233 Eddy Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
New Community Leadership Foundation
Black Votes Counts
“All Politics Start with Local Politics”
This pamphlet has been created to elevate the political awareness of our people.
Politics Start Locally
Structure of Government in San Francisco
San Francisco is the ONLY dual-status municipality in California, meaning it is both a city and a county, this is why it is called San Francisco City and County. Other Cities are governed by a county, such as Oakland, it is under Alameda County.
San Francisco uses a system of a strong Mayor and city board to govern the city. The city board is called the San Francisco board of supervisors or SFBOS, https://sfbos.org/. The San Francisco Board consists of 11 supervisors which are over the 11 districts or parts of San Francisco. Each supervisor is elected by residents of the district.
All other cities have five county supervisors who are called councilmen.
Governing Body of San Francisco
Chief Executor: Mayor
Legislative Body: 11 Board of Supervisors, https://sfbos.org/
The Mayor and the 11 Board of Supervisors pass laws. They have veto power over each other. If the Mayor puts forth a law and the 11 supervisors can vote against it. The 11 Supervisors can push a law and the Mayor can decide against it. Together the Mayor and the 11 Board of Supervisors work as a checks and balances for each other.
Things that affect our quality of life and the health of our communities are all decided upon by elected officials.
Elected officialspass laws, set policies, make budget choices, and appoint heads of city departments. They make decisions that affect everyone whether or not you vote. This may include, but is not limited to, funds for the following:
People can also vote elected officials out of office and recall them.
Voting is an individual act that has collective consequences. The people whom I care about – my family, friends, neighbors, community and district – are all affected by whether or not I vote..
Who can register and vote:
Teens can pre-register at ages 16 or 17 and are automatically registered when they turn 18. People 18 and over can vote if their voting rights have not been taken away.
Voting Rights and Incarceration:
In 2016, AB 2466 was passed, allowing ex-felons the right to vote in California. If you are convicted of a felony and serving time in the prison system during an election period, you cannot vote.
In 2020, prop 17 passed, allowing people on parole to vote.
Prop 47 was passed in 2014 which ruled for the legalization of marijuana. This led to a 10% decline in drug arrests between 2014 – 2015.
Important Laws that changed history
13th Amendment (First Civil Rights Bill, Ending of Slavery)
Section 1 – Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2 – Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The 14th Amendment, ratified on July 9, 1868, forbade state governments, not just the national government, from abridging the rights and privileges enjoyed by citizenship. Congress now had the power to enforce and protect citizens from state and federal encroachment. However, the 14th Amendment did not promise political rights, which the next amendment did.
The 15th Amendment expressly banned the states and U.S. government from denying citizens the right to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Ratified on February 3, 1870, the monumental piece of legislation also gave Congress the power to enforce legislation.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Banned labor discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. This was proposed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and passed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It also ended racial segregation in public facilities, public education and federally funded programs.
Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act eliminated legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Voting Rights Act is considered one of the most far-reaching pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history.
Register to vote online: https://covr.sos.ca.gov/
Check Registration Status: https://sfelections.org/tools/portal/
You can vote in person or by mail.
Provisional ballots are ballots casted by voters who believe they are registered to vote even though their names are not on the official voter registration list at the polling place. If you aren’t registered, you can vote using a provisional ballot.
Voting by Mail
You can submit your vote via postal services by mailing it to your county elections official;
The last day to register is October 24th.
Voting Dates: June 7th and November 8th
Elected positions in the city:
How People Can Create Laws
This is called the ballot initiative process
Any California voter can put an initiative on the ballot.
The ballot process gives people the ability to create or change laws. 24 states currently allow citizens to initiate laws.
Ballot initiatives are also referred to as ballot measures, popular initiatives, voter initiatives, citizen initiatives, and propositions.
Getting Statewide Initiatives on the Ballot
To get a statewide initiative put on the ballot for the next election, signatures from five percent of the total votes casted in the governors election is required. For example, the last election for Governor consisted of 12,464,235 voters. Five percent of that is 623,212. This would be the number of signatures needed to get a law placed on the ballot statewide
Getting City Wide Initiatives on the Ballot
To get a city-wide initiative placed on the ballot for the next election, signatures from 10% of all registered voters are required. For example, there are 495,498 registered voters in San Francisco. 10% of that is 49,549. This would be the number of signatures needed to get an initiative included on the next ballot in the city.
Voter turnout in San Francisco
To date, there are 495,498 registered voters in SanFrancisco. The most recent election indicated that there were 229,760 represented voters, or 46.37% of the city’s total voting population.
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