Tag Archives: Mayor Ed Lee

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

The “New Mud”: Ranked Choice voting changes everything in SF Mayoral Election; How Lee’s voter fraud controversy puts everything in a new light with less than two weeks to go

 A big conference on Asian American activism is taking place in San Francisco this week.

Ed Lee used to be one of them, an unabashed non-profit good guy.  But now his life has changed as the lead dog in the San Francisco mayoral race. He just may not be in the lead for long.

Lee, the interim mayor attempting to make it for real, has been tripped up by some overzealous campaigners on his behalf who may have committed voter fraud.

The now infamous “Ed Heads,” blue shirted members of the San Francisco Neighbors Alliance for Ed Lee for Mayor 2011, had been out in Chinatown the last few weeks setting up tents and helping specifically Cantonese speaking voters.

Tents!  Or maybe they were voter cabanas?

How much help the voters got is he issue, and with translated ballots and handbooks, how much help is needed, unless the volunteers really were filling out ballots and telling people how to vote.

Beyond language, there’s the issue of taking a ballots in a plastic bag for delivery to the elections office. These are ballots not pizzas. No delivery allowed.

And then there’s the last big question. How direct is the  connection of the volunteers  to Lee? 

As close as Rose Pak?

The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into this after seven candidates faxed a letter of complaint Sunday to D.C.

I talked to one candidate today who said when he talked with Lee over the weekend, Lee wanted to be on the letter to show a united front.

Makes sense.  All major candidates want a fair and ethical election, right? In the spirit of Ranked Choice Voting, that would take the sting out of any appearance of mudslinging and show consensus. Take the politics out of it.

But apparently there was no strong feeling to provide Lee a fig leaf.

Besides, this is just what the other candidates were looking for: Acceptable campaign “mud.”

Ranked Choice Voting makes things a bit to collegial sometimes. Like a parish council. You’re looking for consensus? Boring.

So this was too good for the other candidates to pass up.

A little local October surprise to stop the front-runner in his tracks and help others make up ground.

Lee’s best response so far: Proclaiming it’s “Hammer time”?

With all the possible investigations emerging, Lee is going to have to do much more to regain any momentum.

Otherwise, the voter fraud scandal has done the real heavy lifting for the candidates. Its isolated Lee. And it’s changed the dynamic of race. The cloud of voter fraud may even be enough to keep Lee off voters’ RCV top-three.

If an “anyone but Ed” campaign emerges, then the seven who sent the DOJ letter (especially  Leland Yee, David Chiu, Jeff Adachi, Dennis Herrera and John Avalos)  have just made this race much tighter than expected.  

The No.2 vote will be very important. That means candidates will be on good behavior from here one. They know who they’re No.1 with. Now their goal is to be everyone’s No.2.

As candidates get eliminated, those No.2 ballots will eventually make someone a winner.

But who?   Chiu?  Yee?  Adachi?  

This historic race in Asian American history is coming up to an exciting finish.

And the winner will be the best No.2 person around.

Whoever gets the majority of Avalos’ or Herrera’s No.2 votes will be the first elected Asian American mayor.

More on the controversy at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund blog: