Tuesday, April 6, 2010

San Leandro deadlocks on ranked choice voting ordinance

San Leandro CA City Council changed their mind about instant runoff voting after learning the drawbacks. Often when people who initially support IRV change their mind once they learn how IRV acts in real elections. The use of Instant runoff voting is fairly rare, yet has existed since the 1850s. Could it be because IRV is bad for voters, bad for candidates and bad for confidence in elections?
Council Deadlocks on Ranked Choice Voting Ordinance City Hall
The San Leandro City Council failed to pass a ranked choice voting (RCV, also known as instant runoff) ordinance when Councilmember Diana Souza switched her vote at the April 5, 2010, City Council meeting. If the vote stands, San Leandro may end up paying the additional costs of RCV while holding a traditional election and runoff in November 2010. The RCV ordinance is the last step needed to use RCV for the November election. At the January 19, 2010, City Council meeting, Souza had voted with the majority to approve the RCV cost sharing memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Alameda County and the cities of Oakland and Berkeley and to move the election to November. Souza joined Councilmember Bill Stephens and Joyce Starosciak in voting against the ordinance.
After the vote, Mayor Tony Santos declared that he would "set aside" the vote by exercising a provision of the city charter that permits the Mayor to essentially ignore the vote and to vote again on the same item at the next meeting.

The next regular meeting of the San Leandro City Council is April 19, 2010.

San Leandro still comes out ahead by saying NO to IRV even if the city gets stuck with some IRV costs.

The city, by saying no to IRV will not have to endure the lack of confidence in election outcome that has been experienced in other places that tried IRV (and ditched it later).

By saying no to IRV, San Leandro will not have to overhaul its elections administration system nor will the city have to create an intense voter education program to reach all vulnerable segments of the voting population.

Cary, NC, Pierce County Washington and Burlington Vermont ditched IRV after trying it. Aspen Colorado will be reconsidering the method after one IRV election that left many voters baffled on how the votes were counted. Worse, Aspen had to outsource its election to a specialized vendor who programmed the voting machines with the wrong IRV algorithm.

IRV is a very complex voting system and the only one I know of where you can't simply tally the votes up at the polling places on election night. IRV is not additive and you have to haul votes away from where they are cast in order to go through the complex sorting and reallocating process which includes eliminating some votes.

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