For the first time, side effects San Franciscans will be using Ranked choice voting (RCV), look a method we voted to adopt about two years ago. RCV, order or “instant run-off” voting only applies to SF races. On November 2, 2004, San Francisco voters will use ranked-choice voting to elect Supervisors for districts 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11. Ranked-choice voting does not apply to elections for School Board or Community College Board, or to candidates for State or federal office.

The SF Elections Department has important information about RCV that you should read if you are an S.F. voter.

Basically, in the SF system, all first-choice votes are counted first, and if a candidate receives a majority (50%+1) of the first-choice votes, that candidate is elected.

If no candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes, a process of eliminating candidates and transferring votes begins. The candidate who received the fewest number of first-choice votes is eliminated, and votes cast for the eliminated candidate are transferred to the voter’s next-choice candidate. The votes are then recounted. If any candidate receives a majority of the remaining votes, that candidate is elected. If no candidate receives a majority of the remaining votes, the process of eliminating candidates and transferring votes is repeated, until one candidate receives a majority.

For those interested in gaming the system, there’s this preliminary analysisfor true voting geeks.

S.F. is using the Hare method. If this analysis is correct, under Hare it is possible for the voters who pick the candidate that does best in the first round to be punished for sincere voting, if their last choice is the first and second choice of more people. But you don’t necessarily know who is the first and second choice of others, or who will lose, especially because in the real world there are more than three possible combinations of three candidates. This method seems very difficult to game. I’d be interested in hearing whether others think Hare RCV encourages insincere voting in a real world situation.

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