This November will be Oakland’s second election using ranked-choice voting, but if Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente gets his way, it could be the last. De La Fuente wants council members next week to place an initiative on the November ballot asking voters to rescind the voting system and return to holding runoff elections when no candidate wins an absolute majority. But De La Fuente doesn’t appear to have the votes to get the measure on the ballot, and he likely won’t even be able to keep the proposal on the council’s agenda. Ranked-choice elections ask voters to rank their top three candidates. When no candidate wins more than half of the first-place votes, the second- and third-place votes are tabulated, avoiding the need for runoff elections.
Voters overwhelmingly approved the system in 2006. But it has faced criticism since its debut in 2010, when Mayor Jean Quan narrowly won the mayor’s race with fewer first-place votes than one of her opponents. De La Fuente needed the backing of Council President Larry Reid as well as either Quan or City Administrator Deanna Santana to fast-track his proposal for next Tuesday’s meeting — the last scheduled council meeting before the deadline to introduce ballot measures. Reid backed it, but the item still ended up on the council’s agenda without first going before the mayor or city administrator, city officials said. Unless one of them lends their support, the proposal will likely be dropped from the agenda.
De La Fuente now is accusing Quan, a supporter of ranked-choice voting, of trying to submarine his proposal. Quan issued a prepared statement Tuesday, saying that “it is unacceptable to make a proposal to change the fundamental way we choose elected officials without a full public notice and process.”