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Ballot measure that could switch San Diego to ‘ranked choice’ voting delayed to 2024

Facing tepid support from City Council, supporters say they will spend two years building support

Supporters of a proposed San Diego ballot measure that would switch city elections to an alternative system called “ranked choice” voting have decided to target 2024 instead of this year.

The decision to wait two years comes shortly after City Council members expressed concerns about the measure, but chose not to kill it. Instead, the council’s Rules Committee voted in April to allow the measure to continue tentatively moving forward.

Supporters say ranked choice or “instant runoff” voting, which is becoming steadily more popular across the nation, reduces political polarization and negative campaigning while giving voters more choices and boosting their participation in elections.

Council members say they support those goals, but they question whether the proposed new system would achieve them. They also question whether San Diego’s elections have as many problems as some critics contend.

Measure gets unanimous OK for further study, but prospects for November ballot highly uncertain.

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In addition, they say San Diego has only one chance to get its switch to a potential new system correct, so the move should be made slowly and carefully.

Similar proposals in 2018 and 2020 also got warm receptions initially, but both eventually got rejected before they could be presented to voters for approval.

Supporters said in a news release that they had made the “strategic decision” to wait until 2024 despite the ballot measure still being technically alive for this year.

“We will continue building awareness in our community by hosting events, communicating with councilmembers to see if we can earn their support, expanding our base of support and keeping you informed with updates,” supporters said in the news release. “To be clear, this does not mean that this is the end of the road for us. Just the opposite.”

One advantage of waiting until 2024 is that voter turnout is expected to be much higher then because it’s a presidential election year.

Other San Diego ballot measures under consideration for this November include proposals to revamp how the city charges for trash pick-up, allowing child care centers in city parks, amending the coastal height limit near the sports arena, providing independent counsel to the city auditor, giving Mayor Todd Gloria more power over city hiring and repealing the city’s ban on union-friendly project labor agreements.


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