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tv   [untitled]    February 18, 2012 2:48am-3:18am PST

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elections only occur in even numbered year and every other odd number year. supervisor wiener: i would like to move this item to the november election instead of june. i have a motion or i move on page one, the second paragraph, to change june 5, 2012, to november 6, 2012, and then refer this item back to the rules committee. president chiu: supervisor wiener has made a motion. is there a second? there is a second. unless there is it objection, that motion is approved. -- unless there is an objection. >> items 12 and 13 are from the rules committee with a recommendation. charter amendment, second graph -- second draft, to amend the sections with runoff elections and to amend odd year elections
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for city election offices and increase in voter education and clarify implementation of rank choice of voting. supervisor farrell: supervisor elsberend and i propose this and that we have had great discussions in the rules committee and i want to commend my colleagues to support a day different and the opposing charter amendment. -- support a different and may be opposing charter amended. want to tell you i feel so strongly about this. first of all, i believe in the principle of majority vote. that is how we have been elected and how this country started elections centuries ago and i believe it's something we should continue in san francisco. second, the concept of choice -- as many folks expressed last year during the mayoral
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campaign, in spite of the great outcome, many people felt combined with our public financing system the way it is and i know there are a lot of amendments in place and i think are great, we do not have a real choice when we end up voting someone -- voting for mayor last year. we had a huge field and people were not able to express their opinions. to have a real choice but to people 04 at the end of the day is such an important thing. perhaps the main thing for my point of view is the notion of voter confusion. to me, it is anecdotal talking to people on the street in my district and others throughout san francisco that people still remain confused about ranked joyce boating. how does it work? that is demonstrated in poll after poll or the majority of people every single time either don't answer it correctly when asked how it works or admit they don't know how it works. we should be focusing on who and what to vote for not how to vote. what that ultimately leads to is disenfranchisement that our
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city. statistics have shown, and the number of studies being conducted now will show the upcoming months that demonstrates minorities and residents of lower socioeconomic communities have a disproportionate amount of their ballots torn into the garbage can because they're marked incorrectly as over votes. that is simply unacceptable. it's a system we cannot continue to promote in our city. this and branches are voters. it's the most anti-democratic thing we can do is a city. nothing is perfect, no voting system is perfect, i will admit this. our runoff system is not perfect, but ranked choice of voting is the type -- the kind of thing we need to end of our city. countless jurisdictions have and acted ranked joyce voting and repealed it. i hope you will give this a -- ranked choice of voting. i hope he will give this a chance to go to voters so we can give us the chance to the voters in our city. supervisor campos: by a blunt to
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echo the comments of the supervisor farrell and think the rules committee for the substantive dialogue we had and the people we had on both sides of the issue that have come out to speak about this item. san francisco's use of ranked joyce boating and public financing are two things that have gained -- ranked choice of voting. i know there is a difference of opinion here as whether ranked choice of voting has worked. to those of us who introduced the amendment, we believe the facts speak for themselves. ranked choice of voting has led to can't its winning election here in san francisco with more votes that in prior to elections and we have been able to save taxpayers substantial amounts of money and in tough economic times by implementing ranked choice of voting. as a result, we have, and i
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think it has demonstrated here in this room, one of the most representative city governments in the city, in the country. it is something i'm very proud to be part of. what we believe our system is fundamentally working -- we always have to think of ways in which we can do better. the intent of the charter amendment that has been proposed is to make a system that's working for san francisco even better. that is why the focus has been on voter education. we have as a city done a good job of implemented -- implementing ranked joyce voting. i understand there are issues that have been raised, but the fact we can do a better job educating voters does not mean we throw the system out. we have to recognize the system has indeed worked the way it was intended and when we had a runoff system, usually voter
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turnout did plummet and as a result of ranked joyce boating, we have -- ranked choice of voting, we have more turnout than any other kind of voting system. i know we have a competing measure here before us, item number 12, that would essentially have a runoff system with a september election. i'm understand that has been put forth as a solution to some of the issues that have been raised around ranked choice of voting. i can stand the intent and recognize the thinking behind that proposal, but for me, it's a proposal that has its share of problems and one that i think would be a mistake for us to follow. first of all, i do think at some point you can have too many elections.
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there is something about voters being fatigued. i think the facts show if you have too many elections, voter turnout will go down. if you look at the jurisdictions that have implemented this concept of a september election, many of those jurisdictions have seen very low voter turnout. new york city is an example. in the 2009 mayoral race, the september primary election for the democratic party, the turnout was 11.4%. in 2010, in the primary for state attorney general in new york, the turnout was 12.5%. in charlotte, n.c., which has a population very similar to that of the san francisco, close to 800,000 people, turnout was only 4.3% in september.
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in boston, the turnout for the mayor's race in to white -- in 2009 was also low -- 22%. in the 2008 primary that boston held, the turnout was 14%. the city of seattle has switched from september to august because of the complications of having a september election. before we go down the path of adding yet another election, especially one that takes place in september, lead to more carefully analyze what it would mean for the department of elections and what it would mean for san francisco voters. it's especially important for us to look at how some communities could be impacted by low turnout in september. there's a concern that in some communities, some minority communities, communities of color, turnout in september
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would be significantly lower. there are many issues that i think need to be discussed and one of them involves the an administrative challenges that will be imposed on the department of elections if we have to add yet another election to the roster of responsibilities they have. i think the debate can go on and on and i know there are different perspectives. i respect the intent behind the proposals that have been put forward, but i do believe the system we have in place is a system that works and a revised system along the lines of what we are proposing, coupled with changes to the public finance law is the way to go. instead of throwing it out, we need to make a better, which is what i am proposing to do today. that sad, i also believe both proposals can benefit from
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additional dialogue and discourse. i know that for instance the local information agency commission which i chair, recently requested the staff gather information from the department of elections so that if we are looking at how ranked choice of voting has worked in san francisco, we actually have the data that shows what actually happened. having that information is something that would be useful to the dialogue and discussions we have had and i think both sides of the issue can benefit from having additional time to engage in that kind of analysis. for that reason, i make the motion that both items be sent back to committee so we have the opportunity to hear the items in a more in-depth way so that we have the opportunity to analyze
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more deeply some of the data collected by the department of elections and in the end, should there be a position that a charter amendment go forward, we will have the opportunity to do that in the november election. that is a motion to send both items to committee. president chiu: supervisor c ampos has made a motion, seconded by supervisors mar. did you -- supervisor wiener, do you want to speak to the motion? supervisor farrell: i have more
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items to share, but specifically to the motion -- let's be fair about what this motion is. the proponents of ranked choice of voting have been walking the halls and talking publicly, they don't want this on the june ballot because they don't like the voter turnout that will be in june. they prefer it to be in november because they see more turn out and they say in public debate with me that we want a more progressive turnout in november. if we're going to send something back to committee, let's be honest about why we're doing it. that is what the proponents have been very clear about. just as a reminder, ranked joyce voting, when it was established by the election was not it -- by the electorate, it was not in an election. it was when we had march elections, march of 2002. it was good enough for the proponents then, but now they're not feeling control what their odds.
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i will take him for his word on the surface that we need more statistics and analysis. this has been in from is not just for the last six months, it has been infamous for the last 10 years. i'm not sure what more we need to discuss. i appreciate looking at data, with all due respect, what more dated do we really need? usf has been a great steady in the department of elections has done studies and we can interpret data for the next three months or the next three years. the data we need to make a decision is in front of us and i really, truly believe that -- let's be honest what this is. this is simply a delaying tactic. with the voted up or down today. it doesn't need to go to committee. you're not comfortable voting for, don't vote for it. let's have our vote today. president chiu: as to the motion
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-- is there anyone else who would like to speak? i'm not going to delay any names on the roster. why don't have a roll call vote on the motion? >> [roll-call role brought -- roll-call] their arefour ayes and seven nos. supervisor olague: i think that question in front of us, at
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least for me, is not whether it's progress of our not progressive or whether there's a more progressive turn out in november or not. in my mind, there is some need for evaluation and reform as it relates to ranked choice of voting. part of what i have heard is that there is confusing him -- confusion among voters as relates to ranked choice voting. the proposal that supervisors campos and avalos have made about educating the voters -- i think there might still be a need to discuss reform as it relates to other aspects of our cv will become how to vote, but when to vote. i think people are confused about how to vote. if we have another september date, people will be confused
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about when they vote, so they will have the june election, the september election, and the november election. i think that's putting too much burden on the public. i think the reason part of the discussion in my mind was raised about rcv had to do with the fact we wanted to ease the burden. to me, all this does is add the burden of another day. to people who are already overwhelmed in many ways by this issue. the last election turnout was before the mayor's race was up 42.47. that's not very high. that's less than 50% of those who are eligible to vote who actually made it to the polls. as long as rcv is in place, that
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we have more education of people understand how to vote, i'm open to having discussions about how to reform rcv or not, to come up with some other thing, but to add at the september runoff date is just not the solution at this time. for that reason, i am open to discussing reform, but i don't think this is the right solution for where we are with this. it just adds more burden to the public and for that reason, i do not support it. supervisor wiener: thank you. it's interesting because when supervisor farrell and elberend talked about the appeal, there
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was a lot of discussion about the runoff and there was a talk about a drop in turnout from november to december and it's over the thanksgiving holiday, and all these problems associated with the december runoff and we have all been involved with a december runoff that we can all agree there are not pleasant to go through. the idea of doing september and november, i suggested that -- i suggested it publicly and they accepted the suggestion and my thinking was in that run off, you make sure you maximize turnout to have the runoff in november when you have the highest turnout. a lot of other jurisdictions to september as the primary. maybe some have gotten rid of them. they're still very, very common but if we did the global research on turnout in december primaries across the country, i will bet you they are not all in the 4% or 11% range supervisor
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campos read to us. i'm sure there are a june primary elections that are horrible turn out, but ultimately, november will be a higher turnout. putting that aside, there were a lot of ideas floating around, maybe we should do june and a november runoff or we should do rcv to get down to two candidates for a runoff. i was very clear with the advocates i spoke with that whether we do september, november, june -- even rcv to get to a top two in november, i would be open to that. but nobody actually came forward and propose that. we are talking, talking, talking. that does not give me a lot of confidence we will ever get to that point with even a modified version that might be more acceptable to some people. so we're still left with these two proposals and i think if anyone was going to make that
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kind of change, there is plenty of time to do it and that's why did not support sending the referral back to committee. today, i will be voting in favor of the proposal. i just want to briefly explain why. there are a lot of objections people raise around voter confusion and related issues. that's not my objection. i think over time, we've seen increased understanding of rcv and i think that will increase over time. a new election system has a learning curve. my objection is that we have created a system where only the most hyper engaged voters who spend a lot of time focusing on these things are ever really going to know when you have eight, 10, 12 can't its what distinctions are among those candidates. -- 12 candidates know the
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distinctions among the candidates. for the voters to have a million other things going on in life where this is not their top priority in doing research, it is very challenging to know with that many candidates who stands for what. the newspapers, unfortunately, do not have the capacity anymore to really cover that and parceled out in a way you can when you have two candidates. -- parse it out any way you can we have two candidates. if you look at 1999 and 2003, those runoffs set the city on fire. whether you were for willie brown or gavin newsom, it was narrowed down to two very different people with very different visions for the city. residents knew what they wanted for their vision and who to support an or exciting elections
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and galvanized the grass roots of this city on both sides. for years and years to come, how many people came out for each of those may world races completely energize and into politics? i don't think we will ever see that again if we have this past mayors race as some sort of example of what they're going to see with that are 15 candidates are maybe seven rate arguably viable, everyone moving to the middle of the few exceptions of candidates of making -- and it to make a point of knowing how people stand and people not knowing what the distinctions are. there are a lot of different ways we can hold elections and and not saying this one proposal is the only way to do it, but in terms of what we have now, this is superior and that's why i will be voting for it. supervisor mar: i don't know if you know, but i was active in
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the 1995 elections task force, which is now the redistricting task force. i always approach these from voting rights and civil rights. i think this proposal is moving us against the grain of more democracy and more diversity in government. it also will cost $2.6 million more per year to administer. from a voting rights perspective, i think supervised the comment that minority communities would be -- it would help minority communities, but i think it is the opposite. i think there is evidence from a new report that one of my colleagues from political scientist and a well-respected political scientists -- he looked at boston's use of these of timber primary alexian's and found strong evidence that the turnout is disproportionately low were in many minority communities, but also latino and
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african-american district. all of them with the voter turnout that was quite a bit lower for them. when i advocated for rank choice of voting, we call the preference voting in 2002, we were also looking at the dominance of big money in campaigns, and if you have a september primary and a november runoff, you'll have to raise more money. it was reducing the dominance of money in the different races as well. from the reasons of the voting rights perspective and moving seven cisco and a more democratic direction, i sapota of the proposal by supervisors capmos anmpos and avalos. supervisor avalos: i had a lot
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of thoughts and the wasn't clear how it was going to start. i am in favor of ranked joyce voting. i saw the trajectory of the debate last year as a candidate, and it was very interesting. prior to getting into the race, there were editorials and columns until local paper saying that range was voting was not good for san francisco, it was confusing. i felt those editorials before there is much engagement from the electorate was already setting seeds in people's brains about what the election was going to be like. and any characterization of the proponents of bank twice voting believe or feel, there is a great diversity of the people that support re choice of
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voting, it is not just people that are progressive. i have perspectives on that that are fairly mixed for. it was a challenge to make sure that voters could see me as something different from other candidates, but the as a challenge any candidate has, whatever type of election one as sen. you're always trying to make sure that you can present in a way that distinguishes itself from others. the fact that we had 16 main candidates after august and many more of the for that was the same kind of difficulty that the electorate had to do to understand who the candidates were. you still have to do your homework to know who you are going to be voting i don't think
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that it makes it that much more complicated. voters know where to get their source of information about how to make their choice of round elections. have seen the distinction between the mayor's race. there have been exciting ruboffs and we have been very interested in the mayor's runoff races and what have traditionally been the turnouts for supervisor races in past years. a month low were turned out for the supervisors as a run off. that, to me, there is real caution about whether the would be of majority or not. and the november elections, when voter turnout is high, the problem is that the september election, it is very low.
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it is not something that is clearly empowering people to think about their participation where they feel majority is having a real say so. of a there are problems on both sides, problems that are all around. as someone who participated in the big race and got really excited about that, there is a runoff election last november, i would have been involved allied -- and that. in that. i am not sure it is really good for the city either. we will bowed to the people all over again to raise money. they didn't have a lot to give me in the first place.
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it would be really difficult to be able to accomplish, i think, and run off. after the candidates have exhausted their means to make money, that will determine what is going to happen. that is what we need to avoid as the city. i think it provides a better read the have discourse in elections. it is not a race that is going to be necessarily fall of a lot of negative campaigning, but there is such a rush when you have that right off, -- runoff, to start developing negative attitudes and it divides the city in a way that i don't think it's healthy for the city.

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