The San Leandro City Council once again approved of moving forward with Ranked Choice Voting at their meeting last night.
It’s a good thing they did.
The council had already given RCV the thumbs up and had entered into a cost-sharing agreement with the cities of Oakland and Berkeley—who will also be using RCV for the first time this year—and with Alameda County who will conduct the RCV elections on behalf of all three East Bay cities. By entering into the agreement, San Leandro was on the hook for the city’s portion of the costs of the 2010 Ranked Choice Voting election and the education program for letting voters know about the new election method—whether the city actually used RCV or not.
Things got squirrely two weeks ago when a procedural vote for implementing the new voting method came up. One council member switched from a vote of support to opposition and did so when one of the other “yes” votes was out of the country and absent from the meeting. That resulted in a 3-3 tie vote. San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos then employed a rarely used procedure to set aside the vote and place the item on the council’s next meeting agenda, which was last night.
Had San Leandro decided NOT to use Ranked Choice Voting, it would have opened up the proverbial Pandora’s Box. Reversing the decision to use RCV would have wound up with the city shelling out money for an election method they couldn’t use while leaving San Leandro without any way to conduct an election in compliance with the city charter.
Common sense prevailed last night. Council Member Bill Stephens, who had previously opposed RCV, recognized the absurdity of the situation when he said he was switching his vote to yes. Stephens said he initially opposed RCV because of the costs involved in implementing the new system but was switching his vote because “it would cost us more money not to go forward.” The motion carried 5-2.