RCV audit challenges - central tabulation challange
masiarek last edited by Marylander
Assuming that these best practices are followed:
- Release a preliminary round-by-round tally on Election Night
- Continue to release preliminary tallies as more votes are counted
- Conduct vote total checks with each release of preliminary results
- Publish the full ballot record so that anyone can verify the result
- Make use of existing tools for visualizing RCV results
- Clearly communicate expectations, timelines, and results
To what extend are these points still valid / invalid:
● Less accountability due to required centralized tabulation. RCV presents serious barriers to local oversight of elections, compromising checks and balances. Local elections officials are unable to generate the ballot sub-totals required for local audits. In contrast, all other voting methods considered here allow local tabulation (e.g, precinct-level tallies), which ensures that there can be checks and balances with a multitude of witnesses at each local tally and ease of audits at the local level.
● Lack of precinct summability results in compromised election security. Ballot centralization presents serious issues for election security.
Complexity in the many round tabulation process means that any errors or tampering which may occur are much harder to detect, and that less people overseeing the election would be able to identify an issue even if they were looking in the right place.
Assuming that each precinct publishes periodically preliminary RCV totals (publishing 'raw data' maybe a challenge) - questions:
- Q1: Theoretically we should be able to relatively easilly audit the election - right?
- Q2: Are the 'RCV best practices published by FairVote (releasing RCV election results 'good enough'?
- Q3: What else is missing in the 'RCV audit best practices'
- Q4: To what extend the challenges related to 'RCV transparency / security challenge / overseeing the election' remain in place even after publishing the best practices?
- Q5: I do not understand this objection "Local elections officials are unable to generate the ballot sub-totals required for local audits".
As a devils advocate - security challenges are present with every voting method (including STAR Voting)
finding errors, potential tampering, etc.
I agree that a central tabulation requirement for RCV is a huge bummer - but security issue / auditing / checking totals - is not that different than any other voting method - right?
Maybe I do not understand the challenge though:
RCV example - precinct 1
RCV example - precinct 2
RCV example - totals from all precincts:
How is it different (from Audit perspective / checking totals) from STAR Voting:
STAR Voting example Precinct 1
3: B=5, A=4
1: A=5, B=4
STAR Voting example Precinct 2
2: B=5, A=4
8: A=4, B=4
STAR Voting example - totals from all Precincts:
5: B=5, A=4
9: A=5, B=4
rob Banned last edited by rob
In a perfect world they'd use Condorcet Minimax instead of IRV, and then the precincts could submit a pairwise matrix as a precinct sum, which would be sufficient. But given that they are using IRV, pairwise matrices can’t just be combined to produce a 100% accurate result.
Even Bottom-Two-Runoff would be a big improvement in this respect, since it is Condorcet compliant so a pairwise matrix would be quite useful.... only in the case of there not being a Condorcet winner (very rare case) would the precinct sums be insufficient to determine the winner.
But ok, the reality is it is IRV, so we have to do the best we can.
What would be interesting is if each precinct submitted round by round tabulation, as if the whole election was handled at each precinct. It's true that, as with pairwise matrices (under IRV), you can't just combine those together and get a 100% correct result. But if you are doing that in addition to everything that for instance San Francisco is doing (which includes publishing full centralized ballot data every day until the final results are in), those who are trying to spot any anomalies have a lot more to work with. Each precinct could also submit other things such as the pairwise matrix, a count of first choice, second choice, third choice votes for each candidate, and so on. Less data than full ballots, but more data than just first choice counts.
I'd argue if they do all that stuff, yeah it's probably good enough.
Keep in mind that the average precinct size in the US is around 1100 voters. Full ballot data (that is, enough to do the full IRV tabulation) for even 10 times this many voters can be really small.... as I showed in a previous thread, maybe 5k of data for 9000 voters and 6 candidates. (it goes up mostly with the number of candidates, moreso than with the number of voters, if identical ballots are simply listed once with a count, rather than repeated)
New York screwed up (as mentioned in the article) by only publishing first round votes for a week or so, letting people think the wrong person was in the lead. The article says:
When the first preliminary RCV tally was released a week later, it showed Adams winning in the final round by a margin of less than one point (against Kathryn Garcia, who placed third in the initial round, but passed Wiley later in the count).9 Had Adams lost in the final round, and lost to the candidate who placed third in first choices, the surprise result could have caused widespread confusion and undermined confidence in the legitimacy of the outcome.10 Had New York City released a preliminary RCV count on Election Night, the media would know that the contest was in fact a very close race between Adams and Garcia, and reporting would reflect that.
Even if it wasn't possible for them to release an accurate preliminary RCV tally (showing exactly who would win if no more votes came in), they could get 90% of the benefit of that if the precincts submitted the partial information I described above, rather than just first choices. The risk they cite, of people being surprised and confused because the media reported that someone else was far in the lead and then someone else wins, would be averted because the media would be able to tell them just how close it is and better estimate who is in the lead.
It was a bad look, but it was their first time, and no permanent harm came from it. They'll do it better the next election. San Francisco has had almost two decades to refine the process.
I will admit that the idea of the precincts submitting a pairwise matrix is appealing to me simply because I believe that would prime the public to just switching over to Condorcet Minimax, which would completely solve this problem, as well as address the fact that IRV is less than perfect. But that's just me.
@Sass, this thread would seem in line with one of your interests.