December 13, 2011

Ranked Choice Voting On It's Way Out In San Francisco?

SAN FRANCISCO'S ranked-choice voting system is drawing ire from elected officials on both sides of the City's aisle - well, Democrat and progressive Democrat - who may soon introduced competing measures to do away with the non-year old voting system.

For the uninitiated, which includes most San Francisco voters, according to Supervisor Mark Farrell, who introduced legislation to do away with ranked-choice voting on Election Day - a voter selects up to three candidates and ranks them first, second, or third in ranked-choice voting, or instant runoff voting.

The candidate with the least amount of first-place votes at the end of voting is eliminated. A voter who had that candidate first will now have their second-place choice count towards the candidates's vote total.

And so on, until one candidate has a majority.

The recent SF Mayoral election saw more than 31,000 voters, who filled out their ballot correctly, have their votes discarded when all of their chosen candidates were eliminated from the race. And that was despite spending $300,000 on an education campaign.

Bottom line - San Francisco voters have trouble with ranked-choice elections.

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1 comment:

David Cary said...

This blog post is mistaken on several points.

San Francisco supervisor David Campos introduced a proposal to keep ranked choice voting, to compete with an earlier proposal to repeal it and replace it with typically low turnout runoffs in December. Campos was never considering introducing another measure to repeal ranked choice voting and that is not what the SF Examiner reported.

The problem with the 31,000 voters can be addressed by allowing voters to rank more than three candidates, something the Campos proposal supports and which is consistent with San Francisco's current charter. The current three-candidate limitation is a result of voting equipment limitations. But even with that limitation, more voters fully participated in deciding who would be the mayor than if a traditional plurality or delayed runoff system had been used.

The reference to the education campaign is bogus in the context mentioned. The education campaign targeted a different and much smaller number of voters who are difficult to identify more specifically.

The second sentence describing how ranked choice voting works is somewhat garbled. A improvement would be: A voter who had that candidate first will now have his/her vote count for the voter's second-choice candidate.

Those opposed to ranked choice voting in San Francisco have been escalating their shameless disinformation campaign. Don't fall victim to it.