Mar 12, 2024 - News

Where San Francisco's most controversial ballot measures stand

An illustration of a hand holding up a ballot surrounded by ballot imagery.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A week after election night, preliminary election results still show the two measures that would expand the powers of the police department and allow drug testing of people who rely on financial assistance from the city have strong leads.

Why it matters: The measures came amid ongoing concerns about crime and public safety in San Francisco, as well as 2023 marking the city's deadliest year of overdoses on record.

The big picture: Proposition E (police power) and Proposition F (welfare drug screening) were the two most controversial local measures put in front of San Francisco voters this month, with progressives and moderates on opposite sides of each issue.

  • Proposition E seeks to enable the police to chase people suspected of committing felonies or misdemeanors, use drones for car chases, and install public surveillance cameras with facial recognition technology.
  • Proposition F would make anyone who receives financial benefits from San Francisco's County Adult Assistance Program subject to drug screening.
  • Moderates were for both measures, while progressives were against them.

By the numbers: As of Monday night's returns, Proposition E has about 54% of votes in support of the measure, while Proposition F has about 58% of votes in support, according to the latest figures from the city's elections department.

Of note: There are still about 9,100 votes left to count — a mix of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots.

  • Voter turnout is currently at 44%, compared to 61% in March 2020.

What they're saying: Steven Buss, co-founder of moderate advocacy group Grow SF, told Axios via email the "results show that voters value pragmatism over politics."

  • Last week, Buss said progressive politicians "had their turn" and "failed," the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
  • "Now it's time for the city to move on," he added.

Yes, but: Progressive Supervisor Dean Preston, who is up for reelection in November amid a well-funded campaign to replace him, believes San Franciscans can still "uphold our City's progressive vision," he told Axios in a statement via email.

What to watch: San Franciscans will have another opportunity to show where they fall on the political spectrum in November when they'll be asked to vote for mayor, local supervisors and more.


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