate lost  in the last mayoral election! [At least he's using an election example instead of skim milk, jelly beans and ice cream.] And Bernie? Bernie, who is senator today because Burlington elected him mayor with a 43% plurality vote in a 4-way race, and never was there any doubt that he earned every single vote and was a good mayor. John McCain? He cares about how the mayor is elected in Burlington, VT? Of course not.

On Tuesday we go into the privacy of a voting booth and tell the politicians how we want to vote for mayor in Burlington. And it will be a true majority, because this vote isn't IRV. Repeal Yes, Repeal No. It's that simple.

February 27, 2010

It's a funny business

I've only within the last year changed my mind about IRV. My distaste for the whole IRV process began when I was still the Ward 6 Election Clerk overseeing the 2009 IRV mayoral election for my ward. During a training, I was told there would be no print outs from the IRV optical scanner which meant I would have no record of the total votes from my ward before they were bagged, sealed and delivered to City Hall for tabulation. This was highly irregular so I made a big fuss about it. Shay Totton reported it in his column which I've pasted below.

I still to this day believe that it was not a mistake. I believe they were planning to run the election without paper print outs from the ward's IRV tabulators. One can only guess why that might be so if you know anything about election integrity. Of course, there is no proof but the whole incident was really, really strange.

Who’s Watching the Watchmen? —
Let’s face it: Burlington has had its share of problems since longtime elections chief Jo LaMarche left the city to take a job as the Addison County clerk. Many wonder if the current team is up to the task of running an error-free election.
After last year’s March election, city Democrats hauled Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold and his assistant Ben Pacy into court for improperly unsealing a box of ballots during the recount of a New North End council race.
Since then, Burlington has had a statewide primary where not enough ballots were ordered for one ward. Then, last November, city election officials incorrectly reported vote tallies on election night, which caused confusion in a key county senate race — so much confusion, in fact, that one candidate asked for a countywide recount. Even with wrong numbers, the public got results several hours later than in any previous election.
In the world of baseball, that might been the equivalent of three strikes. But one of those strikes could have passed for a foul tip.
Now we learn that election workers were given bad info about how voting machines should be set up for the city’s instant runoff system. During a training two weeks ago, Pacy told election workers that ballot machines would be calibrated and cleared at City Hall — a procedure elected election officials used to carry out at the polling site, before voting started, to protect against voter fraud.
Ward 6 election official Owen Mulligan raised concerns, claiming elected election officials — not city employees and consultants — should ensure ballot boxes are clear before the polls open. That’s how it was done in 2006.
Mulligan contacted Seven Days, and subsequently his note to us ended up on a friend’s blog, Blazing Indiscretions.
When Mulligan’s complaint hit the blog, IRV supporter and consultant Terry Bouricius called city hall and then replied on the blog claiming Pacy’s info was inaccurate. Yikes.
In 2006, he was a paid consultant for the city. This year, he’s doing some work pro bono, since few, if any, of the election workers in City Hall were around three years ago. Comforting thought.
“Owen was rightly upset,” Bouricius later told Seven Days. “But, what he would like to happen is actually what is going to happen.”In other words, ward election workers will do what they have always done.
Pacy told “Fair Game” that the city had the wrong info to begin with and will clear the air at the next training. That occurs as Seven Days goes to press.
Mulligan is glad the issue is resolved, but isn’t happy about how he discovered the city’s screw-up.
“To learn from a comment on a friend’s blog that information given to me at an election training was incorrect is disconcerting,” Mulligan said.
Still, thanks to Mulligan, it’s good to know someone in charge of watching the election process is actually doing just that.
Fair Game

February 26, 2010


VERMONT. Vermont's Secretary of State ordered a feasibility study , found that their current voting machines could not handle IRV for statewide contests, and further that operational costs such as postage, ballot printing and voter education would increase.
2007 Report to the Vermont General Assembly by the Vermont Office of the Secretary of State  (Word document) Instant Runoff Voting (IRV): Administrative Implementation Options and Costs

... The City of Burlington used the instant runoff process for the March 2006 Mayoral race with between 10,000 and 11,000 voters participating in the election.  LHS Associates provided technical assistance to the City officials at no cost both prior to the election and on election night in order to conduct the “pilot” election.  The City Elections Clerk reports that the city spent approximately $19,000 more than would have been spent for a standard election for consultant services, additional programming costs, and for voter education.

Appendices to the 2007 Report to the Vermont General Assembly by the Vermont Office of the Secretary of State     (PDF document) Instant Runoff Voting (IRV): Administrative Implementation Options and Costs

Avoid a Tampering of Ballots on March 2: Vote in your Ward!

Vermont Election Laws

§ 2590. Securing and storing ballots, tally sheets and checklists

"Ballot bags or containers shall not be removed or tampered with in any other way, except under COURT ORDER, or by ORDER OF ANY AUTHORIZED COMMITTEE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
I am convinced that City Hall is so concerned about the Repeal IRV vote that they'll do anything to keep IRV in the city elections, even fraudulently!

When you vote in the March 2nd City Election, I urge people who want to repeal IRV to vote at their ward polling station. Don't vote at City Hall or by Absentee! The ballots are stored at City Hall and can be opened and changed!

(Remember, in March, 2008, it was ward 7 ballots boxes that Jonathan Leopold ordered Ben Pacy to break, three times, and all he got was a slapped wrist!)

Cross posted at Blazing Indiscretions.

$5000 fine for violation of election law

Pro-IRV FairVote MN was fined the maximum amount by law for using celebrity endorsements illegally.

In the judges ruling, they state:
[Violations] were made despite the clarity of the statutory prohibitions, and the Respondent remains completely unapologetic. The timing of these mailings made it difficult for opponents to respond before the election and created an unfair advantage. These false claims of support or endorsement likely influenced some voters, but the impact on the election cannot be quantified on this record.
A Recent pro-irv ad in Burlington features 3 Washington suits -- John McCain, Howard and Bernie. Thanks to his press conference, we know Howard doesn't know the facts, but Bernie? Surely Bernie remembers how he got elected mayor of Burlington! But that's not the point, which is that support for IRV is not the same as support for a specific ballot question. It is a tactic that FairVote uses, and they have been fined for it. But by the time the court can act, the election is over. Note: VT has no election law that addresses this issue.


February 24, 2010

Fair Vote MN violated election law in close race

Group  that  backed  instant  runoff  voting in  St. Paul  is fined  $5,000

Group is fined $5,000, but the ruling won't affect referendum approval of IRV.

IRV repealed in Pierce Cty WA

ON NOV 3, 2009. PIERCE COUNTY WASHINGTON.Majority of Pierce County voters reject Instant Runoff Voting on Nov 3 Instant runoff voting was rejected by an overwhelming majority of Pierce County Washington Voters. 44,145 of 64,106 voters said yes to ditching instant runoff voting, also called ranked choice voting. That is 71.76% for eliminating IRV and 28.24% who wanted to keep IRV.

Pierce voters ditch instant runoff voting - save $500K for taxpayers immediately
Nov 10 2009... Voters' repeal of Ranked-Choice Voting last week also freed-up $500,000 would have been needed to implement the voting system for the 2010 election.
Also see
Voters changing their minds on ranked-choice

Background: A poll from 2008 showed that
63% of Pierce County WA voters don't like Ranked Choice Voting. That is 56,751 out of 90,738 Pierce County voters who answered a questionnaire included with their ballots that asked, “Did you like this new Ranked Choice Voting method?” December 7, 2008 The News Tribute. The county could save $600,000 if they scrapped instant runoff voting now.



We've learned that unFair Vote and VPIRG are funding pro-IRV.

VT Yankee is leaking, people are donating to VPIRG figuring they are a VY watchdog, and VPIRG is sending thousands of $$$s to influence a Burlington ballot initiative to Repeal IRV. (Wonder how Brattleboro donors feel about that?)

There's also money pouring in from the ubiquitous Fair Vote known as "Unfair Vote" (among repeal irv advocates) because unFair Vote was fined for violating election laws [*The election law violation was about the validity of using celebrity donors.] But every state has different laws, and wanting to keep a low profile in Burlington's election is probably for a good reason.

It's like the state reps who claim per diem when they didn't incur the expense -- if you're underpaid, or worth more than other reps, or above the law, the per diem is fair game, a matter of definition, right?
50%'s paid staff, questioned about outside funding, claims that "local is a matter of definition."  Like majority is a matter of definition, real is a matter of definition (as in real run off), etc etc etc..... See the justification?

In Burlington, the main gripe about unFair Vote is that its donors are not disclosed. In VT we're required to list donors, but when a donor is a group like unFair Vote, the individual donors are secret.

February 23, 2010

If you didn't vote for Kiss or Wright, then you didn't vote --- ??? Say what?

 A funny video clip from the Contois Repeal IRV debate. League spokesperson has been saying that IRV is a REAL runoff, and Repeal IRV says it is not. Question from audience about a bullet vote, and why IRV is not a real runoff. Check out the answer.....  

The answer was enough to turn this voter around!

*Friends, please focus comments on IRV, Burlington's voting system for mayor which is proposed for elimination by Ballot Question #5 in the March 2 election. If you did not see the debate at Contois Auditorium, there is a link on this website. Informed observations and opinions are welcome.

Pro-IRV can't get the facts straight! Dis-service to voters.

Mark Larson is a nice person, and I'm sure he would tell the truth if he knew it. His facts are wrong and he can blame his busy schedule and his sources for that, but misleading voters in a city-wide debate is wrong. A state representative must check FACTS!

Here's a fact check on statements about the repeal of IRV voting in Pierce County, WA.

Traditional voting is so simple, even a dog in third grade could do it!

February 22, 2010

YouTube features VT IRV Debate Debacles

National organization spokesperson for IRV purveys misinformation, figuring people in Burlington won't know the difference? Local news reporter is told repeatedly THAT IS NOT TRUE when she asks a well-researched question. Advocates use examples like buying skim milk, and choosing chocolate or jellybeans, and to explain IRV -- like people are stupid and they need to dumb-down the explanation. News reporter asks, what do you mean by a complete ballot -- easy one, wouldn't you think? The worst obfuscation creating confusion comes when advocates try to explain how a person who got 29% of first-place votes ended up mayor. The regrettable outcome of this shell game is low voter confidence, and financial disaster for the city.

Burlington model of failed IRV

The 2009 Burlington, VT election proves "vote your conscience, no spoiler effect," is a myth. ... 

February 21, 2010

REPEAL IRV Debate link

Video of REPEAL IRV debate is up on Ch17 @

~Features Mark Larsen's example of going to the store to buy skim milk. Says he would settle for 2% but does not want whole milk at all. So he must understand how voters feel who went to the polls, voted for skim or 2%, and found whole milk in their fridge the next morning!


~See Keri Toksu smirk, smirk and declare IRV to be so simple even a third grader can do it -- but she herself can't explain the tabulation and she forgets how many candidates were running.
IRV Repeal Debate

~Hear Chuck Seleen say:

I urge you to vote yes on Question 5 to repeal IRV as a method of electing the mayor of Burlington--
  • To return to a simple affirmative vote for your candidate of choice
  • To elect the candidate with the most popular support
  • To do away with the IRV tabulation system that disenfranchises voter
  • To return to a voting method that creates voter confidence
  • To reinvigorate candidate debate
  • To give voters a choice to reevaluate the top two candidates if an election is close

Voting Paradoxes and Perverse Outcomes that are NOT majoritarian

With the Burlington run-off now concluded, and with a high accuracy rate now established in the counting, questions linger about IRV itself. No one in the state has put together a more compelling data set than Political Scientist Tony Gierzynski. Tony’s was the only group to conduct exit polling in 2006; this time out, he’s brought forward far less reassuring data,  Voting Paradoxes and Perverse Outcomes:

Let’s get right into it: Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is not good. It is not good because it suffers from three fundamental problems: it discriminates against classes of voters by adding complexity the ballot; it has a very real potential to produce perverse outcomes or voting paradoxes that are not majoritarian; and it fails to address the real problem that arises when multiple parties compete in a two-party system.

February 8, 2010

February 6, 2010

Vote YES on question #5

Want to repeal IRV? Then vote YES!

Let's keep voting simple.

January 29, 2010

IRV advocates ill-mannered and mean spirited

It comes as no surprise that IRV advocates and Progressive Party hacks have turned to criticizing opponents of IRV as "stupid" and worse. They also have a tendency to hide behind 'anonymous' when posting on blogs so they can spew their hate and judge those of us fighting to restore democracy by repealing IRV.

They can call me a stupid, right-wing voter all they want but it doesn't change the facts.

IRV doesn't work.

I also happen to be very intelligent and the last I knew, I was on the far left.

January 10, 2010

Repeal IRV in Burlington

Burlington would hardly be the first to repeal Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), which has made a mess of our Mayoral elections.

Recently, Aspen Colorado, Pierce County, Washington, and Georgetown University all voted to repeal after witnessing similar complications created by IRV.

If you're tired of being lectured and told how to vote then join us for a return to a simple ballot and a voting system that makes sense.

Remember, city councilors, school commissioners, ward clerks, and inspectors of election are all elected with a 40% threshold so why does the Mayor have to be any different?

We never had any problems with our local Mayoral elections until IRV came along.

January 6, 2010

IRV: The 3 Fundamental Problems

The University of Vermont conducted an assessment of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) after the last election, which was prepared by Anthony Gierzynski, PhD, Associate Professor of Political Science.

Gierzynski identified "3 Fundamental Problems" with IRV and they are:

1. IRV discriminates against classes of voters by adding complexity to the ballot.

2. IRV has a very real potential to produce perverse outcomes or voting paradoxes that are not majoritarian.

3. IRV fails to address the real problem that arises when multiple parties compete in a two-party system.

To read the full assessment click here.

Let's face it folks. IRV sounded like a great idea and the majority of us voted for it (including myself) but the reality is IRV doesn't work.

January 5, 2010

A Yes or No question

I believe the IRV question will be a YES to repeal and a NO to keep. I've been emailing back and forth all morning with Lori Olberg from the Clerk's office to clarify. I'll add more updates about this throughout the month once things are finalized.

P.S. Thank you to all the people who worked so hard to get this on the ballot and the group One Person One Vote!

January 3, 2010

Blurt on IRV

Burlington Residents Seek Repeal of Instant Runoff Voting

57 comments and counting....(speak up!)

IRV=Voter Disenfranchisement

On Tuesday, March 3rd 2009, I voted for Mayor but my vote didn't count and neither did 605 other votes. This is called voter disenfranchisement. So how did this happen? It all started with a voting system called IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) where voters ranked their candidates in order of preference on the ballot.

Unfortunately, under this system, if you chose not to rank your candidates or you chose only one candidate (who happened not to make the final runoff) your vote was not counted.

The final runoff between Kiss and Wright was decided by 8,374 votes, not the total 8,980 votes cast for Mayor. Kiss won by 4,313 votes to Wright's 4,061 votes. Now add their two numbers together and you get 8,374, which leaves 606 ballots in an exhausted pile that's not counted under IRV rules.

I would have liked to have voted in an election between Kiss and Wright as the only two candidates. I did not know or would have guessed that the final runoff would be between those two candidates. This is where IRV fails.

I was disenfranchised from that election because I did not want to rank candidates or strategize over the possible outcome. I just wanted to vote for one candidate and that's it. If it was a traditional election there would have been another separate runoff at a later date where I could have heard more from Kiss and Wright and then had the opportunity to cast a more informed vote, and one that would have counted.

Repeal IRV on the ballot...

Thanks to the group One Person One Vote, voters will have the chance this election to vote on whether or not they want to repeal IRV (Instant Runoff Voting).

Here's the press conference:

January 1, 2010