An out-of-left-field lawsuit has been filed against San Francisco’s use of Instant Runoff Voting claiming, of all things, that voters aren’t given enough choices on their ballots. IRV is also known as Ranked Choice Voting and, for those unfamiliar with it, allows voters to rank their three top candidate choices on the ballot in order of preference. In other words, voters get three choices when they vote—or three times the choices they currently have when voting for, say, Governor or President.
The suit is a loser. The constitutionality of IRV has been upheld again and again, most recently in June by a unanimous decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Claiming that not having more than three choices is unconstitutional, as this lawsuit does, is just absurd; especially since 99% of the elections in this country only allow voters one choice.
So the real question about this dog of a lawsuit isn’t whether it has a chance (it doesn’t), it’s this: who’s the money behind it? And what are those moneyed interests trying to achieve (or thwart)? High priced lawyers, by definition, don’t come cheap. So, who’s behind this and what do they want?
A colleague who did an internet search says that several of the plaintiffs in the case have prominent positions in the real estate and development industries. The lawyers taking the case also are said to represent the proponents of the “Top Two" primary proposal. Top Two would severely restrict voter choices on the November general election ballot. It looks like a confluence of motives to squelch the interests of the Little Guy. Imagine that.
In an era when “google” has become a widely used verb, it’s amazing that not one reporter working this story has asked these questions, let alone provided any answers.