Federal Judge Supports Ranked Choice Voting in San Francisco
In a 19-page written ruling delivered Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg denied a motion, filed by Dudum's attorneys, that sought an injunction barring the use of ranked-choice voting in future city elections. Dudum and his co-plaintiffs argue that the system is unconstitutional because it limits voters to listing only three candidates on their ballots.
In his ruling, Seeborg stated that ranked-choice voting -- wherein voters list their top three candidates in order of preference, allowing their vote to be shifted to another choice on the list if their top pick is out of the running -- is "not fundamentally unfair" and that "the imposition of an injunction just months before the election would potentially -- and, needlessly -- send San Francisco's municipal election system into a tumult."
Dudum, who lost a 2006 race to now-disgraced former supervisor Ed Jew, said he had not yet heard about the ruling when SF Weekly reached him by telephone. "I'm disappointed," he said. "I'm pretty sure we're going to appeal the decision."
It remains unclear whether the rest of Dudum's lawsuit -- which argues that ranked-choice voting in San Francisco should be disbanded because it unconstitutionally restricts the right to vote -- will proceed now that the motion for an injunction has been denied. Dudum referred questions on the suit's future to his San Mateo-based lawyer, Christopher Skinnell, who had not returned a call by press time.
You can read the judge's ruling here:
UPDATE, 2:49 P.M.: Skinnell called us back. He said he's not sure whether the lawsuit will progress further now that the judge has struck down Dudum's motion for an injunction. "We're still sort of digesting all of the options and haven't made any decisions," Skinnell said.
Photo | hjl