voting system tricky but successful
K. Dineen and Bill Picture
The City's first Ranked Choice Voting election created confusion
among voters but was implemented without any serious snafus,
according to voters, poll workers, and election officials.
"So far it seems like a great election, but I say that
cautiously because you never know," Election Commission
President Rev. Arnold Townsend said Tuesday.
Under Ranked Choice voting, only only those candidates garnering
50 percent of first choice votes are elected in the initial count,
which means that races in districts 5, 7, and 11 won't be certified
until later in the week.
Many voters were baffled by the system. Some voted three times
for the same candidates, rendering their ballot invalid. Poll
workers incorrectly informed other voters they were obligated to
rank three top candidates. Actually, they could vote for only one if
they chose to.
The misinformation left some Chinese voters with the impression
their ballot had been "spoiled," according to Chinese
American Voter Education Committee director David Lee.
"I talked to an elderly voter in Chinatown who thought he
was being tricked by the poll worker into voting for the
opponents," said Lee, who opposed ranked choice voting.
"The man left the poll in a huff."
On Turk Street, poll worker Joseph Baribau said the system
"was definitely a problem but not as much as we had
expected." He said some people voted three times for the same
candidate, causing the RCV-adapted "Eagle" machine to
reject the ballot.
In other neighborhoods, such as politically active and
well-heeled Telegraph Hill, voters seemed to know the RCV drill,
according to Dawne Bernhardt, a volunteer poll observer.
"The only thing that slows them down is the length of the
ballot," she said.
Darwin Bell, who was voting at the Ida B. Wells Center on Hayes
Street, said he didn't know what to make of all the choices.
"It is very confusing, but if it means I'm not going to have
to come back in a month, and if it saves taxpayers money, it is
worth it," he said.