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Check out our list of Frequently Asked Questions for journalists which outlines RCV's past, present, and future in Oakland elections.
Let's Tackle the Big Questions
Why Is Ranked Choice Voting a Big Deal in Oakland?
Ranked choice voting was adopted for Oakland municipal elections through a charter amendment in 2006. In 2006, the City Council voted 6-2 to place it on the ballot, and voters approved it by a margin of 69% to 31%. It was used in 2010 and 2012 to elect the city's Mayor, City Council members, City Attorney, City Auditor, and School Board members. On November 4th, ranked choice voting will be used to elect the Mayor, City Auditor, City Councilmembers from Districts 2, 4, and 6, and School Board members from Districts 2, 4, and 6. Ranked choice voting does not affect the election of county, state and federal officials or the approval or rejection of ballot measures.
What Is Ranked Choice Voting?
Ranked choice voting (RCV) allows voters to rank a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice candidate for a single office knowing that if their 1st choice does not win, their vote will go to their 2nd choice. Voters can rank as many or as few candidates as they wish without fear that ranking a 2nd or 3rd choice will hurt the chances of their 1st choice.
Votes are first distributed by first choices. If no candidate has more than half of those votes, then the candidate with the fewest first choices is eliminated. The voters who selected the defeated candidate as a first choice will then have their votes added to the totals of their next choice. This process continues until a candidate has more than half of the active votes. The candidate with a majority among the remaining candidates is declared the winner.
How Does a Voter Fill Out A Ranked Choice Ballot?
Does RCV give some voters more votes than others?
No. Every voter has only one vote. In each round a voter’s ballot counts for their highest-ranked candidate. If your 1st choice candidate is still viable, your ballot will stay with that candidate. Just like in a runoff election, if your favorite candidate loses, you must select one of the remaining candidates. RCV completes this same process but in one election instead of two. 2nd or 3rd choices ONLY matter when a voter’s first choice candidate loses.
What if voters rank only one candidate or rank the same candidate three times?
Voters have the option of ranking only one candidate or ranking the same candidate for all three of their choices – in both cases this candidate will earn one vote as a 1st choice. Ranking a candidate more than once does not help that candidate. It is counted exactly as if the voter ranked that candidate as their 1st choice only.
Where Is Ranked Choice Voting Used?
State and local governments using instant runoff voting as of November 2013
For more information, visit this page.
- Berkeley, California: Adopted in 2004 and first used 2010 (for Mayor, City Council and other city offices)
- Minneapolis, Minnesota: Adopted in 2006 and first used in 2009 in elections for Mayor, City Council and several other city offices, including certain multi-seat elections
- Oakland, California: Adopted in 2006 and first used in 2010 (for a total of 18 city offices, including Mayor and City Council)
- Portland, Maine: Adopted in 2010 and first used in 2011 (for electing mayor only)
- San Francisco, California: Adopted in 2002, first used in 2004 and used every November election since then (for Mayor, City Attorney, Board of Supervisors and 5 additional citywide offices)
- San Leandro, California: Adopted as option in 2000 charter amendment and first used in 2010 and every 2 years since (for Mayor and City Council)
- St. Paul, Minnesota: Adopted in 2009, first used in 2011 and to be used every 2 years (Mayor and City Council)
- Takoma Park, Maryland: Adopted in 2006 and first used in 2007, with elections every 2 years and with some special elections in between (for Mayor and City Council)
- Telluride, Colorado: Adopted in 2008 and first used in 2011 (for mayoral elections)
For more information, visit this page.