As a direct consequence of our new public financing rules for the mayoral race in San Francisco, we now have a cavalry charge of 16 candidates running for mayor . . . As Ron Popeil might say - "But that's not all!" At no extra charge we will now throw all sixteen candidates into the mix-master of our first ranked voting / instant runoff election for mayor. On November 8th, all San Francisco voters will cast three votes for mayor in rank order of preference. "Rank" being the operative word in that sentence. . . .Fortunately, for those who are not fans of the instant runoff, ranked choice is not the only alternative to plurality: there are alternatives to the alternative, so to speak, such as approval voting and range voting.
Who knows what kind of a gawd-awful mess will come out of this election? Recall that in Oakland's 2010 ranked voting mayoral election, candidate Jean Quan had 10 points fewer first choice votes than Perata in the first vote count. I am talking about - Her Honor Jean Quan, the current mayor of Oakland, who had 10 percentage points fewer first choice votes than the loser Don Perata.
The simple fact is that most SF citizens have no friggin' clue about the ramifications of ranked voting/instant runoffs. While the voters may not understand it, be assured the candidates who would otherwise have zero chance of winning a plurality in the election or a majority in a real runoff know how exactly how the voting system can be gamed.
Net net - As a voter it is more important to decide who to exclude from any of your three votes for mayor than it is to pick who you would prefer to see win as your first choice. In fact you may be better off ranking your favorite as your second or third choice. This is Game Theory Gone Wild. We might as well be drawing lots to pick the next mayor . . .
Ranked choice, or instant-runoff voting, is probably the best-known alternative method to the plurality voting system. It is supported by reform groups like Fair Vote, Independents, third party advocates – Greens in particular –, and even independently-minded Democrats and Republicans. Ranked choice has already been implemented in a number of cities across the country, from Maine to Minnesota to California. San Francisco is set to hold its first mayoral election under the new system. At Divided We Stand, the Dividist takes a critical view of the process. Excerpt: