Crazy vote

By From page A6 | November 17, 2010

How does a person with an 11,000-vote margin lose an election for city council? When the city is Oakland and it bought into the League of Women Voters’ “ranked-choice” system.

Former state Sen. Don Perata won the vote with 40,340 votes for 33.73 percent, the most among 10 candidates.

Coming in second was Jean Quan with 29,264 votes and 24.47 percent of the vote.

Guess who won? Quan did. How come?

Quan won because voters were asked to rank their top three choices. On the 10th round of reshuffling the ranked choices Quan won with 50.96 percent of the vote to Perata’s 49.04 percent.

This is Oakland’s first time with the system, which the Sacramento Bee described in its newstorial brief as “generally viewed as a more democratic approach to electing public officials …”

As far as we’re concerned there is nothing democratic about an election where the top vote getter doesn’t win. There’s nothing democratic about cheating the majority out of its choice. Ranking candidates is like filling out a survey for a car you just bought or the service you got from the hospital or how you feel about Obamacare. Everbody’s survey answers are blended into rankings. They paint a picture, but they don’t give the definitive, absolute answer that an ordinary election provides.

Surveys are not for electing representatives.

Imagine what a mess our political system would be if voters were required to rank ballot propositions. For example, rank the top three ballot measures you would oppose and the top three ballot measures you would approve from the Nov. 2 election. That wouldn’t be an election. It would be playing Texas Hold ‘Em with the propositions.

That in a microcosm is what happened in Oakland. They changed the ballot box to a slot machine. The California Legislature needs to outlaw this crazy vote scheme. It is undemocratic.

Mountain Democrat

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