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HOW IT WORKS | Simple. Fair. And Easy.

  • Five candidates, instead of just two, will advance from the primary election to the general election.
  • If five candidates or fewer run for an office, the primary will be eliminated altogether and all candidates will automatically advance to the general election.
  • In the general election, you can still vote for only one candidate as you currently do OR you can rank candidates in order of preference.
  • If a candidate wins a majority (over 50%) among the first-choice votes, that candidate is the winner.
  • If no candidate wins a majority or more, the winning candidate is determined by ranked choice voting.
  • Ranked choice voting ensures that the winner is supported by  more voters than any other candidate.



Half as many voters participate in primaries. Special interests have more influence in the primary. Yet, viable candidates get eliminated in the primary.

Two Candidates

The current system eliminates all but two candidates during low-turnout primaries, leaving voters with just two choices in November.
Only two candidates ballot

Five Candidates

Ranking candidates is simple, fair, and easy! Our proposal would move five candidates onto the general election, instead of two, so voters can easily rank their options in the general election.
Final five voting graphic

Many Candidates

Too many candidates can cause voters to feel confused, overwhelmed, or discouraged from completing their rankings.
RCV long ballot graphic

Try Ranked Choice Voting!

More Choice San Diego in the News


Ranked-choice voting advocates urge San Diego City Council to put issue on ballot

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Letter to Editor

Opinion: Ranked-Choice Voting Would Make Democracy Fair, Easy and Fun in San Diego

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Press Release


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SDUT: Advocates revive measure to give San Diego voters more choice

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Change the election process for better representation

Read More >>


Local Group Seeks to Protect Voting Rights

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All Updates

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Advance Five Candidates?

This answer is more practical than academic. Most simply, five seemed like a good balance between the competing interests, which include:

  1. Expanding voter choice,
  2. Limiting the field so voters and the media can focus enough attention on every candidate,
  3. Expanding the field so that more candidates can be heard,
  4. Limiting the field to reduce long and confusing general election ballots, 
  5. Limiting the field so that special interests can’t “game” the ballot by staking the field, and
  6. Expanding the field so that marginalized or under-funded candidates can make it to November.

How Would Ranked Choice Voting Improve Representative Diversity?

Including five candidates, instead of just two, in the general election guarantees that voters hear from, and the media reports on, a wider range of candidates. Further, studies have shown that more women and candidates of color actually win when using RCV.

But whether or not a candidate wins the general election, every candidate in an RCV election has an important voice and influence on the final outcome. No longer can a candidate be marginalized by the conventional political narrative or the megaphone of well-funded special interest groups. This is because candidates need to appeal to the voters of a losing candidate to win their second and third place votes.

This is one reason why RCV has also resulted in more civil campaigns and broader representation.

Why Keep the Primary?

Some people say, “the purpose of RCV is to eliminate the primary.” That is a myth.

In fact the last two major RCV victories in Maine and New York, BOTH retained the primary election and Alaska, Nevada, Hawaii, Kansas, and Wyoming continue to have both a primary and general election and use RVC in their primaries.

That is because primaries serve valuable purposes, including:

  1. Allowing voters and the press to take a “first look” at the candidates,
  2. Giving candidates an opportunity to introduce their issues,
  3. Narrowing the candidate field so voters and the press can focus on the “viable” candidates, and
  4. Preventing long and time- consuming general election ballots.

It is important to consider that San Diego already has nonpartisan elections. Therefore, any voter can vote for any candidate in the primary. The important decision of who should actually be elected, however, should be made when the most people participate: in the November general election. 

Giving voters the opportunity to rank five candidates, instead of choosing between just two, gives voters more power over that final decision and with the benefit of a defined candidate field that allows for a full vetting and understanding of the options. Limiting the candidate field to five prevents big money and special interests from “gaming” the election by overloading the ballot with a lot of candidates and, thereby, marginalizing others.

Finally, the City of San Diego does not have the power to change county, state, and federal elections, which are all conducted using a nonpartisan primary. The final five system would only apply to races under the City of San Diego's jurisdiction.

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