In a move that could end up costing Oakland a lot of money, the San Leandro City Council has partially backtracked on ranked choice voting. The Hayward Daily Review reports that one San Leandro Councilwoman Diana Souza changed her vote when the new voting format came up for final passage earlier this week, resulting in a 3-3 tie. The measure will now come back for another vote on April 19, when the council’s seventh member will be on hand. If San Leandro chooses not to implement ranked choice voting this year, then it likely will end up costing the City of Oakland hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The reason is that an about-face by San Leandro would mean that Oakland and Berkeley, the two other cities that intend to use ranked choice voting in 2010, would have to shoulder all of the start-up costs for the new format. But if San Leandro decides to go forward with ranked choice voting, then it would have to pay its share of those costs, too.
Moreover, if San Leandro backs out, then Berkeley might as well, leaving Oakland on the hook for all of the start-up costs. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates told the Express earlier this year that his city would not have agreed to go forward with the new voting system if San Leandro had not said it would, too.
The San Leandro Council intially voted 5-2 in January to implement ranked choice voting this year. And now that Souza has changed her mind, the council’s seventh member, Michael Gregory, who missed the vote earlier this week, will have to vote for the new format again for it to be used this year. If he doesn’t, then it’s too late for San Leandro to hold a June primary, and so the November election would work as a primary and the city would have to hold a run-off election afterward for races in which the top candidate did not win a majority of the votes.