Election officials were expecting as many as 70,000 mail-in ballot to be dropped off at polling stations Tuesday, in addition to ballots from in-person voters. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF voters line up to back progressive candidates in presidential primary

A steady trickle of voters dropped off ballots or cast votes at City Hall Tuesday afternoon, where lower that expected vote-by-mail participation was expected to mean a larger in-person turnout.

Though the midafternoon atmosphere was subdued, poll workers said the morning was busy and another rush was expected as more people got off work.

“This has been a busy day,” said Hillary Brown, a poll worker who’s been working elections in San Francisco since the 1990s. According to Brown, crowds were about on par with the Governor’s race in 2018.

“Medicare for All” and student debt forgiveness were among the popular draws cited by those waiting to vote, with enthusiasm centered around progressive presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Local issues took a back seat for most voters.

“President was most important to me,” said Deborah Davis of San Francisco, who said she voted for Elizabeth Warren.

Besides the presidential race, Davis said she felt strongly about measure D, a proposed tax on landlords who keep their storefronts vacant — a sentiment echoed by many others leaving City Hall.

“I’m really tired of greedy landlords in the city,” said Davis. “I’d like to see those barriers for small businesses be lifted so they can open their shops and run their businesses and we don’t all have to stare at dirty empty storefront constantly.”

Vida Delauren, a regular voter, said Prop. B, a bond measure aimed at advancing earthquake preparedness and seismic retrofitting was her greatest concern after “Medicare for all.”

“Seismic retrofitting, stuff like that, it’s something we just need,” said Delauren. “We literally do not know when the next big one is going to hit.”

Around 85,000 mail-in ballots were returned prior to Tuesday, down by 12 percent compared to the same time in 2016’s primary. Department of Elections Director John Arntz said he expected up to 70,000 mail-in ballots to be dropped off at polling stations Tuesday, in addition to the ballots from in-person voters.

Polls were scheduled to close at 8 p.m. and the first round of results will be made available at 8:45 p.m, though complete results could take days.

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