Ranked Choice Voting Campaign Kicks Off In Alameda

Voter Choice Alameda is a ballot measure committee that was founded by members of the Alameda League of Women Voters with the purpose of introducing a ballot measure to voters in the 2024 Elections.

I had no idea what a Ballot Measure Committee was until this distinction was explained to me. Wanting to know more, I found the California Fair Political Practices Commission‘s website; and took a look at the “Ballot Measure CommitteesCampaign Disclosure Manual 3. It’s 243 of pure intrigue. lol. But, there it is, if you’re interested.

Alameda Native History Project fully supports Ranked Choice Voting, and Voter Choice Alameda, and we’re actually really excited to have a nonpartisan way to get involved.

We also want you (the person reading this) to consider donating your time to the crucial signature-gathering period of getting this measure on the 2024 Election Ballot. [Voting’s really the easy part, innit?]

So what’s up with Ranked Choice Voting? Why should anyone even care about this stuff?

Ranked Choice Voting helps to strengthen the guarantee of free and fair elections; and the constitutional promise for government officials who are representative of, and stand for, the majority of voters.

Right now, in Alameda, we have a Plurality Voting System. This means that candidates with the highest amounts of votes win–even if they only garnered a small percentage of the vote.

Read on to learn more about Ranked Choice Voting; and the differences between Plurality and Majority Voting Systems.

Ranked Choice Voting isn’t a new idea.

Several cities in Alameda County already use Ranked Choice Voting to choose elected officials.

  • Albany
  • Berkeley
  • Oakland
  • San Leandro

Ranked Choice Voting in Alameda will be used to choose elected officials, like the Mayor, Members of City Council, City Auditor, and the City Treasurer.

Ranked Choice Voting means that the elected official chosen in an election will be chosen with a majority of votes.

FairVote‘s “Ranked Choice Voting Facts”

Right now we have a “plurality” voting system; which means that whoever has the most votes wins.

This makes sense when there are only two choices. But when there are–let’s say–five or more candidates: the fact is that none of the candidates running ever score a majority of the votes. Which leaves the simple fact that, if an elected official wins with only 20% of the vote; there could be 80% of voters who never even wanted the elected official in the first place.

Plurality Voting skews to the rich, and to candidates with name recognition. It leads to a partisan, polarized, all-or-nothing mentality where voting for someone who isn’t “guaranteed to win” is just throwing away your vote.

It reinforces the idea of a “Two-Party System” and effectively shuts out other candidates, regardless of merit, because they can’t spend the money to game the system the same way career politicians do. It also disenfranchises voters who begin to believe that their vote doesn’t count, or that the voting system just doesn’t work.

Ranked Choice Voting seeks to find the candidates voted by the majority of people who cast ballots. And, that–in and of itself–helps to create a democratic government which is representative of its citizens.

Ranked Choice Voting also saves the overall cost of holding elections. Most of the savings comes in eliminating the costs of run-off elections, by using 2nd and 3rd choice candidates to find the majority consensus among voters. Since this is a Majority Voting method, the “run-offs” are held during the tabulation of votes; where the candidate with the least votes is eliminated in each round of tabulation to determine the majority vote-getter.

This video produced by PrimerLearning helps explain Majority Voting, Ranked Choice Voting, and Approval Voting; and compares all three voting schemes with each other.

“Simulating Alternate Voting Systems”, PrimerLearning on Youtube

Ranked Choice Voting also removes the “Spoiler Effect” that third-party candidates can have in “Splitting The Vote”. It also disincentivizes voting as if we really do only have a Two-Party system (ignoring all other candidates than the two major party candidates.)

Most importantly, Ranked Choice Voting allows voters to vote honestly for their first choice, and then “strategically” for their second and third choices, without being worried about “splitting the vote” and changing the outcome of the election to something a majority of voters neither wanted, nor intended.

Visit the Voter Choice Alameda website to find out more about Ranked Choice Voting and How To Get Involved!

A Note About The 2022 Oakland School Board Election

Some folks might point to the error in the Oakland District 4 School Board Tally System, which resulted in an incorrect count of votes.

That error was not the result of a flaw with Ranked Choice Voting, rather Human-Error in the configuration of the scanning and tallying at the County-Level. Specifically, the error meant that First Choices Left Blank were not counted correctly.

Because of regular auditing of elections, this error was caught and corrected by FairVote.

Therefore vague objections to Ranked Choice Voting like, “Ranked Choice Voting doesn’t work, look at what happened in Oakland” are facetious and made in ignorance to the true nature of the error. [Sorry, not sorry.]

Read More:

CalRCV Website – Has tons more information, videos, and even answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Ranked Choice Voting in California.

Articles About 2022 Oakland School Board Election

Must-Read: “After election debacle in Oakland, what’s next for ranked choice voting?”, Election Law Blog, Dec. 31 2022

Alameda Co. finds error in ranked-choice voting system, investigating Oakland school board race, ABC7, Dec. 29 2022

Articles About City of Oakland’s First RCV Election (And Success in Berkeley, San Leandro, and Albany)

Final Results in Oakland’s First RCV Election: Analysis Shows Voters Effectively Used Ranked Choice Voting, FairVote, Dec. 16 2010

Opinion: New Bay Area ranked choice voting system worked, should be California model, Mercury News, Jan. 14 2023