"Instant Runoff Approved for San Francisco"
July 22, 2004

A new type of voting system has been given final certification and will be implemented in the November election in San Francisco, officials announced Thursday.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez announced that rank choice voting will be implemented for the first time in the Nov. 2 election. The new system will allow voters to pick their first, second and third choices in this fall's board of supervisors election.

The new technology behind the voting system finished testing and the Voting Systems Panel of the Secretary of State unanimously voted to accept the final test results on July 12.

Gonzalez said the voting system will have national implications and eliminate the question of who should be allowed to run. It would allow voters to rank each candidate so that if their first choice was the lowest vote receiver, their vote would then go to their second choice and if that candidate was eliminated, the vote would go to the third choice. Candidates are eliminated by receiving the lowest amount of votes.

The technology is new enough that a grant for $210,000 will go toward voter education, according to John Arntz, department of elections director. The city will also run public service announcements and place an interactive ballot on the department of elections Web site. There will also be intensive poll worker training so they can explain to voters how the system works.

The vote will count the same as any other election, said Arnold Townsend, elections board president, with a vote counting only once, for either the first, second or third choice candidate. He says it is important that people come to the polls prepared.

"Every time folks go in to Baskin Robbins they have 32 choices," Townsend said, "What makes it easy is that they already know what they want when they go in."