Since implementation of ranked choice voting (RCV) in the Bay Area, voters are exercising their voice and greater choice in the local elections. When candidates utilize a RCV strategy, they are engaging a larger base of voters by contacting every voter to ask not only for their first choice, but their second or third choice. There were 12 Bay Area races where there were more than two candidates on the ballot. In general, lead candidates in these races avoided a runoff election with RCV in play. The results are still coming in as mail in ballots and provisional ballots are being counted, but here is our initial analysis of key races with RCV.
In San Francisco, it appears that three Supervisor races will be determined by multiple rounds of ranked choice voting. Ballots are still being counted and another round of results will be posted daily at 4pm.
San Francisco’s District 1 seat has ten (10) candidates. The leading candidate, Sandra Lee Fewer, is winning with a lead of 52.05% in the last "instant runoff" round of the RCV count. In these initial counts we're seeing strong use of rankings, which is an indicator that voters are utilizing the greater choice available to them.
District 7 seat has five (5) candidates. The leading candidate, incumbent Norman Yee led in the first round count. These early results show that over 1,200 2nd or 3rd choice votes are pushing Yee into victory. In 2012, Yee won in a tight high turnout race.
District 11 has five (5) candidates. Ahsha Safai leads with 38.73% in first choice support and is maintaining a lead in the instant runoff. Currently, Safai leads 53.01% to Alvarenga’s 46.99%.
The Department of Elections has received approximately 95,000 vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots that voters delivered to polling places yesterday, and approximately 23,000 provisional ballots that voters cast at polling places. These ballots will be counted in the following days and weeks.
Votes in Alameda County are still being counted and we anticipate a new update on Friday afternoon, here is what we know so far:
In Berkeley, the high profile race was the open seat for Mayor. With eight (8) candidates running, it was clear RCV is going to determine the winner. Jesse Arreguin wins with 51.94% when still having two opponents, Kriss Worthington with 10.88%, and candidate Laurie Capitelli with 37.18%. Arreguin effectively used a RCV strategy by garnering 2nd and 3rd choices by voters becoming the first Latino mayor of Berkeley -- and, with the second choice endorsement of Worthington, ended up winning the final instant runoff 59% to 41%.
There were no runoffs for Berkeley City Council District 3 and 6 because Ben Bartlett and Susan Wengraf were able to secure a majority in the first round.
Cheryl Davila, an African American woman serving on the Human Welfare and Community Action, won a come-from-behind victory in the District 2 race based on a strong electoral coalition. Incumbent Darryl Moore earned 40.13% of first choices, but Davila earned strong support from backers of Nanci Ira Armstrong-Temple to earn an apparent victory with 50.58% -- but with ballots still to count, the result could change.
In Oakland, incumbents ran strongly. In the at large city council seat and school board races. Rebecca Kaplan has secured a victory against four (4) other candidates, including Peggy Moore, in the first count with 53.29% so no instant runoff was required. The same applies to City Council Districts 7 with Larry Reid winning 55.88% in the first count against two other candidates.
In the school board race, Jumoke Hinton Hodge (District 3) and Roseann Torres (District 5) are incumbents, but each had competitive races against three other candidates. In both races, there were four rounds of counting which provided voters an opportunity to weigh in during each round. In the end, Hodge won with 54.88% and Torres with 52.66%.
Additional Opportunities for RCV - Statewide Win in Maine
The Bay Area has enjoyed ranked choice voting for several election cycles, and other cities now using it include Minneapolis (MN), St. Paul (MN) and smaller cities in Colorado, Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts. The big news election night was that voters in Maine decided to adopt RCV statewide with the passage of Question 5 (52% vs. 48%). Maine voters now have the power to rank candidates running for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, and Maine state legislature beginning in 2018; the strong reform coalition backing it was led by RCVMaine.com and included Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, Our Revolution, FairVote Maine, League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Maine People’s Alliance, and more than 500 individuals from across the spectrum. RCV also passed in Benton County, Oregon, with strong support.
This is historic. With the first state passage of RCV, we are optimistic about future plans in California and across the country. Most immediately, we will be releasing a report about the Top Two election system and ways that ranked choice voting might be incorporated to avoid vote-splitting problems that can arise with Top Two.
FairVote is also working nationally with reform-minded Members of Congress on the use of ranked choice voting for congressional elections in a way that would increase opportunities for people of color and women to elect candidates and create opportunities everywhere for voters to elect candidates of their choice; see more on the Fair Representation Act.
Finally, FairVote has been a founding partner in the reform coalition led by National Popular Vote to enact the National Popular Vote interstate compact, which is now law in California and nine other states and jurisdictions. If the compact had governed this year’s election, the winner would have been the candidate who earns the most popular votes in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and the candidates of course would have run very different campaigns. It would apply in the 2020 election cycle if passed in new states that collectively have at least 105 electoral votes.