San Francisco Exit Poll Study Affirms Instant Runoff Voting Success

Golden Gate BridgeThe Public Research Institute of San Francisco State University this month released a comprehensive analysis of exit polls during San Francisco's first citywide instant runoff election in 2005. Voters were three times more likely to say voting with instant runoff voting (IRV) was easy than it was difficult, and preferred IRV over the old two-round runoff system by a margin of three to one -- support that extended to every group of voters as defined by party, race, gender, age and neighborhood. Other analyses have shown almost no voter error and much higher turnout than would have taken place with the old runoff system.

Among the report's findings:
- Even though nearly half went to the polls not knowing they were going to use the system, only 2.7% found it "very difficult". Understanding of the system was very high. A majority said they understood IRV "perfectly well", 86% said at least fairly well and only 3% said not at all.
- African American voters were the most likely to rank three people in the contested assessor-recorder race. Of those saying it was easy to rank three candidates (about three times those saying it was difficult), the highest percentages for saying it was easy were those with less than high school degrees, and a higher percentage of African Americans than whites.

[Read the Public Research Institute's Final IRV Report]
[San Francisco Ranked-Choice Voting website]