SF's ranked choice voting comes under fire

March 15, 2011 7:09:24 PM PDT
On Tuesday, the constitutionality of San Francisco's election system was debated at the U.S. Court of Appeals. A failed candidate for a 2006 supervisor's race has sued the city trying to undo the system known as ranked choice voting.

Ranked choice voting allows voters to rank their top three candidates in a race. It eliminates the need for a separate runoff election. Under the system, if no candidate wins a majority of the votes, the candidate with the lowest number is eliminated and those votes are transferred to the second choice of the voter. The process continues until there's a winner.

Ron Dudum is the key plaintiff. He tells ABC 7, "I believe it is not a constitutional system because voters have no ability to be able to know who the final three candidates will be."

The city attorney's office argues that ranked choice voting triples the opportunity for voters to have a say. Attorney Andrew Shen says what critics are "complaining about at the end of the day is that not all their votes got in the winning candidates' column, but that's true for all election systems."

A three-judge panel listened to the arguments and have been asked to expedite their decision because the San Francisco mayor's election is in November and there are already more than two dozen candidates who want to know if ranked choice voting will be used.

The process was used in Oakland's mayoral race in November and ended with Jean Quan being the surprise victor over former St. Sen. Don Perata.

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