Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ranked Choice Voting is pseudo-democracy

Photo by Luke Thomas

George Wooding, a contributor to the Westside Observer, provides a good account of how Ranked Choice Voting works. It's a flawed, undemocratic system, which, as he points out, encourages lemming-like political behavior among candidates. (Wooding's piece was published in the newsletter of the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods):

Under the run-off system, politicians were rewarded for taking unique stands and developing innovative solutions to problems. Politicians tried to develop unique voting blocks of support to win elections. With no clear front-runner and a crowded field of candidates, the RCV system rewards chameleons and sheep.  

In a system that encourages competition for second and third choice votes, candidates have an incentive to take non-controversial positions on the issues so as not to antagonize followers of the other candidates. That's why Dennis Herrera's opposition to the Central Subway caused such a stir. It was the first dissent on an important issue.

Wooding shows that the RCV system is irredeemable and should be scrapped, since next month it will likely give us a mayor chosen by a minority of voters. The only good thing about RCV: it saves money by avoiding run-off elections, but it does so by dumbing down the political dialogue, the last thing we need in San Francisco, which is already essentially a one-party town.  

Supervisor Elsbernd has promised to introduce a ballot measure next year to repeal the Ranked Choice Voting system, which city voters will be ready to do after November.

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