The headline reads: “Judge denies instant election runoff. Though illegal, [San Francisco] voters’ wish not granted for . . . mayoral ballot.” A wish? Maybe that was the problem the judge mistook the law for “a wish.” A common error.
Eighteen months ago, San Francisco voters changed the way they vote. They enacted that change into law. The new system is called “Instant Runoff Voting.” Designed to end the so-called “wasted vote syndrome” where your vote might be “wasted” if your favorite candidate is not likely to win.Â Instant Runoff Voting also makes certain the winner has majority support. Voters rank their choices: first, second and third. Votes for the last-place candidate get re-assigned to the voters’ second-choice candidates, and this process continues until someone obtains a real majority.
Yet, after 18 months to implement the new voting system, city officials haven’t done so. Deputy City Attorney Wayne Snodgrass told the judge they just couldn’t manage the election under the new system. “We don’t want another Florida.” Suing the city to enforce the law, Steven Hill with the Center for Voting and Democracy said, “We’ve seen a lot of fumbling and bumbling going on.” No doubt. But is it just bumbling going on here?
It has been suggested that a politician with high negatives like San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown might lose, heaven forbid, under the new system. But we’ll never know, because Mayor Brown’s officials ignored the law. And the poor judge, well, he doesn’t know the difference between the law and a “wish.
This is Common Sense.Â I’m Paul Jacob.