Election Results Should Process Round Eliminations Until There Are Two Candidates
As the Alameda County Registrar of Voters continues to update the results with new numbers we wanted to highlight a key point: that Jesse Arreguin has won the mayor’s race by 60% to 40% in the final instant runoff tally against Laurie Capitelli.
In San Francisco, the Department of Elections runs the ranked choice voting algorithm in all contests down to the strongest two candidates and reports on those result. Doing so clarifies the intent of the voters. Here is a recent example from this year’s elections in San Francisco.
In Alameda County, however, the public report of the ranked choice voting tally ends as soon as one candidate secures more than 50% of the vote. In the case of the Berkeley mayoral race, the Alameda Registrar of Voters reports the final tally while there are still five candidates in the race (Arreguin, Capitelli, Kriss Worthington, Ben Gould, and Zachary Runningwolf). But if the Registrar narrowed the race to two by running a final round of counting -- eliminating Worthington, Gould, and Runningwolf, and transferring the votes of those voters to their next preference among the final two -- Arreguin would lead 60.2% to 39.8% instead of 50.04% to 34.01%.
As a reminder, in ranked choice voting, if no candidate receives a majority of votes (50%+1), the “instant runoff” is triggered. This means that the candidate with the fewest 1st choices was defeated in the first round, and the ballots for that candidate go to those voters’ 2nd or 3rd choices. This process repeats during each round of counting until there there a majority winner.
FairVote California recommends that the Registrar process the instant runoff despite a majority. We believe that this gives voters and the public a sense of how the winning candidate fared among all voters and helps to clarify the election results.