Santos’ RCV Legal Argument May Be Difficult To Defend

By Steven Tavares

“Upon reflection, I am sorry I supported ranked-choice voting,” San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos wrote Friday to the city council. Once one of the voting system’s most staunchest supporters for implementation this fall, Santos has soured on RCV after unofficial results show Stephen Cassidy pulling off an upset of the incumbent mayor, despite trailing in first-place votes.

“There are too many variables and questions in ranked choice voting that I now believe it should be scrapped,” said Santos. Along with Councilman Jim Prola, Santos had pushed for adoption of RCV as far back as late last year. The primary benefit being its long-term cost effectiveness. RCV does away with the need of two elections by consolidating it into one.

Following the likelihood Cassidy will become the first candidate in city history to win election against a sitting mayor, Santos now believes lessening the confusion he says is associated with RCV outweighs its cost-savings. “Even if there are additional costs,” he says, “those costs are worth it in order to have a fair and impartial election.”

Santos, who is out of the country on vacation until the end of the month, does not plan to concede the election to Cassidy just yet. There have been no formal calls for a recount or legal maneuvers. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters must certify results of the election by Nov. 30. Updated results from this weekend increased Cassidy’s lead in ranked-choice voting to 231 votes and narrowed his deficit in first-place votes to 75 against Santos. The latest tally gives Cassidy 50.57 percent of the votes after six rounds to Santos’ 49.43 percent, but a lawsuit filed Nov. 8 in federal court asserts, among other things, races including the San Leandro mayor’s race did not return a true majority winner. The case is one of the pillars Santos’ campaign points toward invalidating this month’s results, with an eye towards running a separate special election runoff early next year.

The City Charter calls for a candidate to be victorious after securing a “majority plus one.” Santos contends Cassidy received just 44 percent of the 23,493 ballots cast in San Leandro. The same argument could be made in the Oakland mayor’s race where Don Perata sat in the same position as Santos, but chose to concede the election last Thursday to Jean Quan.

Language in the charter first adopted by voters after approving Measure F in 2000 and by the council last January when it approved the use of ranked-choice technology may be problematic to Santos’ argument. Measure F, which passed with 63 percent approval called for a run-off system to be enacted if a candidate did not receive a majority plus one of the vote and allowed for a range of methods to reach that majority, including ranked-choice voting “when such technology is available to the city.” The city ordinance approved Jan. 11 by the council and including Santos, appears to bolster the argument in favor of the election results thus far. “All continuing ballots for all continuing candidates shall be counted again in a new round,” it reads

The recent suit against the City of San Francisco is a lower court appeal of a recent ruling in favor of ranked-choice voting. San Francisco has used RCV since 2004. The suit asserts the use of “restricted” ranked-choice voting disenfranchises voter who they say happened to not vote for the candidates who subsequently advanced to the final rounds of tabulation. By limiting voters to rank just three preferences no matter the size of the field, the results give more weight to some votes over others, it says. Incidentally, this was the fear communicated by Councilwoman Diana Souza earlier this year when she made the argument in opposition to RCV. It was Souza and Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak who unsuccessfully attempted to put off RCV’s implementation to another election on two occasions.

Despite similarities to Santos’ case in San Leandro it is unlikely the appellate case will be decided anytime in the near future. As it stands, Cassidy will be sworn-in as mayor Jan. 1, 2011.

19 thoughts on “Santos’ RCV Legal Argument May Be Difficult To Defend

  1. This has all the makings of a children's story;

    The Canoli King dies, his puppet, the Lord Of Linguisa feels as though he will have no opposition in his bid to take over the fiefdom. Meanwhile the Count of Corned Beef senses a weekness in the support of the Lord of Linguisa and decides to make a bold move and overthrow the Lord of Linguisa. All the while the story is covered by the erstwhile reporter, the Malasada Maurader.


  2. You weren't alone Barry. With Giacomo Malatesta gone, people felt no loyalty to his machine, and now that death grip has finally been loosened.


  3. I along with many others voted for Cassidy because we feel this City is slipping and needs a change in direction and leadership. His personal outreach and tireless campaigning, along with his responsiveness to the citizens of SL was refreshing and effective.


  4. Santos didn't run a bad campaign.Cassidy ran a slightly better campaign.Santos' message was that he was dealing with the economic downturn as well as any mayor anywhere. He is not alone in laying off people and cutting city budgets.
    San Leandro does not exist in a vacuum.The country bought a free trade policy that didn't pan out.


  5. Anonymous accuses me of posting anonymously, hilarious.

    If I post I post my name because I have a set of balls unlike most of the chickenshits who post here.

    Mike Santos


  6. Mike Santos–did daddy tell you to start posting anonymously since your embarrasing rants cost him the election?


  7. Anonymous said…

    Is there any question now that Santos is a stupid, selfish a-hole? First, he “punishes” Tim Holmes by not providing police at a children's Halloween event – which is really punishing little children by putting their safety at risk.

    There were 3 officers plus a lt.

    Santos does not control the police the chief does.

    To imply he would put kids life at risk is the sick thinking of Mike Katz's f@#king fat wife Marga

    Hey Marga explain again why your kids are special and get to go to Roosevelt and all the other kids in your neighborhood go to McKinley?

    You people that put others down for doing public service are sick f@#ks


  8. Is there any question now that Santos is a stupid, selfish a-hole? First, he “punishes” Tim Holmes by not providing police at a children's Halloween event – which is really punishing little children by putting their safety at risk.

    Now he wants to spend more money San Leandro doesn't have to try to retain the Mayor's race; after supporting RCV for cost savings. Is it any wonder our city has suffered so much the last four years with this piece of fecal matter at the helm?


  9. Exactly above. Cassidy ran a good campaign. I didn't vote for him, but credit goes where credit is due. I expect him to be marginally better than Santos, but AT LEAST he's not Santos.


  10. RCV might give less well financed an option of creating community coalitions which is a decent offense against entrenched powers with special interest support.In Oakland people power beat money ,where Perata out spent his opponents easily. With Santos, Republicans who are really under represented without proportional representation, Cassidy's base within SLCan , the teachers union support, swing voters and people who over the years grew negative on Santos proved a winning combination. Plus they did much more face to face contact than Santos and the local Democratic Party.Quan and Cassidy did much more door to door work and both won.


  11. The third anonymous poster has a really good point. None of the candidate's for mayor in San Leandro appeared to have had the foresight to ask for any votes other than first place.


  12. You people are stupid! Somebody writes an article and all you do is bad bath people. Get a life and try to be intelligent.


  13. It was public knowledge for people in the East Bay who watch politics that Quan and Kaplan were campaigning for the first and second vote. Candidates in San Leandro should have at least pondered the strategy.


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