1983 San Francisco mayoral recall election

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1983 San Francisco mayoral recall election

← 1979 April 26, 1983 1983 →
Shall Dianne Feinstein be recalled from the office of Mayor?
Votes %
Yes 30,166 18.31%
No 134,591 81.69%
Valid votes 164,757 100.00%
Invalid or blank votes 0 0.00%
Total votes 164,757 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 354,104 46.53%

Mayor before election

Dianne Feinstein

Mayor after election

Dianne Feinstein

The 1983 San Francisco mayoral recall election was held on April 26, 1983, to determine whether mayor Dianne Feinstein should be removed from office. The recall measure was overwhelmingly defeated, and Feinstein remained in office.


In 1983, Feinstein passed a handgun ban (later overturned by the state court of appeals).[1] This angered the White Panther Party, who then organized a successful effort to force a recall election against Feinstein.[1][2][3][4] The White Panther Party's efforts to collect signature were aided by recent anger (particularly in the city's gay community) over Feinstein's veto of legislation which would have extended city-employee benefits to domestic partners.[1][2][4]


Feinstein was considered to be a popular mayor.[2] By the time of election day, Feinstein's victory was seen as a foregone conclusion.[4]

Feinstein's campaign had organized a very successful effort to encourage voters to use absentee ballots, and distributed absentee ballots to voters ahead of the election.[1][4]

Despite some disapproval of Feinstein among the gay community, they did not heavily support recalling Feinstein.[1]


Feinstein only lost a single precinct out of the city's 710 voting precincts. The precinct she failed to win (which was the home district of the White Panther Party which had organized the effort to recall Feinstein) saw her lose by only a single vote.[5][6]

San Francisco mayoral recall election, 1983
Candidate Votes %
No 134,591 81.69%
Yes 30,166 18.31%
Total votes 164,757 100


  1. ^ a b c d e Macdonald, Katharine (April 27, 1983). "Mayor Feinstein Easily Defeats Recall Attempt". Washington Post. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c DeNike, Max (July 28, 2016). "Dump Dianne: Revisiting the 1983 Mayoral Recall". SF Weekly. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  3. ^ Niekerken, Bill Van (January 8, 2020). "Dianne Feinstein's early SF years: Trove of photos pulled from archive". SFChronicle.com. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d Turner, Wallace; Times, Special To the New York (April 27, 1983). "Mayor Feinstein, by Wide Margin, Defeats San Francisco Recall Bid". The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  5. ^ Niekerken, Bill Van (November 2, 2018). "Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Tracing her career, from S.F. to D.C." The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  6. ^ "Historical Voter Turnout". sfgov.org. San Francisco Department of Elections. Retrieved December 26, 2021.