Polling site on campus sees small turnout


Katherine Burgos

Poll workers wait for voters inside the Annex building which is being used as a polling place located at SF State on Nov. 03, 2020. (Katherine Burgos / Golden Gate Xpress)

Jess Magill and shaylyn martos

SF State’s polling place, hosted annually as a resource for students living on campus, drew small numbers of the student population on Election Day this year.

Erin Persley, a first-time volunteer poll worker and film lecturer at SF State, and Vache’l Mauro, a 15-year pollster veteran, oversaw the polling site at the Annex 1 building near the University Police Department, a space often utilized for concerts.

Persley, who has voted in every election since moving to San Francisco from Florida 2005, said she has always admired the dedication poll workers exhibit by working long-hour days. She said this year called for a 16-hour day, something she said is important given “what’s at stake” this year, mentioning voter suppression, rising voter turnout and the pandemic.

Kim Wong a system administrator at SF State takes a picture of himself with the polling place sign at SF State. (Katherine Burgos / Golden Gate Xpress) (Katherine Burgos)

“We’ve had a lot of first time voters, and so the last thing you want to do is have their first voting experience to be a negative experience, because you want them to keep coming back,” Persley said.

Sunny Das, a first-time voter, said he was relieved when he found out there was a polling place on campus, since he didn’t have to pay for a rideshare service to drop off his mail-in ballot. 

“Right now it’s a very, very important election,” Das said. “If you don’t vote, you don’t get your voice in, and you don’t have any say in what goes on over here.”

Das said he felt the pollsters created a safe environment for student voters, citing “hand sanitizer everywhere and no one was next to each other. And it was a big, open space.”

And while Das was a bit confused on where the Annex 1 building was at first, he followed the signs and said he found the place easily.

Mauro said she thinks there wasn’t a big turnout because many people are voting from home, especially with concerns regarding the COVID-19 virus. She added that despite the low turnout, she believes the youth are more engaged in voting and politics more now than in her youth.

“You have all these students that are on campus, which are not here,” Mauro said. “Because who wants to pay to stay on campus if you don’t have to pay if you can study from home? That’s what everybody’s doing anyway.”