Preferential voting advocates gathered outside City Hall on Tuesday to urge the San Diego City Council to impose a measure on the November general election ballot giving voters the ability to choose the voting system.
Such a ballot initiative – if adopted by voters – would change the electoral system to advance five candidates, instead of just two, in the general election. In general, voters would be able to rank as many candidates as they wish in order of preference. If a candidate receives more than half of the first choices in any race, that candidate wins, just like in a traditional election.
If there is no majority winner after counting the first picks, the race would be decided by an “instant run-off”. The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and voters who chose that candidate as their first choice will have their votes count for their second choice. This process continues until there is a majority winner.
Preferential voting has been adopted by several major cities, including New York, San Francisco, and Santa Fe, and statewide in Alaska and Maine.
“Voters and candidates are tired of divisive and toxic campaigns,” said former San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey. “RCV encourages more civility in politics. Since candidates must win second, third, and fourth places in ranked elections, candidates run more positive issue-oriented campaigns. »
The city council’s rules committee will meet on Wednesday to vote on moving the ballot initiative – along with dozens of others – to the full council for consideration.
“Giving voters more choice in the November election is good for our democracy because it gives voters a more meaningful vote, it gives candidates a more civil path to election, it gives elected officials more flexibility to represent more of people, and that gives everyone a stronger, healthier democracy,” said Genevieve Jones-Wright, executive director of Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance.
“Communities that use preferential voting see more women and people of color running for office and see more women and people of color elected,” said Lori Thiel of the League of Women Voters. “With RCV, there is no fear of being a ‘spoiler’ candidate and splitting the vote, so more diverse candidates come forward. And because of that, more voters are seeing themselves reflected in their electoral choices and going to the polls,” she said.
If passed in San Diego, Alternative Voting would go into effect in 2024 following a voter outreach and education program.
City News Service contributed to this article.