How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts in San Francisco This November

What you need to know, including key deadlines, registration details, and how to vote by mail.

It’s been a wild year for elections in San Francisco. In February, over 70% of voters ousted three school board members. Then, in a mid-April special election, SF Supervisor Matt Haney won the 17th Assembly District seat. Most recently, there was the June primary election, where voters recalled District Attorney Chesa Boudin. If all of that voting has given you ballot burnout, take a big drink of water because we’ve got the all-important midterm elections coming up on Tuesday, November 8.

Midterm elections typically garner lower voter turnout, but are a concrete way to influence local and national politics. Here in San Francisco, we’ll be voting on races ranging from State Governor to City District Attorney, with propositions that could impact whether our state’s constitution grants the right to reproductive freedom, plus much more. Here’s everything you need to know about voting in the 2022 midterm elections in San Francisco:

What are the key races and propositions on the ballot?

In addition to statewide elections for California Governor and US senate races, there are several local races and propositions to pay attention to.

SF Board of Supervisors have 5 of the 11 seats up for election, which is conducted via ranked-choice voting. Newly redistricted District 6 which split up the Tenderloin and SoMA stands to be one of the most interesting races, with incumbent Matt Dorsey, former communications director for the SFPD who was appointed by Mayor London Breed to replace Matt Haney in May, facing off against activist Honey Mahogany, who would be the first trans supervisor in SF if elected. Not sure which district you’re in? Check online or call (415) 554-4375.

The District Attorney race includes Brooke Jenkins, the current district attorney who was appointed in June by Mayor London Breed after Chesa Boudin’s recall, against two opponents, both of whom once worked on the police commission. John Hamasaki, who has the support of progressive SF District Supervisor Dean Preston, and whose campaign is run by Boudin’s former campaign manager. Jenkins’ other opponent is Joe Alioto Veronese, a civil rights attorney, former police and fire commissioner, and the son of former mayor Joseph Alioto.

San Francisco’s public defender office hasn’t had a contested race in 20 years, but that’s about to change as Assistant District Attorney and former Deputy Public Defender Rebekah Young is facing off against incumbent and London Breed appointee Mano Raju.

This ballot includes all of Mayor London’s school board appointees, Lisa Weissman-Ward, Ann Hsu, and Lainie Motamedi, who were selected after the recall election in February ousted three people on the board. They face competition from Alida Fisher, Gabriela Lopez (one of the members who was ousted in February), and Karen Fleshman.

Statewide propositions to pay attention to include Prop 1, which will amend the state’s constitution to include reproductive freedom as a constitutional right, and Prop 26 and Prop 27, which, respectively, will allow for sports betting on tribal lands, and for online and mobile sports wagering outside tribal lands. Another proposition that could make a big impact on the state is Prop 30, which would add a personal income tax for those making over $2 million and use that to fund programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Opponents say it’s a big tax increase that disproportionately benefits large corporations, with the ride-share service Lyft spending $15 million to fund the over 90% of the YES on 30 campaign.

There are a handful of local measures on the midterm ballot, including Proposition D, which seeks to streamline the approval process for affordable housing, including increasing housing access so that households who make up to 140% of the area median income can apply, so long as the average household income is no more than 120% of AMI. Proposition E is another affordable housing measure that competes with Prop D with further restrictions, including providing housing for households with income up to 120% of AMI, with an average household income of no more than 80% of AMI. Proposition M would place a tax on owners of vacant residential units in buildings with three or more units that have been vacant for more than six months. The tax would range from $2,500 to $5,000 per vacant unit in 2024, and would increase to a maximum of $20,000 (with adjustments for inflation) if the same owner kept that unit vacant in consecutive years.

Those who want to move towards a future that’s less dominated by auto traffic should study Proposition I, which, with a YES vote, would repeal the Board of Supervisors’ ordinance that keeps JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway car-free and open them back up to private vehicle use. In contrast, a YES vote on Proposition J would reaffirm the Board’s ordinance to keep JFK Drive as an open recreation space and closed to private vehicles permanently. Related, a YES vote on Proposition N would allow the City to take over the underground parking garage below the Music Concourse and use public funds to acquire, operate, or subsidize public parking.

Finally, Proposition C would provide an oversight commission, inclusive of seven members appointed by the Mayor and Board of Supervisors, for the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.

How can I register to vote in San Francisco?

Registering to vote is easy. There are a few rules: You must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of California, and be at least 18 years old on Election Day. In order to register, you cannot currently be serving a state or federal prison term for a felony conviction, or found to be mentally incompetent to vote by a court.

You can register to vote online. If you do not have a signature on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you will need to print, sign, and mail the application.

You can also register using a paper Voter Registration Application. To receive a paper registration application by mail, contact the Department of Elections or call 415-554-4375. Voter Registration Applications are also available at your local post office, San Francisco Public Library branch, or DMV office.

When is the deadline to register to vote?

In California, the deadline to register to vote for any election is 15 days before Election Day. That means the last day to register for the 2022 Midterm Elections is Monday, October 24. After the deadline, you can file for Same Day Voter Registration, and vote on a conditional basis.

Can I vote early?

Absolutely! Official ballot drop boxes will be available 24/7 at 34 convenient locations across San Francisco, beginning Monday, October 10, through Election Day, November 8, at 8 pm.

Beginning Tuesday, October 11, you can also vote in person (or drop off your ballot) at City Hall. The voting center will be open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm; on the two weekends before Election Day, October 29-30 and November 5-6, from 10 am to 4 pm; and on Election Day (Tuesday, November 8), from 7 am to 8 pm.

Visit CAEarlyVoting.sos.ca.gov or call 800-345-VOTE to learn more early voting.

Can I vote by mail?

Yes! In California, registered voters automatically receive a mailed ballot before every election. You can return your ballot by mail (no postage required), drop it in any official ballot drop box, or at any polling location. Vote-by-mail ballots must be postmarked by November 8.

How do I find my polling place?

There will be 501 polling places open from 7 am to 8 pm on Election Day for in-person voting and ballot drop-off. Find your polling place on the Secretary of State’s website. Use the Voting Site Wait Times Lookup Tool to look up your assigned polling place, get directions to your polling place or the Voting Center, and check reported wait times.

How do I vote absentee in San Francisco?

You can still vote in the upcoming election if you are a civilian living overseas or in another state temporarily, in the military, or other uniformed service member. Get the FAQs and more info online.

How do I know if/when my vote was counted?

Track your ballot using the Voter Portal or sign up to receive automatic notifications on the status of your ballot via email, SMS (text), or voice call.

How can I volunteer as a poll worker?

Election Day poll workers in San Francisco are paid a stipend between $225 and $295 for their service, which can include setting up polling places by 6 am sharp, checking in voters using precinct rosters and issuing ballots, closing the polls, and transferring custody of voting materials. The Department of Election recruits nearly 2,000 poll workers every Election Day.

Apply online using the Poll Worker Application or by calling 415-554-4395 to request a paper application.

Additional voting resources

The California Secretary of State has a detailed website, and the San Francisco Department of Elections has helpful information that’s specific to San Francisco. CalMatters has a user-friendly, non-partisan guide to what candidates are running on city, state, and federal levels and what propositions are on the ballot.

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Daisy Barringer is a writer who grew up in San Francisco and never misses her chance to vote in an election. Follow her on Instagram to see pics of her non-partisan and very adorable Saint Bernard.