IRV wins approval
Only 13% in San Francisco want to return to runoffs

By Matt Gonzalez
Published December 13th 2004

San Francisco Supervisor Matt Gonzalez released the following news release yesterday about an exit poll commissioned by the City and carried out by the Public Research Institute at San Francisco State University. See the release of this study (to be completed early next year) here.

Note that in San Francisco, IRV is now usually called "ranked choice voting." Among the findings:

- 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

In addition, San Francisco State University professor Richard DeLeon has been analyzing hard election data on Asian Pacific Americans and IRV in San Francisco. We see his findings as extremely valuable for rebutting the wild attacks being made against IRV by some in the Asian American press -- fostered by a long-time opponent of IRV who trying to blame IRV for not electing more Asians, when in fact Asian representation almost certainly would be higher if IRV had been used in 2000, when two Asian incumbents were defeated in low-turnout runoffs.

Professor DeLeon's analysis focuses on the two districts (Districts 1 and 11) where there were Asian candidates and multiple rounds of counting to determine a winner. He studies nine hypotheses that would suggest Asian voters had more difficulties with the system. He concludes: "Nine
hypotheses with clear predictions were tested in each district, adding up to 18 opportunities for the available empirical evidence to reveal patterns of data at least consistent with, if not proof of, the arguments advanced by some critics that SF's new RCV system systematically disadvantages the city's API voters vis-à-vis voters in other racial/ethnic groups. Based on the evidence presented here, the score is zero for 18."