The more people that vote the better. (Cindy Chew/2006 S.F. Examiner)

Vote today, and beat back the big money interests

http://www.sfexaminer.com/category/the-city/sf-news-columns/on-guard/

Vote.

That’s going to be the first and last thing I tell you. Because by the time you read this, it’ll be election day in San Francisco, and only a fraction of you will have actually cast ballots. This election is predicted to turn out as few as 25 percent of eligible voters, worse than our already dismal participation last year.

And that’s a shame, because voter turnout is the only way to beat back monied interests — of which there are more than a few.

The first of these big spenders is Airbnb, which saw its headquarters stormed Monday by dozens of housing and homeless advocates, ostensibly in support of Proposition F, which would more strictly regulate Airbnb­-like “home sharing.”

My colleague Julia Carrie Wong covered the protest at SFWeekly.com, showing protesters galavanting below the techies’ offices, chanting, yelling and playing instruments, flying signs saying: “Evictions, Love Airbnb” and “Pay­to­Play Politics, Love Airbnb.”

Unsurprisingly, Airbnb opposes Prop. F.

People power has a tough time stemming a tide of more than $8 million in political spending. I was watching the World Series on Sunday, and between innings my eyes were blasted by Airbnb-backed “No on F” ads. Yikes. That’s serious moolah.

And while Airbnb plays up fears of spying on your neighbors (hogwash), the website Inside Airbnb shows startling new data — as many as 4,033 out of 7,029 Airbnb listings in San Francisco are for entire homes or apartments. Only 2,490 of these are frequently booked, but The City reports we only have 10,000 or so vacant apartments at any one time for rent.

So if you think Airbnb does not drive evictions, I’ve got an orange bridge with an excellent Bay view to sell you. Maybe I’ll even list it on Airbnb.

The next big spender this election is the ever­-present Ron Conway, tech industry “angel investor” (a fancy­pants title meaning “rich guy who invests in tech to get richer”).

Recently, Conway (a noted Republican) emailed a list of his favored electoral picks to tech businesses he’s invested in, including (but not limited to) Pando Daily, Facebook, Google, Airbnb and more, according to Pando Daily.

Not surprisingly, he backs District 3 Supervisor Julie Christensen, who is also Mayor Ed Lee’s pick. We’ll see if Conway’s more than $300,000 in personal spending and his emailed electoral list has any sway.

My bet though is that even if Christensen wins, Conway’s pitching won’t have played a large role.

One of the most fascinating presentations on voter turnout last year came from analyst Corey Cook,formerly of University of San Francisco. Of his many findings, this one stood out: Tech workers don’t vote. At least, not in large enough numbers to matter.

The last large effort to steer the electoral ship in the supervisor race between Christensen and Aaron Peskin is alleged voter fraud, as this column covered last week.

Even though many of these allegations stemmed from allies of Christensen, accusing Peskin­ supporters of swiping ballots from Chinese­-speaking seniors, reports are coming in from those not in Christensen’s camp as well.

Unlike the Christensen supporters, they say the campaign affiliation of the ballot­-swipers is hard to track, and that dozens of seniors may have been defrauded.

“A lot of seniors say someone took their ballot, and they don’t know what campaign someone was working on,” Emily Lee, of the Chinese Progressive Association, told me.

In the meantime, findings from the District Attorney’s Office aren’t likely to come soon — and certainly not in time to influence the election. And with a vote that may be so close, even a handful of frauded votes could swing the election.

Reading about these efforts to buy and steal the election shouldn’t get you down, though. The salve to these ills is easy: vote.

The more we all vote, the less influence these swindlers have. You can cure your electoral despair with a few strokes of a pen.

So, vote.

On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email him at joe@sfexaminer.com.

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