Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Importance of Ranking Your Choices

By The Editors
Tue, Nov 2, 2010 at 10:25 AM

If you haven’t already cast your ballots, it’s important to remember the need to make full use of ranked choice voting if you live in Oakland, Berkeley, or San Leandro. The reason is simple. If you fail to select at least a second-place choice, and your first choice doesn’t get enough votes and is eliminated, then your vote effectively won’t count.

The same is true if you pick the same person as your first and second choice or as your first, second, and third choice — which some voters may be doing today. In fact, such a decision is a waste of time, because the county’s computers will simply ignore your second and/or third choices if they’re the same as your first choice. And, again, if your first choice fails to gain enough votes and is eliminated, your vote effectively will be, too.

So, remember to at least select a second choice, if not a third choice as well. Here’s how it works. Let’s say your choices in the Oakland mayor’s race are:
1. Joe Tuman
2. Rebecca Kaplan
3. Jean Quan

Now let’s say after all the first place votes are counted, the results show the candidates in the following order with none having a majority of the vote:
1. Jean Quan
2. Rebecca Kaplan
3. Don Perata
4. Joe Tuman

At this point, Tuman is eliminated, and your second-place vote for Kaplan becomes a first-place vote for her.

Now, let’s say the candidate rankings are as follows with none of the candidates having a majority:
1. Jean Quan
2. Don Perata
3. Rebecca Kaplan

At this point, Kaplan is eliminated, and your third-place vote for Quan becomes a first-place vote for her. The winner then will be between Quan and Perata.

On a final note, the only time it makes no sense to rank choices is if there are two or fewer candidates in a race. For example, the Oakland City Council District 2 race between Pat Kernighan and Jennifer Pae. In a race such as this one, it only makes sense to make a first-place choice.

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