A quick update for you. First, for those of you whose ears are still ringing from my previous post on instant-runoff voting (IRV) will be glad to know I’ve found an article that deals with the Hutchinson/Hatch/Pawlenty spoiler question in a much calmer fashion:

There are three reasons why the conventional wisdom about Hatch’s defeat is wrong. First, according to the Star Tribune’s own exit polling, 43 percent of self-proclaimed independents voted for Tim Pawlenty, and 43 percent voted for Hatch. This suggests that independents — who were the people Hutchinson most appealed to — were equally inclined to vote Republican as DFL. Therefore, a strong argument could be made that Hatch’s defeat would have been no worse without Hutchinson in the race.

Many of Hutchinson’s most visible and prominent supporters were Republicans, including former Lt. Gov. Joanell Dyrstad; former House Speaker Rod Searle, and scores of other prominent business leaders.

Second, and again using the Star Tribune’s own polling, Peter Hutchinson’s support in the polls from the time of the State Fair through Election Day remained consistent at about 7 percent. This implies that any last-minute erosion of Hatch’s support did not go to Hutchinson, but straight to Pawlenty.

Frankly, it sounds like dude read my post and just toned it down a bit and threw in some salient facts. I suppose I could’ve done the same, but I have a blog so I don’t have to get in print to be heard. Was my voice heard? Who knows…

Next on the list, I was surprised and delighted to learn than Minneapolis voters have chosen instant-runoff voting (by a 2 to 1 ratio!) for most city elections, starting in 2009:

There are still hurdles to be cleared before instant runoff’s planned launch three years from now — for one, setting the ground rules on precisely how the system will work. Then there’s an estimated $1.2 million to $1.4 million cost to implement the system, mostly for new voting equipment. And there’s a chance that opponents will mount a legal challenge.

But if all goes through, the 2009 election for mayor and City Council will be like nothing Minneapolis voters have seen.

Instead of two elections for those offices — a primary and a general contest — there will be just one. The ballot will ask voters to rank their first, second and third choices for each seat, provided there are that many candidates.

Those second and third choices could end up putting a candidate over the top, if the race is close.

Congrats are in order for Minneapolis voters. They have chosen a good system — way better than the current one. Perhaps this type of referendum is the way to get IRV involved in elections across the nation.

As TJ made clear in the comments of my previous IRV-related post, IRV does NOT eliminate possible electronic voting machine fraud. And in fact, IRV almost demands voting machines (tallying the votes is really hard otherwise). Personally, I’d be fine with going back to pen and paper, but I’m not sure if that’s in the cards. We may have to focus on securing the optical scanners we currently have. I see no reason why we need touch-screen voting machines. That’s just crazy — and highly insecure. At least with optical scanning machines there is a paper record that can be recounted if there is evidence of fraud.

Speaking of fraud, it sounds like it might have occurred in Florida:

It’s just the first step of what is likely to be a litigious aftermath to a close and ugly election (thanks in part to the NRCC’s rampant robo calling in the district). The state began a recount and audit of the election yesterday. Once the audit and second recount is completed and the results certified on November 20th, the Jennings campaign has ten days to contest the results of the election if they still show Jennings down. Before the recounting began, she was down 386 votes.

The fight will center around the district’s Sarasota County, where the electronic machines did not register a vote in the Congressional race for 18,000 voters (13%) — what’s called an “undervote.” That’s compared to only 2.53% of voters who did not vote in the race via absentee ballots.

A study by the local paper, The Herald Tribune, found that one in three of Sarasota election officials “had general complaints from voters about having trouble getting votes to record” on the electronic machines for the Congressional race. Since 53% of voters in Sarasota County picked Jennings over the Republican Vern Buchanan, those missed votes would likely have put Jennings in front.

This is just one example of electioneering. There have been numerous reports of fraud, machine problems and mysterious results across the nation. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to assemble a complete list, but a good place to start is Greg Palast’s place. I’m hoping he will have a comprehensive report on the 2006 midterms soon. The Brad Blog is another great resource, as is BlackBoxVoting.org. Let me know in the comments if you find anything juicy!


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