San Francisco Elections - November 6th, 2018

Pledge to Rank Your Vote on November 6th


Background

Since 2004, San Francisco has used ranked choice voting (RCV) to elect many of its city officers. Winners will be chosen in a ranked choice voting election, otherwise known as an “instant runoff,” unlike most California vacancies that require two rounds of voting and take far longer to fill. This November, RCV elections will occur for Supervisorial District 2, 4, 6, and 10.

How it works

Ranked choice voting allows voters to rank as many candidates as they want in order of choice--first, second, third, and so on. All first choices are counted, and if a candidate has a majority, then they win, just like any other election. However if nobody has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and those voters have their ballot instantly count for their next choice. This process continues until a candidate receives a majority of votes and is declared the winner.

Calendar of Important Dates

  • October 22 - Online or Postmark date for voter registration
  • October 30 - Vote by Mail Request must arrive by this date.
  • October 9 - Early Voting and Vote by Mail begins
  • November 6 - Election Day


News

Exhausted Ballots: Did They Affect the Outcome in San Francisco’s Mayoral Election?

By Steven Hill and Pedro Hernandez

Executive Summary

In the 2018 mayoral election in San Francisco, 21,000 ballots (8.6% of all ballots cast) became “exhausted” -- is it possible that the number of exhausted ballots impacted the winner in San Francisco's mayoral election? Or, alternatively, if SF voters had more than three rankings (which might have reduced the number of exhausted ballots), might that have affected the outcome? The answer to both questions is: no. By using publicly available ballot-image data to analyze this race, it can be determined that a substantial number of the exhausted ballots came from voters who supported the less progressive-identified candidates in the race. Those voters tended to favor London Breed over Mark Leno by a ratio of 1.36 to 1. Some voters for Jane Kim also saw their ballots exhaust, and those voters tended to strongly favor Mark Leno. Overall, this analysis estimates that, with more rankings for voters leading to fewer exhausted ballots, Leno might have closed the victory margin by an estimated total of 183 votes. This would not have been enough to overcome the 2,600 vote gap between himself and London Breed.

In addition, if Jane Kim had won 700 more first choice rankings and surpassed Mark Leno in the first round, would that have changed the outcome of the election? Definitely not. In fact, London Breed would have won by an even greater margin, because Kim would have picked up fewer second and third rankings from Leno supporters than Leno picked up from Kim supporters.

Huge turnout

  • Voter turnout will end up around 53%, giving San Francisco its highest turnout for mayor in 15 years, much higher than statewide turnout (36%) in California.

Greater usage of ranked choice voting (RCV)

  • The mayor’s race drove turnout. San Francisco voters cast more RCV ballots for mayor than non-RCV ballots for governor and U.S. senator.
  • 86% of voters used at least two of their rankings in the mayor’s race, and nearly 70% used all three of their rankings.