SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — For weeks now there has been an intense focus on mail-in ballots, drop boxes, signatures and ballot-tracking. This weekend, the story is about in-person voting as polling places open across the Bay Area.
“It feels better,” said Renuka Kapoor in Walnut Creek. “I am doing something. I am participating, which is something I think people need to do. Sending it by mail, it just isn’t personal.”
For some, it is the simple satisfaction of doing it the old-fashioned way.
“I feel like that’s my right as an American, and it’s way more fulfilling to do it in person,” a voter named Janet said after casting her ballot in Lafayette.
For others, these voting centers are an opportunity to solve a problem.
“I had meant to vote by mail, but my husband and I moved about a week and a half ago,” explained Erin Lenahan. “The mail forwarding system doesn’t forward election mail, so my ballot went to my previous address.”
Whatever the reasons, the result was intermittent lines Friday.
“I waited for about 45 minutes I guess,” Kapoor said. “I expected a much longer line.”
Counties across the Bay Area will launch their regional voting sites on Saturday, with 100 polling places in Alameda County alone. If Friday is any indication, voters can expect to do some waiting.
“I do think more people will be off tomorrow and will be voting,” said Nancy Townsend. “So I think Saturday will be a busy day.”
Levi’s Stadium is one of 100 full-service voting centers in Santa Clara County that will be open Saturday through Election Day. Already the county has seen record early-voting numbers.
Kenny Garrison, of San Jose, decided to vote early for the first time to avoid any hiccups on Tuesday.
“I’ve always voted on the day of, I get up early, it’s like my first stop for the day and I voted in every election since I was 18 so it is important to me,” Garrison said. “Today wasn’t that bad. I really did appreciate having a little bit of flexibility.”
At this point in 2016, Santa Clara County had received about 200,000 ballots. This year, more than 511,000 ballots have been checked and processed. The county already broke a record for reaching one million registered voters.
“We do want to encourage voters: make sure you sign the back of that envelope, make sure you put the date and address on the back,” said Santa Clara County registrar of voters spokesperson Evelyn Mendez. “So that’s very important, that’s the number one reason the ballot gets rejected.”
Workers finished setting up the vote center at the Mountain View Community Center, which is expected to have long lines. It was the fourth most-visited location during the primaries.
“If you can drop off your vote by mail, absolutely do so,” said Kyle Rae, who is in charge of the Mountain View Community Center vote center. “You won’t have to wait in line for that. If you want to vote in person — which I completely understand — there may be a bit of a wait. You can check the county website for expected wait times at the different vote centers.”
Vote centers are also taking COVID-19 seriously. Booths will be sanitized after each use and social distancing will also be strictly enforced.
Santa Clara County can’t report any results until 8 p.m. Tuesday. If you haven’t registered, you can still do so in person at the registrar or at any of the vote centers and you may turn in your ballot at the same time.
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. KPIX correspondents Wilson Walker and Betty Yu contributed to this report