San Francisco Elections Analysis

(KTSF by Sean Au)
This election cost taxpayers more than $6 million, one of the most expensive in the City’s history. Voter turnout was, however, one of the lowest at less than 40%.
San Francisco helps to fund the candidates’ campaigns by some $4.6 million while it costs the City about $2 million to hold the elections.
Chinese American Voters’ Education Committee’s Executive Director David Lee believes that the high turnout of Chinese voters was a contrast to the low interest citywide, probably due to the presence of strong Chinese candidates. 60% of Chinese voters cast their ballots, and Chinese votes account for half of all mail-in ballots.
David Lee believes the citywide low turnout was a result of the lack of understanding of rank choice voting.
University of San Francisco Politics Assistant Professor Corey Cook holds the view that Ed Lee, being the front runner, and the lack of distinction between the other 15 candidates, probably made voters think that their votes may not have made a difference in the outcome of the mayoral race.
David Lee adds that when the City was debating if it should use rank choice voting, an argument for the system claims that this will eliminate negative campaigning. This was not the case as front runner Ed Lee was the target of much criticism toward the end of the campaign. Meanwhile, an alliance between non-front runners as seen in the Oakland mayoral election a year before did not emerge. The alliance led to Jean Quan being elected mayor.
David Lee says, “You’d think that the top three candidates would form an alliance against the front runner. We didn’t see that. Instead the candidates seem to hardly agree on any kind of uniformed strategy.”
The moderate supervisors are now looking to repeal rank choice voting, while the progressives are unhappy about not having one of their own win the election.
Assistant Professor Corey Cook says, “It might be worth having a runoff election when the two candidates can solidify their bases and run in a clear contest between two people in a runoff. My guess is that it’s going to be really interesting and it may well be repealed.”
Political observers also believe that a runoff election will also quash any challenge to the election’s winner on his or her legitimacy to lead.
(Copyright 2011. KTSF.  All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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