Author Archives: Ranked Choice Voting

Oakland an Example of Risk in Ranked-Choice Voting

The San Francisco Examiner reports on Jean Quan’s “Reign of Error”.  They blame RCV for electing a Mayor largely seen as incompetent.  She is currently the target of THREE RECALL EFFORTS!

“I can’t shake the suspicion that her (Quan’s) incompetence might have been discovered prior to the election if she had been subjected to a runoff instead of sliding into office due to a ranked-choice voting system.”

It goes on to describe RCV supporters:

The religious fervor exhibited by people who love ranked-choice voting is a bit bizarre. Are they selling the voting machines that count these funky ballots? They cite charts and arguments and polls like they are defending a senior thesis instead of acknowledging what any conversation with a local will tell you: People don’t like ranked-choice voting. 

Then calls for a repeal of Ranked Choice Voting:

We should consider recalling the system of ranked-choice voting before we have to recall an elected official who escaped the scrutiny of a runoff election. Just ask Oakland. 


Occupy Portland’s FIRST Demand – INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING! (before being evicted)

Occupy groups have been in the news lately and the whole Nation is wondering: “What do they really want?  Why are they there?  What are their demands? What would make them happy????”

Ladies and Gentlemen, we now have the answer – INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING!  Yes, that’s right, their first DEMAND in an official meeting with Portland City Officials was – INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING.

On Oct. 18th, just weeks before being evicted, Occupy leaders met with Portland City Officials and demanded INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING.  Officials were sympathetic. Then just weeks later – the Occupiers were forcibly evicted.

So there you have it – our questions are now answered.

City Meeting begins at the  8:00 minute mark.

Major Paper – San Francisco Must Join Cities Discarding Ranked-Choice Voting

When the major paper comes out against Ranked Choice Voting, you have to stand up and take notice.  Papers have a pulse on the City and its citizens.

That’s why it comes to no surprise that after 8 years, the major San Francisco paper is calling it quits for RCV.

“We were told that it would increase voter turnout. Backers of RCV said it would be cheaper and faster. Voters were even told that it would reduce the amount of negative campaigning.

Instead, none of these things have come true. Our own elections chief, John Arntz, has been open about the fact that ranked-choice voting “hasn’t made [elections] easier to administer or led to increased turnout.” But it has confused people — and how.”

Why the big turnaround? Because as one voting expert once said: “Ranked-choice voting is like asbestos — it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

They go on to report that Supervisor Elsbernd plans to introduce a a measure to end the City’s “political laboratory experiment” with RCV.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:


University Students and SF Mayor find RCV Confusing

In the halls of higher learning to San Francisco City Hall, the issue of the complexity of Ranked Choice Voting is a hot topic.

The Aggie reports students at the prestigious UC Davis find RCV complicated and tend to stay away from the polls, thus reducing turnout.

“In general people don’t know all that much about what’s going on when they vote,” Prof. Scheiner said. “That gets even more complicated if you ask them to rank their preferences in any kind of way.”  Because most voters are only familiar with one or two candidates, asking voters to rank six choices can send some running from the ballot boxes.

Many feel student government should represent more than the campus’ political avant grade, those that understand the Ranked Choice Voting System.

In San Francisco, after nearly a decade and millions of dollars spent for Ranked Choice Voting Education, many are still confused.  So much so that a 2008 Grand Jury took the Elections Department to task for voter AND Poll worker confusion.  The Mayor of San Francisco recently said:

“I want to take another look at this ranked-choice voting,” Lee told the Examiner. San Francisco needs to do a better job educating voters about the oft-confusing process “at least,” the mayor said. “A lot of peopl eare saying they still don’t know what happens to their vote.”

After trying to describe RCV, the ARTICLE closed with a familiar theme: “Make sense? If not, you’re not alone.

Senior Statistician at Oxford University on Ranked Choice Voting Strategies

A RECENT article by Dr. Jack O’Brien of Oxford University has raised the hackles of the the Ranked Choice Voting salesmen.  Mr. O’Brien describes the complex tactical considerations voters must decide when using Ranked Choice Voting.  He also laments about the complexity of the rules and strategies.

FairVote, the group responsible for selling Ranked Choice Voting in the United States, calls this Oxford Statistician’s analysis “irresponsible”.  Implies he does;t know what he’s tailing about.  I’m sure this is the first time Dr. O’Brien’s analysis has been attacked in such manner.

Interestingly, FairVote makes a lots money off running a consulting service to administer Ranked Choice Voting elections.  But wait, there’s more; FairVote’s leader was quoted recently in the Wall Street Journal as to wanting to keep the ranking results secret, and just announce the “winner”. “I’ve come to believe we shouldn’t put all the rankings (results) out there for for people to mull over and second-guess the outcomes”.  I guess if you count the ballots, and decide the winner, you don’t want anyone else to see how it was done.

Ranked Choice Voting – Restricting Voting Rights

Ranked Choice Voting will be used for the first time in Portland Maine to select its Mayor.

They have contracted out the vote counting to a company in a no-bid contract.  This company’s supporters advocated the use of RCV in Portland.  They will be using un-certified methods and software to come up with the winner.

A recent editorial blasted the new Ranked Choice Voting as “Voter-Suppression” implemented by the towns Political Elite.  The ballot design is similar to the most complex Soduku puzzle ever invented.

It is described this way:

” Let’s Create A Ballot So Complicated That Only Elite Types With Advanced Degrees From The Finest Universities Will Be Able To Successfully Fill It Out, Thereby Disenfranchising High School Graduates, Community College Losers, And Anyone Who Works For A Living And Doesn’t Have The Time Or Money To Take An Eight-Hour Course Explaining The Process.”

Though the author may seem a little over-the-top, all studies have shown the “less sophisticated voters” make many more mistakes and have their ballots thrown out at much higher rates the the Political Elite.

Didn’t you get the Memo? Negative Campaigns thrive in Ranked Choice Voting Races

How many times have you heard “There will be clean campaigns with RCV because candidates want the 2nd and 3rd place votes”.  This is a common pitch by RCV supporters that just doesn’t hold any water.

The effectiveness of Negative Campaigns in RCV was demonstrated by the Jean Quan campaign in Oakland.  Quan paid for many hit pieces against Don Perata, and supported a “Anyone but Don” campaign, which included a negative website.  Quan spent the most money out of any elected Mayor.  The League of WOmen Voters lamented about how negative the campaign got, as they promoted RCV would introduce clean campaigns.

This formal is now being used in several RCV races around the country.  Negative campaigning abounds, beginning with the San francisco Mayor’s Race where candidates Herrera and Yee have come out with attacks on the current Mayor.

The Huffington Post reports “Dennis Herrera Releases Savage Attack on Ed Lee” and the Lt. Gov. of California asked Leland Yee to take down his attack video.

On the other side of the country, the RCV negative attack playbook is being used in Portland Maine, where they will be using RCV for the very first time.  Jed Rathband, who ran the RCV campaign, is now going negative.  His attacks have been relentless, and have caught the eye of the press.  Mayor Mavodones states he is sorry that some candidates “are going down the path” of negative campaigning.

RCV Repeal Measure Being Drafted in San Francisco by Supervisor

A recent ARTICLE in the San Francisco Chronicle, dissects the effect of the “so called reforms” of Ranked Choice Voting and Public Financing and reveals:

San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who opposed the public financing and ranked-choice voting experiments, has begun drafting ballot measures to repeal them in June 2012. Taxpayers may well have second thoughts about public financing if it turns out they were contributing $900,000 to a campaign that ends up with 5 percent or less of the vote.

Ranked-choice voting could be similarly doomed if the election is close, with the winner finishing with 20 percent or less of the original vote – and a computer methodically sorting out the field in a process that leaves many voters angry and disenfranchised, and the new mayor without any semblance of a mandate. 

There are upwards to 16 candidates running for Mayor in SF.  Most all are receiving public financing for their campaigns in the RCV election.  They will get upwards to $900,000 each, if they meet the qualifications.  Many of these candidate getting the public financing are multi-millionaires themselves.

This could be a good election to watch, though with the entrance of current interim Mayor Ed Lee, he may take a bulk of the votes right away.

NAACP Compares Ranked Choice Voting to “Poll Tax”

The head of the Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP said Thursday that the voting process for the city’s upcoming Democratic primary is so complicated it’s unfair, adding that one elderly resident has compared the process to the “dreaded poll tax.”  REPORTS The Daily Progress.

M. Rick Turner, surrounded by concerned voters held a news conference to bring light to the new voting procedure called “Ranked Choice Voting” being used by the Democratic Party to select their candidates.

“The NAACP is concerned that complicated instructions and an unfamiliar ballot layout makes voting difficult for elderly voters, disabled and visually impaired voters, new voters and voters with limited education,”

The new method asked voters to rank their choices 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.  The election, held several days after the press conference, confirmed Mr. Turner’s concerns.  For more than 30 years, the council seat has been held by an African American.  Using RCV, the African American candidate was ousted.

Voter confusion with Ranked Choice Voting is not new, and has been recently REPORTED by Lance Williams in the Oakland and San Francisco Races.

Alicia B. Lugo, 69, said she’s been a lifelong, politically aware resident of Charlottesville, with several years of experience on the city’s electoral board, but has never seen such a “travesty” of a ballot.

“Genius is not in how complicated you make something,” Lugo said. “Genius is in how well it’s understood by the most people. Whoever made this up was no genius.”

City Council Divided on Giving $19K to Lawbreakers for Instant Runoff Voting Education

St. Paul’s local paper REPORTS on a round of contentious discussions within the City COuncil about FairVote Minnesota’s history and the need to give them $19K to educate the public on Instant Runoff Voting.

in 2009, the state found that the St. Paul Better Ballot Campaign, part of FairVote Minnesota, engaged in “multiple and deliberate” violations of campaign law. The agency also slapped the campaign with the maximum allowable fine.  The administrative law judges handling the case also noted that the campaign was “unapologetic” about the violations.

The Ramsey County Elections Manager Joe Manskey wrote to the council that additional education, outside of the extensive outreach his office was engaged in, was not necessary.

“At this point, I do not see the need for any additional city funds…to properly conduct our public information and educational activities,” WROTE Manskey

Before the 5-2 decision, it was noted that those in favor of spending the additional funds were all running for office in the upcoming IRV election.

Council member Dave Thune noted he wasn’t a supporter of the new voting system, “I gotta tell you, at community meetings, it’s the Number 1 question – how you do it. … Even I need some training on it.”