Category Archives: Instant Runoff 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.

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.

Break State Campaign Laws, Get a City Contract for Ranked Choice Voting

In today’s news about RCV comes a story that is reminiscent of Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s ties to Haliburton.

The St. Paul City Council is poised to give a $19K contract to Jeanne Massey of FairVote to educate the public in Ranked Choice Voting. The Saint Paul Better Ballot Campiagn, a Project of FairVote Minnesota, was found to have violated Minn. Stat. §211B.02.  They claimed in last minute Campaign material used to get RCV passed, that their measure was supported by the President of the United States! After being fined the maximum amount allowed by law, they now are looking to get a city contract to run the education effort!

This does not sit well with Chuck Repke, who filed the original suit along with Dan Dobson. He WRITES to the council: (the State Judges ruling is attached to his letter which can be downloaded HERE)

I have no problems with Ramsey County Elections Division doing the education, or with you contracting with a group that the public recognizes as being non-partisan such as the League of Women Voters to do education, but you can’t expect anyone to seriously think that an organization that has an agenda to promote this voting system to do a non-partisan job of education.

Worse than that let me remind you that in 2009 this organization violated Minnesota Campaign Practices law Stat. 211B.02 in the Saint Paul election and was fined $5,000.00 (the largest fine possible) for
their violation of the law.

From the order:

“Accordingly, the panel has concluded that the Respondent made knowingly false claims that the Minnesota DFL and the League of Women Voters “endorsed” the St. Paul ballot question and that it failed to obtain written permission from the national political figures before using their names as supporters of the ballot question, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 211B.02. The panel has concluded that these violations, which were reflected in approximately 40,000 pieces of campaign literature, were multiple and deliberate. They were made despite the clarity of the statutory prohibitions, and the Respondent remains completely unapologetic. The timing of these mailings made it difficult for opponents to respond before the election and created an unfair advantage”

And, you are seriously thinking of giving this organization $19,000.00 to do education and only $6,000.00 to the LWV.

Further, the contract lists Ms Massey as one of the two responsible parties for the grant. I would encourage you to read the court order from the 2009 case. Three times in the panels conclusion they state that they found Ms Massey’s testimony under oath “not credible.” How can you make the responsible party for $19,000.00 of tax payers money to educate voters on an election system the person who on three occasions was deemed to be “not credible” by a panel of judges concerning a related elections issue? 

Some valid points.  The City also looking to give a contract to the League of Women Voters St. Paul who advocated for RCV.

Often, people wonder about why groups would advocate for a voting system which has in practice shown to be a solution worse than the problem.  As they say, “follow the money”……..

Contracts can be downloaded HERE and HERE

Ranked Choice Voting – Who REALLY understand it?

In a previous post (SF’s Mayoral Candidates: RCV Confusing for Voters), a candidate is shown describing how RCV works incorrectly. This is very common. Even supporters have a hard time explaining the complex intricacies correctly.

In a recent article, the Las Vegas City Council rejected the idea of using RCV because it’s supporters could not describe it correctly. The councilperson supporting RCV, requested a 5 minute break to confer with the group lobbying for implementation, and asked if they could speak on his behalf. Councilmember Madrid said “If elected officials can’t understand this and we need to take five minutes for clarification, the common citizen may also be confused.” The Council subsequently rejected the Charter change.

Here’s a great 1:30 min video on Ranked Choice Voting (called “Alternative Vote”). Note: The United Kingdom has a nation wide vote on whether to implement RCV for the election of its Members of Parliament. It failed miserably, 68% to 32%. Over 13 million people voted against RCV.

You may think this is rare, but once again, here is a video from Burlington of the RCV spokesperson, Keri Toksu, failing to describe RCV correctly. Why all the confusion? Note: Burlington subsequently repealed RCV by a large margin.

League of Women Voters Event outlines Ranked Choice Voting Pros and Cons (also known as Instant Runoff Voting)

Lee Price MMC, City Clerk of San Jose presents an extensive Pro and Con of Ranked Choice Voting. Her presentation for the League of Women Voters covers all bases, and uses real world data from recent RCV elections.

Lee Price is considered an expert in Ranked Choice Voting and administering elections, and is an active instructor for the City Clerk’s Association of California

She shares her in-depth knowledge of RCV in this video: