DUDUM v. ARNTZ
640 F.3d 1098 (2011)
Ron DUDUM; Matthew Sheridan; Elizabeth Murphy; Katherine Webster; Marina Franco; Dennis Flynn, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
John ARNTZ, Director of Elections of the City and County of San Francisco; City and County of San Francisco, a municipal corporation; San Francisco Department of Elections; San Francisco Elections Commission, Defendants-Appellees.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted March 15, 2011.
Filed May 20, 2011.
Before: RICHARD A. PAEZ, MARSHA S. BERZON, and CARLOS T. BEA, Circuit Judges.
BERZON, Circuit Judge:
In 1873, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll, spotted what he took to be an "extraordinary injustice": using simple plurality voting to determine the winners of elections.1 Dodgson, celebrated for his whimsical classics Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, was also a mathematician who developed election systems—meaning, simply, methods for translating preferences, or votes, into winners of elections. Dodgson disliked simple plurality voting because, in fields with several candidates, it can elect a candidate who receives the most first-place votes but is strongly disfavored by a majority of the electorate. Dodgson's innovative election systems were designed to remedy that limitation, and are still praised today because they tend to elect candidates with widespread electoral support.2 While Dodgson preferred his systems to simple plurality voting, he recognized that his innovations were themselves imperfect. In a letter accompanying one of his pamphlets, Dodgson lamented: "A really scientific method for arriving at the result which is, on the whole, most satisfactory to a body of electors, seems to be still a desideratum."3
Over a century later, Dodgson's wish remains unfulfilled. No perfect election system has been devised. Nonetheless, some governmental entities continue to experiment with innovative methods for electing candidates. At issue here is one such system, used by San Francisco for the election of certain city officials.FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In March 2002, San Francisco voters approved a ballot measure, Proposition A, amending the City Charter to adopt a new electoral system for certain municipal elections. Before adoption of Proposition A, most city officials were selected in a two-round election: The city first held a general election. Then, unless one candidate won an outright majority in the first-round election, the two candidates who had garnered the most votes faced each other in a runoff election. Proposition A implemented instant runoff voting ("IRV")4 to replace the two-round runoff
election system for the following city offices: Mayor, Sheriff, District Attorney, City Attorney, Treasurer, Assessor-Recorder, Public Defender, and members of the Board of Supervisors. See S.F. CHARTER § 13.102(b).