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San Francisco Examiner

Ranked voting OK'd
New election system operable by November
By J. K. Dineen
April 9, 2004

State officials cleared the way for ranked-choice voting in San Francisco Thursday, setting the stage for a new election system to be in place by this fall's hot supervisorial races.

The state certification comes more than two years after the electorate approved the ranked-choice voting method, also known as instant-runoff voting, by charter reform.

The voting system will allow voters to rank their choices from one to three in order to avoid a December rematch, which could save The City more than $3 million per election. A panel appointed by Secretary of State Kevin Shelley did recommend making some design changes to the ballot.

"They want the ballots looked at to see if they can be made more voter friendly," said Steven Hill of the Center for Voting and Democracy.

In the past, the grassroots organization Chinese American Voter Education Committee had opposed ranked-choice voting, arguing it would confuse and disenfranchise more than 15,000 voters who use Chinese-language ballots.

But executive director David Lee said the organization was resigned to the new system and now planned to now focus on providing voter education.

"The reality is we're going to have it regardless of how we feel about the system," he said. "The train has left the station."

He said a recent poll showed that 30 percent of Chinese-American voters were totally unfamiliar with ranked-choice voting.

"We don't have much time and [have] seven supervisors to elect," Lee said.


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The Center for Voting and Democracy
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