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 March 2002. These offices include:
- City Attorney
- District Attorney
- Public Defender
- 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:
- In the 1st column, fill in the oval for your 1st choice
- In the 2nd column, fill in the oval for your 2nd choice
- 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.
- You cannot rank the same candidate more than once.
- 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!
Department of Elections1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
City Hall, Room 48
San Francisco, CA 94102
Last updated April 17, 2023