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SF Businesses: Increase Candidates in Ranked-Choice Voting

A voter cubicle in St. Columba's Church in Oakland gives information about ranked-choice voting
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A voter cubicle in St. Columba's Church in Oakland gives information about ranked-choice voting
 
The city's voting system caps cadidate choices at three, which is too few, says the Chamber of Commerce

The ranked-choice voting system that will elect a San Francisco mayor in November doesn’t go far enough because voters are barred from ranking all of their preferred candidates, according to the city’s leading business group.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce opposes the voting system, which helped install a cadre of progressive San Francisco supervisors over the past decade and recently installed unlikely Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. But, if the voting system is used, then the chamber believes that it should be expanded. That’s because voters can presently mark only their first three preferred candidates on a ballot.

In San Francisco’s district 10 supervisorial race last year, for example, voters had to select their first three preferred candidates from a list of 21 names on the ballot.

That meant that voters whose first three preferred candidates were knocked out early in the vote-counting process were “disenfranchised,” Chamber spokesman Rob Black said. “That’s where we have a constitutional impairment,” he said.

The results of a poll published today by the Chamber showed that the majority of voters don’t understand what happens to their votes if none of their preferred three candidates make it to the final round of vote-counting.

The poll results do not mean that voters do not understand how to vote using ranked-choice voting, according to Black. Instead, it shows that “they don’t understand that they’re being disenfranchised.”

Exit polls conducted by San Francisco State University in 2004 showed that more than four out of every five voters understood the ranked choice voting system “fairly” or “perfectly” well.

Black said that if ranked choice voting is used, it should be expanded to allow voters to rank all of the candidates on the ballot.

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