Phil Matier: Ranked-Choice Confusing To San Francisco Voters

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Ballot Machine (AP)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – More than half of the respondents in a poll commissioned by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce said they don’t understand how their vote counts on a ranked-choice ballot.

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier Comments:

In ranked-choice contests, voters list their first, second and third choices. If no candidate wins more than half of the vote, last-place candidates are eliminated. Then second and third place votes from those ballots are redistributed until a candidate takes the majority.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports 55 percent of those who responded to the poll said they didn’t know whether their vote counted once their top three choices were eliminated.

Ranked-choice was adopted to get rid of costly runoff elections, and backers say it encourages greater voter participation since turnout for runoffs tends to be lower.

San Francisco has used it since 2004.

Opponents argue the system allows candidates to get elected with an extremely low number of first choice votes.

Voters start to ask more questions about ranked-choice as the number of names on the ballot increases, according to KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier. Ranked-choice also requires new campaign strategies, he said.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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