Workers continue counting influx of ballots in SF

Election workers stayed up through the night processing the larger than expected influx of provisional and mail-in ballots that came in on election day and also arrived through the U.S. Postal Service Wednesday.

"There's actually a new law in California that allows elections departments to count ballots if they're postmarked as of election day," said San Francisco Elections Director John Arntz, who said they must accept those postmarked ballots through Friday.

Arrntz says about one-third of the total ballots cast remained uncounted Wednesday morning.

"That was far more than we expected, so we are looking at roughly a 45 percent turnout at this point," Arntz said.

The hotly contested Proposition F, which sought stricter restrictions on short term rentals, is failing by about 15,000 votes, but the elections director said Wednesday night that it's too early to call it dead with more than 58,000 ballots still uncounted.

Bruce Bennett is a homeowner turned activist who worked hard on the No on F campaign. He said he is relieved their campaign seems to have been successful.

Bennett says he started renting out a room for about $120 per night through AirBnB after he lost his job last February.

"It's been a financial lifeline for us and my family to stay in our home," Bennett said.

The Yes on F campaign says they're already planning to bring the issue up again next year before the Board of Supervisors.

The Board will have a more progressive bent with the election of Aaron Peskin. The Yes on F campaign brought together an unusual coalition of people who often find themselves on different sides of housing issues.

"This is absolutely not the end," said Dale Carlson, co-founder Share Better SF.

"It was a pretty diverse coalition and some folks who normally don't get along, got along very well," Carlson said, "We will work with the new board in January to see if we can't get some fundamental changes in the law and if that doesn't work, we'll go back to the ballot next November."

Prop F opponents also are vowing to keep up their fight.

"I feel ecstatic now that its over and the decision has been made, but I also feel reticent that we know that this Prop F will eventually will come back," Bennett said.

San Francisco's elections director John Arnst says he hopes to have all the ballots counted by next Friday. He warns that the tallies for total voter turnout numbers and each race or measure might not match up until all of the ballots are counted and certified.

The reason, he says, is that the automatic counting machines do not count ballots that are marked with write-in candidates or need to be hand-checked for some reason.

Arns says he has 28 days to certify the election.