Voter Suppression & Spoiled Ballots

Voting should be simple. There is a reason why the NAACP calls Instant Runoff Voting "Complicated" and "Discriminatory", with members comparing it to the "dreaded poll tax".  The ACLU recently said IRV "exacerbates economic and racial disparities in voting.  Voting errors and spoiled ballots occur far more often.  In Minneapolis, nearly 10% of the IRV ballots were not counted. most of these in low-income communities of color." Studies have shown that the complexity of a Instant Runoff Voting ballot significantly increases errors on ballots and spoiled ballots (ballots that aren't counted due to errors.)  

Cities that use IRV spend a tremendous amount of money trying to "teach" people how to do a IRV vote. Santa Fe recently spent $17.50 per voter in IRV education.  There are four things to look at to gauge voter confusion, and if it is discriminatory: Spoiled Ballot, Incorrectly filled out ballots, lower turnout, and demographics.

Minneapolis, MN

IRV "exacerbates economic and racial disparities in voting.  Voting errors and spoiled ballots occur far more often.  In Minneapolis, nearly 10% of the IRV ballots were not counted. most of these in low-income communities of color."

Vagnesh Ganapathy
ACLU of Kansas

Director of Policy

Racial Justice Project

Minneapolis has used IRV in recent elections.  Immediately, researchers discovered problems of discrimination.  Prof. Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School, found IRV (called RCV In Minneapolis) "leaves open the well-documented voting gap that favors white voters and the affluent."

Minneapolis' Elections Department releases information showing turnout, and number of spoiled ballot in their elections.  Below is a comparison of spoiled in their 2005 traditional election, and the 2009 Ranked Choice (IRV) Election.  Click the chart to see the actual data released by the elections department.

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Oakland, CA

Oakland first used IRV in 2010.  They spent hundreds of thousand of dollars on education, including a concerted effort in traditionally disenfranchised communities.  Below are the results:

Oakland, CA IRV Repeal Effort

Immediately following the controversial Oakland IRV election,  Oakland Council President Ignacio De La Fuente submitted a resolution to REPEAL IRV (RCV), noting the "controversial Ranked Choice Voter System has disenfranchised and confused many Oakland voters even after spending hundreds of thousand of dollars on voter education".  It was blocked by the new councilmembers who were elected using IRV.

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Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe, NM recently was forced to use IRV.  Like Memphis, they adopted IRV a decade ago and had not used it because no voting machines were certified.  After reviewing the 10 years of research on IRV, the City was not interested in using a system which was confusing to voters.  The spent $350,000 on "education", or about $17 per voter in the election.  In the end, the Elections Department released data showing a 650% increase in spoiled ballots

Actual Spoiled Ballot
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To see the hundreds of actual SPOILED ballots from Santa Fe, go to this GALLERY.