Thursday, November 06, 2008

Openness and Transparency in Voting

Pierce County's new Ranked Choice Voting software has provided us with far greater openness and transparency with the introduction of the publication of the ballot image files on the Auditor's website. These computer files are a text file for each RCV race showing the choices made on each ballot processed by the vote counting machine.

Early Wednesday morning the Auditor's office published the first preliminary ballot image files of the RCV votes which had been counted at that time. See here. There are no files for traditional elections. The next update of the files will be on Friday evening.

This information allows one to mimic the tabulation of preliminary results on your own computer. Indeed, one correspondent has downloaded the ballot image onto his home computer and run the RCV algorithm at home with software available on the internet. He was able to arrive at exactly the same results as the Pierce County Auditor's office.

In addition to checking the tabulations of the results, the ballot image files will allow a level of election analysis never before available. For example, you can calculate what percentage of Lonergan supporters' in Tacoma listed McCarthy as their second choice. In the preliminary numbers, what percentage of the vote came from Puyallup as compared to the number of registered voters in that city. Since most of the vote in Pierce County is via the mail, being able to analyze preliminary results with precinct totals allows people to better analyze how the results are likely to change as more votes are counted.

The ballot image file published on RCV races represents a big step forward in transparency and openness. A big improvement in democracy.



At 9:36 AM, Anonymous brian holt said...

do you know where the RCV software on the internet is located?


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