San Francisco Bay Guardian

Don't bury IRV
August 27, 2003

INSTANT-RUNOFF voting is dead for this year - and a lot of San Francisco officials would like to bury it for good. But that's not only illegal (IRV is, after all, a part of the City Charter), it's also a terrible idea. IRV is a badly needed reform, and it's crucial to start moving now to have the people and plans in place to ensure it happens next year.

Elections chief John Arntz had plenty of excuses for failing to implement the plan by this November (the recall election, a computer program that didn't work, etc.). But Arntz also helped create the mess by choosing the longest possible implementation path, repeatedly failing to hold his election vendor accountable, and wasting time inventing from scratch a ridiculous counting method that ignored existing expertise, offered fodder for IRV's enemies, and was ultimately rejected by state regulators. And now, as Steven T. Jones reports, he won't even commit to implementing IRV for next year.

That's ridiculous. Arntz has had plenty of time to fulfill the will of the voters, and there's no excuse for delaying this reform any further. The Elections Commission should immediately form a task force to create an approved implementation plan well in advance of the November 2004 election. And when the next mayor takes office in January, he or she should tell Arntz that if he's not up to the job, he'll be fired so someone else can do it.