Monitors at SF Polls as voters try to make history–if Ranked Choice Voting lets them


As expected, California’s Secretary of State has sent monitors to roam polling places in San Francisco making sure there’s no funny business in today’s election. It’s a clear sign that someone is taking the allegations of voter fraud and ballot tampering in the campaign seriously.

Seven candidates urged the state to monitor the election after allegations of election misconduct were made against volunteers for interim Mayor Ed Lee. The blue-shirted “Ed Heads” were seen marking and taking ballots from Chinese-speaking voters. One source told me Lee was supposed to sign on to the letter to make it a united front by the top candidates against any improprieties.  In Ranked Choice Voting races, you are supposed to get that kind of collegiality.  But not here. Lee was left off the letter, as some of the also-rans apparently chose to make this a last minute and not so subtle attack on Mayor Interim.

It could backfire on everyone.

Lee may slip back as everybody’s No.2 or No. 3 choice and more easily win a majority.

Or as people are hoping, angry voters could leave him off the ballot entirely, creating a real “Hail Mary” situation in Ranked Choice Voting. No one has a majority and every ballots’ No.2 and No.3 comes into play until a majority is had.

History at first blush may have seemed partial to a first Asian American mayor with so many Asian American candidates. But in a RCV shootout, who knows who gets the No.2s and No.3s. It doesn’t have to be an Asian American.

Whatever, the whole thing seems more random than not, though RCV supporters will say it’s totally logical. They may be able to explain it step by step so it makes theoretical sense. But in the effort to save time and money (no more costly runoff elections, what a deal!), RCV adds a confusing layer of complexity that leads to distrust.  

You don’t need to understand the math to vote.  You just need to trust the vote.  RCV takes voter sentiment out of context.  A second and third choice could be different if they have no chance to win on a subsequent tally. 

It makes you yearn for a simpler, old-fashioned way. Instant runoff savings?  It may not be worth it if voters end up wondering what the hell happened to their vote.

See my blog post at www.aaldef.org/blog

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