Ranked Choice Voting: I don’t like it

This is the first #SFMayor election that will use ranked choice voting. I never liked it for the supervisor elections and I don’t like for the mayoral race and now I’m going to tell you why. First, I cite Oakland who had Jean Quan elected as mayor that was a dark horse from the start. I won’t knock her or Oakland because I don’t live there, but it was obvious from the news reports that they were all reacting as if Chicken John became mayor. The second reason is that ranked choice voting hasn’t been explained very well. If you like one candidate and no others don’t vote for them as your first, second and third choice. You vote will be disqualified. Even if you put the same name down for two categories your vote will be disqualified. This lowers the amount of people who will be able to vote because not everyone knows that rule [thank you Michela Alioto-Pier for pointing that out at one of the debates]. I was informed that the previous statement was incorrect. That you could put the same name down for all three, but if your first choice makes the cut your other votes won’t count again. So if you have three people that you would like to see as mayor vote for three, but you can just put one name or the same for all three.

Bruce Reyes Chow [@breyeschow] who also endorses John Avalos has challenged me to list my second and third choices and I am taking him up on that challenge. It is a difficult one because it’s more about who I don’t want than who I do want. Let’s look at who I don’t want as mayor first:

  1. Mayor Ed Lee: He became mayor by choice of the former mayor Gavin Newsom and the board of supervisors because said he would not run again for mayor, yet he has gone against the premise that got him into office and is now running for mayor. He has gone back on his word and I cannot vote for a man who cannot keep a promise.
  2. Senator Leland Yee: I cannot vote for a man who calls me a racist. As I tweeted yesterday he or one of his minions used the hashtag #racism in a comment to me speaking out in favor of AB376 the ban on shark fin sales in California because he feels it is a threat against an Asian cultural tradition. It isn’t at all. It’s against an Chinese cultural tradition, that should be put aside because of the damage it is causing to the world’s oceans. It is a Chinese cultural tradition just like foot binding and eating of dogs that has been cast away in the U.S. and most parts of China. I cannot vote for a person who plays the race card when what I speak of is about conservation and ecology and not race. I also don’t like the fact that he filed to run as Mayor of San Francisco a week after being re-elected to the Senate. This makes me think that he sees being a Senator less valuable than being the mayor of San Francisco. There was also the shoplifting arrest in Honolulu that he talked his way out of along with being pulled over for cruising Capp street under suspicion of looking for prostitutes. One thing I know about Capp street is that if you aren’t in a band heading to rehearsal space you’re either there for hookers or drugs.
  3. Phil Ting: I cannot vote for a man who wants to reset San Francisco beyond his abilities. He wants to repeal Proposition 13 as Mayor of San Francisco to make housing more affordable. Prop 13 is a state law that the Mayor of San Francisco can speak out about, but not change.  He also misses the point that while San Francisco is listed in the top 10 expensive cities to live in, it is only one of two cities in California under Prop 13. New York, Miami, and Honolulu being the top three all in states with no Prop 13, but they do have addition school taxes to help students that California doesn’t.
  4. Bevan Dufty: He’s on my not sure list. He has worked for the underdog for most of his political career. He worked for Shirley Chisolm and Billie Holiday was his godmother. He seems like an alright guy, but I don’t see anything outstanding that makes me lean in his direction.
  5. Jeff Adachi: Last minute entry into the mayor’s race just like Ed Lee. That’s a showboating maneuver I don’t like. While I like his ideas on pension reform I don’t like the grandstanding.
  6. David Chiu: He’s on my short list since he was temporarily mayor and didn’t push to be full time mayor after Gavin Newsom was elected Lieutenant Governor. He kept to the letter of the law and that’s a good thing in my book. He doesn’t own a car which gets my green side going, but in an emergency is he going to call a cab?
  7. Michela Alioto-Pier: Jesus, she has politics in her veins like no one else running. First she’s from the Alioto family which she reminds us of on a regular basis as well as the fact that Joseph Alioto was her grandfather. She started in politics at 17 by being appointed to the President’s National Council on Disabilities Advisory Board by President Ronald Regan. She went on to work with Vice President Al Gore and many other politicians. She hasn’t had the best attendance record for the Board of Supervisors meetings part of which could be attributed to her being in a wheelchair, but she’s a sweet girl who looks a lot younger than she is and part of me feels that the next SF Mayor needs to be a bit more hard assed to get the job done.
  8. Joanna Rees: Not a politician at all. She’s an business woman, an entrepreneur. She makes a living making money. That’s a good thing.Maybe this city needs a Mayor who isn’t a politician. She also has been getting out to all the neighborhoods, though I do have a bit of pet peeve that she spent most of her Sunset time in the inner Sunset and didn’t get anywhere near my part which is a whole different breed of people. She’s still on my short list.
  9. Tony Hall: This is a guy who is old school San Franicsco politics and this man has the cohones to admit he’s a conservative. This guy will not hold back his punches when necessary and he has done a lot for all parts of San Francisco. I admit that I’m a Democrat and he’s not, but he’s an old school conservative, not a get your hands off of my money, tax the poor type of republican that’s destroying the party of today. He has a great presence and a voice like velvet fog. Tony is on my short list as well pushing for the second or third spot because of his past work. I do think he has a chance at getting the job done.
  10. Dennis Herrera: Dennis has also done a lot for San Francisco. It’s all over his website. He’s also traveled to all parts of the city to meet with the residents which I like. He’s taken some tough problems in San Francisco head on and against all odds that could break a person’s career, yet he’s still kept it together. He works for the working class that is a fast shrinking part of San Francisco and he want to bring that back. Dennis is also on my front runner list for my second and third choices.
So there you have it. While Tony Hall and Dennis Herrera look like they might be my second and third choices, I still can’t count out Michela, Joanna or David. John Avalos has won me hands down as number one, but these other five will have to step it up now for my second and third choice votes.
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13 Replies to “Ranked Choice Voting: I don’t like it”

  1. This statement is simply wrong — Alioto should be ashamed for having misinformed voters in a public setting.


    In fact if you rank the same candidate first, second and third, your ballot will count for your first choice. If that candidate loses, your ballot will be treated as it if you had left the second and third choice rankings blank.

  2. irv/rcv is a waste of time and it does not ‘save money’ as the proponents claim. also, the proponents acutally wanted SF to use voting machines that the secretary of state wanted to discard because they’d been proven unreliable , all to protect SF IRV, as they use it like a club in other jurisdictions. I’ve written extensively as to why it never lives up to the hype.

    I honestly don’t know how to vote this time – if I just vote for #1, my ballot is tossed awayy, but I really don’t care about a 2nd and third choice – I want my guy or gal to WIN because I like them, and this secondary stuff is bs. 

  3. I’m waiting to see a link from FairVote’s comment to see if it’s really true you can vote for the same person for 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

  4. The Department of Elections would quickly confirm that they would count as a valid ballot any ballot with a clear first choice. You can see basic info on RCV here:

    By the way, rather remarkable to compare Oakland mayor Jean Quan to Chicken John. She was a city councilor and long-time community leader. She won for a simple reason: more Oakland voters last year preferred her to Don Perata on their ballots. For more on Oakland, see:

  5. Greg’s ballot is not “tossed away” if you only vote for #1. It is counted for your first choice. But you are forfeiting a chance to indicate backup second and third choices in case your first choice candidates fails to make the final runoff.  It’s no more a “secondary choice” than deciding to vote in a runoff under the old rules even if your favorite in the first round has been eliminated.
    Also, just last week, election officials from San Francisco and Oakland testified in Sacramento that RCV saves money and sure ly it is not a “waste of time.” Of course it does mean consultants like Greg don’t make as much money as they  do with runoffs. That’s frustrating to some consultants — and of course to the big money folks who don’t get as much benefit from outspending the other side.

  6. So I checked out the link and it sounds like even though they’re telling you to vote for different candidates you can vote for the same in each category, but if your candidate is selected in the first then your other two don’t count.

    As for Jean Quan, I’m well aware that she has been a community leader in Oakland for years, but there was a bit of an uproar when she was elected as she wasn’t expected to have a chance in hell of winning. I think she’s doing a good job so far, but I haven’t had to visit Oakland in years so I can’t honestly say.

  7. Just a quick note that I’ve met Greg before and I’m pretty sure he’s not a political consultant, so he wouldn’t make any money off a runoff election.

  8. You strategic advice is not right. If you like Avalos and rank him first, your ballot will count for him as long as he is in the running. Your ballot only counts for your second choice if Avalos as lost. Your ballot never counts for more than one candidate at at time.

    In other words, it does nothing to help Avalos to rank weak candidates second and third. if you have a “lesser of two evils” second choice and third choice, go ahead and indicate them. If it’s really “Avalos or bust”, then sure, dn’t rank anyone second or third. It won’t help Avalos to do so, though.

  9. In the PDF you posted a link to it specifically says that your vote would only be counted once. So if I vote for John Avalos in 1st, 2nd & 3rd choice and he makes it through the first then my vote wouldn’t count in the second vote. If he doesnt make it through the first then having him as my second or third won’t count either. If I’m missing something please explain how it works. It sounds more like you should vote for who you don’t want as mayor to keep the front runners from getting any chance.

    I’m just a big confused over the RCV and want the best details so I know how to do it right.

  10. Yes then can, but I don’t know of one candidate he’s helping in the current election.

  11. Whew! Your ballot counts for your first choice until that candidate is eliminated. it has ___nothing__ to do with the number of rounds.

    You should rank your favorite candidate first, your next favorite second and your third favorite third. Those second and third choices only come into play if your first choice has lost.

    Check out the video at instantrunoff.com — perhaps will help.

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