Quick Takes - 2018 San Francisco Mayoral Election

Posted by Pedro Hernandez on July 03, 2018

Huge turnout

  • Voter turnout will end up around 53%, giving San Francisco its highest turnout for mayor in 15 years, much higher than statewide turnout (36%) in California.

Greater usage of ranked choice voting (RCV)

  • The mayor’s race drove turnout. San Francisco voters cast more RCV ballots for mayor than non-RCV ballots for governor and U.S. senator.
  • 86% of voters used at least two of their rankings in the mayor’s race, and nearly 70% used all three of their rankings.

Low error rate for RCV ballots

  • There were  748 “overvotes” (.30%) of 250,000 ballots cast in the mayoral RCV contest.  
  • Voters were six times more likely to invalidate their ballot voting for governor than for mayor.

More representative of electorate

  • The percentage of voters having their ballot count in every round was higher than ever, with nearly nine-in-ten voters counting in the final round.
  • In December runoff elections previously used in San Francisco, turnout declined on average by 47% in Board of Supervisor races, and also declined in four out of the last seven mayoral elections.


Mandate from voters

  • Both London Breed and Mark Leno were ranked first, second, or third by more than 60% of the voters.
  • Jane Kim was ranked by 58.3% of voters.

Delays determining the winner were not connected to RCV

  • Election results are determined by the closeness of the race and the number of vote by mail (VBM) ballots.
  • Running the ranked choice voting tally actually only takes a few minutes. That’s why the  RCV contest for District 8 supervisor had a clear winner on election night, because the race wasn't close.

Impact on representation

  • RCV in San Francisco also has a strong track record of allowing San Francisco voters to choose from a more diverse pool of candidates.
  • Of the eighteen offices in San Francisco elected by RCV, thirteen are held by office-holders of color.
  • The other Bay Area cities using RCV – Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro – have seen similar results:  women of color have seen a 64% rise in their election rate.
  • In Oakland, women now hold 13 of 18 seats elected by RCV, including mayor.

More rankings, better ballot design, coming soon

  • Starting in 2019, San Francisco will start using new voting equipment that allows voters to rank up to ten candidates with a simpler ballot design.
  • Public demonstrations of that equipment will begin this summer.

To access the full presentation from the "How SF Was Won: The Good, The Bad, and The Awesome" webinar, check out the video on Youtube.

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.