How to Vote
Choose Your Preferred Language
Three versions of the ballot are available, each with English and one other language:
• English and Chinese
• English and Spanish
• English and Filipino
If you vote by mail:
If you let the Department of Elections know that you prefer a ballot with Chinese, Spanish, or Filipino, you will receive a ballot in English and that language. To make sure that you receive your preferred version of the ballot, check or update your language preference at sfelections.org/language. Otherwise, if you do not provide your language preference before your ballot is mailed, the instructions included with the ballot will say how to exchange it for a ballot with your preferred language.
If you vote at a polling place:
Ballots in English and all certified languages (Chinese, Spanish, and Filipino) will be available at the City Hall Voting Center and at all polling places. Each polling place will also have facsimile ballots in Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese; these are exact copies of the official ballot with translated content, for voters to use as a reference.
If you let the Department of Elections know before Election Day that you prefer a ballot with Chinese, Spanish, or Filipino, the poll worker will give you a ballot with English and that language. Provide your language preference to the Department of Elections at sfelections.org/language. Otherwise, you can ask a poll worker for the language that you prefer on Election Day.
Choose Your Ballot Format
• You will receive a paper ballot unless you request to use an accessible voting machine.
• If you use the accessible voting machine, the machine will provide instructions.
• New service for voters with disabilities: The accessible vote-by-mail system is a ballot delivery option that allows voters with disabilities to access their ballot using any computer with internet access (see here).
Mark Your Paper Ballot
• Read the instructions printed on each ballot card.
• Review both sides of each card for contests.
• For each contest, the number of candidates you may select is printed above the list of names. If you mark more candidates than allowed, or both “YES” and “NO” in a measure contest, your vote for that contest or choice cannot be counted.
• Use a pen with black or dark ink or a #2 pencil.
• Complete the arrow pointing to your choice for the contest or measure, as shown in picture 1
• If you do not want to vote on a certain contest or measure, leave that contest or measure blank. Your votes for the other contests and measures will still count.
For this election, San Francisco voters will use ranked-choice voting to elect the Assessor-Recorder and Public Defender. Voters in Supervisorial District 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 will also elect their member of the Board of Supervisors using ranked-choice voting.
How Ranked-Choice Voting Works
• First, everyone's first-choice vote is counted.
• If a candidate has the majority of these first-choice votes—more than half—that candidate wins.
• If no candidate has the majority of first-choice votes, the candidate in last place is eliminated.
• Votes for the eliminated candidate transfer to the next-choice candidates marked on those ballots.
• If one candidate has the majority after these votes are transferred, that candidate wins.
• If there is still no candidate with the majority of votes, the process of eliminating candidates and transferring votes continues until one candidate has the majority.
How to Mark a Contest that Uses Ranked-Choice Voting
• For ranked-choice voting, the names of all the candidates are listed in three repeating columns on the ballot. This allows you to rank up to three candidates for the same office: one favorite, and two others.
• Select only one choice per column, as shown in picture 2
• To rank fewer than three candidates, leave any remaining columns blank.
• To vote for a qualified write-in candidate, see below.
How do I mark my ballot if there are fewer than three candidates for a ranked-choice contest?
If there are fewer than three candidates for an office, mark your choice(s) and leave any remaining columns blank.
For any contest that uses ranked-choice voting, San Francisco’s Charter requires that a voter be allowed to rank no fewer than three choices. Sometimes, however, fewer than three candidates file paperwork to run for an office.
There may be other people who file to be write-in candidates. For more information, see below.
How to Vote for a Qualified Write-In Candidate
• In addition to the candidates listed on the ballot, there may be qualified write-in candidates. “Qualified” means candidates who have submitted the documentation that is required to run for an office.
• The only write-in votes that can be counted are votes for qualified candidates.
• For a list of qualified write-in candidates, visit sfelections.org/writein on or after October 26, or ask a poll worker.
• Before casting a write-in vote, make sure:
o The candidate is not listed on the ballot.
o The candidate is on the qualified write-in list.
o To write the candidate’s name in the space at the end of the candidate list and complete the arrow that points to the space, as shown in picture 3
How to Get a New Ballot if You Made a Mistake
• If you vote by mail: follow the instructions that were enclosed with your ballot, or call (415) 554-4375.
• If you vote in person: ask a poll worker for a replacement ballot.