vote_lede_template.jpgEarly voting started today for San Francisco’s Nov. 8 election and many candidates took advantage, filling out their ballots at City Hall.

Interim Mayor Ed Lee, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and venture capitalist Joanna Rees were among the mayoral candidates who voted at the city’s Department of Elections office in the basement of City Hall.

Sharmin Bock, who is running for district attorney, also filled out a ballot there Tuesday morning.

Lee, who was appointed mayor in January when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom was elected lieutenant governor, was accompanied to the voting booths by his wife Anita and dozens of supporters.

He said, “There’s just something special here,” although he said it’s “a little weird” to vote for himself.

“The last time (I did that) was in high school,” he said.

Chiu was also accompanied by supporters, including someone dressed
in a “Chiubacca” costume, a reference to the “Star Wars” movie character Chewbacca.

Both Lee or Chiu declined to say who they put in the No. 2 or 3 spots on their ranked choice ballot.

“What happens in the voting booth stays in the voting booth,” Chiu joked, although he said his campaign will be releasing its endorsements for the second and third spots before the election.

Today is also when vote-by-mail ballots are starting to be sent, and is the deadline for when the Department of Elections is required to have sent voter information pamphlets to all registered voters.

San Francisco voters have a lot of information to wade through, particularly in the mayor’s race where there are 16 candidates on the ballot and they are allowed to choose up to three candidates.

Lee said he wants to look into whether the ranked-choice system should be tweaked or if more education outreach about the system should be done in future elections.

“A lot of people are saying they don’t understand what happens to their vote,” he said.

Along with picking a mayor and district attorney, voters will also be choosing a new sheriff after Mike Hennessey announced earlier this year that he was retiring after 31 years in the post.

Also on the ballot are several propositions, including two dueling measures–Propositions C and D–that propose differing ways to reform the pension benefits for city workers. Voters will also decide the fate of proposed bonds to provide funding for schools and to repair and upgrade city streets.

Early voting at City Hall is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays up until the Nov. 8 election. There will also be an opportunity to vote there from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the two weekends prior to Election Day.

Residents who have registered to vote by mail will receive their ballots soon.

Others who wish to vote by mail should use the Department of Elections’ online application at, complete the application on the back of the voter information pamphlet, or send a letter to the department with their printed name, signature, date of birth, telephone number, residential address and mailing address.

The department must receive completed vote-by-mail applications by 5 p.m. on Nov. 1.

People who are voting on Election Day should look for their polling place address on the voter information pamphlet, although roughly a quarter of the city’s pamphlets were sent out with the wrong address, requiring correction notices that will be sent out by the department soon.

Voters can also use the polling place lookup module on the department’s website at

For more information on the election, visit or call (415) 554-4375.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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