Los Angeles Daily
OKs studying S.F. 'instant runoff voting'
By Harrison Sheppard
May 29, 2002
Angeles City Council asked officials Tuesday to study a new voting
system that would eliminate runoffs and instead allow people to make
two or more choices per office in a single election.
runoff voting," approved in March in San Francisco, allows voters to
make ranked multiple choices in their selection of candidates for
local office such as city council and mayor.
As an example, City
Clerk Mike Carey said, if there are five candidates for mayor,
voters would be able to rank their preferences 1-5.
candidate who gets the most No. 1 votes fails to get more than 50
percent, the fifth-place candidate would be eliminated and the
second-place choices of his voters would be added to the total. If
that still failed to produce a winner over 50 percent, then the next
candidate is eliminated, and so on.
Advocates of the system say one
of its possible benefits would be to eliminate the need for a runoff
election, saving two months -- and in some cases millions of dollars
in city expenses and candidate fund-raising. It also could
significantly change the dynamics of campaigning, proponents argue,
with candidates less willing to use negative campaigning because it
could lose them second-place votes.
To implement such a system in
Los Angeles would require a voter-approved charter change and
replacement of the city's current punch-card voting system.
said he plans to study how the system works in San Francisco and
other cities that have approved it, but he is not yet recommending
whether it should be implemented in Los Angeles.
Bernson, one of two dissenting votes on the study, called the
concept "asinine" and an "abomination."
"It isn't what's easy for
the city clerk or what's easy for the ethics division," Bernson
said. "Elections are made for the public, so they can have a
clear-cut view of who they're supporting, not their second choice or
"If you're going to do something as asinine as this,
then just have an election and give it to the one who gets the most
But other council members said whatever one thinks about
the system, there is no harm in having the city clerk study how it
works in San Francisco, without committing to implementing it here.
"There's no harm in adopting this today, because it just says let's
look and see what's going on around the country," said Councilwoman
The council voted 12-2, with Bernson and
Councilman Nate Holden dissenting, to ask Carey to study the plan.
The San Fernando Valley cityhood election on Nov. 5 will include
the secession issue on the same ballot as the candidates for 14 city
council seats and mayor of the proposed new city -- with no runoff
election and no ranking of preferences.
In each of the 14 council
districts and the race for mayor, the candidate who gets the most
votes, even if less than 50 percent, will be the winner. Some
critics have noted that means, for example, if seven people run for
Valley mayor, someone could win with only 15 percent of the