San Franciscans love a good election. Each year, we’re riled up, taking a stand for or against our favored ballot measures and candidates, with a nervous energy that makes our City famous.
Comes now Dean Preston, member of the City’s Board of Supervisors representing District 5, arguably the most left of the left-wing progressive faction in elected public office. He laments recent failures to block recalls of three SF Unified School District commissioners and district attorney Chesa Boudin. Preston authored a measure to appear on the ballot this November, designated as Proposition H – it’s a doozy.
Prop. H is a socialist power grab, as Mayor London Breed calls it. It’s undemocratic (actually, it’s anti-democratic), as one of its main features is to cancel elections for mayor, district attorney, sheriff, city attorney and city treasurer a year from now. Who else cancels elections? Tyrants do. So do dictators, military juntas and desperate political leaders who seek to undermine democracy and retain power. Very third world of him.
If voters pass Prop. H, it will shift the election of 2023 to November of 2024, a presidential election year. Preston claims consolidating elections will result in higher turnout of voters. Of his voters. See, Preston and his socialist-aligned comrades in City Hall have been losing ground, losing races and several ballot measures defeated. He also sees the writing on the wall: the rise of the Asian voting block which mostly votes against progressives. So, he wants to counter this and believes a higher turnout at the polls will be the cure. But he’s quite wrong.
There are three key reasons San Francisco’s voters have been occasionally lacking enthusiasm to cast their ballots: Stupid ballot measures; unqualified candidates; and Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV). In recent elections (Assembly District 17 of April 2022), voters of the eastern half of our City had to choose between two radical candidates, namely Matt Haney or David Campos. In the end, only 28% of eligible voters even participated.
Another factor: an avalanche of ballot measures; we may see up to 15 propositions or more, which at times confuse or simply lack the attention-getting themes voters are excited about.
There have been studies of the effects of RCV. One such exposé by San Francisco State University links RCV to lower voter turnout. A 2020 report from Alaska Policy Forum concurs: RCV voter confusion and information deficit is a disaster; and the Foundation for Government Accountability’s August 2022 report calls RCV “A disaster in disguise.”
This is why voter turnout is low, ladies and gentlemen. It’s the candidates, the ballot measures, and RCV. It’s misguided to assert the City must cancel and move the 2023 elections to 2024. It’s clear the Prop. H supporters seek to gain at the polls by moving the goalposts.
We need to stop ridiculous ballot measures, run qualified candidates and revisit the usefulness of RCV. Until then, vote “no” on Prop. H.
Richie Greenberg is a 21-year resident of San Francisco, a political commentator, former candidate for mayor and chairman of City Hall Watch.
Categories: letter to the editor