Low turnout could have rippling effects

Voter turnout for this mayoral election was dismal, with arough estimate of 109,000 voters going to polls.

The number is preliminary, according to Department of Elections Director John Arntz, and it fails to include absentee and provisional ballots delivered Tuesday. It is one of the lowest turnouts in The City’s history.

The low turnout in a mayoral election could have serious implications for the future of San Francisco politics.According to the City Charter, the number of voters in a mayoral election determines how many signatures are required for an initiative to be placed on ballots for the next four years.

For this election, petitions needed 10,396 signatures to get on the ballot — 5 percent of the vote cast for all mayoral candidates in 2003. For the next four years, proponents will need roughly 5,500 signatures if the election turnout numbers hold up, meaning future ballots could become clogged with legislation.

Despite the low turnout, San Franciscans didn’t quite outdo themselves as far as civil irresponsibility goes.

In November 2001, less than 30 percent of voters came out to the polls, and about half that number showed up for the subsequent runoff in December, making 75,267 people the lowest voter turnout in San Francisco since 1960, when those numbers were first posted.

In that runoff election, Dennis Herrera won the office of city attorney against challenger Jim Lazarus. Voter apathy helped spur the ranked-choice voting initiative The City uses now instead of costly runoffs.

This election, 419,599 people were registered in San Francisco by the October deadline — a 9 percent drop from the last mayoral election.

bbegin@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Jose Sharks (pictured Feb. 15, 2020 vs. Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center) open the season on Monday against the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis. (Tribune News Service archive)
This week in Bay Area sports

A look at the upcoming major Bay Area sports events (schedules subject… Continue reading

A health care worker receives one of the first COVID-19 vaccine doses at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Tuesday Dec. 15, 2020. (Courtesy SFgov)
SF to open three large sites for COVID-19 vaccinations

Breed: ‘We need more doses. We are asking for more doses’

Tongo Eisen-Martin, a Bernal Heights resident, named San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tongo Eisen-Martin becomes San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate

Bernal Heights resident Tongo Eisen-Martin has become San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate.… Continue reading

Homeless people's tents can be seen on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/S.F. Examiner)
Statewide business tax could bring new funds to combat homelessness

San Francisco could get more than $100 million a year for housing, rental assistance, shelter beds

The Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco (a mural by artist Jamie Treacy is pictued) has a lineup of free online programming including activities for youngsters scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18. (Courtesy Demetri Broxton/Museum of the African Diaspora)
Stanford, Museum of the African Diaspora host MLK Day activities

Online offerings include films, music, discussion

Most Read