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(a) San Francisco residents deserve a voting system which corresponds to the schedules and lifestyles of working families. Allowing voting on Saturday would encourage parents to involve their children in the democratic process and help teach children the importance of civic engagement at an early age.
(b) San Francisco residents deserve an election schedule based on current housing and workplace patterns, transportation networks, and technological developments. When American civic leaders first decided over 150 years ago that elections should be held on a Tuesday, Americans lived in an agrarian society and most voters had to travel a great distance to the polls.
(c) The United States is ranked 132nd out of 179 developed nations in voter turnout. In the 2008 Presidential election, the United States had its largest turnout in over 50 years, yet only 60 percent of eligible voters participated. Despite San Francisco's politically involved and educated population, voter turnout averages approximately 46 percent, and some recent elections have seen turnout as low as 23 percent. Citizens have indicated that scheduling of the election is a major barrier to voting.
(d) A national grassroots movement called "Why Tuesday?" has proposed moving election day from Tuesday to the weekend, and has introduced legislation to implement this change to Congress several times over the past decade, though this legislation has not yet been put up for a legislative vote.
(e) This initiative would create a pilot program in connection with the November 2011 General Municipal Election in the City and County of San Francisco which would require the Department of Elections to open satellite locations for early voting at each of the approximately 400 polling places throughout the City and County on the Saturday prior to the Tuesday election.
(f) This pilot program would use the same safeguards and voting system applied to Tuesday voting in order to have the Saturday voting experience replicate the voting experience currently in place.
(g) The pilot program would be at no cost to the taxpayers. The initiative creates a "Saturday Voting Fund" to accept donations to cover the cost of operating the satellite voting locations, all of which would be publicly disclosed on the Department of Elections' website. The pilot program would not be required if the Saturday Voting Fund does not raise the sufficient funds to cover the costs of operating the satellite voting locations.*
(h) The purposes and intent of this initiative are: to increase voter turnout at elections held in the City and County; to make voting more accessible for today's working families; to provide a voting system that encourages parents to involve their children in the democratic process; to teach the importance of civic engagement at an early age; to increase access to the polls on a day when the majority of residents are not working; to serve as an example to the rest of the country that offering Saturday voting increases voter turnout; and to study the efficacy of continued Saturday voting.
(Added by Proposition I, App. 11/2/2010)
(Former Sec. 700 added by Ord. 429-97, App. 11/17/97; amended by Ord. 169-01, File No. 011165, App. 8/3/2001; repealed by Ord. 279-03, File No. 031708, App. 12/12/2003)