Election day 2008 in San Francisco
Tuesday, November 4, 2008 began as any normal day would in San Francisco's Richmond District. People got up, got dressed and went to work. But in addition to those things, they went to vote. I got up around 5:15 AM to get ready for school and open our polling place. I'm not a poll worker but my grandparents' old house was a polling place and I had to open the garage door so the poll workers could come in and do their civic duties. My grandfather was into politics and always had something to say about it. Around the late 80's early 90's, my grandpa was asked to use his house as a polling place because of the cleanliness and organization of our garage, which the election officials saw it as a good place to have polling. In addition, his house's situation was right on the corner of the block, which was perfect for voters in our precinct to locate. My Nonna always put out a snack table for the voters and the poll worker so they can leave with a nice snack. They both passed away and I was left with the responsibility of keeping this our precinct's polling place.
I arrived just before 6 AM to open the garage and let the poll workers in. While they did their work setting up, I was preparing our traditional snack table, which is now an icon along with the polling place in our area itself. The poll workers faces were familiar, as they have worked at our house for many past elections, even with the brief stint where we lost our polling place in 2004. (We got it back after two elections because our neighbors probably couldn't have handled the setting up every time and Elections really liked our location as well.) The new faces were the inspector and the two high-school poll workers (High-school students get the day off and paid if they work at the polls and they always change every election) The inspector never worked as a poll worker ever and was this was his first election. As I stayed to watch them set up after I finished setting up, a line began to form at dawn. In half an hour, the line grew down to four houses down the block. As I waited for 7 AM for this historic start to the election, people were getting anxious. The inspector then came out and said in a soft but stern voice, "The polls are open." The line began to move into the garage and one by one, voters began to check in and get their ballots to elect a president a district supervisor as well as vote on over 30 propositions city and state propositions.
After the polls opened, I walked to the bus and one voter talked to me about why I was there at the polling place and found out I was the grandson of the owners of the house. She really thought my grandpa was a good guy and then asked if I would someday run for public office. I answered, "Maybe." and that is one thing I do consider to do one day. I walked to the bus and lined throughout the street were No on 8 volunteers with signs as well as some signs for a candidate for supervisor. The three-mile long journey was spotted with No on 8 signs and volunteers on every major intersection and street as well as a lot of commuters with No on 8 stickers.
Around 3 PM I returned home by bus and again, the No on 8 volunteers were still lining the street and commuters had No on 8 stickers on their shirts. I visited my grandparents' house to check on the snack table and see the turnout. The booths were full but there was no line. The voters trickled in one by one slowly. One poll worker told me it was crazy at times but at the moment, it was calm and predicted a surge between 5 and 8 PM. I then returned home and got ready for work. Again I was on the same bus line and the No on 8 volunteers were lining a good part of the street and still at their usual positions with signs waving. I got to work at 4:45 PM and first I did my usual routine that I had to do every time I work and then I checked the first results of the presidential race on the computer there. I constantly check it every 15 minutes. As time passed, I played a joke on my superior by wearing multiple Barack Obama shirts I had. He was neither for McCain nor Obama and went with a write in candidate that we all know as Dr. Huxtable from the Cosby Show. That was his compromise for an African-American candidate that he liked. In response, I made a "President Huxtable Cabinet" where people at work picked a position they wanted in the cabinet. I still haven't picked mine yet.
Before I left from work, I check CNN for the last time for results. Obama had already won Ohio and Pennsylvania and just won New Mexico. I returned to by grandparents' house by bus again but this time, the No on 8 volunteers were gone since it was edging to 8 PM, the time when the polls close in California. When I returned, Barack Obama was our next president and I told the poll workers the news since they don't have a TV or any means of access to the news.
The news was great for all of us and now the poll workers began packing up the ballots and supplies for the Sheriff to pick up. Everything went easily until the Sheriff arrived unusually early. Usually he came around 10 PM but this time it was 9:15 PM. Things were still in disarray and items were missing at the moment. The sheriff decided to come back later to pick the stuff up. I waited with the poll workers and we began to talk about the election, the legacy of George W Bush, Barack Obama's cabinet, John McCain's campaign and international reactions. One of the poll workers left and she is always grateful of us having the polling place at our house and through we would stop after my Nonna's death. But she was happy to see I was continuing this family and neighborhood tradition. She thanked me and left. Right after the sheriff arrived again and checked all the items, loaded them up in his van and left for the piers. I was given flowers for my work in keeping this house as a polling place and the hospitality to the poll workers. After the poll workers left, I closed the garage door and left for my house two blocks away.
This election went very smoothly in my neighborhood and the turnout was very strong from morning until the finally minutes before closing the polls. I applaud the people for coming out in numbers to vote and I am proud that large numbers of people went out and did last minute campaigning, even in the face of losing. This election was historical in San Francisco due to the many big issues and the involvement in these campaigns was great because in San Francisco, these issues and open seats couldn't be ignored. The people saw it as their moment to voice their choice in choosing a president and voting on many big issues and in my neighborhood's case, a district supervisor. The people choose wisely that day and helped made their voices heard across the country from my neighborhood in San Francisco. I was very proud of this moment in history and I am glad that I was apart of this historic election.