Can't trust the count

September 11, 2010 

I commend the Aug. 30 editorial "Test vote" for the skepticism expressed toward instant runoff voting. My skepticism of the procedure is deeper, based on distrust of unverifiable election results. Elections that we can trust must be accurately tallied, secure against fraud and verifiable by witnessed eye-hand audits. To ensure these practices, I supported the 2005 Public Confidence in Elections law, which mandates paper ballots, standards for voting systems and post-election audits. Because of the law, our elections are more transparent and less error-prone than previously.

Cary tried instant runoff voting in 2007. Afterward the Town Council voted to discontinue the experiment. Hand counting of votes was so complicated and difficult to follow just for 3,022 votes that even the declared victor, Donald Frantz, had no confidence in the result. Council members thought IRV might become feasible if the counting were automated.

If use of IRV leads to further automation of the count, then we will be back in a situation where no one can observe that the votes are being counted correctly. The purported advantages of IRV, dubious in themselves, do not justify undermining democracy by making our elections more complicated, opaque and vulnerable to error or fraud.

Andy Silver


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