Sunday, November 14, 2004

Hard-core San Francisco political analysts are eagerly ripping into the rich data trove available through the Department of Elections due to use of ranked-choice voting. While scares over "black box voting" - electronic tallies without a paper trail - persist in other parts of the country, San Francisco's election is a model of transparency. The election here included paper ballots, vote total printouts from each piece of voting equipment, an electronic record of the vote totals, and an electronic record of each ballot. …
The details three-choice ballots also allow a look at how many voters found the incumbent or eventual winner acceptable enough to give them some kind of ranking. In District 1, 60 percent of the valid RCV ballots included winner Jake McGoldrick. … In District 5, 47 percent of the valid ballots included a ranking for winner Ross Mirkarimi (in that race, Green Lisa Feldstein early last week overtook Democrat Nick Waugh for third place) and moderate voters broke slightly for Mirkarimi over tenant activist and second-place finisher Robert Haaland. …
In District 7, 53 percent of all valid ballots ranked incumbent Sean Elsbernd. ... Analyst David Latterman, a board member of the moderate group Plan C, points out that second-place finisher Christine Linnenbach may have been able to overcome Elsbernd in a traditional runoff due to an "anti-downtown" sentiment among his challengers. ... Up against a quarter-million-dollar-plus effort by the incumbent, Linnenbach's campaign relied on just a handful of volunteers, had no phone banks and suffered attacks from tenant supporters of third-place winner Rennie O'Brien. ... East side progressive are alternately kicking themselves and faulting Linnenbach for the lack of support in the west side race key to Mayor Gavin Newsom's veto power. Linnenbach, a fiscal conservative with solid neighborhood activist credentials, signed a ballot argument against non-citizen voting, infuriating potential progressive campaign volunteers. …
In District 11, Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval got the backing of 53 percent of all voters who cast valid RCV ballots. …
Complaints about Chinese-speaking voter participation in ranked-choice voting made headlines last week, and Election Day poll monitoring by three civil rights groups found poor and confusing direction by poll workers in the early voting hours. After calling in the problems to elections officials, the monitors found that by later in the day they had been largely resolved. Of $200,000 in education funds disbursed to community groups this year, the Asian Law Caucus won $45,100 to educate Chinese voters, and participation by Chinese voters was strong overall. Chinatown turnout mirrored the overall total, at 72 percent. … Law Caucus Executive Director Phil Ting said the most difficult challenger was getting voters to abandon the "bullet vote" strategy of picking just one candidate that was popular under the citywide elections replaced in 2000. Ting said the election was run better than in the past, and that he recommends more education and poll worker training. "Given that it was the first time, we obviously know that voters are going to have to get used to a new system," Ting said. …

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