What's on Tap: This Week at Drinking Liberally Raleigh

"What's on Tap" is a weekly round-up of stories and links that may be interesting to Drinking Liberally patrons.

Join us every Tuesday evening from 5:30 p.m. onward at Tobacco Road Sports Cafe, 222 Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. Happy hour specials end at 6 p.m. You can find more information about us on Facebook or our home site, and follow us on Twitter - @RaleighDL.

This week: instant runoff voting; Glenwood Avenue repairs; state troopers confiscate a lesbian's driver license; and Iceland's Best Party shows us how it should be done. Come inside for more.

ACTION

  • We’re all struggling in this economy; but most of us are doing far better than the poorest among us. Local charities are feeling the pinch, and some are closing. Have you given lately?
  • Are you a progressive who wants to see greater citizen involvement in elections? Are you a conservative who wants governments to stop wasting millions of dollars on private party runoff elections attended by 5% of the population? Then you are in favor of instant runoff voting. Voters in Cary and Hendersonville love it. Won’t you love it, too? Then tell your state legislator; their names and contact information are here.
  • Watch the North Carolina Senate candidates debate here. No, really – WATCH IT. Don’t just pull the lever. Know what you are fighting for!
  • What’s happening This Week in Congress, courtesy of Congress Matters and Daily Kos.

Local & State

  • The Wake County Schools junta (aka the five-member anti-diversity majority that runs the county school system) has chosen the most expensive non-North Carolina bidder for its superintendent search.
  • A climate of homophobia at Duke University – against a Republican, no less – has the administration sitting on its hands.
  • The SEIU and SEANC, through a front group, committed $1 million to get the “North Carolina First” party on the state ballot. They only succeeded in the 8th congressional district, in an attempt to challenge Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) from the left. Just one problem – they forgot to check that their candidate, Wendell Fant, actually wanted to run. Fant declined, and even offered praise for Kissell in doing so. Because the labor groups petitioned to get Fant’s name on the ballot when their party organization failed, they cannot replace him with another candidate. Nice going.
  • Do you want to know who is funding your candidates? Follow the Money with the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Here is their report on state Sen. Josh Stein (D-Raleigh).

National

Global

  • Iceland shows us how to do it:
    “No one has to be afraid of the Best Party,” Gnarr said, “because it is the best party. If it wasn’t, it would be called the Worst Party or the Bad Party. We would never work with a party like that.”

    Seriously – this man is now the mayor of Reykjavik.

  • More unrest in south Asia – this time in Bangladesh, where government misrule has brought on a general strike and the possibility of civil violence.
  • A rare success story for democracy in Africa: Guineans head to the polls to elect their first civilian government in over half a century of independence. International observers are optimistic for a peaceful transition from military government.
  • Horrifying, yet effective, protection against rape for African women – the Rape-aXe.
  • The Times of London online is moving towards a pay-for-use model by requiring free registrations. This cut traffic to their site in half. And while a third of visitors simply went to another Times publication, many went to Google, or to competitors The Guardian and The Telegraph. Of course, what will pajama-clad bloggers like me do without free news to link to?

If you have a story you think would be good for What’s on Tap, please add it as a comment or email it to frankthomas at gmail.com.

Comments

Cary tried IRV once and ditched it. Many problems with IRV

IRV was sold to Cary North Carolina as providing a 50% + 1 majority win, along with the other provably false claims. Cary is not using IRV any more. See Cary NC tries IRV, then says ‘no more’

From the 2007 powerpoint presentation given to the Cary Town Council to persuade them to volunteer for the IRV pilot
From Page 4:
"It preserves majority rule by ensuring winners must have 50%, plus one."
http://www.ncvoter.net/downloads/Cary_IRV_Powerpoint

In a May 2007 press release, see the claims reiterated:
"Instant Runoff voting increases convenience to voters; preserves majority rule by ensuring winners receive more than 50 percent of the votes; and saves taxpayers and candidates money by holding only one election."
http://www.ncvoter.net/downloads/Cary_may%202007%20Press%20Release0001.pdf

The results? Don Frantz won with a plurality of votes.

October 9, 2007 Cary District B City Council contest won with 46.36% of all votes cast. Cary participated in an IRV pilot that year.

After running voters 1, 2n and 3rd choices, Don Frantz obtained 1,401 votes, which is 46.36% of all votes cast in the Cary District B contest. He was declared the winner after receiving less than 40 percent of the first-choice votes cast, and less than 50 percent of the votes of people who showed up on Election Day.

COUNCIL MEMBER C-B 1 CARY MUNICIPAL DISTRICT B
Don Frantz . . . . . . . . . . 1,151
Vickie Maxwell. . . . . . . . . 1,075
Nels Roseland . . . . . . . . . 793
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . . . 3
http://msweb03.co.wake.nc.us/bordelec/downloads/2007OCT_summary-official\.htm

The total number of ballots cast in Dictrict B was 3,022.
You can get an engineered majority when you remove Nels Roseland's 793 votes and the 3 write ins.

Here are results only showing vote tallies for top two candidates Frantz and Maxwell
http://msweb03.co.wake.nc.us/bordelec/downloads/cary_irv_results.htm

Once pro IRV groups learned that we had proven the majority claims to befalse, they revised their talking points to say that IRV provides a "better plurality". At least that was what they were saying to Durham NC.

What does Cary City Council member Don Frantz say about IRV?

"When our town agreed to IRV in 2007, it was kind of rush job..There was a lot of pushback, the public wasn’t involved … I do not like instant runoff voting and have given my reasons as to why many times. I'll take in elections over funny math and 30% voter confusion any day." ~ Don Frantz Cary City Council member.

There are lots of false claims for that aren't true either, but are clever distortions. http://www.ncvoter.net/irvfactsorfiction.html

Want to know the truth about how much IRV costs when pro IRV groups are not providing free voter education and free exit polling? See fiscal analysis and actual costs
for Maine, Maryland, Minneapolis MN, Pierce County Washington, Vermont and San Francisco.
http://www.instantrunoffvoting.us/costs.html

Joyce McCloy
Director, NC Coalition for Verified Voting
www.ncvoter.net
Instant Runoff Voting Facts V Fiction
www.instantrunoffvoting.us

Thanks for the different point of view.

If and when I can find a news source for Cary's change back from IRV, I will gladly run a correction of that fact.

It is not the fault of the system of instant runoff voting itself that Cary did not properly and correctly explain it, or provide enough training for its execution. It is factually accurate to say that an IRV election can ultimately be won without a majority if a sufficient number of voters fail to rank deeply enough. That should be made plain to voters.

Further, relying on an abundance of PhDs in a population to allege that "even smart people don't get it" is spurious. We people have been ranking things in order of preference since we were children. It starts with Christmas and birthday wish lists, and extends to which sports and other activities to spend our time on, which elective classes to take in school, and which college or career paths to focus on. Putting things in order of preference is not hard, and does not require a PhD.

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. ~~ Salvor Hardin

Cary didn't change back from IRV to something else

First off, you are incorrect when you stated that Cary had to change back from IRV. Cary only used IRV in a 2007 pilot program. IRV is only allowed for use in local elections as part of the pilot, and certain judicial elections. So there won't be any news source that you will find. Cary needed to ask the SBOE to participate in the pilot for 2009, and they held public meetings in early 2009 about whether to continue with the non-partisan general election and runoff if needed (the current state-approved method for Cary), moving to a plurality election (which they would need legislative approval for the change), or to participate in the IRV pilot for 2009. Oddly enough, State law in early 2009 did not require public hearings before a community asks to participate in an IRV pilot, but they were required for any other change. Now hearings are required for all.

As a progressive Democrat who does drink liberally, I must disagree with your reasons why I should support IRV. I am a verified voting and election integrity advocate who has worked very hard to increase the integrity of elections in our state. I worked hard to help pass the 2005 Public Confidence in Elections Act. I worked to keep Wake County voting on 100% paper ballots and keep DRE machines out of our county. I worked to get the bugs worked out of Same Day Registration. I worked to make the 2008 IRV pilot extension have goals, standards and criteria for implementation that were not in the original pilot (which the 2009 Hendersonville pilot didn't live up to). I worked to get a 2009 law passed to require public hearings for communities considering taking part in the IRV pilot.

And I am working hard now to prevent IRV from tearing down election integrity in NC. There was no real voter education for Cary voters in 2007. The whole 2007 pilot in Cary and Hendersonville was done under the table and off the books, with most of the work being done by non-profit groups who were not responsible to the taxpayers.

And IRV supporters did tell people across the state that IRV ensured majority winners (in Cary they were told "50% plus one vote majority"). That is one reason why Cary Town Council member Julie Robison voted to participate in the IRV pilot program. She changed her mind about it - and now doesn't support IRV - precisely because IRV doesn't deliver those promised 50% plus one vote majorities. And if you study enough IRV elections, you realize that all IRV does is deliver slightly larger pluralities. So why go to all the trouble and expense of IRV (which you have to go through for each and every election) when you only rarely need a second election (with runoffs) for a majority, or don't need the trouble at all with plurality?

And the whole part about PhD's is not spurious. When you have 25% of voters showing up to the polls not understanding that they would have to rank their candidates, then clearly you aren't doing enough voter education. But now much is enough? IN San Francisco, where they have been doing IRV since 2004, a civil grand jury told them they still weren't doing enough to educate voters - and that's after spending almost $2 per registered voter for voter education. People in SF still don't get IRV. And voter turnout is way down and costs are way up since 2004.

And we aren't talking about Christmas or birthday wish lists. We are talking about elections. And we have plenty of people across the state who have lower levels of literacy for whom IRV would be a higher hurdle to cross. We already know that literacy levels are a factor in voter turnout - so why make things harder for those people than they already are?

You say that preference voting isn't hard and doesn't require a PhD. Over in Australia where they are required to rank all their candidates in order for ANY choices to count, they only vote for one or two people they know - and the rest are meaningless choices - aka Donkey Votes. However, those meaningless choices are counted, and who knows who gets elected purely by accident? Do you really want to see that happen here? We already have seen what happens when people don't know enough about a candidate and only vote for the top listed candidate - like Mr. Greene in SC?

Since IRV hasn't been proven to increase citizen involvement in elections (because turnout has been down in IRV elections), and it doesn't save money (if you honestly and accurately count all the costs), and we can't even accurately count an IRV election with a little more than 3000 ballots, why do it?

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting
http://noirvnc.blogspot.com
http://statewideirvnc.blogspot.com

WRAL: "Cary votes to keep current election method" (NOT IRV)

Several sources to fact that Cary tried IRV pilot once, didn't like it, and chose to keep their chartered election method, which is traditional majority elections of 50% + 1 and one-to-one runoffs if no majority in first election.

Cary votes to keep current election method
Posted: April 30, 2009
...
With the current election and runoff method, Cary citizens hold regular elections for the council four weeks before the General Election. The candidate receiving a majority of the votes cast wins.
...
more at the link
http://www.wral.com/news/news_briefs/story/5060298/

On April 30, 2009, council members voted to stick with traditional runoffs.
Cary North Carolina participated in the first Instant Runoff Voting pilot in 2007. While instant runoff voting was NOT on the Cary Town Council agenda, last week, it was mentioned during the hearing. The meeting can be viewed and listened to here at the Cary Town Government website.

The discussion and vote regarding adopting the plurality election method began around 1:20. Here are some excerpts from comments made by Council Members Don Frantz and Jack Smith:

1:26 Don Frantz

"One of the reasons I called for change to plurality is because we’d have a public hearing and hear what citizens had to say about it. … Most people said they preferred that we stick with what we’ve got. … Stick with our traditional non partisan… I highly agree that if we pursue change in our election, that we do it in a non election year. Number one, just to avoid any perception issues...

When our town agreed to IRV in 2007, it was kind of rush job..There was a lot of pushback, the public wasn’t involved ...

We’re on a deadline now, I think this is something we’ve got to study

When we look at doing something differently, there has to be a reason… whats Cary going to get…how is this going to make things better, Regarding plurality, IRV… I can’t see how it makes our elections better other than saving money

I hope all of us don’t mind paying more to get a little better product..

I like the fact that that traditional elections, no matter how many candidates you have in the race, the top two have a month to go at it. You might have your favorite, it doesn’t make the instant runoff… you didn’t know who to rank… but once you know who the top two candidates are… I don’t think it’s that broke… I don’t’ think we really need to focus on fixing it…

1:35 Jack Smith:

"...I thought that the feedback was pretty balanced .. I didn’t see it overwhelming one way or the other… when you considered Cary citizens.. The important point is that.. we have two years to do some real in-depth studying…get some legitimate polling that’s not biased by out of city groups…get some feedback on our surveys, and do this in a calm reasonable manner, Yes there may be cost issues but is a practice that we’ve been doing this for many years, it does determine a clear winner, a 50%+1 winner….and I think it’s the right thing to do at this time…"

Don Frantz, council member who blogs about council meetings after each meeting, mentioned the April 30 decision in his blog

Sunday, May 3, 2009
Week in Review 4/26/09 - 5/1/09
"...This was council meeting week. There wasn’t much on the agenda as there aren’t many development projects taking place these days. Council did however make a decision on whether or not to change the method of elections in Cary. After exploring the possibilities of instant runoff voting (IRV) and plurality elections council decided to stick with the non-partisan traditional runoff election method. I am pleased. If you have been reading my blog youknow my thoughts regarding IRV – I don’t like it (and that’s putting it nicely). I was genuinely interested in hearing citizens thoughts regarding the switch back to plurality elections (Cary utilized this method until 2000 when we switched to runoff elections). Unfortunately I didn’t get a lot of feedback regarding plurality (until I stated such at a council meeting – then I received a few emails). Most folks I heard from were special interest groups and politicos both in support and in opposition to IRV. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate any and all feedback, I just wish more “average citizens” had taken the time to weigh in on the topic. I would like to thank Chris, Joyce, Perry, and Andrew for all their help."