December 4, 2002
As simple as 1, 2, 3,
BY ADRIEL HAMPTON
Of The Examiner
Supervisors on Tuesday took a
first stab at educating the electorate about instant runoff voting,
which by law must be used in the November 2003 election.
At the Board of Supervisors Rules
Committee, Caleb Kleppner, of the Center for Voting and Democracy,
gave a simple explanation under the direction of Chairman Tony
’ÄúThe voters’Äô job will be your
first choice, second choice and third choice,’Äù Kleppner said.
Under IRV, voters would rank three
candidates in order of preference. If no candidate garners a
majority of first-place votes, candidates with low vote totals would
be successively knocked out of the race and the voters whose
first-place candidates were eliminated would have their second and
third choices tallied instead.
Proposition A, passed by the
voters in March 2001, requires instant runoffs, or IRV as the system
also is known, for all major city races by November 2003.
Though instant-runoff advocates
say the principles are simple, city leaders and voting experts say
it will take hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of dollars
to educate voters about the system before the November 2003
’ÄúThis is really going to depend on
letting people know what we are doing,’Äù said Hall.
Kleppner laid out a rough
education plan that includes a mailing to all voters, graphic
representations, a strong ballot design, an explanation in the
voter’Äôs handbook, advertising and community outreach.
Election Systems & Software,
which provides The City’Äôs voting machinery, hopes to implement the
system, although other vendors are lobbying for the potential
IRV would eliminate the cost of
runoff elections, but won’Äôt come cheap.
Steven Hill, also of the Center
for Voting and Democracy, estimated a minimum of $1 million for
system upgrades. The current vendor, meanwhile, is pushing a
complete switch to touch-screen voting, which might make The City
eligible for federal funds. With clear competition, though, Election
Systems is not pressing its luck.
’ÄúWe’Äôre going to support whatever
direction the Department of Elections wants to head in,’Äù Joseph
Taggard, of Elections Systems, told The Examiner.
Taggard told the supervisors that
the company could be ready to provide a plan to the Secretary of
State, who must certify the technology, by May with the hope of
completing the project by Sept. 1.