League of Women Voters of California
Instant Runoff Voting
City of San Francisco
Majority Vote Required
12,496 / 59.34% Yes votes ...... 8,562 / 40.66% No votes
Index of all Propositions
|Information shown below: Summary | Fiscal Impact | Yes/No Meaning | Arguments | Full Text|
Shall the City use instant run-off voting to elect City officers with a majority of votes without separate run-off elections?
When the offices of the Mayor, City Attorney, District Attorney, Public Defender, Sheriff, Assessor-Recorder, Treasurer, and Board of Supervisors are up for election, voters may select only one candidate for each of these offices. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes cast for the office, the two candi-dates who receive the highest number of votes compete in a run-off election at a later date.
Proposition A is a Charter amendment that would require the City to use an instant run-off voting method that would eliminate separate run-off elections. A winner would still have to receive more than 50% of the vote.
With this method, each voter would have the opportunity to rank at least a first, second, and third choice among the candidates for each office. The votes would be counted in rounds. If one candidate received more than 50% of the first-choice votes in the first round, then that candidate would be elected. If no candidate received more than 50% of the first-choice votes, the candidate who received the fewest first-choice votes would be eliminated. 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.
The City would start using the instant run-off voting method in November 2002. If the Department of Elections were not ready to use the new method in November 2002, the City would start using it in November 2003.
How Supervisors Voted on "A" On July 9, 2001
The Board of Supervisors voted 10 to 1 to place Proposition A on the ballot.
The Supervisors voted as follows:
Yes: Ammiano, Daly, Gonzalez, Hall, Leno, Maxwell, McGoldrick, Newsom, Peskin, Sandoval
Should the proposed charter amendment be approved by the voters, in my opinion, it would save the City a net amount of approximately $1.6 million annually beginning in Fiscal Year 2002-03 by eliminating the need for run-off elections. Instant run-off voting may require additional bal-lot pages, voter education, and modifications to the City's voting technology. However, these costs would be more than offset by the savings associated with eliminating run-off elections.
League of Women Voters of San Francisco
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|Arguments For Proposition A||Arguments Against Proposition A|
|Proposition A will allow San Francisco to elect candidates
supported by a popular majority without needing expensive, low-
turnout December runoff elections. This will
SAVE $2 MILLION TAX DOLLARS PER YEAR,
RAISE VOTER TURNOUT and
REDUCE NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING
Last December s runoff had a voter turnout of only FIFTEEN
PERCENT --the lowest in San Francisco s history. December is
an awful time for an election. Voters are busy with holiday plans,
and don t even realize the runoff is happening. Voter turnout
Runoffs are costly to taxpayers. The December runoff for city
attorney cost nearly $ 2 MILLION, an average of $ 29 per voter.
This money could be better spent on other city services
threatened with cutbacks in our ailing economy.
Previous runoff elections have seen excessive negative
campaigning and hit pieces. Such mudslinging is common
when the field is reduced to two candidates, and candidates can
win by attacking their lone opponent rather than attracting
The purpose of the runoff to ensure majority support for
winners is a good one, but huge declines in voter turnout, high
costs, and negative campaigning undermine this worthy goal.
Proposition A implements instant runoff voting to fulfill the goal of electing majority winners without the inconvenience of a second election. The instant runoff works much like December s delayed runoff. Voters indicate their favorite candidate, just like now. But at the same time they also rank their runoff choices, 1, 2, 3. This eliminates the need for a separate runoff election. By doing it in one election, we produce winners who have majority of the vote and save millions of tax dollars. And we avoid the considerable headaches of a second election during the busy holiday season. Proposition A will make our elections more EFFICIENT and LESS EXPENSIVE
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
How Supervisors Voted to Submit this Argument
Yes: Ammiano, Daly, Gonzalez, Hall, Leno, Maxwell, McGoldrick
No: Newsom, Peskin, Sandoval, Yee
Supervisor Gavin Newsom Supervisor Leland Yee, Ph. D. Julio Ramos J. D., Member, SF Community College Board
Responding to low voter turnout in the December 2000 run-off
election, the majority of the Board of Supervisors placed
Proposition A on the ballot. Unfortunately, Proposition A is not
reform but a return to the days of power brokers and back-room
Proposition A is brought to you by the same people who
proposed "Preference Voting" which was resoundingly defeated
by San Francisco voters in 1996. They have relabeled their
flawed product "Instant Run-off Voting", and have convinced
the Board of Supervisors on its "merits" by arguing that "IRV"
will reduce the cost to taxpayers and eliminate negative
What they don't say is that Proposition A will enrich
for-profit slate card organizations, increase the cost of
campaigns, reduce meaningful debate on issues and hide
ideological differences, and effectively disenfranchise language
minorities and people with limited education. Rather than have
the majority rule, Proposition A could actually reduce the actual
number of voters who decide elections to a smaller portion than
currently go to the polls in run-off elections.
So, how do we address low voter turnout in December run-off
elections? There are several alternatives that the Board of
Supervisors should have entertained.
First, move the primary for District Supervisors to March in
even-numbered years, when city voters decide the nominees for
State and Federal offices, and hold the run-off election in the
high-voter turnout General Election in November.
Second, move the primary in odd-numbered years, to the
Tuesday eight days or fifteen days after Labor Day in September,
and hold the run-off election in November.
Third, move the primary in odd-numbered years to the week-end
or second weekend after Labor Day when most people aren't
There's better ways to reform the system.
Vote No on Proposition A.
Christopher L. Bowman Member Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections, 1993-2001
NEVER been voted on in San Francisco. Also, Proposition A will not disenfranchise language minorities. In fact, the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a prominent voting rights organization, has written, "Instant runoff voting could be used in San Francisco to benefit language minority communities in the November elections." Visit http://www.ImproveTheRunoff.org for a demonstration of how IRV works and for more information.
Matt Gonzalez San Francisco Board of Supervisors
How Supervisors Voted to Submit this Argument Supervisor Gonzalez submitted this rebuttal argument on behalf of the Board of Supervisors.
On December 17, 2001, the Supervisors voted as follows to authorize Supervisor Gonzalez to prepare and submit the rebuttal argument on their behalf.
Yes: Ammiano, Daly, Gonzalez, Hall, Leno, Maxwell, McGoldrick, Newsom, Peskin, Sandoval, Yee
|Full Text of Proposition A|
|You can find the Full Text Version of Measure A on page 45 of the San Francisco Department of Elections Voter Information Pamphlet and Sample Ballot.|