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And It's 1, 2, 3: That's What We're Fighting For

Stateside With Rosalea

And It's 1, 2, 3: That's What We're Fighting For

**San Francisco's First Public Ranked Choice Vote Elects Incumbent**

Though it happened below the radar of most media, San Francisco's first ranked-choice vote election has already happened. The results were tallied by hand without a hitch and announced on October 26, 2004.

Nearly 8,000 San Francisco school students participated in YouthVOTE 2004, during which they elected a student delegate to the local board of education using ranked choice voting. Alan Wong will be serving a second term as a non-voting student representative on the board.

**Election Protection Leads to Voter Confusion**

A website that has a polling place lookup for everywhere in the US, and also gives details on the kind of election equipment that will be used at that polling place, is potentially confusing to voters in San Francisco.

Searching on a US address at http://www.mypollingplace.com/find.php brings back a webpage saying: "Be aware that if you vote for more candidates than the number allowed, it is considered an over-vote and none of the candidates for that office will receive a vote." Since not everybody is aware that the number of candidates you are allowed to vote for in the SF supervisorial (city and county councillors) races is three, they might think that ranking more than one candidate will invalidate their vote.

**Error message leads to voter discomfort**

San Francisco uses Optech Eagle optical scan equipment. For those voters in districts where an election for supervisor is taking place, there is a separate ranked-choice ballot listing the candidates. If the voter doesn't place one mark in each of the three columns, the Eagle displays an error message when the voter puts their marked ballot into the machine to be read.

This usually results in a poll worker having to come and help the voter, potentially seeing what choice they have made and undermining the idea of ballot secrecy. On a second try, the ballot will be accepted no matter how it's marked.

**Easy solution**

The easiest way to avoid this potential hiccup is simply to rank three different candidates - one in each column - with your favorite candidate in column 1. That is, after all, the whole purpose of ranked choice voting.

-ENDS-


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