Politicians and campaigns have been bombarding our mailboxes, televisions and email in-boxes, so it's no wonder that you might feel like tossing your official San Francisco and California voter pamphlets out the window and boycotting the November 6, 2012 election.
But please don't. Your vote counts and will be counted. In many parts of the world, voting isn't a guaranteed right. Make your high school U.S. government teacher proud and vote, even if you mark only part of your ballot.
This guide has information on where to vote and what San Francisco and California propositions you'll be voting on, including several taxes, funding for affordable housing, Hetch Hetchy, car insurance, the death penalty and the three strikes law.
** WHERE AND HOW TO VOTE **
Avoid the rush and the lines on Election Day. Starting Oct. 9, you can vote early at the Department of Elections office in City Hall, outside Room 48:
Monday-Friday, Oct. 9-Nov. 6, from 8 am-5 pm.
Saturday & Sunday, Oct. 27 & 28 and Nov. 3 & 4, from 10 am-4 pm. Use Grove Street entrance only.
Vote by Mail
If you requested to vote by mail by October 30 and received a ballot, mail it in early, because the Department of Elections must receive it by 8 pm on Nov. 6. Or drop it off at any polling place before the close of voting on Nov. 6. Postmarks of Nov. 6 do not count.
Vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6
Polls open from 7 am-8 pm. Find your polling place, and vote there or at City Hall, Room 48.
** SAN FRANCISCO BALLOT **
SAN FRANCISCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
- District 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 residents will be voting for their supervisors, using ranked-choice voting. Our election guide from November 2011, when the controversial balloting system debuted in the San Francisco mayoral race, explains how to correctly mark your ranked-choice ballot.
- Check online videos of candidate forums for some of the supervisor races, hosted by the League of Women Voters of San Francisco. The League, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to voter education, does not take positions on candidates or political parties.
- San Francisco supervisor candidates (plus candidates for California State Assembly and Senate) are expected to appear November 1 at the 2012 Election Meet & Greet organized by the League of Women Voters of San Francisco. The event is at 6-9 pm at the Infinity/Nissan Building atrium, 1395 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. Admission $20 and up.
SAN FRANCISCO BALLOT PROPOSITIONS
--PROPOSITION A - CITY COLLEGE PARCEL TAX
- Allows San Francisco Community College District to levy a tax of $79 per parcel annually for eight years, and use the money to make up for the state's cuts in funding and to pay for core classes, workforce training, and other City College of San Francisco (CCSF) programs and services. The tax is projected to generate about $16 million a year, according to the city controller. To pass, two-thirds of all votes cast must be "yes."
Arguments Against and Opponents: Mismanagement and structural failures, not funding shortages, have caused CCSF's problems. Libertarian Party of San Francisco.
--PROPOSITION B - NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS BOND
- Allows San Francisco to issue $195 million dollars in general obligation bonds to pay for repairing and improving the city's parks, playgrounds and other public open spaces. For the owner of a home assessed at $500,000, the highest estimated annual property tax cost would be $43.40, the city controller says. To pass, two-thirds of all votes must be "yes."
Arguments Against and Opponents: Money from a 2008 park bond hasn't been spent yet and should be accounted for before giving more funds to the park department. San Francisco Tomorrow; San Francisco Taxpayers Association; former San Francisco supervisors Aaron Peskin, Matt Gonzalez and Quentin Kopp.
--PROPOSITION C - HOUSING TRUST FUND
- Amends the city charter to create a trust fund for affordable housing. Partly with the revenue raised by Proposition E, San Francisco would contribute $20 million to the fund in 2013. Its contribution would rise by $2.8 million each year, up to $50.8 million in 2024. After 2024, the $50.8 million contribution would be adjusted based on changes in the city's general fund revenues. The city controller says "the amendment does not identify or create new revenue sources for this set-aside," and that earmarking funds for housing would reduce what's available for other uses.
- Private residential developers now must set aside a portion of their projects for affordable housing. Prop C would reduce that required portion by about 20%, the city controller says.
Arguments Against and Opponents: Redevelopment programs were a failure; Prop C would take funds away from other priorities. Libertarian Party.
Neutral: League of Women Voters of San Francisco.
--PROPOSITION D - CONSOLIDATING ODD-YEAR MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
- The next election for city attorney and treasurer is in 2013; the next one for the mayor, sheriff and district attorney is in 2015. All of these offices are normally held for four-year terms. Under Prop D, the city attorney and treasurer elected in 2013 would serve two years. Starting in 2015, those two positions and the mayor, sheriff and district attorney would be up for election, for regular four-year terms. Consolidating the elections would save the city $1 million annually, according to the city controller.
Arguments Against and Opponents: Less public attention would be given to each candidate, campaign and elected office; the ballot would be longer.** See next page for more city propositions plus California propositions -->.