Election results may not be final for days, officials say

This election had less than half the voter turnout of last year’s.

In elections past, El Rio and Virgil’s have been a gathering space for progressives. The League of Pissed Off Voters and the Harvey Milk Democratic Club frequent the bars for a raucous party that features live updates and speeches from candidates. 

But aside from a small rush of politicos at Virgil’s around 10 p.m., the neighboring bars on Tuesday night were quiet, and by 11 p.m., they were almost empty as people rushed to spend the rest of election night with victorious candidates.

Last night, as District Attorney candidates Suzy Loftus and Chesa Boudin, and District 5 Supervisor candidates Vallie Brown and Dean Preston leapfrogged ahead of one another with each new round of vote tabulation, crowds of dedicated supporters yelled or booed. At midnight, Preston’s party was still going strong.  

By this morning the excitement had turned to tension. Loftus is in the lead by a minuscule 240 votes, and Preston has taken the lead by 218. The next round of results won’t be made available until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, and even then it may still be unclear. Remember last June’s mayoral fiasco, where results weren’t clear for a week? This is not a dissimilar situation this — except that in June 2018 voter turnout was 52 percent. At midnight last night 115,000 votes had been counted, or 23 percent of the city’s registered voters with almost every precinct reporting. Despite assertions from the Department of Elections Director John Arntz that voter turnout for this election would be around the same as June of last year, it’s not looking likely.   

As the League of Pissed Off Voters tweeted out after midnight, “There are probably a TON of ballots left to count! The current vote count of 115K is a turnout of only 23 percent. The Dept of Elections estimated final turnout would be 50-55 percent. If final turnout gets to only 40 percent, that would mean there are 83k votes left to count!”

On Wednesday morning, the Department of Elections issued a press release saying it had 70,000 votes left to count.

Last June, the Department of Elections counted around 10,000 ballots each day, meaning that depending on voter turnout, we could be in the same trenches of hitting refresh on the results site at 4 p.m. for another whole week. That said, Arntz told Mission Local that Thursday would be a “big day” for results. 

“At this point it’s a low-turnout election,” Preston said last night. “We’ll see what every drop brings.”

It’s very possible both the District Attorney and District 5 races will be won by just a handful of votes.

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