By Wilson Walker

ALAMEDA (KPIX) — Polling stations opened across the Bay Area Saturday — 100 in Alameda County alone. Driven by necessity, this may be a function of the pandemic that stays when Covid is gone.

“Something about that personal touch,” said Dave Toledo before he voted in Livermore. “I’d like to be there. I like to participate.”

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From a community center in Livermore to the Southland Mall food court, the voters showed up.

“A tremendous amount of people … I was actually surprised to see this amount of people, especially on the first early day,” said poll worker Matthew Dominguez.

This Halloween felt more like election day as people took advantage of the more-convenient poll locations. Some voters found the San Leandro polling site by sheer luck.

“I saw the sign and I jammed on my brakes,” Stephanie Fullerton said. “Like, ‘perfect, I don’t even have to make an extra stop!’”

“Alameda County reached out to us,” Kristen Iosco, general manager of Almanac Beer in Alameda, told KPIX. “They were interested in using us as a polling place because we are a very big warehouse. Of course, we jumped on it right away. We’re just really happy to be a part of democracy.”

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Voting rules, however, mean you can’t drink your beer on site.

“It’s nice to be able to come here and do my voting in person and pick up a treat afterwards,” said Matthew Lewis, picking up his beer to go.

One after another, voters said this emergency arrangement is how it should be every year.

“It’s a Saturday,” laughed Guillermo Santos in Castro Valley. “I can vote right now, on a Saturday? You can vote on a Saturday!”

“Yes,” agreed Banjo. “I think this should be the norm, when you get a couple of days.”

There was not much in the way of lines on Saturday — just a lot of voters who were happy to have a weekend voting option.

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“If feels good to vote for sure,” Allan Afable said after voting in San Leandro. “I mean, it’s really my first time, being at a bit of an advanced age. This year I really got involved in what’s going on out there … it feels pretty good to put my vote in.”