Nov 8, 2022 - Politics

San Francisco voter turnout lags 2018 levels

Vote here sign

A sign posted at a polling station outside City Hall for the June primary election. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Early voter turnout in San Francisco is trailing 2018's midterm figures, per local election officials.

Driving the news: As of Sunday, about 24% of the city's registered voters had returned their ballots, SF's Department of Elections said.

  • That's lower than 2018, when about 30% of SF voters had already submitted ballots by the same point in the election cycle, Matthew Selby, the elections department's custodian of records, told Axios via email.

Context: In 2018, overall voter turnout in SF was 74.49% — 48.94% of that came in via mail-in ballots.

What they're saying: Voter turnout has "generally trended down" in SF since 2021 when California residents voted not to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, Selby said.

Between the lines: Selby wouldn't speculate on why turnout has so far been lower this year. Generally, voter participation is driven by issues and candidates on the ballot.

  • The district attorney race is perhaps the most contentious on Tuesday's ballot.
  • Separately, the city's Department of Elections does not have any projections for overall voter turnout.

Of note: San Francisco's Proposition H aims to increase voter turnout. If passed, it would move the scheduled 2023 elections for mayor, sheriff, district attorney, city attorney, and treasurer to 2024, and every four years thereafter.

  • Prop H supporters include the League of Pissed Off Voters, GrowSF and the SF Democratic Party. The SF Republican Party is against the measure.

Be smart: Ballots can be placed in drop boxes until 8pm today, or must be postmarked today to be counted.

What's next: San Francisco's Department of Elections will release four preliminary result reports after polls close tonight.

  • The first batch of preliminary results is expected to come in around 8:45pm and will include vote-by-mail ballots processed before Election Day, while the following three will include polling place results.
  • The department will continue to report results every day that ballots are counted around 4pm.

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