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Ranked Voting and Questions About Election Integrity

// Published January 1, 2010

How ranked voting can enhance election integrity over current election procedures

Even without major voting equipment changes, ranked voting methods often can be implemented at a local level in a way that is as secure as any non-ranked method. But what is more desirable is to have adoption of ranked voting actually improve election integrity by allowing ballot-level audits (e.g. the machine reports a ballot that ranks the candidates in order as B, C, A, but the audit reveals that the original paper ballot ranks them D, C, A), not just precinct-level sum audits (e.g. candidate B has seven more votes on the machine total than the on the paper ballots). Long-term, transparent and trustworthy elections can be best achieved on a wide scale in tandem with other changes in how we administer elections – such as providing jurisdictions with an option to use publicly owned equipment with open source software and by having all counts verified in full with independent software and manual audits.

A key design element underlying the election integrity attainable with ranked voting is distinguishing between recording voters' rankings, and tallying them. These two tasks are appropriately handled by distinct voting system modules -- each subject to an appropriate audit and confirmation procedure.