SF Supervisors Consider Revamp, Repeal Of Ranked-Choice Voting

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting system is being flushed out before the Board of Supervisors.

Thursday, the board’s rules committee took a first look at dueling proposals that have submitted as amendments to the city’s charter – one would repeal ranked-choice voting and return the city’s elections to a simple runoff process. Another proposal would keep and perhaps even expand the process.

Currently, San Francisco elections are governed by ranked choice voting – meaning voters “rank” their top three choices – in order of preference. The lowest vote-getters are eliminated and the votes recounted until one candidate secures a majority.

It’s a system that has plenty of support – and plenty of critics, too.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

“Ranked-choice voting has brought strong benefits to the city and I just wonder what are the problems?” one woman declared her support for ranked-choice voting during the public comments period of the hearing.

“I am strongly, strongly against the current system of ranked-choice voting,” a man said emphatically. “I prefer the old system.”

Critics also are citing the November 2011 election as reason enough to eliminate ranked-choice voting, claiming the mayoral contest was confusing and suffered from low turnout specifically because of the system.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Barbara Taylor
  • David Cary

    The public commenters at the Rules committee favored keeping and improving ranked choice voting rather than repealing it by at least a 5 to 1 ratio.

    Ranked choice voting has allowed more people to fully participate in November with average turnout of 54%. Before that, runoffs were decided in December with average turnout of only 35%. Low turnout elections skew the results with an artificially unrepresentative set of voters.

    The repeal now wants to replace ranked choice voting with a September/November runoff system that creates a critical campaign season in August and likely even lower September turnout than the old December elections. In even years, voters will vote at least three times: in June, September, and November, and even then, many will not be allowed to fully participate.

  • Preston Jordan

    Critics claim that the last election had low turnout was due to ranked-choice voting (RCV) is spin. Turnout was higher than in the last mayoral election of every other larger city in the country (http://www.sfbetterelections.com/voter-turnout.html).

    So if ranked choice voting is the most significant factor in voter turnout as opponents claim, then they should be lauding that it is keeping San Francisco from going the way of the rest of the county in terms of declining turnout. Of course, that won’t happen because opponents are using whatever facts are convenient to getting rid of ranked choice voting so money can once again control election outcomes.

    Rise up for ranked-choice voting!

  • Reader

    Having these two idiots comment of RCV is like quizzing the Costa Concordia’s Captain on Cruise Ship Safety.

  • tony santos

    Here I go again. Reader is correct; past comments on RCV not accurate. RCV did not increase voter participation n recent election; in fact, if one checks, one would find voter participation down this campaign over past years. Furtrher, RCV does not improve campaigning; there is as much negative campaigning as in any other type elections .RCV doet not acheive the ends its supporters states it does. RCV does not result in a majority winner and is very confusing to miniority voters; just ask the Asian community in SF. Further, it does not save money. One final thing; RCV is truly anti-American and un-Democratic. My advise to San Franciscand: place the matter on the june ballot and have an up or down vote on RCV use. I will work to end the process.

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