ranked choice voting

The Local Plan to Create Ranked-Choice Voting

Supporters want Santa Cruz to be among the few California cities with the balloting system

A man casts his vote during the fall election of 2016 at the County Government building. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER

As idealists gaze into the clouds, yearning for a day when the electoral college ceases to exist, some Californians—including ones here in Santa Cruz—are dreaming up a different kind of election reform.

A local group called Yes on Ranked Choice is not just imagining a different kind of election, but also working to create it from the ground up. Ranked choice is a system that allows voters to bubble-in selections for their first, second and third choices on their ballots. The local group is holding a meeting on March 19 at the Garfield Park Community Church to discuss creating such a balloting system in the city of Santa Cruz.  

One advantage to this instant-runoff system, supporters suggest, is that voters may be more likely to pick their favorite candidate, instead of reluctantly supporting a politician who’s more likely to win. Of course, in Santa Cruz—at least for the City Council—voters already get to vote for three or four people each cycle.

Ranked choice is already in place in the Bay Area cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro.

The idea seems intuitive enough—it’s how sports writers vote for most valuable players—but it still has high-profile opposition. Gov. Jerry Brown has criticized it for making voting more complicated. He vetoed a bill to extend ranked-choice voting to the state’s general law cities, if they chose to implement it, this past fall.

Because Santa Cruz is a charter city, it’s still eligible.

The ranked-choice meeting will be from 2-3:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 19 at the Garfield Park Community Church at 111 Errett Circle.

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