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Pressure Drop


Instant Run-off Voting is the little San Francisco story that won’t go away. That’s because it’s part of a the larger drama — we promised you yesterday — called The Left Eats Itself.
Why is IRV, as the insiders like to call it, so important? it represents a good way, maybe the only way, for anyone running against front-runner Gavin Newsom to claim the mayor’s seat. Under the run-off system, candidates who do not secure majorities see their votes shifted to the next highest vote-getter until one candidate hits 50 percent and is declared a winner.
Here’s a demonstration, using the numbers from the San Francisco Democratic Central Committee’s vote last week. Newsom got 10 votes from the party faithful. Ammiano, 9, Alioto, 4 and Leal, 2. The instant run-off system would add Leal’s 2 votes to Alioto’s 4, giving Alioto six votes. That’s not a majority so the addition would continue, adding Alioto’s 4 votes to Ammiano’s 9. Nine and 6 is 15 votes for Ammiano, more than Newsom’s 10. Ammiano wins and become mayor.
Tonight, in what promises to be one very nasty meeting – they called the cops last time around — the city elections commission is set to debate the future of its chairman, Alix Rosenthal. Rosenthal doesn’t think the city should institute the voter-approved instant run-off plan in this fall election. It isn’t ready and a number of state and city officials have reasoned that the stakes — political and otherwise — of a bungled election are too high to mess with a new, untried system.
Voters approved the scheme in a ballot initiative last year, and various members of the city’s Board of Supervisors along with pretty much every mayoral candidates not named Newsom, have been calling for the run-off scheme to be put in place in November. There are lawsuits, of course. But to keep the pressure on, various candidates for mayor– three of whom have delegates on the commission — have been urging that Rosenthal be voted out. That would undo the 3-3 deadlock that’s keeping the run-off scheme from becoming reality.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 2:20 PM | Permalink

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