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STV Voting scandal or computer count inevitability

STV: Voting scandal or inevitable result of the computer counting system?

The fiasco affecting STV counting in Wellington and other cities is either the biggest voting scandal since Chicago Mayor Daley found the ballot boxes that elected Kennedy, or a stuff up caused by the choice of the most complex system for counting STV votes.

Former Wellington mayoral candidate, Timothy O’Brien, says the latter answer is the most likely and government ministers and opposition MPs should look at themselves before blaming local electoral officials.

“It’s pretty outrageous that everything is being blamed except the counting system itself which was chosen by central government,” Tim O’Brien says.

“In fact, as news reports have revealed, it was experienced local officials who picked up the mistake and it is they, and local people, who should control their electoral systems not central government who have also had an abysmal record on speeding the counting of MMP votes.”

Tim O’Brien says it is clear that the speed of counting in long-term STV countries like Australia and Ireland is related to their use of simpler counting systems,.

“The complexity of the system demands that it be done by computers if counting is to be achieved relatively quickly. But I have yet to meet any member of the public who fully understands the drop-off system and the fact that their second preferences may end up counting for nothing because of it.

“This is not what people who voted for STV understood they were getting.”

In the case of Wellington, as well as the 1800 votes just found, there are still 1200 special votes remaining to be counted.

“This means more than 5 percent of the votes cast are still uncounted and it’s quite likely that several positions could change as a result.”

It’s also possible, though not likely, that the mayoral result itself could be affected if there’s significant change in the order of drop off.

However Tim O’Brien points out that he does not expect his final position to change and he remains available for other new projects.

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