Friday, May 29, 2020

Eureka Council to Consider Putting Ranked Choice Voting on November Ballot

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2020 at 3:44 PM

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The Eureka City Council will consider on June 2 placing a measure on the November ballot asking voters to amend the city charter to allow for what is known as ranked choice voting for the mayor and council seats.

The council has been discussing the issue for several months and May 19 directed staff to prepare the resolution for consideration.

Ranked choice voting, as its name suggests, differs from traditional methods by allowing voters to rank their choices in order of preference, in essence creating an instant run-off.

According to the proposed resolution, the measure would need a simple majority to pass.

Under Eureka’s current election system, the individual who receives the most votes wins, regardless of how many candidates or how close the tally, as opposed to the county’s version, in which a run-off is triggered if one candidate does not carry a majority.

This is not the first time the idea has been tossed around in Eureka. As far back as 2005, ranked choice was floated by community groups but never gained traction and, in some case, was met with backlash.

An attachment to the May 19 council agenda packet explains ranked choice voting like this: “Functionally, when electing a single candidate using RCV — as in a race for mayor or ward representative with more than two candidates — all first choices are initially tallied. If any candidate receives a majority of the first choices, that candidate is elected. If no candidate receives a majority, the “instant run-off” process is triggered. The candidate receiving the fewest first choices is eliminated, and the voters for that eliminated candidate now have their second choices counted. The ballots are again tallied and the process continues until one candidate wins a majority. This explains why RCV is sometimes referred to as an instant run-off. "

Find more background information here and the current agenda here.
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Kimberly Wear

Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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