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