San Francisco Successfully Uses Ranked Choice Voting for Citywide Elections, Nov. 2005

For more information, contact the IRV America program:
FairVote - The Center for Voting and Democracy
[email protected] - (301) 270-4616

San Francisco resources on ranked choiced voting include:
Steven Hill and Christopher Jerdonek


One year after the successful first-time use of ranked choice voting (also known as instant runoff voting) in San Francisco's November 2004 elections for Board of Supervisors (city council), San Francisco voters made history when they went to the polls and used ranked choice voting to elect citywide offices for city attorney, treasurer and assessor-recorder.

Winners in the races for treasurer and city attorney did not require a runoff since the front-runner won a majority of the initial vote.  The race for assessor-recorder did require an "instant runoff" since the front-runner had only 47% of the initial vote.  The election was decided on Friday afternoon when election officials conducted the instant runoff by eliminating the third-place candidate and recounting all the ballots instantly, with the eliminated candidate’s voters now voting for their second-ranked candidate as their runoff choice.

San Francisco taxpayers saved millions of dollars by avoiding a low turnout, December runoff election.  In addition, the winner in the assessor-recorder race was elected with nearly triple the number of votes than would have been expected in a December runoff. So more voters had a say in who was elected. All in all, it was a great success for the first citywide use of ranked choice voting in San Francisco.

Besides assessor-recorder, city attorney, and treasurer, in other years ranked choice voting will be used to elect the mayor, district attorney, sheriff, public defender, and Board of Supervisors.


A new study of the 2005 ranked choice voting election has been released and may be viewed here:

Here is an exit poll study of the November 2004 RCV election by San Francisco State University:

A FairVote evaluation of the November 2004 Election compiling data and reports from San Francisco State University, the San Francisco Department of Elections and other sources:

A Chinese American Voter Education Committee exit poll from the 2004 election showing positive views of RCV across all racial lines:

News Articles from 2005

News Articles from 2004

Other News Articles


Historical information regarding the passage of Proposition A and the implementation of ranked choice voting in San Francisco:

In March 2002, San Francisco voters adopted Ranked Choice Voting by passing Proposition A with a 55%-45% margin.  All state and federal certification requirements for modification and testing of equipment were obtained from the Voting Systems Panel of the California Secretary of State by April 2004.