Monitors, ranked-choice voting accent election day

November 8, 2011 12:51:23 PM PST
If you see some strangers in your polling place in San Francisco today, they are probably from Sacramento and their job is to make sure there is no funny business, especially in the mayor's race.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen is the one who sent them. Her spokesperson told ABC7 there were a variety of concerns among a number of San Franciscans, with Mayor Ed Lee at the center of much of the controversy. His campaign has been accused of voter fraud and voter manipulations. Seven of his opponents signed a letter to Secretary Bowen asking for help and she has responded by sending election monitors. They will be roving from place to place looking for improprieties.

Despite a knockdown drag out campaign, not many people are voting today. More voters could be found at city hall than in places like the Marina, but still not the number of people Director of Elections John Arntz was anticipating.

"In the last elections with mayor on the ballot, the turnout's been, on average, about 50 percent. So far though, when I look at the numbers of the vote-by-mail ballots that weve received and also the early voting that's taken place here at city hall, it's about 16 percent," Arntz said.

That is a low turnout despite a hard-fought mayoral election, so hard fought the secretary of state's office sent election observers to San Francisco and nowhere else.

Also in the mix today is ranked-choice voting, which may come into play in the mayor's race for the first time. San Francisco has had it for years, but never needed it because Gavin Newsom always received the vast majority of the votes on the first ballot. Ranked-choice voting is where voters rank their top three candidates first, second, and third. If no one gets half the vote in the first count, the least popular candidate is dropped and their supporters' second place vote is distributed. That continues until someone gets 50 percent.

It is confusing for some and not everyone likes it, including Supervisor Sean Elsburnd who will propose today a measure that would get rid of ranked-choice voting, that would be on the June ballot.

A number of other firsts are possible today in San Francisco. If Mayor Ed Lee, David Chiu, Jeff Adachi, or Leland Yee win, they would become San Francisco's first Asian American elected mayor. If Dennis Herrera wins, he would become the first Hispanic mayor. Bevan Dufty could become the city's first gay mayor.

On top of all this, David Chiu's headquarters on Van Ness were broken into again this morning.


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