| Jana Kadah | San José Spotlight |
San Jose officials are gearing up to review a lengthy list of recommendations after a citizen-led commission spent last year studying the city’s governing system.
The San Jose City Council will vote on 15 of the commission’s recommendations in a special meeting Monday to decide which proposals to put before voters in November, which to study further and which to reject altogether. Two, however, are substantial recommendations: enacting ranked-choice voting and moving from 10 to 14 council districts.
”You create this dynamic where people feel like they are voting for the lesser of two evils oftentimes.
Ranked-choice voting allows voters to select their first, second and third choices for elected officials. If a resident’s first choice is eliminated from the race, their vote shifts to their second choice. The process continues until a single candidate garners a majority of votes.
The 23-body commission said this would help increase representation because it allows voters to pick candidates that best respect their values. They would no longer be limited to picking one candidate who has the best chance of winning or between two candidates they don’t care for.
“In November, voters are limited to basically just whoever survives the primary,” Charter Review Commissioner Huy Tran told San José Spotlight. “You create this dynamic where people feel like they are voting for the lesser of two evils oftentimes.”
Ranked-choice voting has been enacted in other Bay Area cities including Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco. The most recent data found that in those cities, representation of female candidates—particularly women of color—increased since adoption, according to the commission’s report.
Proponents say a ranked-choice voting system will also eliminate the need for runoff elections and reduce election costs. However, opponents worry it could result in a candidate winning without a majority. Some also point to potential collusion between candidates. For example, in the 2018 San Francisco mayoral race, two candidates issued ads to vote for both of them to ensure the third candidate did not win.
San Jose Councilmembers David Cohen and Sergio Jimenez want a ballot measure by November asking voters if they support ranked-choice voting.