The San Jose Elections Commission is considering changing the way citizen’s vote for city officials in an effort to save both money and time. At its June 10 meeting, the commission is set to discuss the possibility of San Jose becoming the most populous jurisdiction in the United States to implement Instant-Runoff Voting when casting ballots for city office holders.
Instant-runoff voting (IRV) is a voting system where candidates are ranked in order of preference by voters in single-winner elections. San Jose currently uses the exhaustive ballot voting system, in which voters cast only a single vote for their favorite candidate.
In the IRV system, if no candidate is the first preference of a majority of voters, the candidate with the fewest numbers is eliminated and has their votes redistributed to the remaining candidates until a majority leader is chosen.
The following day on June 11, San Jose City Council members Sam Liccardo and Ash Kalra will attend a panel discussion on IRV at the Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library. The free, catered event aims to explain how IRV works and how it could benefit San Jose.
Moderated by SJSU Professor of Political Science Terry Christensen, other participants in the discussion will include Californians for Electoral Reform President Steve Chessin and California Common Cause Board Member Katie Selenski.
It will take place in Library room 225 from noon-1:15pm and is sponsored by the New America Foundation and Common Cause.
Proponents of the change to IRV say it is a cheaper, quicker way to elect leaders that also eliminates the expense of runoff elections, while detractors say it violates the one-person one vote mandate.
Because San Jose is a charter city under California Law, it has the option to place a charter amendment on the ballot to implement IRV.