| Tyler Shaun Evains ∙ Daily Breeze |

Redondo Beach will look to put a measure for voters to consider on an upcoming ballot that would amend the City Charter and change local elections in a way that would end the traditional runoff system.

The City Council this week took the first step toward implementing one of two similar-but-distinct voting systems, ranked-choice-voting or score-then-automatic-runoff, also known as STAR voting.

If Redondo ultimately goes to an RCV system, which is essentially a candidate-elimination process, it would be the eighth California city — but first in Los Angeles County — to do so. Adopting the STAR system, during which all candidates are kept in the running until the end, would make Redondo the first in the state with that process, according to a city staff report.

That system, however, is not yet state certified, and Mayor Bill Brand said that the city may not want to be on the 'bleeding edge'

The council on Tuesday, Jan. 11, directed city staff to draw up a draft resolution — on which the panel will have to vote on — to place a charter amendment measure on a future ballot.

The process, however, will be a lengthy one. The council, for example, won’t fully evaluate the pros and cons of both systems until October. Then, the council would finally decide which method to ask voters to say yes or no to — or have them decide between the two.

As of now, residents will vote for either of the new methods during Redondo’s March 2023 general city election, the council decided Tuesday. The City Council must add the measure to that ballot by Dec. 6.

If voters opt to change the city’s election system, the new process would first be used in the city’s March 2025 general city election.

Only seven cities in the state, most which are in Northern California, have adopted the RCV method. No California cities have adopted the STAR system.

Both methods allow voters to show a preference among all candidates rather than just choosing one.

Currently, Redondo Beach uses the common runoff system, which it has used since 1980. Under such a system, a city holds an initial race — at the same time as a state primary, if the town has aligned its elections with California — called either a general or primary election, during which voters pick their favorite candidate. If one candidate receives a majority, that person is elected. But if no one receives a majority, the top two finishers will head to a runoff.

The Redondo council in November first discussed replacing runoffs with RCV and then directed staff to look into the STAR method for comparison.

With the ranked-choice method, voters will rank candidates on the ballot in order of preference, according to a staff report. If a candidate gets more than 50% of first choice votes in the first count, that person wins.

If no candidate wins in the first count, a second tabulation happens, with the last-place candidate eliminated. That person’s votes would be allocated to the remaining candidates, based on the respective voters’ second choice. The process would continue until a candidate has a majority. .

These California cities have already opted to use RCV, according to the advocacy group California Ranked Choice Voting Coalition:

  • Oakland (adopted in 2006; implemented in 2010).
  • San Francisco (adopted 2002; implemented in 2004).
  • San Leandro (adopted as option in 2000; implemented in 2010).
  • Berkeley (adopted 2004; implemented in 2010).
  • Albany (to be implemented this year).
  • Eureka (to be implemented this year).
  • Palm Desert (to be implemented this year).

With the STAR system, meanwhile, voters score candidates within range from zero to five stars on the ballot, such as one would do in a Yelp review, with five stars being the most preferred candidate and zero being the least. Candidates with no score on the ballot, or left blank, indicates no preference and equates to zero stars.

All the stars are added up for each candidate, and in the first round of counting, the two highest scoring candidates will be finalists. During the second round of tabulation, or the automatic runoff, the finalist preferred by the majority wins.

That system, however, is not yet state certified, and Mayor Bill Brand said that the city may not want to be on the “bleeding edge” of advocating for STAR certification by being one of the few California cities — if not the only one — pursuing that method.

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