The polling station at Bella Salon. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

Despite historically low voter turnouts for off-year elections, volunteers at Mission voting stations say they’ve seen a higher showing than in past elections.

“It’s been busy,” said a volunteer at the Hua Sang Si Buddhist temple at 3126 22nd Street between Capp and South Van Ness. This is her third year as an election volunteer, and she said she was surprised at the high turnout. “You don’t have downtime.”

Only about 30 percent of registered voters make it to the polls in elections when there are neither state nor national races, though the Chronicle reports that the city is on track for a 42 percent voter turnout this year, according to the Department of Elections. Some 53 percent made it to the polls last year during statewide elections, while fully 73 percent made it out in 2012 during the presidential race.

The Mission has a slightly higher voter turnout compared to other districts. Last year, some 55 percent of eligible Mission voters came out to vote compared to 50.9 percent in other districts. The percentage of Mission registered voters over eligible voters, however, has gone down in recent years, according the the Undergraduate Statistics Association at Berkeley.

In 2012, some 71.6 percent of eligible Mission voters came out to the polls compared to 69.9 percent in other districts. In 2014, the Mission saw a 55 percent voter turnout compared to 50.9 percent in other districts. Graph courtesy of the Undergraduate Statistics Association at Berkeley.
Map courtesy of the Undergraduate Statistics Association at Berkeley.
Map courtesy of the Undergraduate Statistics Association at Berkeley.

A walk-around survey of 10 polling stations in the Mission revealed some 1,072 people had voted in person by 2 p.m., volunteers saying about the same number had dropped off absentee ballots.

“It’s been steady,” said a polling volunteer at Bella Salon on Mission Street. The beauty parlor had seen some 50 people vote in person by noon, mostly “people in the early morning on their way to work.”

“So far it’s been pretty big, it’s been pretty high traffic,” said another volunteer at the Apartamentos de la Esperanza, which had its basement common area turned into a polling station. Some 154 people voted in person at the apartment complex by shortly after noon. “The last election was pretty slow, so this one’s picked up.”

It may be the contentious housing issues that have galvanized neighborhood groups into last-minute electioneering. The Mission Economic Development Agency, spearheading the “Yes on I” campaign, saw volunteers coming in and out of its building throughout the day, receiving instructions and pamphlets for a voting initiative.

Voters, too, thought this election was more important than previous ones.

“As someone who lives in the Mission, the Mission development had a direct impact on me, and I have a lot of friends who are passionate about the Airbnb issue, so I felt this time [the election] had a more direct impact” said Lauren Patty, a Mission resident of 10 years. She had just voted at the fire station on Folsom and 19th, which saw some 161 in-person voters by 1 p.m.

“I feel that the city has changed a lot recently, so I feel a bit angsty,” said Tyler Balogh, who has lived in the neighborhood for a year and also voted at the fire station. He said voting was his way of fighting back against that, though he wasn’t sure how much good it would do. “What I voted for I hope will have some impact.”

And Edwin Lindo, the vice-president of external affairs at the Latino Democratic Club and a drafter of the Mission moratorium initiative, was at Bella Salon, taking down names of those who had already voted so the campaign wouldn’t disturb them while canvassing later.

“We are knocking on doors, reminding people to go out and vote,” he said. “Even if we have to stand on the corner of 24th and Mission until late and tell people to go vote.”

He reminisced about past times in the the anti-gentrification fight, saying he can “still remember the days of ‘Our Mission, No Eviction’ and talking to Erick Arguello [of Calle 24],” and was hopeful and enthusiastic about tonight’s results.

“To now think this is the day that our community gets to decide its fate — it’s exciting.”

Whether the controversial propositions really have influenced more to vote remains to be seen. Polls close at 8 p.m., and it won’t be for a few hours later that preliminary results are released and not for days that official results are guaranteed. If you haven’t made it out to vote, find your polling place here and go before closing time.

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