Ranked Choice Voting in Bay Area Elections

Ranked choice voting (RCV) is used to conduct municipal elections in several bay area cities. San Francisco was the first city to switch to RCV, adopting the system to elect all city officials by a charter amendment in 2002 and holding its first RCV elections in 2004. In 2006, Oakland voters passed a charter amendment to adopt RCV for city officials, with 69% of voters in favor of making the switch. In 2010, Berkeley and San Leandro adopted ranked choice voting and in November of 2010 Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro all held their first RCV elections, with Oakland’s highly competitive mayoral election receiving national media attention. In 2011, San Francisco had a series of extremely competitive races with RCV, including Mayor and several Districts on the Board of Supervisors. And in 2012 Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro used RCV for a second time, with competitive races for Berkeley’s mayor, and City Council positions in Oakland and San Leandro.

Since ranked choice voting came on the scene there have been some noticeable changes in Bay Area elections. Cities save the expense of administering primary or runoff elections. In San Francisco, as of 2015 over 20 elections will have been decided through an instant runoff, allowing for strong winners out of competitive races without the need for a high-cost low turnout runoff. In campaigns across the Bay Area we have seen candidates work to reach out directly to voters. In Oakland there has been a resurgence of grassroots campaigning with emphasis on direct voter outreach, increasing both public awareness of elections and elected official’s connection with their constituents. Among winners of RCV elections the Bay Area has seen an increase in elected officials from communities that are historically under-represented in local government. Jean Quan was elected in 2010 as Oakland’s first female Mayor and in San Francisco 16 of the city’s 18 offices elected by RCV are now held by people of color.

This November the Bay Area will have another exciting season of RCV elections. With competitive races in all four Bay Area RCV cities, candidates and voters are able to come together and have an in-depth discussion about the future of their cities.

For more information on this year’s Bay Area elections go to OaklandRCV.com

NEW! See FairVote's visual demonstration of how Libby Schaaf was elected mayor of Oakland in 2014.

Here is another visual demonstration of the 2014 Oakland Mayor's race.


Analysis and Coverage of San Francisco RCV

DemoChoice RCV Simulation

RCV Ballots

Election Results

Key Facts About 2014 Ranked Choice Voting Elections In the Bay Area: 2014 saw a large number of competitive ranked choice voting elections in the Bay Area. To learn about interesting facts and larger take-aways from this year's elections, see Rob Richie's article in the Huffington Post.

Surprising Facts about Ranked Choice Voting in the Bay Area: Ranked choice voting has been used in the Bay Area for over ten years. This blog takes a look at the effect of ranked choice voting and what can be expected for the 2014 elections. Find out more here.

Analysis of Oakland RCV Elections, 2010-2012: Winners Earn More Votes: Of the 18 offices in Oakland elected by RCV in 2010 and 2012, 16 of the RCV winners won with more votes than the previous winner in the last election without RCV. See a more detailed analysis here.

FairVote's November 2012 Analysis:  2012 Ranked Choice Voting Elections in Bay Area Cities

Notable Quote:  "Now is the time for all California counties to embrace so-called instant runoff voting. Also known as ranked choice voting, this system is gaining popularity around the country, most notably in San Francisco and Alameda counties....Experience in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley over the last two years - including smooth balloting on Nov. 6 - shows that voters catch on quickly. California counties should do the same. Let’s move to an election system that saves money and rewards better leaders."        

      Sacramento Business Journal, Editorial, November 30, 2012


You can also find more information on RCV in the Bay Area from local officials: