San Francisco's problems with Instant Runoff Voting (excerpt from
San Francisco Chronicle's front page story)
Preferential voting software breaks down in San Francisco
Thu, 4 Nov 2004 10:07:12 PST
In the election of 2 Nov 2004, San Francisco's district supervisor
election used ranked-choice voting for the first time.
It went just fine on Tuesday during the election.
Preliminary results showed candidates in three districts had won by a clear
majority (so no reranking-rounds were needed), whereas the other four seats
remained to be determined by the preferential ballot counting process.
The computer processing broke down completely on Wednesday afternoon when election
workers began to merge the first, second, and third choices into the
program that is supposed to sequentially eliminate low-vote candidates
and redistribute voters' second and third choices accordingly.
However [fortunately], no San Francisco ballots were lost, because each ballot has a
The software is provided by ES&S (Election Systems and Software, in
Omaha). This system has undergone federal and state testing, as well
as pre-election testing in which everything seemed to work perfectly.
The results of the four contested supervisors' races are expected to be delayed
up to two weeks.
[Suzanne Herel, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Nov 2004, front page continued on A7]