Green Party of California Celebrates Election Reform VictoryInstant Runoff Vote in San Francisco a big win for voter choice
For immediate release: Monday, March 11, 2002
SAN FRANCISCO -- Greens throughout California celebrated the passage of Proposition A in San Francisco with 56% of the vote this week. With Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), San Franciscans will be able to rank candidates in order of preference, without facing the dilemma that a vote for a favorite candidate in the Green Party or any other party might help elect their least favorite Democratic or Republican candidate.
IRV accomplishes the goals of a traditional runoff election in one efficient round of voting. Voters pick both their favorite and their runoff choices. If no candidate gets a majority of first choices, the weak candidates are eliminated and their supporters' votes are counted for their runoff choices.
It contrasts with traditional delayed runoff elections, which require two separate elections and conventional plurality elections, which allow a candidate to win without majority support.
Led by Green Party Supervisor, Matt Gonzalez, a 10-1 vote of the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors put Proposition A on the ballot. The nonpartisan Center for Voting and Democracy (CVD) spearheaded the campaign, with support from the local and state Green Party. IRV will replace standard delayed runoff elections, formerly held in December during the holiday season with very low turnout. Canceling these extra runoff elections saves the County of San Francisco $2 million each time.
CVD's Caleb Kleppner sees the win as a benefit to all San Franciscans. "San Francisco was voting in December with low voter turnout at high taxpayer expense," said Kleppner. "This win means greater election participation at a big savings. It's an efficient system."
The IRV initiative was supported by many groups, including the Green Party, Democratic Party, Sierra Club, San Francisco Labor Council, Common Cause, and NOW. Opposing Republicans had hoped that progressive voters would continue to split their votes.
Used in major elections in Australia, Ireland and Great Britain, IRV means candidates win single-seats with majority support. The momentum for U.S. voting reforms increases as Vermont moves to enact IRV. The Vermont League of Women Voters proposal to use instant runoff voting for statewide elections swept nearly every town meeting debating the issue. Alaska will hold a statewide referendum on IRV later this year.
"The Center for Voting and Democracy, CALPIRG, the Green Party of San Francisco and others worked together for an amazing campaign victory," said ecstatic Green Party activist Lucy Colvin. "The energy in the Green Party office, where we had our PROP A victory party, was electric. It was standing room only."
The Green Party of California