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Thoughts on the election in SF. - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Dec. 9th, 2003

11:35 pm - Thoughts on the election in SF.

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So it looks like Gonzalez didn't quite pull it off. The initial numbers show a 5% gap between he and Newsom. That's better than the 10% gap that pollsters had for him before the election and the 30% gap that he had when only absentee ballots had been counted.

It was a wild ride watching the election results come in precinct by precinct (as exciting as the basketball game my roomate was watching, we were both shouting out about exciting developments tonight) because it started out with absentee ballots and everyone has been saying that most of the absentee ballots would go to Newsom. With the first ~71,000 votes in Newsom was up by 30 percentage points. Every single time I hit reload on my browser to see the returns from some more precincts Gonzalez closed the gap more and more. That means that Gonzalez won the majority of the votes of people actually going to the polls in nearly every precinct in the city (I'd really like to see a precinct by precinct breakdown).

SF Indymedia was in top form during the election. They dispatched teams with video cameras all over the city to closely monitor and document every move made by the election officials as they moved the "datapaks" of the electronic voting machines from the precincts to the "upload sites" to make sure that nothing was tampered with or mishandled. They had poll watchers documenting every grievance. They had a team of process experts analyzing the handling of the absentee ballots. Only in the next couple of days will we really learn what kinds of fraud might have been committed, if any, and what will be done about it. Cheers to indymedia for really coming through to protect democracy with video cameras. It brings a tear to my eye to see how organized these folks were.

Total voter turnout was 48% of registered voters. Apparently it was a rainy day and many think that hurt the turnout a bit (which in turn hurt Gonzalez given that the majority of people casting votes today voted for Gonzalez).

Win or lose this whole process has left me really excited. It is so good to know that there are places where a progressive campaign can be waged competitively where triangulate and move right isn't the order of the day. It is so good to know that a Green can kick ass using simple grass roots DIY low budget tactics. Newsom outspent Gonzalez by at least 8 to 1 and the gap was still just 5%.

The activated progressive network that came out for Gonzalez can now stick together to support pushing progressive initiatives through the city council. Awesome.

And who knows...maybe there'll be some wild ride over the next few days if there are reasonable allegations of fraud or miscount. Only time will tell. (Though an 11,000 gap seems hard to make up via a recount).

Comments:

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From:xymboulos
Date:December 9th, 2003 10:11 pm (UTC)
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With the first ~71,000 votes in Newsom was up by 30 percentage points. Every single time I hit reload on my browser to see the returns from some more precincts Gonzalez closed the gap more and more. That means that Gonzalez won the majority of the votes of people actually going to the polls in nearly every precinct in the city (I'd really like to see a precinct by precinct breakdown).

Doesn't that just mean Gonzalez did better than 30 points behind Newsom in each of the precincts, but not necessarily better than Newsom?
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 9th, 2003 10:38 pm (UTC)
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Actually, I guess it does mean that BUT if you do the math and deduct all the 71,000 absentee votes (46000 from Newsom and 25000 from Gonzalez), Gonzalez comes out ahead. So though my reasoning was flawed my conclusion that Gonzalez won the vote among those who went to the polls was correct.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 10th, 2003 02:32 am (UTC)
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Argh, my reply to this got eaten. Anyway, yah I guess my reasoning was flaws but if you do the math it IS the case that Gonzalez would have won without the absentee ballots, so it is the case that he got the majority of the votes actually cast at polling places.

The suspicious part of me wonders exactly how hard it would have been for Newsom's team to cheat with the absentee ballots.
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From:xymboulos
Date:December 10th, 2003 08:26 pm (UTC)
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Absolutely - Gonzalez clearly had a majority of the election day results.

While I would hesitate to speculate about fraud, I would be curious as to how absentee ballots are produced and distributed in San Francisco. While I do not know if this is still the case anywhere in the country, ballots used to be produced by the parties themselves. If the party is involved in absentee distribution, it would give a decided advantage to the Democrats.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 10th, 2003 09:16 pm (UTC)
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Yah, I'd like to learn more about that as well. I really don't suspect fraud in this case but I'm curious in general about the ways in which those ballots might be more susceptible to fraud and ways in which they simply might give an unfair advantage to certain demographics.

Anyway, Gonzalez gave a consession speech so no worries about a fight over fraud.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 10th, 2003 02:32 am (UTC)
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There must be a bug whereby some comments don't post until more comments are posted and then they both post at once. Damnit.
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From:bdar
Date:December 10th, 2003 06:48 am (UTC)
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Gonzalez said that the city is only 3% Green--is this true? Assuming it is, a 47-48% vote is a fantastic portent for your party. Nice job.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 10th, 2003 10:55 am (UTC)
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I guess it depends on how you define who is an isn't "Green". I don't know if voters register with a party in California. I don't know if the Greens are recognized as a major party (with a primary and ballot access and all that).

I don't know if that 3% is how much of the vote Nader got or how many voters are members of the party or what. It seems reasonable to me to suggest that only 2-5% of any given population is "Green" in the sense of being a hardcore party supporter, but I suspect that 40-60% of many liberal locales are "Green" in the sense of sharing the values of the Green party and agreeing with it's platform (they may just vote otherwise in some cases for strategic reasons).

But yah, hella cool either way.
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From:xymboulos
Date:December 10th, 2003 08:27 pm (UTC)
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What I find interesting is that Gonzalez was the leader among three progressive candidates. Based on these results, he and the Green party did an excellent job of pulling the other candidates' supporters in.
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