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Early Voting Now Open

Early Voting
By Ruth Geos

As of this week, starting Monday, October 7th, you can be ahead of the curve, and walk right into City Hall and cast your vote or drop off your vote-by-mail ballot. Or if you are not already registered, go ahead and do that. You can also take a moment to pause to look around, appreciate the interior grandeur, the famous marble steps, and try to picture it all as a location for movies, including Milk, Dirty Harry, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. And there might be a wedding going on.

Until Election Day, Tuesday, November 5th, voting hours are daytime only, with some upcoming weekend dates:

  • Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Closed Monday, October 14, as legal holiday.)
  • Weekends ahead: Saturday and Sunday, two weekends before Election Day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting Saturday, October 26th.  (enter on Grove Street)
  • Election Day, Tuesday, November 5th: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The City Hall Voting Center is located on the ground floor, Room 48.

Or, if you would rather vote in your pajamas at home, sign up for a Vote by Mail ballot: https://sfelections.sfgov.org/vote-mail

As to what’s actually on the ballot: contests for the SF District Attorney,  District 5 Supervisor, and other candidates, along with multiple city measures on topics ranging from affordable housing to vaping, campaign contributions, and taxing Lyft-Uber rides.  Other ballot information guides include those put together by the League of Women Voters of San Francisco and Spur. Take a look at what matters to you. And then, vote.


Questions: check with SF Department of Elections at 415-554-4375.
Don’t forget to register to vote by October 21st.
And take a look at our elections guide for more information.


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National Voter Registration Day at the Law Library

NVRDlogoThis year the Law Library is participating in National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), the only holiday that helps register people to vote. It’s celebrated on the fourth Tuesday of every September, so we’re a few weeks away, but leading up to September 24th we will have a series of posts related to NVRD and elections. Be sure to check for new posts, and also stop by or tell people you know to stop by the library on September 24th to register to vote!

Our first post features information on important dates for the upcoming November 5, 2019 Consolidated Municipal Election:


Are you Registered? Are you sure?

Yes, it’s true, all eyes it seems are pointed towards November 2020 for the General Election that stars the Presidential contest. But first, there’s more: the Presidential Primary coming up in March 2020—the very first time California will have an early primary, so that CA voters will be in play to help determine the opposition candidates.

But before that, it’s local. And as they say—all politics is local. Next up is the November 5, 2019 Consolidated Municipal Election. If, in the bluster of national and international news, this one has so far this one has escaped you, we are voting for the San Francisco Mayor’s first full term, for a new District Attorney, a new Public Defender (San Francisco is the only county in the state of California that elects its Public Defender) and a few other local offices, all which affect our own civil society.


Key Dates:

Next Election: November 5, 2019
Register To Vote By: October 21, 2019

Registration to vote ends 15 days prior to the election, so this is the moment to check your current registration status with the San Francisco Department of Elections, and do a full update for this election and those just ahead on the political horizon.

  • To check if you are currently registered to vote in San Francisco, use the Voter Registration Status Lookup tool.
  • To update or makes changes to your Registration, as for example, change of address, choice of party affiliation, or request to go green for an online version of the Voter Information Pamphlet instead of the bulky paper version, some changes can be done online and others by mail. Take a look at Make Changes to Your Registration Record.
  • Or, Registering for the first time (old ways or new): If you have a signature on file with the CA DMV, you can register online using the California Secretary of State’s Online Registration Application or by requesting a paper application, through the SF Department of Elections contact form or by calling (415) 554-4375.
  • Or, if none of this is working for you, plunge ahead and just email the San Francisco Department of Elections: SFVote@sfgov.org or give them a call at (415) 554-4375

And for those who may love San Francisco and wish it all good civic fortune, but live in another California county, take a look at what elections may be brewing in your own backyard this November, and how to sign up for this one—and everything that comes in 2020: https://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/upcoming-elections/county-administered-elections/


Look for upcoming posts, as well as a lunchtime program that will help make sense of San Francisco’s new voting system.


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New LibGuide: The SFLL Guide to Immigration Law

The San Francisco Law Library Guide to Immigration LawJust in time for Immigrant Heritage Month, the Law Library has a new LibGuide: Immigration Law. In this research guide you will find resources free to use in and out of the library – books, databases, and links to useful sites related to immigration matters at the local, state, and federal levels. Looking for an immigration lawyer? See Legal Services & Community Resources. Curious about Sanctuary City information, or trying to find the closest Asylum office in California? Take a look at Government Resources. And to find out what treatises we have in our collection, either in print or online, check out Library Resources. We will update the Guide regularly so be sure to check in, and don’t forget to take a look at our other research guides too!


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SF Pride Weekend! June 24-25

It’s SF Pride Weekend starting tomorrow, Saturday, June 24 with the Pride Celebration in Civic Center and culminating in the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25.  The San Francisco Celebration and Parade is the largest gathering of the LGBT community and allies in the nation, and this year’s theme is A Celebration of Diversity.  See Celebration and Parade details below:

The Library will be open its regular hours on Saturday of 10-4, but be mindful of the fact that the area will be more crowded than usual.  You are also welcome to stop by the library and browse through our collection of LGBT related materials such as Out and About: The LGBT Experience in the Legal Profession, Sexual Orientation and the Law, or Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Family Law.

Find more information about this weekend here.


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June 13 Local Event: Better Know A Circuit

The majority of the time the final say on Federal Law is rendered in your area by the U.S. Court of Appeals in your part of the country (or circuit).  The U.S. Supreme Court only rules on a handful of cases, leaving these circuit courts to do a lot of the heavy lifting.  But what do you actually know about your Circuit Court of Appeals?

If you live in the Bay Area, you are in luck!  On Tuesday, June 13, 2017, the first of Above the Law‘s Better Know A Circuit Court event series starts with our very own Ninth Circuit.  The event will be held at Hastings College of the Law from 6:00 to 8:30 PM at 200 McAllister Street.  You can request your RSVP here.

The Ninth Circuit is the largest circuit in the country, comprised of nine states and two Federal territories.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit also has jurisdiction over the District and Bankruptcy Courts within the district, including the territorial courts of the District of Guam and District of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The Ninth Circuit has a reputation for being progressive, even though its chief, Judge Sidney Runyan Thomas, is a well-known conservative.  The President and many other Republican leaders have called for the dismantling of this largest of the Court Circuits into two distinct circuits.

What better time to learn more about this interesting and influential Circuit Court?  A panel will discuss how the court functions, some of the key judges on the circuit, and which cases the Ninth Circuit is deciding today that the Supreme Court might take a look at tomorrow.

Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to learn in detail about your Ninth Circuit Court on June 13!


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San Francisco on the Cutting Edge of Robot Legislation: How Will We Handle Robots?

San Francisco Law Library - How Will We Handle Robots?

Image adapted from “Dr Who Cybermen” by Chad Kainz which is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Two of the Supervisors on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors are looking at local robot legislation. Supervisor Jane Kim has recently proposed a type of automation tax on companies that use robots. Supervisor Kim says she was inspired for this new possible tax by an interview of Bill Gates in Quartz Magazine where he proposed a robot tax. The thinking: If you make robots more expensive, there will be more public funds to help retrain workers, and the higher cost might keep some companies from buying robots and quickly tanking the employment rate. Kim is wondering after reading the Gates article if a robot tax would help the city deal with inequality. According to a Fast Company article, Kim believes we “need to think about investments in our society that don’t exacerbate the wealth and income gaps that we already see today.”

Supervisor Kim is now setting up a working group to see how an automation or robot tax would be implemented. She hopes to have wide raging representatives from academia, unions, tech companies and manufactures. Supervisor Kim hopes the monies raised could be dedicated to education expenses and even slow things down enough so that government and businesses could enact policies that help people with the transition.

sanfranciscolawlibrary_c3po

Yee’s legislation was sparked by seeing robots around the city. PS-C3PO in his footsteps” by Gordon Tarpley is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Meanwhile Supervisor Norman Yee is proposing a total ban on a certain type of robot. Autonomous robots would be banned from roaming the sidewalks and public right-of-ways around San Francisco under new legislation introduced by Supervisor Yee. Supervisor Yee, who represents San Francisco’s District 7, said his legislation was sparked by seeing robots around the city and realizing there’s not a way to regulate them for pedestrian safety, especially for seniors and the mobility challenged. An article in the San Francisco Business Times states that Yee “initially wanted to explore a way to craft regulations that would help keep pedestrians safe as they increasingly share the sidewalks with autonomous robots,” but after talking with several city departments he “didn’t see any viable ways to enforce that.”

The legislation would allow for criminal, civil and administrative penalties for violating the ban. The administrative penalty would be capped at $1,000 per day. If the proposal is approved by the Board of Supervisors and signed by the mayor, it would take effect 30 days later. Supervisor Yee says he does not want to stifle innovation but the safety of people on the sidewalks is of overwhelming concern.

Once again, the City of San Francisco is on the cutting edge of legislating the future.