letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: No on Prop. H, Revisit Ranked-Choice Voting

Editor:

San Franciscans love a good election. Each year, we’re riled up, taking a stand for or against our favored ballot measures and candidates, with a nervous energy that makes our City famous. 

Comes now Dean Preston, member of the City’s Board of Supervisors representing District 5, arguably the most left of the left-wing progressive faction in elected public office. He laments recent failures to block recalls of three SF Unified School District commissioners and district attorney Chesa Boudin. Preston authored a measure to appear on the ballot this November, designated as Proposition H – it’s a doozy.

Prop. H is a socialist power grab, as Mayor London Breed calls it. It’s undemocratic (actually, it’s anti-democratic), as one of its main features is to cancel elections for mayor, district attorney, sheriff, city attorney and city treasurer a year from now. Who else cancels elections? Tyrants do. So do dictators, military juntas and desperate political leaders who seek to undermine democracy and retain power. Very third world of him. 

If voters pass Prop. H, it will shift the election of 2023 to November of 2024, a presidential election year. Preston claims consolidating elections will result in higher turnout of voters. Of his voters. See, Preston and his socialist-aligned comrades in City Hall have been losing ground, losing races and several ballot measures defeated. He also sees the writing on the wall: the rise of the Asian voting block which mostly votes against progressives. So, he wants to counter this and believes a higher turnout at the polls will be the cure. But he’s quite wrong. 

There are three key reasons San Francisco’s voters have been occasionally lacking enthusiasm to cast their ballots: Stupid ballot measures; unqualified candidates; and Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV). In recent elections (Assembly District 17 of April 2022), voters of the eastern half of our City had to choose between two radical candidates, namely Matt Haney or David Campos. In the end, only 28% of eligible voters even participated. 

Another factor: an avalanche of ballot measures; we may see up to 15 propositions or more, which at times confuse or simply lack the attention-getting themes voters are excited about. 

There have been studies of the effects of RCV. One such exposé by San Francisco State University links RCV to lower voter turnout. A 2020 report from Alaska Policy Forum concurs: RCV voter confusion and information deficit is a disaster; and the Foundation for Government Accountability’s August 2022 report calls RCV “A disaster in disguise.”

This is why voter turnout is low, ladies and gentlemen. It’s the candidates, the ballot measures, and RCV. It’s misguided to assert the City must cancel and move the 2023 elections to 2024. It’s clear the Prop. H supporters seek to gain at the polls by moving the goalposts. 

We need to stop ridiculous ballot measures, run qualified candidates and revisit the usefulness of RCV. Until then, vote “no” on Prop. H. 

Richie Greenberg
Richiegreenberg.org
Richie Greenberg is a 21-year resident of San Francisco, a political commentator, former candidate for mayor and chairman of City Hall Watch. 

6 replies »

  1. I disagree Mr. Greenberg. Elections are not being cancelled. They are just being restructured to a year when voter turnout is larger so that elections actually represent a larger portion of registered voters. That is not a socialist power grab because more people are voting. The fact that you are using such politically loaded terminology indicates your own bias. And besides, voters get to vote on the proposal, so you have a funny idea about tyranny. Is anything you don’t like tyrannical? Seriously, that is plain ridiculous.

    Which makes me wonder, why would anyone be afraid of more people voting and then call allowing more people to vote a tyrannical power grab?

    You also choose to ONLY include 3 sources that conclude your own bias against RCV from sources that are themselves biased — such as 2 libertarian Republican-leaning organizations & think tanks like the Alaska policy institute and The Foundation for Accountability in Government. Also the SFSU researcher McDaniel said “The more complicated ballots required by the RCV process MIGHT have caused voter confusion and ballot error.” Later in the source there is constant use of the term “tend to cause” which is not the same thing as caused, because correlation does not mean causation. That is also not proof of anything at all, unless you want to use specious statistics to justify something you already are inclined to believe.

    Here are some other less biased sources:
    1.) https://fairvote.app.box.com/s/odyt1auorqkw5ep3ekb2ecwqs17mo8uy
    2.) https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2021/03/12/ranked-choice-voting-gains-momentum-nationwide
    3.) https://www.jmu.edu/civic/rcv.shtml
    4.) https://ash.harvard.edu/hks-study-group-explores-maine%E2%80%99s-experiment-ranked-choice-voting
    5.) https://alaskapublic.org/2022/09/15/why-alaska-uses-ranked-choice-voting-and-what-we-know-about-how-it-affects-elections/
    6.) https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/06/29/more-u-s-locations-experimenting-with-alternative-voting-systems/
    7.) https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1532673X211072388?journalCode=aprb

    Hmm. Harvard. Pew Research. James Madison University. Those are called non-political reputable sources, not think tanks funded by billionaires.

    Other countries already do RCV like Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. Australia in particular has been doing RCV for more than a century.

    So you and your ilk are just whining because you cannot game the system as a winner take all, or use stalking horse candidates to force a run-off where big money can advertise the low information voters into voting for candidates that will not represent their interests. Hence you promote biased sources and non-statistically significant (or misinterpreted) studies.

    ~Gino

    Born in the Richmond District.

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    • Wrong. The election would be cancelled until the following year. San Francisco is collapsing thanks to “progressive” [not Democrat] policies, the Mayor and the SFBOS.

      Time for change. Change is coming.

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      • You say “wrong” but then afterwards mention things that are not related to anything that I said.

        Elections being cancelled until the following year is true. That’s not wrong.
        San Francisco is changing because of a change in economic conditions that have nothing to do with “progressive” or Democratic or whatever policies. Ed Lee initiated (or continued because this began with Willie Brown) the over-reliance on the internet based economy needing downtown office space, and Ed Lee is not progressive.

        So I wonder what you think that was said was “wrong” because all you did was say “wrong” then proceed to state two declarative sentences.

        Change is coming because change is always coming. However some folks are spending lots of money to seed false ideas into people’s minds about what change means, hijacking the word and thinking people like Greenberg represent change, when they only represent delusion.

        Either that or they hide behind opaque words and phrases without substance.

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  2. We agree with No on Prop H. This is not the time for this change. We have failed politicians in office that have caused the current conditions of San Francisco. If Prop H passes these same Failed Politicians will get an additional year to their current term. Don’t reward them with a Bonus Year. Let the voting process continue in 2023 to vote some of the failed politicians out. No on Prop H.

    Like

  3. Thank you for presenting a reasonable point of view. Reasonable people can disagree without using political loaded scurrilous language.

    I actually agree that it is not a good idea allowing London Breed to stay on as mayor for more time before citizens can decide on the competency of the mayor in a mayorial election.

    Just so everyone knows This is the President of the San Francisco Deputy Sheriff’s Association using the pronoun “We.”

    https://sanfranciscodsa.com/about/board-of-directors/

    Like

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