Wasting Time With IRV on the San Francisco Ballot

I got my mail ballot last week and sat down to slog through pages and pages of voter guides, local ballot measures, state ballot measures, and candidates. Voting this season is less about voting for people you’d actually want to serve in office, and more about keeping really bad eggs off the shelf. Same goes for the initatives.
The funniest part of my ballot, however, was San Francisco’s allegedly fair and democratic “Instant Runoff System” in action. Candidates for San Francisco College Board and School Board, all of whom run city-wide, are still elected under a “vote for 3 candidates out of a list” system that according to self-appointed reformers is the result of Satan’s handiwork.
Do remember under the Satan system, if you really want someone to win, you can cast one vote for one candidate and leave off the other two choices – it has the effect of helping them out more. So if you really like someone such as Jane Kim, you could cast one vote for her, and forget the rest. It’s weird how it works, but it does – hence the term “bullet voting.”
“Bullet voting” aside, unless you’re living somewhere with a competitive Supervisorial race, your only chance to use the magical unicorns and fairies super happy Instant Runoff Voting promises you is in the race for Assessor, or the race for Public Defender.
Here’s where it gets fun. At significant expense, the city printed up special little ballots so you can mark your “first second and third choices” for these offices. Problem is, both candidates are running unopposed. And yet, there are three choices for me to fill out, and feel like the Magical Man from Happyland.
So, to make everyone feel good, I wrote in all sorts of great choices for my special one and only IRV election. Here’s how it went:
For Assessor:
1. Gaius Baltar
2. Laura Roslin
3. Phil Ting
For Public Defender
1. Sharon Agathon
2. Kara Thrace
3. Jeff Adachi
I have no doubt the incumbents will win, despite my efforts. But, they seem like good guys, so I’m sure their political careers aren’t ruined based on my use of magical IRV. I don’t feel the good vibes or see the point in all of it, but I guess the secrets as to why some people push this thing are to be learned later, when an election of importance gets stolen with this system.
Yeah, those are pretty nerdy choices. So what? Isn’t that the point of IRV? So that every crank can use the public’s bucks to make their point?

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