Tag Archives: poll

US and India Benefit From the Same Democratic Process

Although many feel the democratic urgency of voting this election cycle in the US, it is not uncommon to hear, “My vote won’t count anyway.”

Associate Professor of Political Science at SFSU and Researcher, Jason McDaniel addresses the importance of local elections as a “foundation for democracy” and a “pathway to racial-ethnic equity.” Whether it be, city, county, or state jurisdiction, local law supersedes federal law and can more accurately represent the sentiment of its community. 

However, at the local elections in Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Leandro, your vote actually has more bang for its buck. 

Why? Because of their implementation of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).

Entrenched in the SF Voting Data, McDaniel cautions that RCV can be a contributor to the confounding nature of ballot response but its results are that of a lower democratic deficit. He finds that complexities within the SF local election and lack of information lowers voter turnout for communities of color.

The US follows the First Past The Post (FPTP) voting system, in which you vote for one candidate and the candidate who receives the most votes wins the election. At the Ethnic Media Services briefing on October 6th, McDaniel reviewed Rank Choice Voting, also known as Instant Runoff Voting. 

When RCV is used, candidates are ranked from 1-10 (depending on the number of candidates). If a candidate immediately has an outright majority (50 percent plus one), then that candidate is declared the winner of the election. However, if none of the candidates have an outright majority, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their votes are redistributed based on their voters’ second choice rankings. The process continues until one candidate’s adjusted vote number hits an outright majority.

Dr. Jason McDaniel’s example of RCV from the Mayoral Election in SF (red indicates eliminated candidate)

Ranking candidates requires more knowledge of all platforms and of RCV. McDaniels comments, “Reformers who want to change democracy often overestimate what voters care about…The vast majority of voters don’t have strong preferences for more than one or two candidates.” The idea of voters having multiple informed preferences in nonpartisan, local elections is quite novel, unheard of, and is likely a barrier to participation. Research shows that it is possible to recover the loss of voter participation.

Benefits can outweigh the implications of using RCV in a few ways:

  1. This particular method of voting can mitigate “spoiler” candidates, where a candidate that may be a third choice wins an election to a split vote.
  2. The candidate that wins better represents the majority.   
  3. Voters can cast “sincere” votes, unbridled by the burden of a “wasted vote”. Independent third-party candidates can be represented by a genuine vote, but if they are dropped during the process of RCV, then another candidate with a similar platform can receive that vote.
  4. It can reduce negative campaigning because it may lie in the interest of multiple parties with resembling platforms to advocate for one another.
  5. It can reduce polarization by rewarding moderate candidates. There is no research to support this yet.

Why stop at local elections?

India, which generally employs FPTP voting, explored a version of Rank Choice Voting in electing their 14th and current President, Ram Nath Kovind. President Kovind is only the second Dalit president elected in Indian history. RCV secured a notable win for someone like Kovind, who overcame countless adversity in his path to a presidential win, while accounting for the public vote in a substantial way. After his win, Kovind addressed the Indian populace, “My win should prove that even honest people can get ahead in life.”

An ongoing dialogue around voting processes can be beneficial for our communities and for reform. If not to change the process, then to better educate everyone around us. 

Anni Chung, SF resident and CEO of Self Help for the Elderly, “Rank Choice Voting has always been a mystery to me, even now, after all these years.” 

Voting can only be effective if understood. Keep the conversation going and go out and vote this November 3rd!


Srishti Prabha is the Assistant Editor at India Currents and has worked in low income/affordable housing as an advocate for children, women, and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.

Who Won India Currents’ Presidential Primary Poll?

We have a wonderful reader base that took time out of their day to take our Presidential Primaries Survey! We received 34 responses and from that we tried to gauge the pulse of what our average Indian American reader feels about the current political climate.

94% of participants will be voting in the primaries, however only 72% of those read up before voting.

Surprisingly, despite having male heavy participation, Elizabeth Warren came out as the winner of our Presidential Primary Poll. Unsurprisingly, the winning candidate was a Democrat, as 61.8% of people responding reported Democratic affiliations.

Forms response chart. Question title: What is your political affiliation?. Number of responses: 34 responses.

Some basic demographics, 70% of our participants were making more than 100k a year and 76% of our participants were older than 30. We had gender distribution of: 55.9% male, 44.1% female, 0% nonbinary respondents.

Forms response chart. Question title: What is your annual income?. Number of responses: 34 responses.

The precedent then set for the following information can provide us some insight into what type of people are responding and what their reasoning might be. Our data indicates that the respondents are professionals with high income, skewing towards a male lens.

When asked about who they will be voting for, the responses were diverse – some outdated:

  1. Elizabeth Warren (8) – 23.5%
  2. Bernie Sanders (4), Michael Bloomberg (4), Abstain (4) – 11.8%
  3. Joe Biden (3), Donald Trump (3) – 8.8%
  4. Pete Buttigieg (2), Tulsi Gabbard (2) – 5.9%
  5. Amy Klobuchar (1), Andrew Yang (1), None of the Above (1) – 2.9%

Forms response chart. Question title: Who are you planning on voting for in the Presidential Primaries? . Number of responses: 34 responses.

Top three issues taxpayers would want their money spent on:

  1. Health Care
  2. Education
  3. Environment and Infrastructure

What the information above indicates is that our readers want a female presence in the Oval Office. Upon further investigation, 6/15 women voted for Elizabeth Warren with only 2 votes for Warren being male. The distribution shows that identity politics plays a huge role during election season.

Furthermore, I initially thought that our high income base would be concerned with tax cuts, yet the survey shows that they are not. Most respondents genuinely care about future generations living in a sustainable world with good education and (hopefully) affordable health care.

Happy Super Tuesday and get out the vote!

Srishti Prabha is the current Assistant Editor at India Currents and has worked in low income/affordable housing as an advocate for women and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.

Presidential Primary Poll: Make Your Voice Count

The U.S. Presidential Primary Election cycle starts with Iowa on February 3rd, 2020. This marks the nascence of the election year and an exciting time for politics. What is the average Indian American thinking during the elections? Are you politically engaged or are you tired of the non stop political talk? Please help us find out by completing this two minute survey and have your voice heard!

CLICK HERE TO TAKE OUR SURVEY