California is Leading Election Reform

Berkeley - Davis - Los Angeles - Oakland - Santa Clara - Santa Cruz - San Diego - San Francisco - San Leandro

California has passed electoral innovations involving primaries, voter registration, voting rights, and redistricting and we should continue to lead the nation in change to fairly reflects our state and nation’s vibrant diversity. San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro, are the first cities to adopt ranked choice voting in California. Ranked choice voting has led to greater diversity among elected officials, particularly for women and people of color, promoted fairness, eliminated vote splitting known as the spoiler effect, reduced election cost, and fostered civil elections. 

It's time to take the next step. FairVote California is supporting more cities in California in adopting ranked choice voting as well as organizing state wide reforms. Together, we can serve as a model for the rest of the nation. Join us today.


Ranked Choice Voting - Defined



Ranked choice voting (RCV), also known as instant runoff voting, gives voters the freedom to rank candidates in order of preference. In many California cities, representatives are elected with a plurality, primary, or runoff system. This means a slim majority can elect all of the seats. This isn’t fair representation and leaves many voters without a voice. RCV maximizes every vote because if your favorite candidates can’t win, your vote counts for your next choice.


Fair Representation


In current at-large elections 50.01% of voters can win 100% of the representation. This can mean political and racial minorities and entire neighborhoods could have no representation.

By using ranked choice voting, voters in the majority and the minority can elect their fair share of seats. Everyone has an equal vote, and nearly everyone has their vote count for a winner.




Ranked Choice Voting Reduces Negative Campaigning


This poll by Eagleton of Rutgers university surveyed 4,800 voters. Just 5.2% of respondents in RCV cities said candidates spent "a great deal of time" criticizing opponents, compared to 25.3% of respondents in non-RCV cities. This represents an 80% reduction in negative campaigning.

Ranked Choice Voting in Practice: Candidate Civility in Bay Area Elections, November 2014

Ranked Choice Voting Increases Candidate Diversity

RCV’s positive effects can be related to how often it replaces low, unrepresentative, turnout elections and that it allows for multiple candidates appealing to the same community to run without splitting the vote.

How Ranked Choice Voting Affects Women and People of Color Candidates in California

Photo: 8 Berkeley City Council Candidates, 2016. Courtesy of

Ranked Choice Voting is Easy to Understand


Jerry Brown called ranked choice voting "overly complicated and confusing" when he vetoed the popular SB 1288 that would have allowed general law cities and counties in California to adopt the voting method. In FairVote's 2015 report, each of the 24 ranked choice voting elections held across the country in November 2014, over 99% of voters cast a valid ballot. California's unique top-two primary has led to far more invalid ballots than ranked choice voting.

Voters Understand Ranked Choice Voting - Evidence from Voter Surveys and Official Election Results


Local Governments Using RCV


Support Ranked Choice Voting in California

  • From the blog

    A better way to report ranked choice voting elections in California cities

    (reposted from

    By Rob Richie, Pedro Hernandez

    Alameda County is home to three California cities that elect city leaders with ranked choice voting. It is instructive to see  how the November election winners fared against their top challengers in the final “instant runoff” -- that is, when paired head-to-head against the runners-up. Under its current practice, Alameda County stops reporting ranked choice voting tallies once a candidate earns a majority of the vote.

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    East Bay Ranked Choice Voting Results: A First Look

    Press Release: East Bay Ranked Choice Voting Results: A First Look


    November 8, 2018

    Contact: Pedro Hernandez at

    East Bay Ranked Choice Voting Results: A First Look
    Trends Suggest Voters Using Ranked Choice Voting Well
    Three in Four Oakland District 4 Voters Ranked More than One Candidate

    OAKLAND, Calif. -- Early ranked choice voting (RCV) election results in the Bay Area suggest that voters understand their ranked choice voting ballots well. After analyzing the first release of the 120,544 ranked choice ballots received by the Registrar of Voters on Nov. 6, FairVote California finds that East Bay voters continue to make effective use of ranked choice voting. Many ballots await to be counted, but here is a preliminary assessment:

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