vote_lede_template.jpgNeither of two dueling proposals to change San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting system will go on the June ballot, the city’s Board of Supervisors decided today.

San Francisco’s current system, approved by voters in 2002 and put into effect in 2004, allows voters to rank up to three candidates for each elected office, and those with the lowest vote totals are eliminated and their second- and third-place votes are reassigned until someone has a majority of the votes.

A charter amendment proposed by Supervisors Sean Elsbernd and Mark Farrell sought to scuttle ranked-choice voting and replace it with a primary and runoff system, while another measure proposed by Supervisors David Campos and John Avalos sought to make minor tweaks to the current system.

Neither proposal will go in front of the city’s voters in this June’s election though–supervisors voted this afternoon to table the runoff system proposal and send the other one back to committee for further analysis.

Campos had sought to delay a vote on his proposal, which included more voter education on ranked-choice voting and the consolidation of the city’s odd-year elections into a single year, saying it would be better served to go on the November ballot after more analysis was done on its potential effects.

Elsbernd accused him of pushing for the delay because ranked-choice advocates thought the lower turnout in a June election might not favor their proposal, and said enough analysis had been done on the issue.

“This has been in front of us for the last 10 years,” he said.

“I’m not sure what more we need to discuss.”

The board eventually agreed to send Campos and Avalos’ proposal back to committee, but not before narrowly voting 6-5 to table the runoff system proposal, in effect killing it, Farrell said.

“It’s a shame we didn’t send this to the ballot to let voters decide,” he said.

Farrell and Elsbernd were among supervisors who had argued that the current system is too confusing to voters, and that it leads to too many candidates that were hard to differentiate from each other.

Campos disagreed, saying “The system we have in place is a system that works … instead of throwing it out, we need to make it better.”

He said when his proposal goes back to a board committee for further discussion, he would consider incorporating any additional ideas from other supervisors, such as one from Jane Kim, who proposed having runoffs just for mayoral elections but not for other elected offices.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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  • JB96

    The September runoff proposal has rightly gone down in flames. What a bad idea to add yet another election on the calendar.

    Most members of the Board of Supes clearly want to have RCV part of city politics. Good time for opponents to get over their complaints and focus on productive changes — like better voter education.

  • JB96

    The September runoff proposal has rightly gone down in flames. What a bad idea to add yet another election on the calendar.

    Most members of the Board of Supes clearly want to have RCV part of city politics. Good time for opponents to get over their complaints and focus on productive changes — like better voter education.

  • TheFuture1776

    Primaries in September? Heavens, you have got to be kidding me. I used to live in NY City, NOBODY turned out in September to vote. In the last mayoral primary in September 2009, turnout was something like twelve percent! It was a waste of time, and a big waste of money. Think about it — if you have an election mid-Sept, when is the campaign season? In August, possibly July too, and then over Labor Day. When a lot of people are out of town, on vacation, taking their kids to ball games, etc. No one has elections on their mind. That’s a big reason why turnout in Sept elections is so low. Bad idea.

    I think RCV has worked well enough. One election, get it over. We don’t need more elections.

  • TheFuture1776

    Primaries in September? Heavens, you have got to be kidding me. I used to live in NY City, NOBODY turned out in September to vote. In the last mayoral primary in September 2009, turnout was something like twelve percent! It was a waste of time, and a big waste of money. Think about it — if you have an election mid-Sept, when is the campaign season? In August, possibly July too, and then over Labor Day. When a lot of people are out of town, on vacation, taking their kids to ball games, etc. No one has elections on their mind. That’s a big reason why turnout in Sept elections is so low. Bad idea.

    I think RCV has worked well enough. One election, get it over. We don’t need more elections.

  • Greg Dewar

    The “september primary” idea was a red herring. it sucks and rightfully so. that said , RCV is just an outsider plan to plot for “percentage voting” which may or may not have merits,but it’s pushed by outsiders and by liars.

    Also, so-called “ranked choice voting” as is favors but one vendor who can build machines that do the 1-2-3 ranking. if we did real RCV we’d rank every candiate from one to however many candidates they have. the only reason we don’t is because NO legal voting machine company in the US makes the machines to do so.

    Finally if the big push for things like “better voter education” you don’t need to amend the local constitution (aka the Charter) to do so – even Harvard Lawyers like Davy Campos know that – he again continues to lie and cheat and use the system to get him re-elected even though after four years Muni is more expensive and he failed to fix the elections to help progressives like John Avalos win elections they can’t win under fair circumstances.

  • Greg Dewar

    The “september primary” idea was a red herring. it sucks and rightfully so. that said , RCV is just an outsider plan to plot for “percentage voting” which may or may not have merits,but it’s pushed by outsiders and by liars.

    Also, so-called “ranked choice voting” as is favors but one vendor who can build machines that do the 1-2-3 ranking. if we did real RCV we’d rank every candiate from one to however many candidates they have. the only reason we don’t is because NO legal voting machine company in the US makes the machines to do so.

    Finally if the big push for things like “better voter education” you don’t need to amend the local constitution (aka the Charter) to do so – even Harvard Lawyers like Davy Campos know that – he again continues to lie and cheat and use the system to get him re-elected even though after four years Muni is more expensive and he failed to fix the elections to help progressives like John Avalos win elections they can’t win under fair circumstances.

  • gdrake

    We really should use ranked choice voting for a truly competitive mayoral election before anyone cries about how bad it is. So far it hasn’t really been tested. September elections would have been a big step backwards.

  • gdrake

    We really should use ranked choice voting for a truly competitive mayoral election before anyone cries about how bad it is. So far it hasn’t really been tested. September elections would have been a big step backwards.

  • gdrake

    More voting equipment vendors are supporting ranked choice voting. Having even one vendor with a pre-certified system will be an improvement over what San Francisco had to start with in 2002. As more places adopt ranked choice voting, the market for equipment will improve.

    The charter currently puts the Election Commission in charge of supervising the Department of Elections with the Elections Commission. A charter change is needed If the Board of Supervisors wants to be more closely involved in improving voter education done by the Department of Elections. Farrell and Elsbernd had plenty of opportunity to get a concurring opinion from the City Attorney if they wanted to do more than talk trash.

  • gdrake

    More voting equipment vendors are supporting ranked choice voting. Having even one vendor with a pre-certified system will be an improvement over what San Francisco had to start with in 2002. As more places adopt ranked choice voting, the market for equipment will improve.

    The charter currently puts the Election Commission in charge of supervising the Department of Elections with the Elections Commission. A charter change is needed If the Board of Supervisors wants to be more closely involved in improving voter education done by the Department of Elections. Farrell and Elsbernd had plenty of opportunity to get a concurring opinion from the City Attorney if they wanted to do more than talk trash.