Category Archives: Voter Confusion

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.

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.”

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.

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?

Department of Justice Files Voting Rights Violations Complaint against Alameda County

The Department of Justice filed a Voting Rights Violation against Alameda County and the Registrar of Voters, which administered the recent Ranked Choice Voting elections in Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro.

“The complaint alleges that Alameda County violated Sections 203 of the Voting Rights Act by having failed to provide effective access to the electoral process for Spanish and Chinese-speaking citizens who need language assistance and translated materials and information to cast an informed ballot.”

The complaint can be seen HERE.

A published picture of a voting booth clearly shows RCV Voting instructions in English only.  The agreement, reached just one day after America celebrated its Independence, stipulates the County will provide Voting materials and assistance in SPanish and Chinese.  The Press Release reads:

“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and language barriers should never keep citizens from accessing that right,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Today’s agreement ensures that Alameda County’s Spanish and Chinese-speaking citizens will be able to cast an effective ballot and successfully participate in the electoral process”

Honolulu Rejects Instant Run-off Voting, State Bill dies

Honolulu’s City Council unanimously opposes  Instant Run-off Voting by issuing Resolution 11-116.

“Honolulu City Councilman Tom Berg, who was elected on 29 December 2010 in a special election to fill a vacancy on the council, describes the sudden push for ranked choice voting this way: “It’s a huge infringement on the long established concept of home rule and an assault on our democratic form of government in clear violation of the Constitutional principle of one man-one vote. It’s also an unfunded, discriminatory mandate on just two of our four counties during a time of scarce resources.”

With the council’s strong response  to the State bill and further exmination of IRV, the conference committee killed the Bill.


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.

San Leandro to look at the future of ranked-choice voting

San Leandro, which adopted the use of Ranked-Choice Voting by a split council vote in 2010, may reconsider the use of this experimental system in the city  WRITES Chris Metinko of the Oakland Tribune:

To me, (ranked-choice voting) is a failure,” (Mayor) Santos said. “Personally, I hope it does not continue in San Leandro.”

Santos said he now has multiple issues with the voting system, although he freely admits he had been a proponent of bringing it to the city for years, and was even a strong supporter of Measure F in 2000, which paved the way for the city to use ranked-choice voting in its elections.

“I fostered it into the city,” Santos said. “I now have to face those consequences.”

Santos said he now believes the system confuses voters — offering a variety of choices without adequate instruction — and discriminates against minorities because of possible language barriers.

He also said he believes the system is flawed because a candidate may not receive a majority of the votes cast in a race but still can be declared the winner. That can occur because some ballots are “exhausted” — a term used when all the candidates on a ballot have been eliminated from the race before the final round of vote counting is concluded.

“This is America, and I believe every vote should be counted,” Santos said.

Mayor Santos’ contention that certain classes of voters were confused has been backed up by all the recent studies on RCV.