Attorneys representing the plaintiffs–six citizens, including former Board of Supervisors candidate Ron Dudum–said today that they appealed U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg’s ruling earlier this month to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.
The instant runoff system, also known as ranked-choice voting, allows voters to rank three choices in each race.
If no candidate wins a majority, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated, and the votes are transferred to the second choice of each resident who voted for that candidate. The process continues until one candidate achieves a majority of votes.
The system applies to races for mayor, supervisor, district attorney, city attorney, sheriff, public defender, treasurer and assessor-recorder.
San Francisco voters approved instant runoff voting in 2002, and it was implemented in 2004. It was intended to avoid costly separate runoff elections and possible low voter turnout for those elections.
The plaintiffs argued that the system violates their constitutional voting rights.
They claimed it was unfair because in races with more than three contenders, voters whose candidates are eliminated in early rounds of ballot counting have no say in the final rounds.
But Seeborg ruled that even though a voter’s choice may be eliminated, “he or she still participates in and affects the election.”
Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they are seeking an expedited hearing before the appeals court.