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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Local

City of Albany
Measure BB - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Passed

7,155 votes yes (73.27%)

2,610 votes no (26.73%)

100% of precincts reporting (3/3).

Shall a measure be adopted to change the current method of electing City Council and Board of Education Members from obtaining a plurality of votes to Ranked Choice Voting, in order to make Albany's elections more representative of the votes and preferences of its voters?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

A "yes" vote would establish a "Ranked Choice Voting" at large election system.

NO vote means

A "no" vote would not establish a Ranked Choice Voting" at large election system, leaving the plurality at large election system in place.

Summary

Malathy Subramanian, Albany City Attorney

CITY OF ALBANY CITY ATTORNEY'S IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS AUG 05 2020 OF BALLOT MEASURE BB (Ranked Choice Voting) Reg. of Voters

Measure BB was placed on the ballot by the Albany City Council and if approved by a majority of Albany voters, will amend the Albany Municipal Code to change the City's election system as well as the Albany Unified School District's election system from plurality at large to "Ranked Choice Voting" at large, beginning with the November 8, 2022 general election.

Under the current plurality at large system, voters have a number of votes equal to the number of open seats and each candidate may be selected only once. Ranked Choice Voting allows voters to rank candidates for elected office in order of preference, including write-in candidates. Voters may rank as few or as many candidates on the ballot as allowed by the equipment.

In a single-seat election, voting tabulation proceeds in rounds. Each ballot is counted for the highest ranked candidate. If there are only two candidates for an office, there is only one round and the candidate with more top-ranked votes is declared the winner. If there are three or more candidates for a single office, the candidate with the fewest top-ranked votes after the first round is defeated. His or her votes are then transferred to the highest ranked continuing candidate for that office. Then, a new round of tabulation starts and rounds continue until a candidate is declared the winner.

In a multiple-office election, each ballot is counted and if there is at least one candidate with more votes than the election threshold (the number of votes sufficient to be elected), each candidate above that threshold will be declared elected. The tabulation is complete if the number of elected candidates is equal to the number of available offices. Otherwise, the elected candidate with the most votes is deemed to have a number of votes equal to the election threshold in all subsequent rounds. Each ballot counted for that candidate is assigned a new transfer value, by multiplying the ballot's current transfer value by the surplus fraction for the elected candidate, rounded down to four decimal places. Tabulations and rounds continue until all seats are filled.

Measure BB would require the City Clerk or his or her designee to tabulate the election results, certify them, and publish a summary report of the final tabulation. In addition, the City Clerk would be required to conduct a voter education and outreach program regarding the measure and the "Ranked Choice Voting" system.

A "yes" vote would establish a "Ranked Choice Voting" at large election system.

A "no" vote would not establish a Ranked Choice Voting" at large election system, leaving the plurality at large election system in place.

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure BB. If you desire a copy of the ordinance or measure, please call the City Clerk's office at (510) 528-5710 and a copy will be mailed at no cost to you. 

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Measure " __ " was placed on the ballot by the Albany City Council and if approved by a majority of Albany voters, will amend the Albany Municipal Code to change the City's election system as well as the Albany Unified School District's election system from plurality at large to "Ranked Choice Voting" at large, beginning with the November 8, 2022 general election. 

Under the current plurality at large system, voters have a number of votes equal to the number of open seats and each candidate may be selected only once. Ranked Choice Voting allows voters to rank candidates for elected office in order of preference, including write-in candidates. Voters may rank as few or as many candidates on the ballot as allowed by the equipment. 

In a single-seat election, voting tabulation proceeds in rounds. Each ballot is counted for the highest ranked candidate. If there are only two candidates for an office, there is only one round and the candidate with more top-ranked votes is declared the winner. If there are three or more candidates for a single office, the candidate with the fewest top-ranked votes after the first round is defeated. His or her votes are then transferred to the highest ranked continuing candidate for that office. Then, a new round of tabulation starts and rounds continue until a candidate is declared the winner. 

In a multiple-office election, each ballot is counted and if there is at least one candidate with more votes than the election threshold (the number of votes sufficient to be elected), each candidate above that threshold will be declared elected. The tabulation is complete if the number of elected candidates is equal to the number of available offices. Otherwise, the elected candidate with the most votes is deemed to have a number of votes equal to the election threshold in all subsequent rounds. Each ballot counted for that candidate is assigned a new transfer value, by multiplying the ballot's current transfer value by the surplus fraction for the elected candidate, rounded down to four decimal places. Tabulations and rounds continue until all seats are filled. 

Measure "_" would require the City Clerk or his or her designee to tabulate the election results, certify them, and publish a summary report of the final tabulation. In addition, the City Clerk would be required to conduct a voter education and outreach program regarding the measure and the "Ranked Choice Voting" system. 

A "yes" vote would establish a "Ranked Choice Voting" at large election system. 

A "no" vote would not establish a Ranked Choice Voting" at large election system, leaving the plurality at large election system in place. 

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure"_". If you desire a copy of the ordinance or measure, please call the City Clerk's office at (510) 528-5710 and a copy will be mailed at no cost to you. 

/s/ Malathy Subramanian, City Attorney 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Albany is a small and diverse community, but the current voting system leaves out many of our voices. Some voters elect two or three candidates while others, who cast their votes for losing candidates, elect zero and have no representation. Measure BB will move City Council and School Board elections to Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), giving more voters a voice in Albany.  

RCV lets you rank the candidates, ensuring your vote goes to your most preferred candidate still in the running. This means we can vote for the candidate we want instead of who we think is most electable, our government will accurately reflect our values, elected officials will be more accountable to us, and underrepresented groups will have a fair chance to elect a candidate of their choice. This is why under RCV more women and candidates of color run in and win elections, leading the courts to use RCV to resolve voting rights cases and ensure fairer outcomes for protected minority voters. 

By adopting RCV in Albany, we will: 

● Empower us each to vote our conscience and support candidates with the best ideas without having to choose strategically.

● Make it more likely that Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black and Latino communities have a voice in elections.

● Ensure all communities have a seat at the table and fair and equal representation in government.

We deserve a government that represents our values, our diversity and our strength as a city; by choosing to change our election method we can ensure we have one. Ranked Choice Voting will result in a government that reflects the entire city and responds to the interests of all of us. If you want our government to work toward building unity among all communities, support RCV.  

Visit Voterchoicealbany.org for more. 

Vote YES on Measure BB.  

/s/ Nick Pilch, Albany Mayor 

/s/ Peter Maass, Albany Councilmember 

/s/ Sara Hinkley, Trustee, Albany Unified School District 

/s/ Ruby MacDonald, President, League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville /s/ Eveline Shen, Co-Founder, Voter Choice Albany 

Arguments AGAINST

Argument Against Measure BB

 

Rank choice voting (RCV) may be a good option for some cities, but for Albany it would be expensive, complicated-and pointless. RCV's advantage lies in avoiding run-off elections when there are far more candidates than open seats. In Albany we often have the opposite problem-finding enough candidates to have competitive elections at all. In addition, Albany does not use run-off elections, so avoiding them is not an issue. RCV offers nothing for our city.

 

RCV advocates claim that it would make it easier for ethnic candidates to be elected in Albany. But this is wishful thinking. RCV voting algorithms do not consider race or class. When New York City switched to RCV, it was the ethnic community organizations that resisted (Politico, 11/5/2019).

 

In the 2018 San Francisco mayoral special election, two candidates attempted unsuccessfully to use RCV tactics to block the election of London Breed, the first female African American mayor. Like any election rules, RCV rules can be manipulated.

 

Here in Albany, when candidates of color run for office, they tend to win-and get reelected.

The problem is not getting these candidates elected, it is getting them to run for office in the first place. RCV does nothing to solve that problem.

 

With RCV, a voter who has a choice of four candidates has 24 possible ways to rank them. With five candidates, there are 120 possible rankings. California ballots are already complicated enough. RCV will just add to voter fatigue and could even discourage participation in the electoral process.

 

For Albany, RCV makes no sense. The hypothetical benefits do not outweigh the very real costs of an additional $26,000 per election. RCV does nothing but add more stress to a county voting system struggling to adjust to new pandemic voting procedures.

 

Michael Barnes, Albany City Council Member

Doug Donaldson, Albany Planning & Zoning Commissioner

Jennifer Hansen-Romero, Realtor and President of Solano Avenue Association

 

Replies to Arguments FOR

Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure BB

 Supporters of rank choice voting (RCV) have provided you with some lofty theoretical reasons to support it. However, in the Bay Area, in practice, RCV has accomplished little. In Albany, it will accomplish even less.

  San Francisco has been using RCV since 2004. Oakland, San Leandro and Berkeley have been using it since 2010. All four cities vote by districts and use a single-seat version of RCV known as instant run-off voting. According to online voter registrar records, there have been 60 RCV elections in San Francisco and 83 in the East Bay, a total of 143.

  In 94.4 percent of these elections, the candidate who won the first round of counting either prevailed in the first round (just like in a conventional election) or won after additional rounds of counting rank-choice ballots. In only 5.6 percent of the elections did a candidate who did not take the lead in the first round come from behind to win.

  If the extended ballot counting of RCV only affects the outcome of about one election in twenty, it's not worth the bother. There is no reason to expect Albany's experience will be any better­ especially since this ballot measure would also implement the even messier "at large" version of RCV. (For more analysis of Albany and RCV, please see mb4albany.org).

  For Albany, RCV is a solution without a problem. We strongly recommend that our voters save

 $26,000 per election, and save themselves some aggravation, by voting against this measure.

 Michael Barnes, Albany City Council Member

Doug Donaldson, Albany Planning & Zoning Commissioner

 Jennifer Hansen-Romero, Realtor and President of Solano Avenue Association

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure BB

 Opponents want you to believe that Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is not needed because "in Albany, when candidates of color run for office, they tend to win." This is not true. In 2016, two candidates of color strongly preferred by voters of color were defeated in Albany's City Council and School Board elections.

 Contrary to opponents' misleading claims, RCV will empower voters of color. When RCV is used to elect multiple seats, the number of votes needed to win is more accessible for candidates. This empowers voters to have a meaningful vote and voice in city elections. This is why when RCV was being considered in New York City, it was grassroots communities of color that campaigned for it.

 RCV is simple: you rank candidates in order of your preference. It's insincere for opponents to claim that a voter cannot make their own choices in an RCV election.  In reality, it is our current system that is vulnerable to manipulation: "vote only for me", and candidate slates are tactics that drown out voices across the city.

 RCV offers a clear choice compared to the current winner-take-all system: renters, homeowners, young voters, the LGBTQ community, Latino, API, and other voices across the city will have a real chance to be represented.

 Voting for RCV now, when our nation's democracy is in crisis, is an investment in our city's future and  a chance to do something concrete at the local level. Please join the Albany Democratic Club and the League of Women Voters Berkeley Albany Emeryville in voting yes on Measure BB.

 

  /s/ Nick Pilch, Albany Mayor

/s/ Sara Hinkley, Trustee, Albany Unified School District

/s/ Ruby MacDonald, President, League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville

/s/ Julia Chang Frank, Albany Parks, Recreation and Open Space Commissioner, Co-Founder, Voter Choice Albany

/s/ Andrew Tang, Co-Founder, Voter Choice Albany

 

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Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure BB

Organizations (1)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Measure BB
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

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