vote_lede_template.jpg“What’s at stake [in this election]?” a somewhat-histrionic video released by former Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez asked voters this month. “No less than the future of San Francisco.”

If that’s the case, the city’s voters are living in the now. As in, San Franciscans don’t give a shit about voting. Now.

By 4 p.m. Wednesday, 157,026 votes had been counted and tallied by the Department of Elections. Another 24,000-25,000 vote-by-mail ballots have yet to be counted, along with 7,500 provisional ballots, according to John Arntz, the Department of Election’s director.

That means total turnout is about 185,000-190,000, or about 40 percent of the 464,026 San Franciscans registered to vote. That’s the lowest-ever turnout for a contested mayoral election, according to records.

“40 percent isn’t abysmal, but neither is it anything to brag about,” political consultant Alex Clemens said. “San Francisco prides itself on being an activist, involved city, and this turnout doesn’t support that thesis particularly well.”

Turnout was 35.62 percent in 2007, when Mayor Gavin Newsom faced no serious opposition, and 45.67 percent in 2003, when Newsom and Gonzalez squared off.

Earlier media reports made hay of voter-turnout efforts in Chinatown, the Sunset, and other neighborhoods with a large Chinese population. These voters were seen to be the base for Mayor Ed Lee — though that theory appears to be exploded, as turnout was 33.33 percent in Chinatown and 38.25 in the Sunset, according to initial figures. Indeed, it appears the white vote buoyed Lee, as 44.65 percent of voters in the typically-moderate West of Twin Peaks voted, the city’s highest turnout by neighborhood, according to records.

Tony Winnicker, a spokesman for Mayor Ed Lee, did not return an email seeking comment.

Blame has been laid at everyone from the media to the candidates themselves for the low turnout.

Blame’s also been laid at ranked-choice voting, which for some voters is evidently “too confusing,” according to Supervisor Mark Farrell, who introduced a charter amendment to eliminate ranked-choice voting at the Board of Supervisor’s meeting Tuesday.

In this, Farrell may be able to count on the 42,492 San Franciscans whose votes didn’t count in Tuesday’s final tally for support. That’s how many votes were exhausted, meaning they were tallies for neither Avalos nor Lee.

In other words, 112,275 voters — or less than 25 percent of the electorate — decided who became mayor of San Francisco. And of them, 68,721 — or about 14 percent of the electorate, and about eight percent of the citizenry — actually voted for Mayor Ed Lee.

Now that’s a mandate. Though for what, we’re not sure.

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  • Andy Joe

    Thank you for highlighting voter turnout (or lack thereof).

    Another stat to consider: Mayor Lee has been elected with fewer votes than any SF mayor in recent history: http://bit.ly/SFmayoral2011 (In fact, he garnered fewer votes than most of the second-place finishers in earlier races.) For the sake of San Francisco, I wish the Mayor all the best, but I would feel better if our system was more engaging.

  • Andy Joe

    Thank you for highlighting voter turnout (or lack thereof).

    Another stat to consider: Mayor Lee has been elected with fewer votes than any SF mayor in recent history: http://bit.ly/SFmayoral2011 (In fact, he garnered fewer votes than most of the second-place finishers in earlier races.) For the sake of San Francisco, I wish the Mayor all the best, but I would feel better if our system was more engaging.

  • Karthik Rajan for Mayor

    This is an excellent piece and absence of coverage of the biggest story of the election at The Chron, SFBG and Bay Citizen reveal these entities to have lost journalistic integrity in favor of cliquish-insider reporting.

    Record Low Voter Turnout, but Chron, SFBG and Bay Citizen Report Right-Wing Shift

    Evidence of the claims I have been making that the Bay-Guardian, The Chron and The Bay Citizen are not only out of touch, but the worst sort of insider-journalists can be found in their ratification of the results of Tuesday’s election over the reality:

    only a handful of people decided the political fate of the City.

    By contrast, in the blogosphere, The League of Pissed off Voters (via tweet), SF Appeal, and SFist all noted the pathetic voter turnout in Tuesday’s election – which is the story of the election of 2011.

    Chris Roberts notes: “In other words, 112,275 voters — or less than 25 percent of the electorate — decided who became mayor of San Francisco. And of them, 68,721 — or about 14 percent of the electorate, and about eight percent of the citizenry — actually voted for Mayor Ed Lee.”

    The absence of coverage of this single most important issue of the election by The Chronicle, The SF Bay Guardian and the newly minted Bay Citizen are exactly what I have been talking about this year. The reporters and editors of these papers are participating in a cliquish civic theater instead of reporting on the needs, thoughts and desires of residents of our City.

    They are engaged in stroking a few candidates and ridiculing anyone who thinks outside the box. They lack courage, conviction and objectivity and cover elections so they can be near the winners and get invited to the party.

    They not only avoid discussing the absurdly low numbers of voters who decided matters, they proceed to define them as the “voters of San Francisco” and to attribute this ridiculously small number of citizens in our town with the general opinion of San Franciscans.

    In the Bay Guardian, Steven T. Jones spends a long column discussing the makeup of “SF voters” – with no mention of the fact that they were not even a third of those eligible to vote! He dares to title the piece San Francisco’s Political Spectrum: a primer – What balls!

    The Bay Citizen, however, is the worst and with the furthest reach. The Bay Citizen purchased an arrangement whereby select pieces appears in print in the New York Times’ Bay Area editions. The Editors chose to publish a piece by two of their writers that claim that this election “Signals Shift to the Right” in San Francisco! With no mention of the lowest turnout ever! Again, what balls!

    These aren’t journalists, they’re mediators.

    This was a horrible election because wealthy vested interests manipulated millions of dollars to ensure a handful of viable choices would appear to wrestle for power, while Ed Lee was basically ratified in a confirmation election.

    The Chron and The Bay Citizen snd The SF Bay Guardian show their true colors even as the Occupy Movement tells the real story of the disenfranchised. Pathetic.

    Blame the media – do it. We’d never have such pathetic candidates if instead of gravy-training reporters at the Chron, SFBG and Bay Citizen, we had real reporters and caring journalists.

  • Karthik Rajan for Mayor

    This is an excellent piece and absence of coverage of the biggest story of the election at The Chron, SFBG and Bay Citizen reveal these entities to have lost journalistic integrity in favor of cliquish-insider reporting.

    Record Low Voter Turnout, but Chron, SFBG and Bay Citizen Report Right-Wing Shift

    Evidence of the claims I have been making that the Bay-Guardian, The Chron and The Bay Citizen are not only out of touch, but the worst sort of insider-journalists can be found in their ratification of the results of Tuesday’s election over the reality:

    only a handful of people decided the political fate of the City.

    By contrast, in the blogosphere, The League of Pissed off Voters (via tweet), SF Appeal, and SFist all noted the pathetic voter turnout in Tuesday’s election – which is the story of the election of 2011.

    Chris Roberts notes: “In other words, 112,275 voters — or less than 25 percent of the electorate — decided who became mayor of San Francisco. And of them, 68,721 — or about 14 percent of the electorate, and about eight percent of the citizenry — actually voted for Mayor Ed Lee.”

    The absence of coverage of this single most important issue of the election by The Chronicle, The SF Bay Guardian and the newly minted Bay Citizen are exactly what I have been talking about this year. The reporters and editors of these papers are participating in a cliquish civic theater instead of reporting on the needs, thoughts and desires of residents of our City.

    They are engaged in stroking a few candidates and ridiculing anyone who thinks outside the box. They lack courage, conviction and objectivity and cover elections so they can be near the winners and get invited to the party.

    They not only avoid discussing the absurdly low numbers of voters who decided matters, they proceed to define them as the “voters of San Francisco” and to attribute this ridiculously small number of citizens in our town with the general opinion of San Franciscans.

    In the Bay Guardian, Steven T. Jones spends a long column discussing the makeup of “SF voters” – with no mention of the fact that they were not even a third of those eligible to vote! He dares to title the piece San Francisco’s Political Spectrum: a primer – What balls!

    The Bay Citizen, however, is the worst and with the furthest reach. The Bay Citizen purchased an arrangement whereby select pieces appears in print in the New York Times’ Bay Area editions. The Editors chose to publish a piece by two of their writers that claim that this election “Signals Shift to the Right” in San Francisco! With no mention of the lowest turnout ever! Again, what balls!

    These aren’t journalists, they’re mediators.

    This was a horrible election because wealthy vested interests manipulated millions of dollars to ensure a handful of viable choices would appear to wrestle for power, while Ed Lee was basically ratified in a confirmation election.

    The Chron and The Bay Citizen snd The SF Bay Guardian show their true colors even as the Occupy Movement tells the real story of the disenfranchised. Pathetic.

    Blame the media – do it. We’d never have such pathetic candidates if instead of gravy-training reporters at the Chron, SFBG and Bay Citizen, we had real reporters and caring journalists.

  • Matt

    Turn-out is still climbing because the ballots are still being counted. Right now it is just under 42% and rising.

  • Matt

    Turn-out is still climbing because the ballots are still being counted. Right now it is just under 42% and rising.