One of the most (your emotion here: foul? exhausting? gloriously democratic?) selection cycles in recent memory finally ends with the close of polls at 8 p.m. today — or at least that’s when the San Francisco electorate at last receives a respite from the cavalcade of unread direct mail; from the state-imposed election monitors; the back-and-forth accusations of voter fraud, campaign finance impropriety, and voter tampering — and settles in instead for the computer’s tally of ranked-choice voting.
In the meantime, a few final Silly Season nuggets on which those with terminal political addictions can chew:
Adachi Crew Claims Credit For Bringing in Election Monitors, Lee Crew Says Will Be Good To Undo Voter Intimidation — Meanwhile, Monitors Are Regular Visitors to SF
The Ed Lee campaign weeks ago accused the Leland Yee campaign of campaign of voter intimidation and illegal electioneering. This isn’t news in Chinatown, but a robocall that the Lee campaign says violates state election law is a revelation to those who cannot read the Chinese-language press — and a sign that the election monitors that will visit the city for a second-straight election are necessary, Lee campaign spokesman Tony Winnicker told The Appeal late Monday.
Following the highly-publicized incident in which campaign workers for Enrique Pearce’s SF Neighbor Alliance assisted elderly Chinese voters with their ballots — blatant fraud, according to the Yee camp, which led the call to federal and state election officials to monitor San Francisco’s election — the Yee campaign placed a robocall to Cantonese-speaking voters instructing them to not submit any ballots to Lee workers, according to a report in the China Press (check out Google Translate’s almost-legible version here).
“Voters: don’t turn in your absentee ballots to Lee’s camp,” the robocall says. “This is very important. It is illegal that the Ed Lee camp takes your ballots or registers your ballots. Please respect the law… Please vote for Leland Yee to make sure your vote is counted.”
“This is illegal,” Lee’s Cantonese-speaking spokeswoman told Chinese-language press. Meanwhile, letters were sent to the District Attorney, Ethics Commission, and our democracy’s other election watchdogs, according to Winnicker, but no official action has yet been taken.
Yee campaign manager Jim Stearns did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Federal Justice Department officials appeared not to respond to the calls from most of Lee’s rival candidates to monitor the election, but the state announced plans to step in and observe Monday.
On Monday afternoon, California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced that San Francisco will be the only jurisdiction in the state — and to be fair, not everyone has off-year elections — in which she is sending election monitors. Election monitors were also used in November 2010 in San Francisco, according to Bowen spokeswoman Nicole Winger.
Winger said that the letter had nothing to do with sending in the monitors, a fact the Lee campaign was quick to point out. Nonetheless, a spokesman for Public Defender Jeff Adachi, the latest entry into the mayoral race, claimed credit.
“[We] feel that the Ed Lee for Mayor 2011 campaign and the various independent expenditures backing his candidacy have continually lied and cheated and even engaged in what appears to be outright voter fraud and manipulation,” wrote campaign spokesman Colin Dyer, who also circulated a release Monday in which the Adachi campaign accused Lee of illegally spending funds in support of other campaigns: to wit, of paying for doorhangers in which mayoral candidate Lee endorsed voter initiatives.
“The state is sending election monitors to stop the tomfoolery from the Ed Lee campaign.”
Yet the attack is hypocritical, Winnicker and Lee backers noted, because in August, Adachi himself petitioned the Ethics Commission for permission to use his name and image to promote Proposition D, his pension-reform measure.
“When it comes to mixing ballot measures and his mayoral campaign, Jeff Adachi is the City’s worst repeat offender,” Winnicker said. “His Yes on D and Adachi for Mayor materials are virtually indistinguishable. When is he filing a complaint against himself?”
Upon receiving bad news, a man whose image sits in front of City Hall is once said to have uttered, “My God, my God! what will the country say?” And indeed, what do the voters think of all the above?
Heading into today, most campaigns expected turnout for the first contested mayoral election to feature ranked-choice voting to be low, at 35 percent or lower. It could be worse than that: 72,000 absentee ballots had been received at the Department of Elections by close of business Monday, according to John Arntz, director of the department.
That’s more than the 69,713 absentees received when Gavin Newsom and Matt Gonzalez emerged as the contenders for a December runoff in November 2003, but consider — in the last three November elections held in San Francisco, absentee ballots comprised 50.35, 68.19, and 46.01 percent of the total turnout, according to records (the 68.19 figure, from 2009, when turnout was 22.5 percent, is the likely outlier).
If that trend holds true today, and less than 150,000 out of 464,346 registered San Franciscans vote, only 75,001 votes — or less than 10 percent of the total population of San Francisco — is needed to determine who will become the next chief executive.
Having even more fun with that math, if Ed Lee is elected outright, his $2.6 million in total campaign spending as of Friday means he needed spend only $34 and change per vote in order to win a simple majority.