IRV: Is it legal in Connecticut? Can our scanners compute it?

Recently we posted and commented on an article in The Day, covering the Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) proposal for New London.  The article quoted Secretary of the State Bysiewicz on the constitutionality of the IRV and if our AccuVote-OS scanners could be used for an IRV election.  The post prompted comments and the need for more complete answers.  <read>

We queried the Secretary of the State’s Office and Jeff Silvestro, General Manager of LHS Associates.  Mr. Silvestro responded:

There are two parts to this answer:

1. Yes, the AVOS can handle IRV. We currently run similar elections in Cambridge, MA and have previously run IRV elections in Burlington, VT. Burlington no longer runs IRV since the citizens voted to move away from this method last year.

2. No, it cannot be done in CT. In order for the AVOS to handle an IRV election we would need to use software other than GEMS, currently GEMS is the only software certified for use in CT. Also an older version of firmware would need to be installed in each AVOS unit, this older firmware is also not currently certified in CT. Lastly, the ballot layout for an IRV election would not match the current specification used for ballot layout in CT.

The Secretary of the State’s Office responded:

When the Secretary served as Chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee in the Legislature, she was open to conducting hearings on this issue. During her tenure as Secretary, she has remained opened to exploration of the various types of run off voting that have been put forward by various groups. While the office would defer to the Attorney General for an interpretation of law, we do believe that there are constitutional and statutory issues that would need to be examined and addressed, such as minority representation, in implementation. Additionally, the current certified voting machines cannot accommodate preferential voting, and changes to firmware would be required, along with new certifications, both federally and at the state level.

In summary, it is clear that legally our machines cannot support fully counting IRV elections for the foreseeable future. And there are several Constitutional issues and statutory issues which may well make IRV illegal or unconstitutional at this time.

There are two parts to this answer:
1. Yes, the AVOS can handle IRV.  We currently run similar elections in Cambridge, MA and have previously run IRV elections in Burlington, VT.  Burlington no longer runs IRV since the citizens voted to move away from this method last year.
2. No, it cannot be done in CT.  In order for the AVOS to handle an IRV election we would need to use software other than GEMS, currently GEMS is the only software certified for use in CT.  Also an older version of firmware would need to be installed in each AVOS unit,  this older firmware is also not currently certified in CT.  Lastly, the ballot layout for an IRV election would not match the current specification used for ballot layout in CT.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.