‘Voting is like breathing, you have to do it!’ San Francisco voters turn out to cast their ballots
San Francisco voters across the city declared the importance of voting.
November 8, 2022
San Francisco voters turned out for an exciting yet nerve-racking election Tuesday as rain poured down on the city.
Xpress reporters monitored polling sites across SF State, Park Merced, City College, Lakeshore Elementary and City Hall, where voters and poll workers expressed the importance of voting.
SF State Annex I
According to Poll Clerks at SF State’s Annex I building, most of the voters that arrived cast provisional ballots, due to students not re-registering to vote in the Bay Area’s congressional districts.
“We are far off campus, people have to work to get here but if you want to vote, you will make the effort to get here,” said Rylie Velez, an SF State sophomore who’s volunteering as a poll clerk.
Many of the people arriving were students and first-time voters looking to participate.
“Students that move away or have a different mailing address didn’t register to vote but still want to vote can with a provisional ballot,” said Andrea Soto, an SF State sophomore who’s volunteering as a poll clerk.
Provisional ballots are still counted, but only after election officials verify the person submitting is registered to vote and hasn’t double-voted. Only 15 in-person ballots were recorded by 1 p.m Tuesday.
Annex I is located behind the Lot 20 parking structure, and many students circulated the building amid light rain showers.
“I think [the location] is great, it is on campus a lot of students can vote, but also not a lot of people know about this on campus,” said SF State student Kenneth McKnight. “A lot of my friends did not know about this.”
SF State shuttle service was provided to and from Annex I, but only upon student request.
“I am not sure if voting back home or voting out here is the same, we may be voting on different issues and voting for different people but I think just taking the chance wherever you are to vote is important,” said Delmar Lule, a student shuttle driver.
Reproductive rights are a popular topic on the ballot and many voters felt uneasy about the impending results.
Voter Morgan Jones expressed her concerns about reproductive rights and what she was most hopeful for today.
“For our future, I have a kid and I am pregnant and I just don’t want anyone’s rights taken away,” Jones said with tears in her eyes as she walked out of Annex I.
Despite the voter turnout, Diaz was hopeful more students would come later in the day.
“Voter suppression, sometimes that happens and intimidation can happen on voting day,” Diaz said. “I hope none of that really happens and everyone is able to get out and voice their opinions.”
CCSF Visual Arts Building
Voters arrived at random throughout the day to fill out ballots and drop off signed and sealed mail-in ballots at the Visual Arts Building at the City College of San Francisco.
San Francisco voters had a flurry of emotions toward the election, from nervousness to motivation.
Poll worker inspector David Tejada, who has worked at this polling location three times, observed a much bigger turnout Tuesday than in previous elections.
“A lot of the ballots they are turning in are the mail-in ballots, but still, voters are coming in,” Tejada said.
Tejada said it felt good to see people he knows come in to vote because it allows them to have their voices heard.
By 11 a.m., 17 ballots had been submitted and the number of dropped-off ballots seemed to outnumber in-person voting.
Even in the rain, voters had a positive attitude. Voters came into the building and greeted the poll workers then thanked them on the way out, like San Francisco resident Brian Garcia.
“I think it’s important to thank people for taking the time out to do this, you have to show gratitude towards people that are taking the time to support our democracy,” Garcia said.
Around 2 p.m., Tejada said the red box—where voters insert completed mail-in ballots — was at least half full before the middle of the day.
Tanea Lunsford-Lynx, who teaches ethnic studies and social justice classes at CCSF, gasped before she described her emotions about this election. While there is so much on the ballot, she felt optimistic and was excited to see her high school students engaged in the election.
“It’s also hard to sit with some of my college students that can’t vote because of their citizenship status or just access to polling, so there’s a lot going on on this ballot,” Lunsford-Lynx said.
But because not everyone can vote, she feels it only emphasizes the importance of citizens coming out to cast their ballots.
“Voting is an opportunity for us to be a part of the collective and to make choices that are going to impact us all, hopefully in the best ways,” Lunsford-Lynx said.
When 4 p.m. approached, there was a total of 28 ballots with more than 26 mail-in ballots.
The voting booths at San Francisco’s elegant City Hall were packed with voters throughout Tuesday’s rainy day. San Francisco voters seemed optimistic about this year’s midterms.
Other voters were voting in San Francisco for the first time.
Eric Nielsen submitted his first ballot in the city today. He noted that this ballot was much different than in Madison, Wisconsin, where he previously registered to vote. One key difference is that there were a lot more referendums on the San Francisco ballot, compared to the “two or three” in Madison.
“I think there was a lot of good things on the ballot that needed to be addressed,” Nielsen said. “I didn’t have too much information to go with, but I did my research and made sure to make the correct choices for me.”
Michael Ramos, who works in campaign services, stressed the importance of voting for anyone who is eligible.
“It’s not the only thing that people can do to enact change in the community, but it is one of the more tangible things,” Ramos said. “Voter frustration sometimes comes from the fact that people are letting the results obscure the fact that the process is important. So, even if your candidate isn’t the one that wins, I believe that engaging in this civic duty is an important one for everybody.”
Voter Thomas O’Neil believes that people need to be more engaged in local and nationwide political affairs and that it’s important to study the candidates and measures on the ballot.
“I think [voters] should be well versed,” O’Neil said. “Everybody can vote along party lines, but it’s doing them and everybody a disservice if they’re not educated.”
As San Franciscans took selfies in front of the “I voted” wall, voters stressed the importance of creating change through civic duty.
The general feeling from voters at City Hall on Tuesday was optimistic about the large ballot and encouraging toward eligible voters to cast their ballots to ensure their voice is heard.
Lakeshore Elementary School
Though the rain poured down, San Francisco voters donned raincoats and headed over to their local polling stations on Tuesday.
Seven ballot initiatives are up for vote, including Proposition 1, which would enshrine abortion rights in California’s Constitution, and Proposition 26, which would permit sports betting at the state’s four horse racetracks and tribal casinos.
“I’ve been voting ever since I was 18, and I’m 51 now,” said San Francisco resident Martin Cabrera. “Voting is like breathing, you have to do it! If not, you really can’t complain, can you?”
A polling station was established at Lakeshore Elementary School to serve local residents and community members near Lake Merced.
“I am very excited to be voting this term because there are a lot of really important things on the ballot,” said San Francisco resident Veronica Lee. “I am surprised if people do not come out and vote because this affects all of us.”
This election will also determine who will fill California’s governing offices, including the governor, attorney general and state controller.
“Voting is one of the most important rights that we have as Americans,” said San Francisco resident Catherine Reed. “My husband voted on the very first day and we got our millennial children, kicking and screaming to the polls to vote.”
There are two major housing initiatives on the ballot: Proposition D, supported by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, which would expedite the approval process for qualifying housing projects that are 100% affordable, and Proposition E, supported by Supervisor Shamann Walton, but with some differences from Proposition D.
“This election is super important, and so many people are talking about it,” said first-year SF State student Odera Nwosu. “People around me seem much more politically aware and wanting to vote. It’s been so good to see.”
The San Francisco district attorney race will determine who succeeds Chesa Boudin after he was recalled in early June.
“I’m very fortunate I can take advantage of being able to vote,” said San Francisco resident Kenneth Hopkins. “I understand why people don’t vote, you know, feeling like their vote doesn’t mean much. But it really does, and we need it, to hear everyone’s voice.”
San Francisco voter Brian Jones said his mom calls him every election day to make sure he casts his ballot.
“And what she doesn’t know is I would do it anyways, no matter what,” he said.
Several voters at 350 Arballo Drive were upset and surprised that the Gonzalez Drive voting poll moved locations, but they were still able to submit their ballots.
Resident Chris F. walked in the rain without an umbrella and took his vote to Gonzalez Drive.
“I am annoyed that they moved the voting booth, [it] served everybody that lived there, and I had a hard time trying to find this on a wet soggy day like this,” he said. “It is not too fun having to hike a long distance.”
Arballo Drive had four poll workers waiting inside for voters. Most of the voters in the early morning were senior citizens that came in groups.
Edith Jones is a voting clerk at the Gonzalez location who volunteered to encourage citizen engagement.
“We only had maybe six people that have actually voted and maybe 10 that have dropped off their ballot — it is really slow today,” Jones said. “Hopefully it is going to pick up.”
The voting clerks inside the building guided citizens to sign the back of their ballot before dropping it into the ballot box.
Voters had a mixed reaction, some preferring a political party over another but overall, voter participation was strongly encouraged.