Rank complaints - Page 2

Calls to repeal ranked-choice voting come from its regular downtown-allied critics — but progressives also have concerns

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"There is no way most voters will be able to distinguish among the candidates."

But Hill says it's a mistake to attribute the large field to RCV, or even to the public financing system that some are also trying to blame, a problem he said can be addressed in other ways, such as changing when and how candidates qualify for public matching funds.

Wiener said he hasn't made up his mind about repealing RCV, and he said that he absolutely opposes a return to the December runoff election. One alternative he suggested was a system like that in place in New York City, with the initial election in September and the runoff during the general election in November. But he does think some change is needed, and he's glad Elsbernd and Farrell proposed an RCV repeal.

"They're starting a conversation with the repeal, but that's not where it's going to end," Wiener said.

Indeed, the system still has the support of most progressives, even Sup. John Avalos, who finished second in the mayor's race and would now be headed into a runoff election against Ed Lee under the old system. "I continue to support ranked choice voting," Avalos told us. It takes six supervisors to play the charter amendment repealing RCV on the ballot.

Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, who was narrowly elected sheriff in the ranked-choice runoff despite a 10-point lead in first place votes, said of the Farrell and Elsbernd proposal, "I do want to hear their criticisms."

"I understand the larger discussion, which was a bit of a misguided approach that some of our colleagues used to go after ranked choice voting on election day," Mirkarimi said. "But they are good politicians and they seized an opportunity."

Mirkarimi did say he was open to "maybe some tweaks. I do think ranked choice works better when you have many choices." Others, such as former Sup. Matt Gonzalez, have also recently advocated a ranked-choice system that allows more choices, which would address the majority-vote criticism because fewer ballots would be exhausted.

Hill said the legislation that voters approved back in 2002 already calls for more choices, but the technology used in the city's current system only allows three choices. Yet he said the city's vendor, Dominion Voting Systems, has developed a system allowing up to 11 choices, for which it is currently seeking federal certification.

Although he said various tweaks are possible, "I think the system worked well in this election," Hill said, noting that few San Franciscans would have wanted to drag this long campaign out by another month or to pay for another election.

Comments

Is there any data to support the alleged widespread lack of understanding about the RCV process or is it just wishes and anecdotal reports to politicians who use it for spin?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

In the 03 election, more people showed up for the runoff than the first election. However, in this election 50,000 exhausted ballots at the end and there were nearly 3,000 under/over votes.

Regardless of RCV confusion, we need runoffs, because clearly people are losing an opportunity to vote or not understanding the process.

Those 50,000 people either didnt realize who the key people would be or chose not to send any of their three votes to them in protest or hope that someone else would be in the final rounds. Point is, we don't know, and unlike 03 where 80k people voted for 3rd place+ candidates, they can't go back to the polls and tell us.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

That problem could be easily solved by giving voters more than three choices. Which was, in fact, how the original law was supposed to be implemented...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

In the 03 election, more people showed up for the runoff than the first election. However, in this election 50,000 exhausted ballots at the end and there were nearly 3,000 under/over votes.

Regardless of RCV confusion, we need runoffs, because clearly people are losing an opportunity to vote or not understanding the process.

Those 50,000 people either didnt realize who the key people would be or chose not to send any of their three votes to them in protest or hope that someone else would be in the final rounds. Point is, we don't know, and unlike 03 where 80k people voted for 3rd place+ candidates, they can't go back to the polls and tell us.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

Most runoffs have a lot fewer people voting. Most Board of Supervisor runoffs were won by candidates in December who had fewer votes than in November.

And so-called "independent expenditures" soared. And that was before the Supreme Court gave a green light to let corporations spend money in campaigns.

Follow the money on this one. There are some big bucks behind the effort to repeal RCV. Time for more questions about why. What was funding Ron Dudum's lawsuit? It wasn't Dudum!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

I suspect most of the time it doesn't make much difference. Lee would have won easily under any and every system.

To me the litmus test is whether it encourages positive or negative campaigns. And based on that, and the antics of Yee and Herrera this time around, it's not so good.

Then again both got punished for that at the polls, without which Avalos would not have done nearly as well.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 12:56 pm

is actually a good one for RCV. Avalos wasn't the one who went negative. The candidates who did ended up doing less well despite having a lot more money.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 8:08 pm

Avalos and Lee (the two candidates who did not negatively attack their opponents) did best in the election.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

The Building Trade Unions that did go negative on Avalos on Lee completely bottomed out. I worry for my rank-and-file friends in the trades actually:

http://sfbayview.com/2011/sf-building-trades-are-elections-biggest-loser/

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

Given the cowed and co-opted 'labor-leader' stooges who front for the bosses, you are wise to worry for what's left of the rank-and-file.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

Scott Wiener's description of New York city elections for city office is not accurate. New York city has partisan elections for Mayor and city council. There is only one election in New York city, in November of the years that follow presidential election years. There are partisan primaries in September but not all candidates in November run in the partisan primaries. Oddly enough, Republican nominees for Mayor have won in each of the last 5 Mayoral elections in New York city (Rudy Giuliani victories in 1993 and 1997, and Mike Bloomberg victories in 2001, 2005 and 2009). although Giuliani is a registered independent, he always gets the Republican nomination.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 8:09 pm

Many media stories have focused on RCV being "confusing, complicated, complex" and a host of other related adjectives. Usually it's stated within the context of racial minorities and language minorities being especially confused. This criticism reached its most shrill when David Lee, director of Chinese American Voter Eduction Committee (downtown businesses' go-to Chinese group), was quoted saying that ranked choice voting is the latest "Chinese Exclusion Act."

If that is the case, then how do we explain the fact that the number of racial minorities elected to the 11-member San Francisco Board of Supervisors has DOUBLED since RCV was first used in 2004? There are now eight minority supervisors and there used to be four; four of the eight supervisors are Asian-Americans (and three are Chinese-American). So over two thirds of the Board of Supervisors seats are held by racial minorities; over a third of the seats are held by Asian-Americans.

And now Ed Lee has become the first Chinese American mayor in San Francisco; he will join Jean Quan, a Chinese American who was elected mayor of Oakland last year in an RCV election.

Chinese Exclusion Act? If minorities are so confused, how come they have had such STUNNING ELECTORAL SUCCESS?

All of this boost in minority representation occurred AFTER San Francisco jettisoned December runoff elections. That's because in December runoffs not only was the voter turnout usually extremely low across the city, but it was disproportionately lower among -- minority voters. So RCV has boosted minority representation by making the decisive election in November when voter turnout among minority communities has been at its peak.

And ranked ballots have prevented “split votes” from occuring within minority communities since those voters now aren’t stuck picking one candidate when there are multiple minority candidates, but instead can rank several minority candidates and see the candidate with the most support emerge with the strength of all those votes behind her/him. In this year’s mayoral election there were five Asian candidates and Asian voters didn’t have to worry about splitting their vote because they could rank three candidates. In similar fashion, the minority vote has held together in past races, including District 1 in 2008, District 9 in 2008, District 10 in 2010 and District 4 in 2006, as a result of effective use of ranked ballots.

But if SF goes to a September-November election cycle, and if elections can be won by majority winners in September like Scott Wiener seems to be proposing, then most elections will be decided in Sept when voter turnout is extremely low -- especially among minority voters. Deciding elections on a day other than ini November will mean electing winners in low turnout races where independent expenditures go through the roof (even more so now in this post-Citizens United era). That's a version of what Oakland had, when it used a June-November runoff system and most of their elections were decided in June when voter turnout was half that of November, and even lower among minority voters. In multi-racial Oakland, the June electorate was whiter, older and wealthier than the Nov electorate, yet that's when most elections were being decided. That's one reason Oakland junked the June-Nov runoff system and switched to RCV. Sept-Nov would work pretty much the same.

So going to a Sept-Nov runoff system in SF would have large voting rights consequences, and would set back minority enfranchisement. NOt only would it decide elections when minority turnout was extremely low, but minorities would lose the benefit of the ranked ballots which they have used so effectively to double their representation on the BOS.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

Check out the contemporary critique of David Lee by other Asian Americans
(http://www.asianweek.com/2004/12/24/rcv-the-asian-exclusion-act-%E2%80%9...) :

Lee’s charges are disputed by longtime community advocates such as UC Berkeley professor L. Ling-chi Wang and Phil Ting of the Asian Law Caucus. Yvonne Lee, former commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said, “Saying that the new system is anti-Chinese only represents David Lee’s personal view.” There are many reasons why APA candidates lose, but RCV is not one of them.

Going further, Chinese American leader and S.F. school board member Eric Mar said, “The problem is that CAVEC’s own polling numbers do not back up the conclusions David Lee has drawn.” For instance, Mar claims, the committee added together the number of APA voters who said they “disliked” RCV (18 percent) with those who had “no opinion” (36 percent) to arrive at a total figure of 54 percent.

“‘No opinion’ is definitely not the same as ‘dislike,’” Mar said. “Lumping them together like that is a completely irresponsible practice.”

Posted by David Cary on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 12:02 am

Gonna have to think on this tomorrow.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 16, 2011 @ 11:04 pm

Hey Pat,

When you are responding to a guest or anonymous post, you need to click the 'reply' link on the specific post you are responding to. Otherwise it can be really hard for us to understand what you are saying to whom.

Posted by 'anonymous' on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 11:08 am

Excellent point. Thankyou.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

Repeal IRV and replace it with a nonpartisan September general election followed by a November runoff between the top two finishers.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 11:25 am

thereby creating the same problem of a Downtown machine candidate (or even two of them!) winning the top run-off spot(s).

We need to improve IRV so that all candidates are listed by every voter.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

Three voters like him to every two that wanted a progressive.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

Lee won in a very low turnout election, in the end garnering only 20% of the registered electorate in his favor.

Had there not been so many exhausted ballots, the election could have easily turned the other way.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

It's mere conjecture on your part.

What we do know is that far more people voted for Lee than Avalos. Otherwise he wouldn;t have won.

You seem to be desperate to find a system that would make your guy win. But you can't win under any system if you get less votes.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

Easy there... cut down on the coffee Sparky. I'm not just talking about Lee and Avalos, I'm talking about basic potentials for ranked choice in general.

Eliminating exhausted ballots so that all votes are counted would greatly improve the system and voter confidence in it, regardless of who won.

The point is that progressive voters, knowing that every choice they made would count, would not have been scared into choosing only three center left candidates (as many were) and would have been more confident, in higher numbers, in voting for more radical candidates like Avalos and Baum.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 5:10 pm

...based on how continuing ballots did go. Lee wins a landslide. But Ross Mirkarimi wins his race fair and square.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

Because they got the highest number of votes. It doesn't matter where they got them, when they got them or anything else - in the end the winners won an election by getting more votes.

Frankly I am surprised Avalos did as well as he did. I doubted he could win - progressives rarely win citywide offices (Mirkarimi excluded - and even I voted him as my second choice) but he should be congratulated that he did as well as he did with as little resources. Maybe next time he'll see the wisdom in attempting to broaden his coalition of voters outside core progressives - and he might win if he does.

Posted by guest on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

Runoffs are better for democracy so long as they are not in December.

It is clear that progressives can always get a candidate into the runoff, citywide as well as in 8 out of the 11 districts.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

Much of the backlash against ranked choice voting (RCV) is coming from the political consultant community. They play up the confusion factor only because they are confused how to make as much money off RCV as they could with runoffs. Oh, I get it, polling is easier when you don't have to factor ranked votes, and there's only one election, which means less for them to do and collect a paycheck for.

But should we drive our electoral methods off of the happiness of consutlants??

We may be able to improve RCV, but we should move forward, not back to runoffs.

Posted by John E. Palmer on Nov. 17, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

Recent poll shows 30% of SF voters like RCV, and now we will get to vote for or against RCV.

Every attempt to repeal RCV in the US has been successful.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 08, 2012 @ 10:49 pm