After months of debate over tweaking San Francisco’s ranked-choice voting system, the effort to put a measure on the November ballot was killed by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. That means voters will continue to rank their top three candidates for citywide and district board elections.
The ranked-choice system has come under attack by San Francisco’s more conservative base, while the more left-leaning political faction adamantly defends it.
Supervisor Mark Farrell first proposed a charter amendment for November that would have eliminated ranked-choice voting for citywide elections. In its place would be a September primary. If no candidate were to receive more than 65 percent of the vote, there would be a November runoff among the top two vote-getters.
The debate had resulted in two other proposals. But in the end, Farrell did not have the support to place only one measure on the ballot.
Supervisor Christina Olague, who is up for election in November, was a key sixth vote for Farrell’s proposal, but on Tuesday she made a motion to send all three separate proposals back to a board committee.
“I think the public would benefit more from additional discussions from the issue,” Olague said. She also seemed to defend herself from criticism that she was selling out as a progressive for having supported Farrell’s effort. Olague said someone’s support or lack of support for ranked-choice voting should not be a “litmus test for whether or not a person is progressive.”
Farrell said he was “disappointed” but vowed he would not give up, with a proposal for a future election a possibility.
“To me, ranked-choice voting is an incredibly confusing method,” he said.
But other supervisors are comfortable with the current structure.
“I have thought that the current systems that we have are actually working quite well,” board President David Chiu said.