Ranked-choice voting proposal fails to make June ballot 

Voters will continue ranking candidates in elections after a proposal to eliminate such a system failed to make the June ballot.

Supervisor Mark Farrell had proposed a charter amendment that would eliminate the system. Instead, people would vote in September with a November run-off. But Farrell could not secure the six votes on the Board of Supervisors to place it on the June ballot Tuesday, the deadline to do so.

“I just think it’s a shame that we don’t send this to the ballot,” Farrell said. “We let the voters decide. This is a big issue in our city.”

Critics of ranked-choice voting say it creates confusion and leads to ballots being tossed out, multiple candidates who voters can’t differentiate between and no majority winner in close races. But advocates hail the system for leveling the playing field, increasing voter participation and reducing costs.

Supervisor Eric Mar said Farrell’s proposal “is moving us against the grain of more democracy and more diversity in government. It also [would] cost $2.6 million more per year to administer.”

But the debate isn’t going away, and there’s talk about placing measures on the November ballot.

“This city would be so much better off today if we had had a one-month discussion between John Avalos and Ed Lee,” said Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, in reference to November’s mayoral race when Avalos came in second under the ranked-choice system.

Ranked choice was approved by voters in March 2002. During elections, voters rank their top three candidates in each race. The system comes into play when no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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