Friday, September 24, 2010

Election Reform: Ranked Choice Voting

Voters are tired and confused by the number of elections today. To save the City money and save voters time, voters should have only one regular city election per year. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) gives accurate results without requiring the two separate elections we often have now -- a City primary election and a City general election. Voters will have their voices heard and Los Angeles should see greater voter participation. Any savings from reduced matching funds can be put toward improving the City’s campaign finance system. While hard to calculate exact savings since the City partners with the LAUSD and Community College District to fund elections, the City’s City Administrative Officer has calculated that RCV could save the City alone 4-6 Million per election cycle.


  • Many Los Angeles voters are suffering from fatigue, with multiple elections over the past few years for local officials (twice in odd years), County, State and federal officials (twice in even years) and more and more special elections (varies) thanks to term limits.


  • Ranked Choice Voting will produce significant financial savings for the City in the long run, with initial savings targeted at outreach and voter education, especially for limited English speakers, using community nonprofits. Once this change set in, savings could be used to increase matching funds.
  • There also is the likely potential for reduced matching campaign fund payouts with one election instead of two, which would allow an increase in the funds available and might help increase program participation.
  • Ranked Choice Voting works well with Neighborhood Vote Center and vote by mail-based elections. If the City adopts both, it would become the first in the nation to offer these two progressive reforms as well as to feature a matching funds program.
  • The use of negative campaigning or attack ads may be lessened because candidates will be wary of alienating their opponents’ supporters, whose votes they may need to reach 50%.
  • The County Registrar-Recorder is currently developing a new voting system that will be RCV compatible, meaning that there will be no cost for the City, LAUSD to Community College District to adopt such a system.
  • Savings to the LAUSD and LACCD could go to support their educational priorities, reducing budget pressures.