Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Report on Ranked Choice Voting in San Francisco

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Steven Hill writes:

"What are you doing today? How would you like to be voting in runoff elections for the Board of Supervisors? That's what many would be doing if San Francisco hadn't voted in 2002 to replace the old December runoff system with an "instant runoff" system known as ranked choice voting.

Whether using ranked choice voting or December runoffs, the goal is the same: to elect officeholders with majority support from the public. But with ranked-choice voting, you accomplish this in one November election.

We now have had five elections since 2004 using ranked-choice voting to elect the mayor, Board of Supervisors and other offices, providing some basis for assessing its impact. One significant difference between ranked choice and the old December runoff has been a dramatic increase in voter turnout. By finishing the election in November when voter turnout tends to be highest (because voters are showing up to vote for president or governor), a lot more San Franciscans are having a say in who represents them on the Board of Supervisors.

For example, this year in the District Three race, 22,407 voters participated in the final round of the instant runoff, with the winner of that race having 13,316 votes. In the December 2000 runoff election to decide the same District Three seat, only 12,414 voters participated, with the winner garnering 7,202 votes. Voter turnout dropped by 40 percent between the November 2000 election and the December runoff, and surely would have done the same this year following a high turnout presidential election."

For more, see here.



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