Let’s face it: unless a cool cat named Barack is on the ballot, voter turnout in elections sucks, and it’s not even all that great when Hope and Change brings out the ballot-casters. Average voter turnout for municipal-only elections in San Francisco hovers around 35 percent, according to Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who wants to change that and give all SF voters a bump — ahem — in their turnout.
On your November ballot, look for a charter amendment that would allow same-day voter registration in San Francisco, a cool democratic (small D) notion that’s alive in eight states but not in California (there’s currently a registration deadline ahead of election day, for both June primaries and November general elections).
There was a statewide ballot measure to allow same-day registration in California that failed in 2002, even though it passed in San Francisco by 20 percentage points.
Voter turnout is bumped by as many as eight percentage points in the eight states where voters can both register to vote and vote in one fell swoop — or brief visit to their polling place, according to Mirkarimi.
“It’s time that San Francisco helps lead the state of California in adopting this particular element,” Mirkarimi said. “For a city like ours that sees itself politically-engaged and sophisticated, having that level of deficiency in voter turnout belies that particular reputation.”
Perhaps oddly, this notion does not have universal support: both Sean Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier, moderate supervisors seen as close allies of Mayor Gavin Newsom and monied downtown interests, voted against the measure and were the only supervisors to do so.