Today I visited the election administration in Alameda County, which covers areas on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay, centred on the City of Oakland. One point of interest that I wasn’t aware of is that three of this county’s larger cities will be experimenting with using preference voting (what they have called “ranked choice” voting for city elections such as Mayor and City Council, using it for the first time at next week’s election.
The cities of Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro have all introduced preference voting recently, and it will be used for the first time in 2010.
Voters in the City and County of San Francisco have been using preference voting for local elections since a ballot initiative in 2002.
The system is similar to optional preference voting in Australia, except preferences are limited to three options, due to the system of scanning and counting ballots which is necessitated by the dozens of electoral contests to be counted at each election. The ballot design is also very different.
Attached below is a copy of the leaflet showing how US ballot papers are designed in order to conduct a preference ballot that can be read by a machine. Click to enlarge the image.