Bay Area Spotlight: Youth Vote

To truly recognize voting as a fundamental right and address the low voter turnout that currently plagues young voters, FairVote supports lowering the voting age to 16. Empirical evidence suggests that the earlier in life a voter casts their first ballot, the more likely they are to develop voting as a habit. While one’s first reaction might be to question the ability of young voters to cast a meaningful vote, research shows that 16- and 17-year-olds are as informed and engaged in political issues as older voters.

This year, voters in Berkeley and San Francisco voted on two youth vote measures:

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Bay Area Spotlight: San Francisco Supervisor District 1

Last November, voters in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro had the opportunity to vote in ranked choice voting elections (RCV), which gives voters a stronger voice and greater choice in our elections.

In San Francisco, voter turnout was 80.7% of registered voters casting a ballot -- down 0.5% from 2008, but representing more city voters than ever before in history at 414,516 votes.

San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar was termed out in 2016, which left an open seat on the Board of Supervisors. Nine (9) candidates entered the race. Current San Francisco Unified School District Commissioner Sandra Lee Fewer emerged as the winner in this election. The analysis below provides an overview of how she won in an RCV election.

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Bay Area Spotlight: Berkeley

The Race for Mayor

In an eight (8) candidate race for Berkeley Mayor, Jesse Arreguin, former District 4 Councilmember defeated Laurie Capitelli, former District 5 Councilmember, by a 49.1% to 32.1% margin in first choices. With ranked choice voting (RCV), Arreguin crossed the 50% majority threshold when second choices of Naomi Pete, Mike Lee, and Bernt Wahl were counted.

Many observers of the Berkeley Mayoral race noted the alliance that was formed between Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington, District 7 Councilmember. Worthington’s campaign website notes that with RCV, voters could rank himself and Arreguin. 

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Oakland Passes Resolution Calling For Reforms To Elect the President by National Popular Vote, Eliminate Congressional Gerrymandering, And Remove Barriers To Voting

This week, the City of Oakland unanimously passed a resolution calling for reform to abolish the electoral college. The resolution was introduced by Oakland District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb, and was co-sponsored by At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan. 

The resolution directs the City Administrator and City Lobbyist to work with relevant state and federal elected officials to develop and ratify an amendment to the United States Constitution to replace the Electoral College with a national popular vote for President, such as the legislation recently introduced by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer of California. In the alternative, the resolution asks to approve the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

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Better elections are possible. Let’s get started!

The 2016 elections helped to illustrate the ways in which voters are penalized by our voting rules. Voters of all stripes are deprived of a range of real choices at the ballot. Unrepresentative winners in elections at all levels of government -- by candidates of all parties -- serve to further divide communities and make governing more difficult. Ranked choice voting gives you the freedom to vote for the candidate you like the best without worrying you'll help to elect the candidate you like the least.

On November 8th, Maine voters voted “yes” on a ballot question to adopt ranked choice voting for all statewide elections. In doing so, they became the first state to make vote-splitting and the concept of “spoiler candidates” a thing of the past. California should follow their lead.

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Bay Area Opportunity to Make Voting Easier to Use

Our friends at the Center for Civic Design are looking for people to help test some new ballot designs and voter education materials, to help make voting a better experience.

If you live and vote in San Francisco or Alameda County, they'd love to have you participate in their research study.

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#GivingTuesday with FairVote California

Today is #GivingTuesday, a day to celebrate and kick off the charitable season when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. We hope that you will consider a donation to FairVote California.

We want to thank you again for joining us as we launched FairVote California! Your generosity over the past few months has allowed us to elevate the conversation around democracy reform at a very crucial time in our history. Since the election, it is clear that America’s democracy is in serious need of an upgrade. We plan to build on our recent successes, including a victory in Maine and supporting ranked choice voting in Bay Area elections, to advance our election system.

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Press Statement: Berkeley Mayor-Elect Jesse Arreguin Wins 60% to 40%

Election Results Should Process Round Eliminations Until There Are Two Candidates

As the Alameda County Registrar of Voters continues to update the results with new numbers we wanted to highlight a key point: that Jesse Arreguin has won the mayor’s race by 60% to 40% in the final instant runoff tally against Laurie Capitelli.

In San Francisco, the Department of Elections runs the ranked choice voting algorithm in all contests down to the strongest two candidates and reports on those result. Doing so clarifies the intent of the voters. Here is a recent example from this year’s elections in San Francisco.

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Our Take on Bay Area RCV Election Results

Dear friends,

I went to bed late Tuesday night/Wednesday morning refreshing all of my web browsers trying to keep up with all of the election results. With Election Day behind us, there are exciting opportunities and challenges ahead. I hope we can agree that our election system has a direct impact on who will represent us. As we still process election results at the local and national level, you can turn to us for an analysis of ranked choice voting elections from now until the untold future.

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PRESS RELEASE: Bay Area Ranked Choice Voting Elections Analysis


November 10, 2016


California: Pedro Hernandez, Deputy Director, FairVote California

(415) 613-2363 / [email protected]

National: Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications, FairVote

(301) 270-1238 / (301) 270-4616 / [email protected]

Bay Area Ranked Choice Voting Elections Analysis

Strong showing of voters embracing ranked choice voting, majority winners determined with broad support

San Francisco, CA — Voters used ranked ballots in twelve (12) competitive races featuring more than two candidates in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. FairVote California’s (FVCA) early analysis of the results shows advantages for candidates that actively campaigned for second and third choice support from voters. The four Bay Area cities with ranked choice voting continue to have among the most diverse representatives in the nation, with new winners including Jesse Arreguin becoming the first Latino mayor of Berkeley with a 59% to 41% win in the final instant runoff in an eight-candidate race.

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