Tomorrow is election day (you're going to vote, right?) and a couple of controversial ballot propositions have received a lot of (deserved) attention. As a possible voter you have been asked to make decisions on a slew of important matters, including Proposition I (the Mission moratorium) and Proposition F (that Airbnb one). But what about the mayor? Mayor Lee is up for reelection as well, despite the fact that he is running what many in the media have called a "virtually unopposed" campaign. And yet, he does have some opponents — three of whom have banded together in an attempt to unseat the incumbent mayor via the ranked-choice system. Just how many votes would his opponents actually need in order to be successful? Well, about 65,000 between the three of them, calculates one publication.
San Francisco Magazine, a publication whose editor called Mayor Ed Lee's opponents "a clown car of neophytes and eccentrics," last Friday published a "back-of-the-election-mailer" estimate of the numbers that Lee's opponents would need in order to unseat the Mayor. They note that three of Lee's challengers — Stuart Schuffman, Amy Farrah Weiss, and Francisco Herrera — are attempting to use San Francisco's ranked-choice voting system to defeat Mayor Lee with a slogan of "Vote 1-2-3 to replace Ed Lee.” The slogan suggests that if enough voters select three candidates other than Lee for the top three spots, the combined votes might be enough to ouster Ed. And that doesn't sound like a lot in a city of 800,000, but given that probably only a quarter of registered voters (around 150,000 people total) are likely to vote at all in this election, it amounts to almost half.
The magazine is thus very quick to assure us that this is all basically pointless.
"The trouble with the 1-2-3 strategy is that it has to be executed flawlessly in order to have any effect at all. In reality, says political consultant Alex Clemens, many people don't fill out a second and third choice on the ballot [...]."
In conversation with SF Mag, Clemens continued that "[ranked-choice voting] doesn't work particularly well when the three candidates promoting the strategy have in aggregate a very small percentage of support."
So, in other words: Make sure to vote tomorrow, although your vote in the mayoral race is probably meaningless.
Previously: Video: Mayor Ed Lee's Vision For San Francisco