Takoma Park: auditing the auditor

Rick Carback from the Scantegrity team just pointed out to me that my totals are not quite the same as theirs, and he surmises that I may have read the Instant Runoff rules incorrectly. Specifically, my code considers that ballots that skip a rank, i.e. that go directly to choice #2 and never indicate a choice #1, are “exhausted”, meaning they don’t count anymore. In fact, the rules for Takoma Park state that, in that case, the next candidate choice counts, but if two choices are skipped, then it’s exhausted. He’s absolutely right, and I’ve updated my tally code appropriately, and now my numbers match….

Except for one more detail: the Scantegrity team is continuing the Instant Runoff candidate elimination past the point of a candidate gaining absolute majority. I think that’s wrong. It doesn’t affect the outcome, but it does affect the final tally count, so we’ll wait and see what the official word is.

In any case… isn’t it cool that we can audit each other and work out these differences with public code, public results, and complete oversight from anyone who wants to watch? That, again, is the power of open-audit elections using systems like Scantegrity or Helios.