Thursday, November 17, 2005

Results from Ranked Choice Voting in SF

As I mentioned earlier, the election last week was the first citywide race using Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in San Francisco. In two of the three contests, one candidate received a majority of the first-place votes, so RCV was a moot point, but in the assessor-recorder race, we had an instant runoff.

In the first round of voting, Phil Ting received 47% of the votes, to 36.5% for Gerardo Sandoval and 16.5% for Ronald Chun. The RCV process then took Chun's first-place votes and redistributed them according to their second-place choices. 23% of Chun's voters had Sandoval as their second choice, 49% Ting, and 28% had no second choice.

Ting clearly had an advantage going into the instant runoff, but in principle, had there been a substantial "anybody but Ting" bloc of voters, Sandoval could have squeaked out a victory. As it happens, Chun's voters went more than 2-to-1 for Ting. (In fact, among Chun's voters, Sandoval actually came in third, behind Ting and "none of the above.")

The Ranked Choice Voting system was a screaming, howling success. The dire predictions of mayhem and rioting in the streets that we heard before RCV was enacted by the voters, are nothing but a mildly humorous memory.