Early signs hint at low voter turnout 

The lack of hot-button issues on the ballot next week will likely translate in low voter turnout.

An indicator is the traffic for early voting at City Hall, where just 1,100 residents have voted since May 10.

And some 41,000 absentee ballots have been returned, Elections Department Director John Arntz said.

That’s much lower than what San Francisco saw for the 2008 primary and general election, which had historic voter turnout of more than 70 percent, according to the Elections Department.

“There is no comparison — the presidential election stands out from all other elections in all facets,” Arntz said.

The early turnout numbers aren’t too surprising to political consultants, who say people only vote early at City Hall for symbolic reasons or because they might have forgotten to request an absentee ballot.

Regardless, San Francisco will likely experience the average voter turnout this election, between 35 and 40 percent, said Jim Ross, a local political consultant.

“The turnout will be low and it will skew the electorate,” Ross said.

The reasons? There’s not a race at the top of the ticket for Democratic voters, which comprises the majority of San Francisco, Ross said.

“Jerry [Brown, the Democratic governor candidate] has no opponent and there are no real hot-button ballot measures to drive turnout,” he said.

Also, both Kamala Harris, who is running for attorney general, and Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is running for lieutenant governor, have not spent much time in their hometown campaigning, in part because they have the advantage here, Ross said. 

The Elections Department scrambled earlier this month, keeping employees on overtime to reissue more than 100 ballots to absentee voters after they received the wrong ballot in the mail.



Headstart on June election

175,000 Absentee voters registered in S.F.

41,000 Absentee voters who have returned ballots

1,100 Voters who have cast ballots in early voting at City Hall

$3.5 million Cost of election

Source: Elections Department

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