San Francisco's Third IRV Election a Success
Exit Poll of Asian American Voters Shows Strong Support
San Francisco IRV ballot

San Francisco's third city-wide round of elections under instant runoff voting were a success. Multiple instant runoffs yielded majority winners in two hotly contested District Supervisor races. Exit polls in one District showed a high percentage of voters cast multiple rankings, with low voter error.

66% of Asian-American voters in District 4 found IRV "helpful," partly because it guaranteed that majority-Asian American district could elect a candidate of choice. The support of Asian American voters was divided among four Asian American candidates in the first round of counting. It nearly was the first IRV election in San Francsico where the first-choice leader did not win in the end; a non-Asian candidate finished a very close second in the first choice count. Such reversals don't happen very often, but when they do, it means a plurality winner would have triumphed over a fractured majority without IRV.

[Article on the District 4 race]
[Candidates accept instant runoff results in District 4]
[More on instant runoff voting]
[More on IRV in San Francisco, including the exit poll]

San Francisco Exit Poll Study Affirms Instant Runoff Voting Success
Overwhelming support for IRV over old runoff system
Golden Gate BridgeThe Public Research Institute of San Francisco State University this month released a comprehensive analysis of exit polls during San Francisco's first citywide instant runoff election in 2005. Voters were three times more likely to say voting with instant runoff voting (IRV) was easy than it was difficult, and preferred IRV over the old two-round runoff system by a margin of three to one -- support that extended to every group of voters as defined by party, race, gender, age and neighborhood. Other analyses have shown almost no voter error and much higher turnout than would have taken place with the old runoff system.

Among the report's findings:
- Even though nearly half went to the polls not knowing they were going to use the system, only 2.7% found it "very difficult". Understanding of the system was very high. A majority said they understood IRV "perfectly well", 86% said at least fairly well and only 3% said not at all.
- African American voters were the most likely to rank three people in the contested assessor-recorder race. Of those saying it was easy to rank three candidates (about three times those saying it was difficult), the highest percentages for saying it was easy were those with less than high school degrees, and a higher percentage of African Americans than whites.

[Read the Public Research Institute's Final IRV Report]
[San Francisco Ranked-Choice Voting website]

Exit Poll in San Francisco Shows Favorable Results for IRV
Widely Preferred and Understood

An exit poll commissioned by the City and carried out by the Public Research Institute at San Francisco State University indicates that a large majority understands and prefers the newly-instituted IRV election system. Some key figures:

  • Only 13% of respondents would like to go back to the old two-round runoff system.
  • 87% said that they understood instant runoff voting.
  • No more than 23% of any one racial and ethnic group reported not understanding IRV--despite the fact that a big turnout presidential race brings out a lot of new voters and people who skip over races for the Board of Supervisors.

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In the News
July 22nd 2009
Instant Runoff Voting Could Lead to Big Savings for Cities, Counties

AB 1121, a bill allowing for IRV to be used in California's local elections, can save jurisdictions money in challenging economic times.

March 7th 2009
Opinion: A cheaper, quicker, more civil way to run San Jose elections: instant runoffs
San Jose Mercury News

New America Foundation Political Reform Program Deputy Director Blair Bobier advocates for instant runoff voting as a way to cut the cost of elections in San Jose in half, as IRV would only require one election.

February 8th 2008
Ranked Voting in Presidential Primaries
Berkeley Daily Planet

Thomas Gangale on the need for instant runoff voting for presidential elections.

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  • California Instant Runoff Voting Coalition is an action-oriented site that is campaigning for more of the successful local ballot measures in California (like Oakland, Santa Clara County and San Leandro County) as well as state legislation.

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