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Berkeley's ranked-choice voting system, explained

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Senior Staff

NOVEMBER 13, 2022

The city of Berkeley has been using ranked-choice voting in its elections for city auditor, mayor and city council since 2010, while school board and rent board are decided by plurality vote.

In the context of this year’s midterm elections, the ranked-choice system could be implemented in the races for District 1 and District 8, which are the only eligible races with multiple candidates. Ranked-choice takes effect if no candidate receives a 50% majority of the first-choice votes, according to the official election site for Alameda County.

Election officials eliminate the candidate with the fewest votes during each round of ranked-choice voting. The votes cast for that candidate are then reallocated to the remaining candidates based on the voter’s subsequent preference until one candidate crosses the 50% threshold. This eliminates the need for runoff elections, according to the election site.

While the election site includes unofficial ranked-choice voting results, these are only based on current ballot counts — candidates cannot be officially eliminated and votes cannot be reallocated until all ballots are counted.

For Berkeley City Council District 1, no candidate has 50% of the vote as of press time, so ranked-choice voting could be implemented in the future. Districts 4 and 7 have only one candidate each and are thus ineligible for the ranked-choice elimination process. While District 8 has five candidates in the running, Mark Humbert has well over the simple majority necessary to avoid the ranked choice process as of press time.

Riley Cooke is a deputy news editor. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @rrileycooke.

NOVEMBER 13, 2022