Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ranked Choice Voting: another prog fiasco

Photo by Molly Riley for Reuters

The Examiner's Ken Garcia writes about the "grand experiment known as ranked-choice voting":

In the past few years, a host of cities---which had been lobbied by the group that has been trying to inflict ranked-choice voting on municipalities across the country---have decided to toss out the system. A number of others have seen the results and opted not to change election standards. Burlington, Vt., repealed RCV in 2010. Cary, N.C., dumped it after a two-year adventure. Glendale, Ariz., rejected it in 2008. San Jose studied it for two years and then decided to keep its majority-voting system, noting that changing it would be too costly and that it would unnecessarily complicate the election process. Honolulu gave it a thumbs-down.
Add Pierce County, Washington to the list of jurisdictions that have rejected RCV.

How did San Francisco come to adopt the ranked-choice voting system? In 2002 the Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to put instant run-off on the ballot (pages 39-48 of the Voters Pamphlet): Ammiano, Daly, Gonzalez, Hall, Leno, Maxwell, McGoldrick, Newsom, Peskin, and Sandoval voted yes, and only Leland Yee voted no, to his credit.

The Ballot Simplification Committee provided an accurate account of how it would work:

All voters whose first choice was eliminated would have their vote transferred to their second-choice candidate. This process of transferring votes to the voter’s next-choice candidate and eliminating candidates with the fewest votes would be repeated until one candidate received more than 50% of the votes.

Yes, but in reality that's only more than 50% of the remaining votes after all the choices of many voters have been eliminated, which means a small minority of voters in effect will decide who wins.

The election of Supervisor Malia Cohen in District 10 in 2010 is a good example of the kind of grotesque result RCV provides. In the first round, Cohen got 2,097 votes out of a total of 20,550 cast, while Tony Kelly got 2,102. It took 20 rounds to eliminate Kelly and everyone else before Cohen got more than 50%, winning with 4,321 of the original 20550 votes, only 21% of the votes cast!

Uber-prog Matt Gonzalez was the prime mover for this bad idea back in 2002. Recall that in his one term as supervisor, Gonzalez also brought the city the leftist failure on the homeless issuegraffiti/tagging as art and, at the behest of the Bicycle Coalition, the ban on the right-turn from Market Street onto the freeway at Market and Octavia. Quite a legacy! Maybe that's why he and Ralph Nader only got 1% of the vote in 2008 in his home town, while capitalist tools Obama and Biden got 83%.

Like the Octavia Blvd. fiasco, ranked-choice voting was supported by a who's-who of SF progressivism: the Sierra Club, Common Cause, SPUR, the National Lawyers Guild, the SF Democratic Party, the League of Conservation Voters, CALPIRG, the Green Party, the SF Bicycle Coalition ("This is the way to elect politicians who care about safer streets and a more livable city for everyone"), Dan Kalb, Mark Leno, Jake McGoldrick, Eric Mar, Mark Sanchez, Tom Radulovich, Wade Crowfoot, and Jeff Adachi.

Then-Supervisors Gavin Newsom, Aaron Peskin, and Gerardo Sandoval voted to put RCV on the ballot, and then, for some reason, voted against the supervisors' ballot argument supporting the proposition.

It was left mostly to those cranky Republicans to try in vain to uphold common sense against the prog lemmings, though it's interesting to note that Sue Bierman, Jane Morrison, and Calvin Welch all opposed RCV.

Matt Smith gets it on RCV, and so does George Wooding.

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