Vote picRanked-choice voting to choose Oakland’s mayor debuted in 2010. I was initially sold because this method eliminates the need for run-off elections, and in theory opens the field to a more diverse slate of candidates. Second elections often have low voter turn-out and cost a bundle. But when none of my choices landed in the top three in 2010 I doubted the method. Voters choose up to three candidates in order of preference. If a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, he or she is elected. But if there’s no majority, then an elimination process begins. The candidate who received the fewest first-ranked votes is eliminated. Next, each vote cast for that candidate is transferred to the voter’s next-ranked choice. This continues until one candidate receives a majority. The math is tough to follow.In 2010, only 24 percent of voters picked the ultimate winner as their first choice, but she ranked second or third choice on enough ballots to win. I felt like my votes hadn’t mattered and decided the ranked-choice approach was too confusing. And I questioned how effective a mayor who won office without a clear mandate could be.

But this year, my first choice won. She received the most votes, and after the elimination process received 69% of the vote. Now I’m excited and hopeful. And I’m back to feeling positive about ranked-choice voting, although I’m surprised at how much backing a winner changed my view. I like to think that logic trumps emotion for me when it comes to politics, but apparently the golden ticket is feeling that my voice is heard and that my vote counts.

About The Author
Marianne Lonsdale
Marianne Lonsdale Marianne Lonsdale writes personal essays, short stories and literary interviews. She’s slowly cranking out a novel set in Oakland in 1991 about a crazy romance. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Literary Mama, Grown and Flown, Pulse and has aired on KQED. She is a founding member of the Write On Mamas and is honored to be an alumna of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Marianne lives with her husband, Michael, and son, Nicholas, in Oakland, California.

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