On Election Day in San Francisco, two members of the Board of Supervisors proposed scuttling the ranked-choice voting system used to decide races in the city since 2004.
San Francisco’s system allows voters to rank up to three candidates, and those with the lowest vote totals are eliminated and their second- or third-place votes are reassigned until someone has a majority of the votes.
But in the proposal put forward today by Supervisors Mark Farrell and Sean Elsbernd, a charter amendment would be put on the June 2012 ballot to get rid of ranked-choice voting and replace it with a new system that has yet to be determined.
“Massive numbers of San Franciscans continue to be confused about our voting process in the city,” Farrell said.
Residents “spend so much time thankfully thinking about who to vote for and what to vote for, I don’t think they should be worrying about how to vote,” he said.
A possible new system would emulate the one in New York City, which has initial elections in September and runoff elections in November if necessary, he said.
The proposal was sharply criticized by Supervisor John Avalos, who is one of 16 candidates running for mayor in today’s election.
Avalos said he was “stunned” at the proposal of replacing ranked-choice voting, saying bringing it forward on Election Day “seems like a cheap publicity stunt.”
Elsbernd, the co-sponsor of the charter amendment, pointed out that nine of the 11 supervisors sitting on the current board were elected by less than a majority of the vote.
He told Avalos, “should you come in second place today,” which would put him in a runoff election in other systems, “I hope you’re as dogmatic in your opposition” to the proposal.
Avalos later said he would be proposing two separate charter amendments to either keep the current system or slightly tweak it, possibly to allow voters to be able to assign all three of their votes to a single candidate.
Any of the proposed charter amendments would need the approval of six supervisors to get on the ballot.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News