Ranked-choice voting

Learn when and how we use this voting method.

When we use ranked-choice voting

With ranked-choice voting, a voter can rank up to 10 candidates in order of preference. San Francisco voters have used this method to fill most local offices since November 2004. These offices include:

  • Mayor
  • Assessor-Recorder
  • City Attorney
  • District Attorney
  • Public Defender
  • Sheriff
  • Treasurer
  • Members of the Board of Supervisors

How voters can rank candidates

On a ballot, a ranked-choice contest appears as a grid. We list candidates in the far-left column and show rankings on the top row.

To vote on the contest, rank the candidates by filling in ovals from left to right:

  1. In the 1st column, fill in the oval for your 1st choice
  2. In the 2nd column, fill in the oval for your 2nd choice
  3. In the 3rd column, fill in the oval for your 3rd choice, and so on.

Keep these tips in mind when ranking:

  • You can rank as many or as few candidates as you like. 
  • You cannot give the same rank to more than one candidate. This is called an overvote. Your vote in this column and any later columns will not be counted. 
  • You cannot rank the same candidate more than once. We will only be able to count your first ranking and will disregard all others. 
  • To rank a write-in candidate, write the name in the space at the end of the candidate list and fill in the oval for the rank.

How we count ranked-choice ballots

We use a multi-round process to count ranked-choice votes.  

In the first round, we count all the 1st-choice votes for every candidate. If a candidate wins a majority of 1st-choice votes in this round, that candidate wins. Counting is then complete.

If there is no winner in the first round, we move to a second round. In the second round, we eliminate the candidate with the fewest 1st-choice votes. So, if a voter’s 1st-choice candidate had the fewest total 1st-choice votes, we count their 2nd-choice candidate as their new top choice.

If a candidate wins a majority in the second round, that candidate wins. Counting is then complete. If there is no majority winner, we again eliminate the candidate with the fewest votes. Then we recount, and continue this process until a candidate wins.

Get some practice marking a ranked-choice contest with our Ranked-Choice Voting Practice Tool!

Get help

Department of Elections

1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
City Hall, Room 48
San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone

Fax: 415-554-7344
TTY: 415-554-4386

中文: 415-554-4367
Español: 415-554-4366
Filipino: 415-554-4310

Last updated June 7, 2024