California's Voting Systems Panel Approves IRV-Compatible Equipment for Use in San Francisco
The last obstacle to the implementation of instant runoff voting in San Francisco fell away when the Voting Systems Panel approved the use of ES&S's IRV-compatible voting equipment for the November election for supervisor.

The process of approving voting equipment (and associated software) for use in public elections is somewhat arcane, but it involves testing by federal and state technical consultants followed by a review by the Voting Systems Panel (VSP)  The testing took place from March 10-12 in Rockford, Illinois.  

At the request of the vendor and with the permission of the Secretary of State, CVD's senior analyst Caleb Kleppner observed the testing and submitted a report on the IRV testing.  In short, the equipment accurately recorded and tallied all IRV ballots that were fed into the equipment.  FairVote believes that the presence of a qualified, third party observer enhances the certification process, increases the transparency of the election  process and boosts public confidence in the election process.  We hope that this developments contributes to greater openness in all aspects of elections.

The staff of the VSP prepared a staff report recommending approval, and on April 8, 2004, the Voting System Panel approved the voting equipment with a few conditions that are typical for approvals of new systems.  These conditions include making the ballot more voter friendly, initiating voter education, and enhancing the written procedures that describe how to use the system.

To give the public an idea of how the ES&S system works, we have posted four reports from a test election with about 4,500 IRV ballots and 170 non-IRV ballots.  It contained three IRV races:  Board of Leisure, Board of Recreation, and Director of Entertainment.
  • Ballot images (columnar format, 459K)
  • Ballot images (English format, big file:  3.5MB)
  • Tally (who won the IRV elections)
  • Summary (an audit report showing 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice vote totals, as well as vote totals in non-IRV races.
These are the types of files that will be made public starting on election night.