April 19, 2010

San Leandro City Council Approves Ranked Choice Voting Ordinance

With Councilmember Michael Gregory present, there was little doubt that the ranked choice voting (RCV, also known as instant runoff voting) ordinance would gain approval at tonight's San Leandro City Council meeting. The surprise came from Councilmember Bill Stephens, who voted to approve the ordinance, stating, "The reason I was against ranked choice voting was because of the financial impact. Now I am going to change my vote strictly because it would cost us more money not to go forward….so I will be voting yes." The final vote was five to two.

Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak and Councilmember Diana Souza both voted to oppose the RCV ordinance, despite the potential additional cost of between $290,000 and $340,000.

Alameda County Democratic Party Chair Robin Torello reminded the City Council that the Alameda County Democratic had "voted to encourage all of you to support this" and also noted the low turnout in the 2004 February runoff election. Mayoral candidate Stephen Cassidy referred to an earlier presentation that justified spending money for upgrades on the wastewater treatment plant now for long-term cost savings. Cassidy said, "Here's your chance to upgrade the way San Leandro conducts its elections." Blair Bobier, the Deputy Director of the Political Reform Program at New America Foundation, agreed with the points made by Torello and Cassidy and informed the City Council that a challenge to RCV in San Francisco had been dismissed by a federal judge on Friday, April 16, 2010.

Just before the end of the meeting, Councilmember Jim Prola reported, "I never got an email, and I get a lot of them every week, or a phone call, from anybody in San Leandro that was opposed to IRV." This seemed to be directed at Souza, who cited opposition to RCV by residents as the reason she changed her mind at the April 5, 2010, meeting.

With the passage of the RCV ordinance, San Leandro will now conduct voter education and outreach with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters to explain to voters how RCV works. The election will be held on November 2, 2010.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at April 19, 2010 11:08 PM | TrackBack
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