Ranked Choice Voting

The State Legislature has passed SB415, the Voter Participation Bill. This law requires any state, county, municipal, district, and school district election held on a statewide election date to be consolidated with a statewide election.

Due to this law, our elections must be moved to either a March or November election day in an even year. Per our city charter, our elections also require a run-off. Many times, Run-off elections result in extra dirty campaigning.

An 8-month run-off election is something we want to avoid.

In traditional run-off elections, candidates benefit from “mud-slinging” by attacking an opponent’s character instead of sharing their positive vision with voters. This scorched earth tactic does not serve us well. With ranked choice voting, candidates do best when they reach out positively to as many voters as possible, including those supporting their opponents. A comprehensive Rutgers University poll of voters in 7 cities with Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) found that voters report friendlier campaigns and that RCV had majority support in all the cities using it.

Cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro have successfully begun using the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system also known as Alternative Voting (AV) or Instant Run-off Voting (IRV). We have an opportunity in Los Angeles County to introduce IRV as an option. We understand LA County is looking at a new voting system. Councilmember Christian Horvath and I are advocating all our leaders to help us get IRV as an option for our Redondo Beach elections.

What would RCV do for Redondo Beach?

  • Shorter Campaigns: With the new law, our elections would be in March and the run-off election would be in November. We currently have a 3 to 5 month election cycle since our run-off elections are held in May. Traditionally, mailers, knocking on doors, social media campaigns begin January and end in March, unless no one gets 50%+1 of the votes. If no one gets a majority vote, then the top 2 candidates do a run-off election in May. With the new law, our election cycle could be 11 to 13 months long!


  • Negativity Reduced: A comprehensive Rutgers University poll of voters in 7 cities with ranked choice voting found that voters report friendlier campaigns and that RCV had majority support in all the cities using it. According to the New York Times, candidates in the race for seats on the County Board of Supervisors held joint fund raisers and openly praised their opponents.  This atmosphere of respect and co-operation leads to debate on real issues facing voters instead of personal attacks and partisan rhetoric.


  • Less cost: excerpts taken from FairVote.org: Holding a second election is a major cost to taxpayers. Each election in Redondo Beach cost anywhere from $260,00 to $593,000 depending on various factors. An election plus a run-off election can costs over $1 Million. If we use RCV, then we cut our costs in half. Another example, Kim Strach, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, told the Raleigh News & Observer that runoffs in her state cost as much as ten million dollars. The 2013 New York City race for Public Advocate required a runoff election which cost taxpayers thirteen million dollars and only saw seven percent turnout. In response, the Office of the NYC Comptroller compiled a list of recommendations to make city elections fairer and more affordable. One provision was the adoption of ranked choice voting.


  • Where is ranked choice voting used? Ranked choice voting has been adopted for state and federal elections in Maine, and for U.S. cities in ten states. It is used by overseas and military voters to vote in places with runoff elections in five other states. Over 50 U.S. colleges and universities use ranked choice voting to elect student government officers. Internationally, it is used by every voter in six countries and in local elections in many more. Ranked choice voting is recommended for private organizations by Roberts Rules of Order, and many private organizations use it, including the Academy Awards in both nominating and selecting the winner for its awards.