Category Archives: San Francisco

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.

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.

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:

SF’s Mayoral Candidates: RCV Confusing for Voters – Waters Down Debate

It’s been promoted that Ranked Choice Voting will force candidates to have a more substantive debate.  But candidates have said it waters down candidates true positions and debates as they barter for 2nd and 3rd place votes.

Here’s their comment from a recent debate when asked about RCV (note, only 9 of the 33 declared candidates were present)

Dennis Herrera: “(RCV) makes the choice for the electorate much more difficult because it is much more difficult to highlight the differences that exist”  “I’m partial to runoffs.  I this it is good to have that one on one debate with an individual and I think it serves the electorate better to have clear distinctions among the candidates.

Phil Ting: Goes on to say that campaigning has been positive, but it is early.

Joanna Rees: “I think RCV is confusing to people”

John Avalos: I believe we are running campaigns that often conceal our differences rather than reveal our differences

Leland Yee: Forces us to campaign outside our support base.  Note: Yee wrote the argument AGAINST SF’s IRV Proposition in 2003

Michela Alioto-Pier:  “Truthfully, I think that the (RCV) system is very confusing”  Then she goes on to describe RCV incorrectly stating “People go out there an vote for one person three times, thinking that that strengthens your vote.  In fact your ballot is them thrown out because you voted incorrectly.”

If, after 7 years and dozens of RCV elections in SF, the candidates find voters confused and even some of them can’t describe it without making mistakes, is it really easy as 1, 2, 3?

Ranked Choice Voting and Civil Rights

On this 235th Birthday of America, it is appropriate to stand up and fight for voters rights, that every vote should be counted.  There should be respect for every vote and every voter.  This video on youtube describes the many studies that show Ranked Choice voting is a step backwards in voting rights.

On the perils of “Instant Run-off” voting – A blindfold and a dartboard

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on voters not understanding the Ranked-Choice Voting system.  Describes how popular candidates can loose with this system and winners receiving only 24% support.

“Berkeley resident David Reid decided to take a poll this fall on his daily walks, with poodles Lucy and Dora, in the city’s Rose Garden neighborhood. How many of his neighbors in this upscale and well-educated swath of Berkeley, he wondered, understood how the new ranked-choice voting system worked?

“I asked city officials, academics, writers … none of them understood it,” said Reid, editor and an author of the 1994 book “Sex, Death and God in L.A.”