Oakland residents are still waiting to hear who won the mayoral election of 2010. The outcome will be particularly titillating as Jean Quan has gained a slight lead over Don Perata due to Oakland’s new ranked-choice voting system.
Here’s how it works:
Oakland voters were asked to choose their top three candidates for mayor. If no one candidate receives 50% or more of the vote, the last place candidates are dropped from the running, and their votes are distributed among the last two candidates standing. This is to say, those who voted for a losing candidate as their first choice will have their second and third choice votes will be given to those candidates.
It’s confusing, I know. But it explains why Quan has been able to overcome Perata’s previously strong lead.
Once Rebecca Kaplan was dropped from the running, the second place rankings on her first place votes were distributed. Most people who voted for Kaplan marked Quan as their second choice, explaining why once Kaplan dropped out, Quan received many more votes in her favor.
This system poses an entirely different strategy for politics. Quan and Kaplan succeeded in working this system by somewhat working together with their “anyone but Perata” campaign. By teaming together, they ensured that no matter which on of them made it to the final round would have the backing of the other’s second place votes.
And yet, we still don’t have a mayor a week after the election.
What were your experiences with the ranked-choice voting system in Oakland (or in other elections)? Is this system worth the lengthy wait for a concrete decision? Is Quan’s current lead surprising to you? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below or contacting firstname.lastname@example.org