San Francisco elections department dons smiley face to teach ranked-choice voting

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Beginning in October transit shelters, Muni buses and billboards around The City will have smiley faces on them. It’s part of the Department of Elections planned public outreach campaign to ensure voters know how to properly fill out ranked-choice voting ballot cards.

An “unhappy face” is next to the ballot where the voter voted for the same candidate all three times to indicate that is the wrong way to fill out the ballot.

“What we have seen is that people who aren’t proficient in English … are told often by people they know to vote the same candidate three times,” Department of Elections director John Arntz said. If people vote for the same candidate all three times only the first-choice vote counts and the rest do not.

The smiley face is next to the ballot that is properly filled out, where the voter ranked three different candidates.

“Some departments have mascots. But no one could draw. And so we kind of decided on smiley face. Smiley face will be the mascot,” Artnz announced to the elections commission during its Aug. 17 meeting.

This is the first mayoral race where ranked-choice voting will come into play.

Pictured is a draft of the brochures with the smiley face that will be included as insets in the vote-by-mail ballots sent out to voters.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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