San Francisco Still Doesn’t Know Who Its New Mayor Is. But Whoever Wins Will Make History

San Francisco still doesn’t know who its mayor will be, but regardless of the outcome, that person will make history.

On Tuesday, San Franciscans went to the polls to elect their new mayor, a position made vacant following Ed Lee’s death last December.

While candidate London Breed, who briefly served as acting mayor following Lee’s death, appeared to be leading Tuesday night, a clear winner has not yet emerged.

This is thanks to San Francisco’s ranked-choice system, in which voters choose their top three picks. The candidate with the least first-choice votes is eliminated. That person’s votes are then redistributed to the voter’s second choice. The elimination rounds continue in this fashion until a winner is found.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Mark Leno had inched ever so slightly ahead of London Breed, with just over 1,000 votes more than his opponent. Nevertheless, thousands of ballots are left to be counted, meaning it may still take some time to find the winner. These include ballots sent in by mail as well as thousands of provisional ballots that were cast on Election Day.

No matter who wins, the candidate will make San Francisco history. Breed would be the first African-American female mayor of the city (there has been both a female mayor and an African-American male mayor in the past). If Leno wins, he would be the first openly-gay mayor.

The winner will serve for the remainder of Lee’s term, which expires in 2020. They will also be eligible to run for a full four-year term in 2019.

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