By Nicolas Heidorn, a Truman Scholar at Claremont McKenna College (home of Polysigh‘s John J. Pitney), the following is an excerpt from an op-ed that appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune:
Most local elections in California take place under a first-past-the-post voting system (the plurality winner system), which all too often enables candidates to win without a majority. In the 764 single-seat local elections in 2004, 78 candidates were elected without a majority of the vote, according to data compiled by the California Secretary of State’s Office and the Institute for Social Research at California State University of Sacramento…
In races that are uncontested or where only two candidates are running, one candidate must mathematically receive a majority. But for the local races in California in 2004 with three or more candidates, 37 percent ended with the winner getting less than a majority.
As Heidorn notes, in 2004 Oceanside (the city with boundaries closest to Ladera Frutal) elected a mayor with 39.6%, against a runner up with 37.8%.