Helpful Voting Hint: How To Help Your Favorite Candidates for School, College Board…

As you cast your ballots for the myriad of local ballot measures, candidates for Supervisor, and so on, you should be aware of how the votes are being counted for school board and college board races.
While candidates for supervisor are using the so-called “ranked choice voting” scheme, candidates for the school and college boards are not covered by RCV/WTF. Instead, all candidates run city-wide, for a specific number of seats. The top vote getters then get to take office. So in the case of the SF Board of Education (k-12 schools), there are 4 seats, and the voter picks 4 candidates to fill those seats.
There is, however, a danger in doing so – by voting for 4 candidates, you could inadvertently undercut one of your choices, since your 4 votes go into the pile, and get counted. If you really want to help someone out, you’re better off voting for only 1 or 2 candidates, because, in a weird twist of counting, your votes will have more of an impact.
So, while there are many fine candidates for office, I cast one vote for Rachel Norton because she’s a parent, she’s really nice, and she has some good ideas for making schools better for students. By doing so, I’m not undercutting my vote with votes for the other candidates.
The same applies to college board candidates – if there’s someone you really really like, just vote for them and let the chips fall where they may.
By the way, this is how we used to elect supervisors, and in general it’s a dumb way to do so. No one can target specfic incumbents for defeat, and you have this mass of candidates all running against each other.
The hippies usually propose some district system, but in a small city of less than 800,000 people that’s not always such a great idea. A compromise, one that works in cities like Seattle, is to have “numbered” seats. That way the candidates all file for specific seats on a board or city council, and voters know who is running against each other. Seattle does pretty good with this – maybe it’s time we applied this fix to city-wide boards and make it clearer to voters who is running against whom.

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