Monthly Archives: August 2011

NAACP Compares Ranked Choice Voting to “Poll Tax”

The head of the Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP said Thursday that the voting process for the city’s upcoming Democratic primary is so complicated it’s unfair, adding that one elderly resident has compared the process to the “dreaded poll tax.”  REPORTS The Daily Progress.

M. Rick Turner, surrounded by concerned voters held a news conference to bring light to the new voting procedure called “Ranked Choice Voting” being used by the Democratic Party to select their candidates.

“The NAACP is concerned that complicated instructions and an unfamiliar ballot layout makes voting difficult for elderly voters, disabled and visually impaired voters, new voters and voters with limited education,”

The new method asked voters to rank their choices 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.  The election, held several days after the press conference, confirmed Mr. Turner’s concerns.  For more than 30 years, the council seat has been held by an African American.  Using RCV, the African American candidate was ousted.

Voter confusion with Ranked Choice Voting is not new, and has been recently REPORTED by Lance Williams in the Oakland and San Francisco Races.

Alicia B. Lugo, 69, said she’s been a lifelong, politically aware resident of Charlottesville, with several years of experience on the city’s electoral board, but has never seen such a “travesty” of a ballot.

“Genius is not in how complicated you make something,” Lugo said. “Genius is in how well it’s understood by the most people. Whoever made this up was no genius.”

City Council Divided on Giving $19K to Lawbreakers for Instant Runoff Voting Education

St. Paul’s local paper REPORTS on a round of contentious discussions within the City COuncil about FairVote Minnesota’s history and the need to give them $19K to educate the public on Instant Runoff Voting.

in 2009, the state found that the St. Paul Better Ballot Campaign, part of FairVote Minnesota, engaged in “multiple and deliberate” violations of campaign law. The agency also slapped the campaign with the maximum allowable fine.  The administrative law judges handling the case also noted that the campaign was “unapologetic” about the violations.

The Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Manskey wrote to the council that additional education, outside of the extensive outreach his office was engaged in, was not necessary.

“At this point, I do not see the need for any additional city funds…to properly conduct our public information and educational activities,” WROTE Manskey

Before the 5-2 decision, it was noted that those in favor of spending the additional funds were all running for office in the upcoming IRV election.

Council member Dave Thune noted he wasn’t a supporter of the new voting system, “I gotta tell you, at community meetings, it’s the Number 1 question – how you do it. … Even I need some training on it.”

Break State Campaign Laws, Get a City Contract for Ranked Choice Voting

In today’s news about RCV comes a story that is reminiscent of Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s ties to Haliburton.

The St. Paul City Council is poised to give a $19K contract to Jeanne Massey of FairVote to educate the public in Ranked Choice Voting. The Saint Paul Better Ballot Campiagn, a Project of FairVote Minnesota, was found to have violated Minn. Stat. §211B.02.  They claimed in last minute Campaign material used to get RCV passed, that their measure was supported by the President of the United States! After being fined the maximum amount allowed by law, they now are looking to get a city contract to run the education effort!

This does not sit well with Chuck Repke, who filed the original suit along with Dan Dobson. He WRITES to the council: (the State Judges ruling is attached to his letter which can be downloaded HERE)

I have no problems with Ramsey County Elections Division doing the education, or with you contracting with a group that the public recognizes as being non-partisan such as the League of Women Voters to do education, but you can’t expect anyone to seriously think that an organization that has an agenda to promote this voting system to do a non-partisan job of education.

Worse than that let me remind you that in 2009 this organization violated Minnesota Campaign Practices law Stat. 211B.02 in the Saint Paul election and was fined $5,000.00 (the largest fine possible) for
their violation of the law.

From the order:

“Accordingly, the panel has concluded that the Respondent made knowingly false claims that the Minnesota DFL and the League of Women Voters “endorsed” the St. Paul ballot question and that it failed to obtain written permission from the national political figures before using their names as supporters of the ballot question, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 211B.02. The panel has concluded that these violations, which were reflected in approximately 40,000 pieces of campaign literature, were multiple and deliberate. They 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”

And, you are seriously thinking of giving this organization $19,000.00 to do education and only $6,000.00 to the LWV.

Further, the contract lists Ms Massey as one of the two responsible parties for the grant. I would encourage you to read the court order from the 2009 case. Three times in the panels conclusion they state that they found Ms Massey’s testimony under oath “not credible.” How can you make the responsible party for $19,000.00 of tax payers money to educate voters on an election system the person who on three occasions was deemed to be “not credible” by a panel of judges concerning a related elections issue? 

Some valid points.  The City also looking to give a contract to the League of Women Voters St. Paul who advocated for RCV.

Often, people wonder about why groups would advocate for a voting system which has in practice shown to be a solution worse than the problem.  As they say, “follow the money”……..

Contracts can be downloaded HERE and HERE