"Quanta...like spit in the dust of a baseball field" - Cody

August 06, 2003

UPDATE!! Instant Runoff Voting in SF


"Instant runoff voting won't be used in November's mayoral election, San Francisco's election chief said Tuesday, even as supporters charged that city politics stalled the voter-approved plan." -from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle

At least one San Francisco Supervisor (Jake McGoldrick) is ticked off at the heel dragging by the elections department. The Chronicle also reports that Secretary of State Kevin Shelley admitted that he had received phone calls "from members of the city's election commission urging him to torpedo the city's plans for the new system."

WTF!!! Why aren't the election commissioners being kicked off as we speak? The supervisors should be up in arms about this and so should all San Franciscans.

Do I have to sum up the situation to make it clear? An initiative was passed over one year ago mandating IRV elections, but the current administration is sabotaging its implementation. I wish I didn't care, or get caught up in things like this, but I have this nagging sense that PEOPLE SUCK and the people in power SUCK HARDER!!! (Note: in everything that is not specifically sexual, sucking is bad, and even the phrase "suck dick" is not a literal description of fellatio, fyi.)


According to the Center for Voting and Democracy website (www.fairvote.org): "On March 5, 2002, San Francisco voters adopted instant runoff voting by passing Proposition A by a 55%-45% margin."

Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), as conceived in the law approved by San Francisco voters, allows voters to rank the candidates in such a way that makes a separate runoff election unnecessary. Say your favorite candidate in the 2000 election was Ralph Nader (and for simplicity's sake, he ran against only A. Gore and G. Bush). If there were IRV for that election, when no candidate got a majority of votes, as happened, those people who voted for the candidate with the least number of votes, get their second choice counted. No more "throwing away your vote." No more "lesser of two evils" voting. For an example of how IRV works, go to the online ballot at the Center for Voting and Democracy website.

The technical challenges of implementing IRV may cause it to not be used for the next mayoral election this fall. It doesn't help that there are some political interests very hostile to IRV, which is perceived as a progressive power play.

The company that supplies San Francisco's voting machines has been unable to get certification from the state. The SF Elections Department's plan to do a hand count of IRV ballots was just nixed by an obscure state panel called the Voting Systems and Procedures Panel. Read about their decision in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The minutes from the Voting Systems and Procedures Panel is not online yet. It's mere speculation to say whether they rejected the plan for its demerits or for political reasons. The only information I could gather was from the Chronicle article. It says that "potential problems with recounts, write-in votes, possible ties and the time it would take to count the ballots were all concerns raised by the panel."

Some of these are red herrings. Write-in votes can be handled no problem. It would take ten minutes to figure out procedures for counting write-ins. Ties are technically possible in any election, but very unlikely; IRV does not affect the possibility for ties one way or another. And who cares how long it takes to count the ballots? We would already save the time and cost of a runoff election in December. Therefore we would still know who won earlier than if a traditional runoff election were held. And what's the problem with a recount for an IRV election that is different from a recount for a traditional election.

Hmmm, thinking about this closely is really starting to rub me the wrong way. My gut feeling is that there are some people out there who will do what ever it takes, no matter how many lives are ruined, or how many people are left dead and buried along the way, no matter how long it takes, or how many people who are ruined or left dead and buried along the way, no matter what it takes....to kill IRV in SF!!!!

I think it would be a grand shame if IRV doesn't occur for the fall election in SF. The only hope left is that Secretary of State Kevin Shelley reviews the panel's decision or if the city is compelled to go ahead with IRV by a court order. The second one is probably more likely since I think Secretary Shelley owes allegiance to what some people call SF's "Downtown Interests," which are not thought to favor IRV.

I wish I could do something to help.

Posted by cbsisco at August 6, 2003 05:30 PM