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Ranked-Choice Voting

Ranked-Choice voting was passed by the voters as an amendment to the City Charter in March of 2002. Ranked-choice voting allows San Francisco voters to rank up to three candidates for a single office. This makes it possible to elect local officials by majority vote without the need for a separate run-off election.

Who is elected using ranked-choice voting?

San Francisco voters use ranked-choice voting to elect the Mayor, Sheriff, District Attorney, City Attorney, Treasurer, Assessor-Recorder, Public Defender, and Members of the Board of Supervisors.

How do I mark the ranked-choice ballot?

The ranked-choice ballot lists the names of all the candidates in three repeating columns.

  1. To mark the ranked-choice ballot, select your first-choice candidate in the first column by completing the arrow pointing to your choice.
  2. To indicate a second choice, select a different candidate in the second column by completing the arrow pointing to your choice.
  3. To indicate a third choice, select a different candidate in the third column by completing the arrow pointing to your choice.

Write-In Candidates:

To vote for a qualified write-in candidate who is not listed on the ballot, write the person's name on the blank line at the end of the candidate list and complete the arrow.

When marking the ranked-choice ballot, keep in mind:

  • You may--but are not required to--rank up to three candidates. If there are fewer than three candidates for the same office, or to rank fewer than three candidates, leave any of the remaining columns blank.
  • If you select the same candidate in more than one column, that vote for that candidate will count only once.
  • Your second choice will be counted only if your first-choice candidate has been eliminated. Your third choice will be counted only if BOTH your first-choice and second-choice candidates have been eliminated.

How ranked-choice voting works:

  • To start, every first-choice selection is counted. Any candidate who receives a majority (more than 50%) of the first-choice selections is declared the winner.
  • If no candidate receives a more than 50% of the first-choice selections, the candidate who received the fewest number of first-choice selections is eliminated.
  • Voters who selected the eliminated candidate as their first choice will have their vote transferred to their second choice.
  • The votes are then recounted. If any remaining candidate receives more than 50% of the votes, he or she is declared the winner.
  • If no remaining candidate receives more than 50% of the votes, the process of eliminating candidates and transferring votes to the next ranked candidate is repeated until one candidate has a winning majority.

New Video! "Ranked Choice Voting Review"
This video contains comprehensive information on ranked-choice voting, including a sample election demonstrating how choices are counted.

Ranked-Choice Voting Interactive Demonstration
View a demonstration of ranked-choice voting, including an interactive explanation on how to correctly mark the ranked-choice ballot.

Ranked-Choice Voting Voter Education Materials

Demonstration Ballot (PDF)
This is a sample of what the ranked-choice ballot looks like.

Ranked-Choice Voting Tri-fold Brochure (PDF):
This brochure explains how to mark the ranked-choice ballot and how votes are counted.

San Francisco Charter Section 13.102
The Charter that section governs ranked-choice voting in San Francisco.

Last updated: 10/11/2011 4:58:03 PM