Ballot box

Ranked Choice Voting In Spotlight

Advocates See SF Vote As Big Test

June 04, 2018 - 6:58 am

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS Radio) -- When San Francisco tallies its vote Tuesday night, people far beyond The City will be watching.

Election-reform advocates  are trying to expand ranked choice voting in California beyond the handful of Bay Area cities that already or may soon use it. 

San Francisco has employed the ranked choice system since 2004, but this year's mayoral election is the first without a favored incumbent. The pro-ranked choice organization FairVote argues thar ranked choice voting offers voters more choices and tends to discourage negative campaigning. The organization would like to see the system used in more places.

San Francisco State University associate professor Jason McDaniel agrees that ranked choice voting appears to dampen negative campaigning as candidates seek to build coalitions with other candidates. But he also told KCBS Radio reporter Jenna Lane that there are some issues with the system.

"Errors that disqualify a ballot from being counted are higher," McDaniel said after studying ranked choice results in a number of elections, "and turnout is lower, just marginally, but especially  among populations you would think of as underrepresented or marginalized:  older, less educated, poorer."