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SF City Hall sees second highest early voter turnout

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Voters cast their ballots at San Francisco’s City Hall Tuesday, November 8, 2016. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Election Day at City Hall in San Francisco did not appear to reflect the high voter turnout of people who took to the polls early this year.

A noontime rush of voters filled the hallways for a brief time but quickly dissipated by 1:30 p.m. There was virtually no one waiting to vote at City Hall early Tuesday afternoon but it was expected that crowds will pick up later on in the evening, according to John Arntz, director of the Elections Department.

“The polls are way too close for comfort and this ballot means nothing,” San Francisco resident Paola Sanmiguel, 42, said as she held up her ballot.

She has a degree in political science and expressed terror at the thought of Donald Trump becoming president.

“I keep thinking this whole thing is a performance piece by Trump and that he’s going to come out tomorrow and say, ‘You’re fired, America!’”

As of Monday evening, this election saw the second biggest turnout of early voters at City Hall reaching numbers of 15,500 votes since the voting center opened Oct. 11, according to Arntz.

He said that voting on Election Day was going as expected at all precincts with no reports of complaints. He characterized the voting as steady with no long lines at the polls.

“Were still a bit behind 2008 because ‘08 had a stronger turn out the first couple of weeks of the process,” said Arntz. “Whereas in 2016 the last couple of weeks have been stronger.”

To streamline the voting process, the Elections Department based their workflow projections on 2008 and tripled the voting capacity of the voting center to meet the expected demand.

The department also structured wait lines so that people could flow more freely inside the Voting Center. In previous years, lines stretched outside the building.

Outside the building, Gabriel Alvarez, a Hayward resident and support of Sen. Bernie Sanders, was disappointed to learn that he would need to cast his vote in his home precinct.

“I just thought I could vote anywhere. I guess I have to drop my plans today to go vote in Hayward,” Alvarez said.

At first he didn’t care after Sanders lost the candidacy, but the more questions he asked this election the more he realized he needed to vote.

According to Arntz, San Francisco has 9,000 more registered voters for the 2016 election then in November 2012.

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