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Labor group, F.X. Crowley supporters explore recount process in District 7 supervisorial race

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SFUSD school teacher Linda Plack filed a request on Monday for a recount in the District 7 supervisor race with the hopes of F.X. Crowley coming out the winner. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • SFUSD school teacher Linda Plack filed a request on Monday for a recount in the District 7 supervisor race with the hopes of F.X. Crowley coming out the winner.

Supporters of labor leader F.X. Crowley have set in motion a recount of the vote tally that made Board of Education President Norman Yee win the District 7 seat on the Board of Supervisors by 132 votes.

But while Crowley supporters say the margin of victory is close enough to justify a recount, they are not so sure they will actually follow through on their request for one. That will depend on how much Department of Elections Director John Arntz says it would cost.

Arntz is expected to sit down today with recount proponents to flesh out the details and costs.

Retired San Francisco Unified School District teacher and longtime District 7 homeowner Linda Plack filed the request Monday, the deadline to do so. Any San Francisco voter can request a recount, but he or she must provide the money to pay for recounting the ballots. And if the final election results don’t change, he or she loses that money.

The effort is backed by a labor union independent expenditure committee led by political consultant Jim Stearns.

While Arntz has estimated the cost of recounting voters’ first-place preferences at about $5,000 per day, that does not include a tabulation of voters’ second- and third-place preferences under The City’s ranked-choice voting system. Arntz has estimated that it would probably take about two weeks to count the 35,000 first-place votes cast in District 7, but that estimate did not include a complete ranked-choice recount.

Stearns said that if the total cost of a recount exceeds $100,000, the request would likely be redrawn.

In one of the closest contests in years for a seat on the Board of Supervisors, Yee prevailed over Crowley by 132 votes after ranked-choice votes were tabulated. Yee ended up winning by a .54 percent margin with 12,505 votes to Crowley’s 12,373.  

Crowley distanced himself from the recount effort.

“After a thoughtful review of all options, Mr. Crowley has decided not to task his generous contributors toward financing an official recount,” Crowley’s campaign manager Alex Tourk said in a statement. “While he believes the Department of Elections should automatically launch a recount due to the extremely close nature of the race, he will respect Mr. Arntz’s decision.”

Arntz said there was nothing to lead him to believe there was a need to recount the ballots, such as a voting machine malfunction.

Yee’s political consultant Enrique Pearce called the 132-vote margin “significant.”  

“It’s difficult to see how the outcome will change,” he said.

Yee is scheduled to be sworn into office Jan. 8, replacing termed-out Supervisor Sean Elsbernd.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com