Los Angeles County

Background

In Los Angeles County, there are charter cities that have the autonomy to determine their local electoral rules and general law cities that must follow the general laws of the state. There are cities in LA that use a traditional primary or runoff election system that requires candidates to achieve a majority of votes. If no candidate gets a majority in the first round, then the top two candidates go to a runoff election. There are six charter cities in LA that have this system (Compton, Inglewood, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena, and Redondo Beach).

There are also cities in LA that use a “winner take all” system, which means a candidate wins in one round of an election regardless of whether or not they have achieved a majority of votes. This is also known as a plurality winner.

 

A Better System for Los Angeles

There is a better way. Ranked choice voting (RCV) gives voters more choice and a stronger voice in elections because voters have the power to rank their candidates in order of preference. Benefits include:

  • Promotes fairness by ensuring winners earn a majority of the votes and are more broadly representative.
  • Fosters civil elections by incentivizing inclusive campaigns and coalition building.
  • Minimizes strategic voting, vote splitting, and the spoiler effect because you always get to vote your favorite first without fear you may divide the community and help elect the candidate you like the least.
  • Reduces costs by eliminating runoff elections, which saves administrative and campaign finance needs.
  • Supports greater voter participation because every vote counts in a single high turnout, more representative election eliminates the need for costly, lower turnout, and unrepresentative runoff elections.

 

How it Works

Ranked choice voting allows voters to rank as many candidates as they want in order of choice--first, second, third, and so on. All first choices are counted, and if a candidate has a majority, then they win, just like any other election. However if nobody has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and those voters have their ballot instantly count for their next choice. This process continues until a candidate receives a majority of votes and is declared the winner.

 

What You Can Do

To learn more about ranked choice voting in Los Angeles and getting involved, join our google group LA4RCV and get in touch. We encourage you to contact your elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels to express your support of ranked choice voting reform. And, of course, the best way to reform a broken system is to educate others about the solutions. If you are interested in hosting an event in Los Angeles to educate others about RCV, FairVote CA would be happy to provide materials and assist in the planning. Reach out us via email at info@fairvoteca.org.

 

Charter Cities in Los Angeles

Charter Cities

Voting Geography

Council Size

Voting Method

Election Date

Alhambra

From Districts

5

Plurality

Concurrent with state general

Arcadia

By District

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent even years

Bell

At-Large

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent odd years

Burbank

At-Large

5

Runoff

Nonconcurrent odd years

Cerritos

At-Large

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent odd years

Compton

By District

5

Runoff

Nonconcurrent odd years

Culver City

By District

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent even years

Downey

By-District & AL

5

Plurality

Concurrent with state general

Glendale

At-Large

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent odd years

Industry

At-Large

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent odd years

Inglewood

By District

5

Runoff

Nonconcurrent odd years

Irwindale

At-Large

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent odd years

Lancaster

At-Large

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent even years

Long Beach

By District

10

Runoff

Nonconcurrent even years

Los Angeles

By District

15

Runoff

Moving to nonconcurrent even years

Palmdale

By District

5

Plurality

Concurrent with state general

Pasadena

By District

8

Runoff

Nonconcurrent odd years

Pomona

By District

7

Plurality

Concurrent with state general

Redondo Beach

By District

6

Runoff

Nonconcurrent odd years (looking to change)

Santa Monica

At-Large

7

Plurality

Concurrent with state general (may change due to CVRA lawsuit)

Signal Hill

At-Large

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent odd years

Temple City

At-Large

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent odd years

Torrance

At-Large

7

Plurality

Concurrent with state primary

Vernon

At-Large

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent elections held each year

Whittier

By District

5

Plurality

Nonconcurrent even years



Resources

Ranked Choice Voting in Los Angeles County - Policy Paper

Introduction to Ranked Choice Voting

RCV - Where It's Used, How It Works

Improving Local Elections with RCV

Fair Representation With RCV

Cost Savings with RCV

Ensuring Majority Rule Without Runoff Elections

RCV and Underrepresented Communities



News


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Voter turnout in many city elections is hitting all-time lows. While there is no single reason for such declines, evidence strongly suggests ranked choice voting (RCV) does not lead to lower turnout despite some claims to the contrary, and may even provide a solution for cities like Los Angeles looking to boost turnout when paired with other common sense reforms. Indeed, adoption of RCV has allowed cities to avoid primary and runoff elections that almost always had far lower turnout than the general election.