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Politics & Policy

Turnout for next week’s election currently at an abysmal 15%

Vote-by-mail ballot seen at SF City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018, in San Francisco, Calif. (Photo By Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

With a week left to go, vote by mail turnout is at just 15.3% in the April 19 runoff election between District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney and former District 9 Supervisor David Campos

The runoff to represent the eastern side of SF in the California State Assembly is the only item on the ballot in this special election, which is being held because David Chiu vacated the District 17 seat last year when he was appointed city attorney. 

Vote by mail turnout in February’s election, which featured both the school board recall as well as the District 17 primary, was similarly bad, at 18.9% the week before the election. Final voter turnout for the February election was 36.0%.

Low turnout is normal for ballots that only feature local elections, said longtime political analyst David Latterman, and it’s especially low when they don’t have a mayoral election.

“The only elections that really bring voters out are top-of-the-ticket elections like president, governor, or other big players,” he said.

Final voter turnout was 68.0% for the gubernatorial recall in November 2021 and 86.3% for the November 2020 presidential election. In contrast, turnout was 41.6% for the November 2019 local election and 45.5% for the November 2015 local election.
Despite the low turnout, Haney and Campos have been engaged in a fierce battle on multiple fronts, from attacking each others’ housing records and performance with respect to the Tenderloin neighborhood, to what occupation Campos can state on the ballot.