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 RCV 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.

The More Choice San Diego initiative will eliminate the primary if five or less candidates qualify for any given race. This saves the City the cost of running an “unnecessary” election -- because all candidates will qualify anyways.

But, keeping the primary when there is a large number of candidates running for a single office allows for the voters to limit the candidate field to the five most viable candidates. This helps focus media attention, and importance on every candidate in the race in the general election - preventing the ability of big money to marginalize important voices in a crowded field.

In fact the last three major RCV victories in Maine, Alaska, and New York, ALL 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.

What is RCV? 

An election method that allows voters to rank candidates in order of choice. Those rankings ensure that as many voters as possible will help elect a candidate they support. This change provides voters more choice in the general election, promotes more diverse ideas, encourages more civil campaigns, and assures the final winner has the support of the majority of voters.

Learn more about Ranked Choice Voting HERE.

How does RCV work?

  • Ranked choice voting is designed to be simple for voters: rank candidates in order of choice.
  • Voters can rank as many or as few candidates as they want to. The votes are counted to ensure that as many voters as possible help to elect a candidate they support. 
  • In a single-winner election for mayor, city attorney or a city council seat, that means that ranked choice voting helps to elect a candidate with majority support.  

Learn more HERE

Do I have to Rank all five candidates for each office?

No. A voter may rank up to five choices for each office, but is not required to do so. 

If I really want my first-choice candidate to win, should I rank the candidate as my first, second and third choice?

No. Ranking a candidate more than once does not benefit the candidate. If a voter ranks one candidate as the voter's first, second and third choice, it is the same as if the voter leaves the second or third choice blank.

Can I give candidates the same ranking?

No. If a voter gives more than one candidate the same ranking, the vote cannot be counted.

Only one candidate can represent the voter's first, second, or third choice.

Will there be a subsequent run-off? 

No, Ranked Choice Voting eliminates the need for run-off elections.

Are There More Benefits to RCV?

Yes, there are a lot of additional benefits to RCV. Learn about the Problems Solved by RCV and Additional Benefits of RCV.

Where is RCV used/implemented? 

Ranked choice voting has been adopted in several U.S. cities in states:

  • Alaska - 2020 (Statewide)
  • Berkeley, CA - 2010 (Mayor, City Council)
  • Cambridge, MA - 1941 (City Council, School Board)
  • Eastpointe, MI - 2019 (City Council)
  • Las Cruces, NM - 2018 - 2019 (City Elections)
  • Maine - 2018 (U.S. House & Senate Primary, General Elections, Statewide & State Assembly Primaries) 
  • Minneapolis, MN - 2006 (Mayor, City Council, Park Board, Tax Board)
  • New York City - 2020 (Municipal primaries)
  • Oakland, CA - 2010 (Mayor, City Council, City Attorney, City Auditor, School Director)
  • Payson, UT - 2019 (City Elections)
  • Portland, ME - 2010 (Mayor)
  • San Francisco, CA - 2002 (Mayor, City Attorney, Board of Supervisors, Sheriff, District Attorney, Treasurer, Assessor-Recorder, and Public Defender)
  • San Leandro, CA - 2010 (Mayor, City Council)
  • Santa Fe, NM - 2018 (Mayor, City Council, Municipal Judge)
  • St. Louis Park, MN - 2019 (Mayor, City Council)
  • St. Paul, MN - 2009 (Mayor, City Council)
  • Takoma Park, MD - 2006 (Mayor, City Council)
  • Telluride, CO - 2008 (Mayor)
  • Vineyard, UT - 2019 (City Elections)

RCV is used by the Democratic, Republican, Green, and Libertarian Parties in many of their central committee and other party elections, including: 

  • Alaska: All voters in Democratic primary
  • Nevada: Early voters in Democratic caucuses   
  • Hawaii: All voters in Democratic primary
  • Kansas: All voters in Democratic primary
  • Maine: All voters in state and federal elections.
  • New York City: All voters in municipal primary elections
  • Wyoming: All voters in Democratic primary

RCV legislation is being considered currently in 23 states.  You can see which states and elections HERE.

RCV is used by overseas and military voters to vote in places with runoff elections in another five states. 

RCV is used in over 50 U.S. colleges and universities to elect student government officers. 

Internationally, RCV is used by every voter in six countries and in local elections in many more.

Ranked choice voting is recommended for private organizations by Roberts Rules of Order, and many private organizations use it, including the Academy Awards in both nominating and selecting the winner for its prestigious awards.

Where to get more information about Ranked Choice Voting? 

For more information, visit some of these sites:

Why bring Ranked Choice Voting to San Diego?

  • Gives voters more choices
  • Creates more competition
  • Promotes more diverse ideas
  • Encourages civil campaigns
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