Ranked Choice Voting Created a Mess

Isn’t it curious how silent the advocates of ranked choice voting have become recently. Somehow the mess caused in Oakland has sent people scurrying into their hidey-holes. “It’s so simple.” “It will save money.” “It will improve democracy.” These were the siren cries we heard before the recent screw-up.


The Oakland school board race in which Nick Resnick was certified as the winner, is now in limbo, as the Registrar of Voters, Tim Dupuis, announced on Dec. 28 that due to an error in how the ranked choice voting was tabulated, candidate Michael Hutchinson should have been the winner. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 10 unanimously voted in favor of recommendations from President Carson for a recount of the Resnick/Hutchinson race, the very close Oakland mayoral race, and two very close races in San Leandro.  The San Leandro ballot shows why there was confusion among voters. Even a race where there were only one or two candidates running, had five possible ranking levels. What was the reason for that? I’m not convinced that the Board of Supervisors effort will correct for the voter confusion, but at least a spotlight is on the problem. A number of organizations have weighed in on the importance of getting this right, including the Oakland NAACP and the Election Integrity Team of Alameda County.


I think Governor Gavin Newsom was on the mark in 2019 when he vetoed a bill to promote more use of ranked choice voting state-wide. He commented that, “it has often led to voter confusion and that the promise that ranked choice voting leads to greater democracy is not necessarily fulfilled.”
— Hunter Cobb, Member         - Letter to Editor published in the Alameda Sun, 2/9/2023