En Español

Time: 9:00 a.m.
Precinct 3833: Mission Police Station

The morning sun shines through the windows of Mission Station’s community room on Valencia and 17th streets. Eight people have their heads down in the voting booths. A nurse in scrubs quickly submits her ballot and runs out the door. She says she was late to work and the ballot took longer to fill out this time. There is a short line forming as a new voter walks in the door every few minutes.

Roberta Goodman works in elder care. She doesn’t feel very informed this election, but wanted to respond to Prop. B, the initiative on city employee pension reform. “And the governor and senator, making sure Brown and Boxer get in. There’s no way I could handle those others getting in.”

The line begins to reach out the door a few minutes past 9 a.m. Carl Tebell, a poll inspector, says he’s seen about 60 people come through since the polling station opened at 7 a.m.

“I completely study the issues,” says Robert Norgaard, a therapist and self-described upstanding citizen. “I don’t listen to the papers. They are all deceiving — probably because of all the money pouring in this election.” Norgaard made his own voting guide and sent it to everyone he knows.

He holds up a piece of paper titled, “VOTE according to ROBERT,” listing all of the state and city propositions. Norgaard has an especially strong opinion about Prop. B. “SF folks cannot afford to pay for the health care of City employees,” his voting guide reads. “GET REAL SF City employees. STOP WHINING.”

Norgaard is also against the Sit/Lie proposition. “It’s an abuse of power,” he says. “Gavin Newsom moved to the Haight and did not like the hippies on the sidewalk. BOO HOO.”

By Lauren Rosenfeld

Time: 9:00 a.m.
Precinct 3856: First Samoan Congregational Church

Two campaigners for district supervisor candidate Rafael Mandelman hold signs up in front of an empty sidewalk in front of the Samoan Congregational Church, hoping to win some last minute votes.

A smartly dressed Indian man on his way to work says he voted for Proposition L, otherwise known as Sit/Lie. “I want to see if the governor will be able to do the job and enforce it,” he says.

As for Proposition 19, he says he voted against it. “I believe in theory that pot should be legal, but the proposition was badly crafted. It will cost the state more than it will make.”

A feeling of civic duty, but mostly the chance to vote on Prop. 19, drew Logan Welliver to the polling station this morning. A recent transplant from Oregon, he registered in California to be able to vote for the legislation.

“This isn’t something a corporate entity is passionate about,” Welliver says. “This something that affects us. It is something we want!”

The sidewalk remains empty for a while until Ryan Scott, 30, saunters out from the polling station. “Surprisingly, I voted for Sit/Lie to deal with the drastic homeless problem,” he says, then explains, “I mean, if you step in human feces enough, it affects your perception.”

By Caroline Bins

Time: 9:20 a.m.
Precinct 3645: Dunleavy Plaza

There is less sunlight, but the same amount of action in the back room of the lobby at Dunleavy Plaza. “It’s busier than last year, and I like that,” says poll worker Debi Muise. “They started coming in early and there’s been a steady flow.”

Elizabeth, a computer programmer who did not give her last name, walks in to drop off her absentee ballot. “I don’t trust the mail, so I brought it in.”  She hopes Prop. 19 passes and marijuana becomes legal. She has always thought it was stupid that alcohol and tobacco are legal, but marijuana is not — though she doesn’t use any of the three.

The room begins to get crowded.

An Indian couple smile as they slip their ballot into the electronic voting machine. They moved from India five years ago and became United States citizens just a few months ago.

Today is their first time voting in the United States. “We constitute the government,” says Dipak Gandhi with a heavy Indian accent. “Voting today is something fantastic.”

By Lauren Rosenfeld

Time: 9:45 a.m.
Precinct 3911: Synergy School

Voting activity is slow at this polling station on Valencia street, but May Jackson, 27, was not willing to take chances this morning, and filled out an absentee ballot beforehand so she could quickly drop it off.

Jackson ties her dog Coco to a nearby tree before going in. “It’s strange, but I’m a member of the Green Party and I voted against Prop. 19,” she laughs. “I just did not think we were ready for it, legislatively.”

“No line — that is awesome!” says a man in a purple shirt before walking up to cast his vote.

Gene, a voter from the neighborhood who declined to give her last name, is adorned with the telltale red sticker. The Sit/Lie proposition is unconstitutional, according to her, and will be challenged in court if it passes. “It is a sure sign the San Franciscan initiative system has gone awry. All you need to do is get enough signatures to get on the ballot, and in the end it costs the city money,” she says.

A 56-year-old union worker who came in shortly after Gene sporting a Giant cap on his head, says he voted along the Democratic party line and against Proposition L. “I don’t want people to sit on my porch, but what if Sit/Lie stopped us from sitting in Dolores Park to catch some rays of sun?”

By Caroline Bins

Time: 9:50 a.m.
Precinct 3646: Mission Neighborhood Health Center

There is no line and a few empty booths in the conference room at Mission Neighborhood Health Center on Shotwell Street. The sterile fluorescent lighting buzzes as doctors walk up and down the hallway outside. Asher Abrams is in the wrong place. A poll worker tells him this isn’t his polling place; he has to go to Cesar Chavez Elementary School. He looks a little confused, but writes down the address and heads out the door.

Matt Sanford came to vote for Jerry Brown, and doesn’t vote on everything because there is too much on the ballot, he says. He prefers not to vote on things he doesn’t know about. He does know about Sit/Lie, however. He lives next to Mission Hotel and asks people not to hang out on his doorstep, but he believes that Prop. L would take away people’s civil liberties.

“I really struggled with it,” says Rebecca Regan about Prop. L. Regan, who was dropping off her absentee ballot and says voting is her civic duty, read the measure carefully. “I thought a lot about it and realized it’s not all about the homeless, but it’s about the panhandler. I voted for it.”

By Lauren Rosenfeld

Time: 10:00 a.m.
Precinct 3649: Valencia Gardens

The front of Valencia Gardens is empty at 10 a.m.; just a big sign that reads “Polling Place, Vote Here.”

In the lobby, people go about their usual Tuesday morning business — cleaning windows, shuffling papers between offices.

“It’s slow this morning,” said one of the polling booth coordinators. The morning hours before the workday saw the biggest rush, he said. Almost 150 people have come in so far to cast their ballots.

A lady dressed in a black coat and scarf remembers the ballot being just as long last time. But she thinks the format for the judicial races was confusing. “I mean, even for people like us who have voted many times and speak English. I can only imagine what it must be like for others.”

She’s one of the few in the Mission who said they voted no on Prop. 19. “I didn’t trust the way it was written,” she said, adding there were many issues left unaddressed in the language.

Another woman is very happy to get a provisional ballot to vote in her new neighborhood. She moved recently, and trekking to her old precinct would have meant being late for work.

By Mallika Menon

Time: 10:30 a.m.
Precinct 3633: Marshall Elementary School

The classroom-turned-polling-precinct at Marshall Elementary School is bustling. There is a table just outside with cupcakes, coffee and other edibles. Inside the polling booths, heads are down as voters read their ballots.

Most voters we talk to say Sit/Lie and Prop. 19 brought them in to vote. The Governor’s race is a focal point. Most say they voted for Jerry Brown.

Not Armando Aguilar — he  voted for Meg Whitman and No on Prop. 19. “My moral beliefs are what drives how I vote,” he says.

“It was longer than usual,” says one woman rushing off to work after peeling her “I Voted” sticker off its paper backing. She says she skipped the judicial sections. “It was five sheets, but I came prepared,” says Armando, pointing to his laptop.

He says he prepped for today by reading up on what was on the ballot on SF Gate and the Examiner. The Pissed Off Voter Guide was also a popular source of information among other voters.

By Mallika Menon

Time: 10:40 a.m.
Precinct 3919: Monteagle Building

There is ample room for voters to cast their votes in booths set up on the left side of the entrance, but the majority of people coming into the Monteagle medical building are coming in to checkup on their health and not to participate in politics.

One of them, Ronald Anderson, rests on the bench, sweating profusely. He is diabetic, and is $2 short for his medication. Voting was the last thing on his mind. “2008 was the first time I voted for Obama. It felt like it mattered.” This time he is unsure.

Others, like Joe, 54, sporting a long beard, fedora, John Lennon glasses and shorts, are here to fulfill their civic duty. He is in a hurry but takes a second to contemplate the vote he is about to cast. “I think I smoked my first joint when I was 13. I thought it would be legal by the time I was 19, so I’m voting for Prop. 19 now! Plus, we can make a lot of dough!”

Katherine Mckinley is the rare voter unflustered by the California voting process. “I like politics and find it easy to choose candidates except for the judges,” she said. “How can we vote for them? There is no information about the judges. I have no clue how they ruled or what they have done in the past.”

As she unlocks her bike to pedal to work, she adds, “I voted for Prop. 19 because it will make things interesting.” She laughs, then adds, “With pot being legal everywhere else, I want to see what the federal government will do if it passes.”

By Caroline Bins

Time: 10:45 a.m.
Precinct 3834: Mission Playground

Voters move through the polling place at Mission Playground and Pool this morning as mothers with toddlers discuss the Sit/Lie measure on the playground outside. One says the day laborer argument was compelling, but homelessness in San Francisco is a problem.

Most voters are in too much of a rush to chat, but a middle-aged woman stops to say the races for senator and governor are the most important.

Though she says who she voted for was private, she offers a hint.

“Jerry Brown has been a governor once. I don’t think he has a right to run again. I think he was a failure in the past.”

By Hadley Robinson

Time: 11:00 a.m.
Precinct 3634: UCSF Mission Center

There was a short line of voters waiting outside UCSF Mission Center. Some read their voter pamphlets, others eyed the line anxiously.

There were a number of African Americans and many Latinos, some Spanish speakers.

Dhyanidharama Mas came prepared. He was born in France, grew up in the Himalayas, but he’s been voting in San Francisco for 15 years. He votes Democratic, “but it’s not necessarily my first choice,” he says in a heavy French accent. Sometimes you have to vote for efficiency, he adds.

His first choice to stay informed on the election is “definitely KQED news.” But to get an objective view, he read up on the opinions of the opposing parties, as well. Still, he was unsure of who the judicial candidates were and didn’t complete his ballot.

But Jim Meko did. A candidate for the District 6 seat on the Board of Supervisors, he voted for Gavin Newsom. “Hardest decision of my life,” he said.

Meko’s top two ballot issues were Sit/Lie and Prop. B’s pension reforms.

He voted for himself in the supervisor race.

By Mallika Menon

Time: 11:10 a.m.
Precinct 3646: Garage at 218 Lexington Street

A slow trickle of voters moves in and out of the ground-level garage on Lexington Street that, for today, is converted to a polling place.

The governor’s race is what brought Stephen Smith, who is very opposed to Meg Whitman, out to the garage this morning.

Smith finds the ballot to be longer than usual this year and is forced to leave some categories blank. “That was disappointing. I didn’t know everything.”

Another voter, Chris Hoff, agrees that it was long, saying he couldn’t fill out some areas, like the justices.

“It would take a year of good studying to really know everything,” Hoff says, adding the long ballot leaves some to vote based on ideology.

Hoff always votes, but in particular today he wanted to support Prop. 19, the measure that would legalize pot, and oppose the Sit/Lie measure.

“Things that have a hint of progressiveness, I’m going to go for. I like the idea of experimenting.”

By Hadley Robinson

Time: 12:00pm
Precinct 3659: Mission Educational and Vocational School

Voters trickle into quiet polling spots in the eastern Mission at high noon without having to wait in line.

“Just wait. It’s gonna pick up around here around 3:30,” says Jocelyn Olick, outside the Mission Educational and Vocational School on 19th Street. Olick and a colleague are volunteering Tuesday to walk door-to-door for the San Francisco Labor Council to remind voters to “Get out and vote!”

“From 3:30 to 7:30 it’ll be hot, ’cause that’s the time a lot of the healthcare workers get off,” Olick says.

By Gregory Thomas

Time: 12:05 p.m.
Precinct 3674: Z Space

Cai Connolly-Ingram drops off her absentee ballot at Z Space around midday. Her mother is a nurse and plants to vote later in the day, when she punches out at San Francisco General Hospital. The issue at the front of Connolly-Ingram’s mind is Proposition B, which change pension polices for city workers.

“I just don’t think it’s fair,” the 21-year-old Bay View resident says. “A lot of city workers get paid minimum wage and if they have families and have to pay thousands of dollars more they wouldn’t be able to afford it.”

For Brian Garrick, putting Jerry Brown in the Governor’s seat was worth waiting in line at Mission Recreation Center at 9:30 a.m. Seated outside Z Space at noon, Garrick relays the satisfaction of voting at the polls.

“It’s the ritual of the thing. It gets me in touch with my citizenship and my feeling that this is something that people have to struggle for – the right to vote,” Garrick says. “If feels more active, more engaging than mailing it in like I’m just paying my bills.”

By Gregory Thomas

Time: 12:30 p.m.
Precinct 3632: St. Francis of Assisi Community Room

Shaded by trees and lined with stones, the entrance to the senior citizen’s housing complex is an idyllic place generally reserved for senior luncheons and perhaps a game of bingo or two. But voting at the St. Francis of Assisi community room is not for the faint of heart. Step too far from the center of the path and you will quickly learn that the garden is also lined with spiders roughly the size of doorknobs, sitting on webs not much smaller than a car tire.

Election day is bringing an influx of outsiders to this place, and has thrown together San Franciscans who might not otherwise have reason to occupy the same space on a mild November afternoon.

By Samantha Bryson

Time: 12:35 p.m.
Precinct 3844: Dolores Street Community Services

The polling place set up at Dolores Street Community Services on Valencia has lighter traffic than usual around 12:30 p.m. An older Latino couple strolls in through the door, followed by a woman coming down Liberty Hill with a baby strapped to her front.

Dennis, a bilingual poll worker, says it is taking people a bit longer to fill everything out, with each voter receiving five different ballots.

One voter, Greg Jones, says he flew in yesterday to vote after being on the East Coast for the last 11 months. He read up on the measures and candidates over the weekend.

“I get frustrated with the petty politics in this town. I just flew in yesterday, pretty much just to vote,” Jones says, referring to some of the competing ballot measures like Prop. L, the Sit/Lie measure, and Prop. M, the legislation to increase police foot patrols. Whichever measure gets more votes beats out the other.

Jones also feels that many of the measures, including Prop. 19, which seeks to legalize marijuana, aren’t written correctly and open up opportunities for legal challenges.

By Hadley Robinson

Time: 12:50 p.m.
Precinct 3807: Garage at 94 Ramona Street

“I voted pro-civil liberties,” says one voter just after midday.

To this man, the “pro-civil liberties” package includes Jerry Brown for governor; a resounding “yes” to Prop. 19, which will legalize marijuana in California; and a definitive “no” on the Sit/Lie measure.

Despite some of the more conservative voters that populate other nearby polling places, the garage at 94 Ramona Street is filled with a half-dozen people who share this man’s sentiments.

By Samantha Bryson

Time: 12:55 p.m.
Precinct 3903: Bethany Center

After voting, Karoly Szunyoti sits on a bench outside the Bethany Center on Capp Street as a diverse crowd files out of the polling place.

Szunyoti, who came here from Hungary in 1956, doesn’t think much of Republicans. He voted against Whitman, especially after the undocumented housekeeper scandal.

“Bush and Cheney — they messed up this country,” he says, “spending billions in Iraq and Afghanistan. They need to help people here. People have no homes, lose their jobs.”

Health care is a top issue for Szunyoti, who says it’s difficult to get by if you are on medication. “People are afraid to go to the hospital because they can’t afford it,” he says. “Obama tried to make it so all the poor people could have insurance and go to the doctor.”

By Hadley Robinson

Time: 1:00 p.m.
Precinct 3902: Firehouse

Local ballot measures drew voters to the booths, some of which exercised their democratic right by abstaining.

Ruth Williams, 36, cast an easy vote for Proposition D, a measure that would grant non-citizens voting rights in schools in which their children are enrolled, but said committing to one side of Proposition L, the sit/lie measure, wasn’t as simple.

“People should be allowed to sit on the sidewalk but not lie on the sidewalk,” said Williams, a graphic designer living in the Mission. “I’m really opposed to people being passed out on the sidewalk.”

By Gregory Thomas

Time: 1:15 p.m.
Precinct 3815: Community Hall Senior Center

As a young man leaves the polling place with his dog, he says exactly why he voted in favor of Prop. L: “I really don’t like panhandling, and I think Prop. L will help with that.”

When asked why not, his answer was practical and straightforward: “The first time my parents came to visit me in San Francisco, they were accosted by a panhandler.” The experience has soured him to panhandling and now, years later, is what has dictated his vote.

By Samantha Bryson

Time: 1:35 p.m.
Precinct 3644: Garage at 361 Guerrero Street

The poll workers here are having a great time. The casual atmosphere lends itself well to the kinds of jokes they pass back and forth while distributing forms to those who wander in to vote.

An older pollworker, Jaison, teases his colleague Norma that she will be forced to stay until midnight, because she took too long of a break. “Right,” she responds, rolling her eyes good-naturedly.

Norma, who worked the polls in June as well, much prefers the rhythm and pace of this election over the last. “You don’t have to ask people what party they’re in, and people seem generally excited to vote,” she says, closing her container of Chinese food.

This polling place has a mascot as well, at least for a short time, as one of the voters has stationed his large dog in the corner, where it milks attention from passersby who stop to scratch his head.

They were busy in the morning, but in the lull of the afternoon the crowds have thinned and the workers are having more fun.

By Samantha Bryson

Time: 2:15 p.m.
Precinct 3906: Salvation Army

The warm afternoon sun has transformed Valencia Street into a siesta-like state. Cars drive slowly, people stroll by, and only a handful of folks are hitting the voting booths.

Those who do are passionate about these midterm elections. Matt, 26, has bright, bleached-yellow hair and is wearing a pair of green Ray Bans. He is very sure about what is at stake today.

“I want to make sure Republicans don’t take over the Senate and House of Representatives,” he says. “We are now in a period of great political change, and if the Republicans win, this change will stop.”

Another voter, Hassan, walks out, squinting into the sun as he ponders the issues he cares most about.

“I voted against Sit/Lie. I wanted people to be free.” Hassan, originally from Morocco, moved to the U.S. a few years ago because he found the country much more welcoming to immigrants. Now he is afraid that could shift.

“What worries me is that there is a mood in the country that is keen on restricting freedom, as well.”

Pike and Luette meet each other on the street and strike up a discussion about the election a few feet away from the entrance.

Luette, 30, registered to vote for the first time in 12 years in order to vote against Sit/Lie. “I don’t want San Francisco to turn into Disneyland.”

Pike, 31, with bright lipstick and tree-like tattoos, agrees. Prop. 19 was a much tougher choice, however.

“I don’t think it is a good thing to criminalize pot, but I fear that corporate interests will crush the independent grower,” says Pike. “I know many of them, and they will suffer if it passes.”

“But then again,” responds Luette, “when you think about how many people are locked up….”

Pike agrees and, in the end, says she reluctantly voted yes.

By Caroline Bins

Time: 3:10 p.m.
Precinct 3861: Garage at 59 28th Street

At this garage-turned-polling-station on 28th Street, the atmosphere is very mellow. People sit on the porch filling out their ballots. Minutes turn into half-hours, and it becomes apparent just how long it takes for many to plow their way through the ballots. In total, 200 people have come and voted at this precinct since 7 a.m., and more are expected to come by this evening.

Again, Prop. 19 is a hot topic, with many people there this afternoon voting in favor.

“This is a critical election. It has been a nasty blame game on Obama, who inherited a mess from the Republicans,” says Jean, 78, who registered to vote back when she was 21 and has only missed one election since. For her, the biggest issue is maintaining rent control.

By Caroline Bins

Time: 3:50 p.m.
Precinct 3843: St. James Church

At St. James Church, the handful of people going in to vote hope to maintain rent control and unburden prisons through Prop. 19.

BC, 48, a muscular personal trainer, takes of her sunglasses to break down the reasoning behind her votes.

“As an African American lesbian I cannot but vote!” she says. But she is not thrilled with the issues on the ballot. “No one cares a rat’s ass about the Mission,” she adds. “Valencia may look pretty, but it’s all window dressing. I have lived here for 22 years, and it’s still all about gangs and graffiti.”

One measure that did hit home for her was Sit/Lie.

“I have had people camp in my garage for so many years, needing to step over them as I go to work. I am so over it. It may be politically incorrect, but I voted for it.”

By Caroline Bins

Time: 4:15 p.m.
Precinct 3905: Residence at 2291 Bryant Street

A man in a Giants jersey emerges from inside the light blue walls of a garage on Bryant Street.

The race for governor was the most pressing issue to him, he says.  He voted Democrat.

Prop. 19 caught his attention, too.

“I went through all that years ago,” he says. “ I thought it best to keep it out.”

Minutes later, a woman named Jean also says the governor’s race was at the top of her agenda. She voted for Jerry Brown.

In a floor-length navy blue skirt, she explains the importance of Prop. J to her.

“I work in a hotel, so I want the tax to increase,” she says.

By Lisette Mejia

Time: 4:30 p.m.
Precinct 3908: Residence at 2700 22nd Street

A sign that reads “San Francisco Congratulates the Giants” hangs on the window of the house whose garage has been converted into a polling place.

Trish Large stands outside the precinct in green hoodie as she waits for her husband to finish voting.

The governor’s race was what drew her out to vote.

“I normally don’t come out for one of these,” she says. Large has lived in the Mission for 10 years and does not want Meg Whitman to win.

She says she celebrated the Giants victory last night. Her father called her this morning.

“He said, ‘Don’t be too hungover to vote,’ ” she says with a laugh.

A few feet away, Ana stands on the corner of 22nd and York waiting for her friend to emerge from the garage.

She pulls out an index card from her bag. In scribbled writing, it lists several measures with a yes or a no next to them. Next to Prop B, it says NO.

Ana voted yes on Prop 19, but was originally opposed to it.

“I got into a debate with my children over it,” says the woman from Guatemala in her accented voice.

“They told me if it passes, the drug cartels [from Mexico] won’t be as involved,” she says. With that, she changed her mind.

As she speaks, a little brown dog tied to a street sign barks continuously, prompting its owner to come out of the garage with his blue ballot in hand.

“Shhhhh!” says the tall man in his work suit.

By Lisette Mejia

Time: 5:00 p.m.
Precinct 3909: Bryant Elementary School

“It’s been really slow sometimes and really crowded sometimes,” says one volunteer at the entrance of Bryant Elementary’s cafeteria. The senior in high school has been at the precinct since 5:45 a.m. and will stay until 9 p.m., she says.

Outside the colorful school walls, Leah Butler pulls out her marked up voter guide. She brought it with her to speed up the voting process.

She voted yes on Prop 19. “I’m not a pot smoker. I just think It’s a great source of revenue,” she says, wearing a burgundy Humbolt t-shirt and flip flops.

As Julienne Bautista hurries to her bike, she explains her vote. Jerry Brown for governor. Nancy Pelosi for Representative. No on L. Yes on 19.

Like Butler, Bautista prepared her vote pre-election day. It took her less than five minutes to fill out the ballot. Otherwise, “it would have been quite laborious,” says Bautista, 31, a Stanford graduate student.

Brian Peterson, 49, also knew exactly how he was going to vote.

As the sun starts to set over the school, he says he voted Libertarian for most offices, including governor.

He doesn’t like Jerry Brown. “He doesn’t need my vote, so I was able to vote with a clear conscious.”

But “if it were a close call, I would’ve thrown my vote in for him,” he says.

By Lisette Mejia

Time: 5:00 p.m.
Precinct 3814: The Congregation Shaar Zahav

The space at Congregration Shaar Zahar is tight. People are quietly sitting on the stairs, jockeying for space to fill out the ballot. Standing outside is Daniel Ray, a union supporter for Rafael Mandelman, who is anxiously waiting for the poll lists to come out. He says that once the list comes out, the campaign can go out and try to do some last minute outreach to voters.

Five minutes later, Phil Lumesden comes out the door to meet his two friends. He says he voted for Prop 19. “I have been a pothead all my life and now I have a chance to actually make it legal,” says Lumesden.

By Fay Abuelgasim

Time: 5:30 p.m.
Precinct 3832: Mission High School

Mission High School is a wide space where if a needle dropped, it would ring throughout the wide auditorium.

Many voters here agree that Prop 19 is important, but Propositions 23 and G seem to have drawn most people in today.

“MUNI adding more workers would help the city,” says Lucerno Guerron. “We need more buses because some lines don’t have many buses.”

Others are overwhelmed with the ballot process. Steve Davis, who is originally from Iowa but has been living in Boston for the last 12 years, says, “There were 70 different choices, I was feeling a little overwhelmed. We don’t have that in Boston.”

By Fay Abuelgasim

Time: 6:00 p.m.
Precinct 3825: First Covenant Church

It is a family friendly environment at the First Covenant Church. Everyone knows each other. Bob, one of the poll workers, greets everyone with a smile.

At one point, Janet Davis returns from voting and asks Bob why they didn’t have brownies this year. Bob responds with a smile and says,”It is not my fault.”

Davis votes here every year. The voting process confuses her but she thinks it is important to vote.

“The ballot seems more crammed this year.”

One of the most important propositions for her is Prop. L. Davis has reservations, though.

“Who is going to be responsible for ticketing those who violate Sit/Lie?” she asks.

Another voter, Matt Anderson, shares her concerns with Sit/lie. “This would only work if there was enough police to enforce it.”

By Fay Abuelgasim

Time: 6:00 p.m.
Precinct 3918: Bernal Dwellings

There’s just a handful of people at the Bernal Dwellings voting booths, located in a community room with bright lights. One young black man waits at the head of a short line — the rest are mostly white, mostly youngish, mostly wearing tennis shoes and shorts on this warm November day.

The first woman to emerge from the voting booth has no time to talk. “I’m in a hurry, that took a long time,” she says emphatically.

Prima Martin, 37, isn’t happy with her choices for governor. “Whitman’s brand new, Jerry’s been there before – no change,” she says. Martin says she thought the ballot was pretty long this year, and didn’t fill out the whole thing.

Neil Simonsen didn’t either, but not for lack of trying. After trying to research all twelve of the judicial candidates on the ballot, he gave up and didn’t cast votes for any. “It’s too hard to find any research on where they stand without going back to their individual cases,” he says. “And that’s where a little bit of laziness comes in.”

Lisa Quinn says she came out to vote in the governor’s and Senate races. “I know things haven’t gotten better yet, but the Democrats seem a little more levelheaded than the Republicans. And things will get better, at least in regards to the economy,” she says.

Ricardo Moreira, 29, says there’s no particular reason he’s out voting today. He votes all the time. But for his friends, Prop. 19 was key in getting them to turn out.

Two women waffle just outside the door. “I think it closes at 7:00, I might just come back,” says one.

“Man, I don’t know if I’ll actually come back,” she adds.

“Girl, then you better go do it now!” responds the other.

They enter.

By Christine Mai-Duc

Time: 6:30 p.m.
Precinct 3907: Cesar Chavez Elementary School

Cathy double parks her SUV in the middle of Shotwell Street, trots around the rear door, pulls out her young son and runs into Cesar Chavez Elementary School.

Although her son’s elementary school has been turned into a polling place, she isn’t here to vote — at least not yet. First she has to pick up her other son, get them both home and fed and then race back out before the polls close.

“I am going to make most of my decisions once I get to the booth,” she explains. “I am really on the fence about a lot of things.”

With her car’s hazards lights ablaze, slowing down traffic on Shotwell, she explains that despite having young children she really isn’t worried about Prop 19 passing.

“I’ll probably vote in favor of it. I know how I raise my kids,” she says. “I worry for some other kids who don’t have the stability that mine have, but I know what I teach them and I know I won’t have to worry.”

By Samantha Bryson

Time: 6:35 p.m.
Precinct 3924: Leonard Flynn Elementary School

The cafeteria at Leonard Flynn elementary is brightly lit, its high ceilings dwarfing the dozen or so people in the polling place. Just outside the cafeteria is a bake sale  advertising coffee and a pastry for $3, a fundraiser for their library in view of recent budget cuts.

Half stand, heads down, at the pop-up election booths. The others are scattered among the long school cafeteria tables. The first round of voters are mainly the flip flops & sneakers set. 

One young woman, part of the well-represented Giants t-shirt set, says in a hoarse voice that she came out to vote against Prop. 19. “I don’t think kids should be smoking it,” she said, adding that she’s afraid of marijuana’s use growing.

Fifteen minutes later, enough time to get home from work, the loafers and dress shoes start arriving, walking up the steps to the school in a steady stream.

Mark Gunson, seems puzzled when asked why he came out to vote. “I always vote, it’s your duty, not a right.”

He says he thinks the turnout hasn’t been bad, especially for a midterm election. “I had to wait in line, and then sit at a table instead of getting a booth,” he says.

By Christine Mai-Duc

Time: 6:45 p.m.
Precinct 3912: Iglesia Pres. de la Mission Church

Through the darkened lobby of the church where she took her citizenship classes over ten years ago, Anna casts her votes for Jerry Brown, against Prop. 19 and against Prop. L.

An El Salvadorian immigrant, Anna has only voted once in her native country but has been voting every year since she helped elect Bill Clinton in 1996 — her first election as an official U.S. citizen.

“It’s important for the Latinos to get out and vote,” she says, “even if sometimes they need help at the polls.”

Anna is thrilled to vote this evening, as she says she has been every year since she became a citizen, and was pleased to find out that the polls were open until 8pm.

“It’s good for people who work, you know? People are busy but they should still be excited to vote. Voting is a great thing.”

By Samantha Bryson

Time: 7:00 p.m.
Precinct 3913: Garage at 2774 Folsom Street

Pico looks the part of a Mission District hipster, looking at me through black square-framed glasses.

“I probably follow politics too much,” he says. “I get so disappointed in people.”

For Pico, voting for governor is like choosing the lesser of two evils and, although he says he voted for Jerry Brown, he wasn’t thrilled with his choices.

There were a lot of negative ads from both candidates, but at the end of the day it was Meg Whitman’s refusal to stop running disparaging advertisements about Jerry Browns that finally clinched his decision to vote for Brown, Pico says.

Disappointed with the democrats for not taking a firm stance in Congress, and frustrated with the Propositions that he perceives as impositions on civil liberties, Pico says he is weary of politics in general.

“It’s our money. We pay for the sidewalks,” says Pico of Prop. L. “People should get to use them however they want.”

By Samantha Bryson

Time: 7:00 p.m.
Precinct 3917: Mission Senior Housing

Voters are starting to turn up dressed in black with painted white faces, ready to celebrate the Day of the Dead here in the Mission. Others have herds of kids in town, while still others simply look weary from a long day of work. With only an hour before the polls close, the line is beginning to stretch outside the building.

Mada waits outside, occasionally glancing through the window to check on her friends as they cast their votes.

“I know it’s bad, but I’ve never voted before,” she says. “I am not even registered.”

At the age of 25, Mada is still waiting for some kind of political movement to grab her attention long enough to bring her to the polls. Today, she is supporting her best friends who are far more politically inclined that she.

“I just feel like no one listens to our voices anyways, so what’s the point of voting? It’s immature, I know, but that’s how I feel,” says Mada. “Who knows, maybe I’ll vote next year?”

By Samantha Bryson

Time 7:15 p.m.
Precinct 3914: Garfield Square Park Rec Center

The center’s bright fluorescent lights are a stark contrast to the deepening dusk outside, punctuated with the beating drums and flickering votives of Day of the Dead festivities.

Richard Parra, 48, emerges from the bright, if cramped, room. A city employee with the water department, he came to vote against Prop B, a pension reform measure. “They asked us to forego pay increases. We did it. They asked us for five furlough days. Then they increased it to 12 a year. Now, they’re asking us to pay more int our retirement.” 

He says claims that employees earn pensions of up to 90% of their salary are misleading. “It is possible to earn 90% of your salary in your pension, but you’d have to be with the city approximately 35 years and be a firefighter.”

Parra says if he retires at 62, he’ll make only 50% of his salary after 25 years of service.

Eric, another voter who rocks his baby daughter as he marks his choices in the voting booth, says he was torn on Prop L, the Sit/Lie measure. “I feel that it’s going to give cops too much power, but on the other hand Haight/Ashbury has got a real problem.”

And with that, he’s off into the night, bouncing his baby amid the painted faces and glowing lights.

By Christine Mai-Duc

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