SAN MATEO (KPIX) — Bay Area election officials said they are seeing unprecedented voter turnout and they’re encouraging people to vote early on Monday to avoid potential lines Tuesday.

A steady stream of people dropped off their ballots and voted in person on the San Francisco peninsula Sunday. Some people told KPIX this election is personal.

“I was diagnosed with cancer back in the spring,” said Terry Johnson a San Francisco voter. “The possibility that the protection for pre-existing conditions could go away — honestly it’s terrifying.”

Johnson said the outcome of this election will likely affect what health care will look like for her and millions of others.

“This election is one of the most important in my lifetime. I’m a little emotional but I really do feel like this is the soul of our country and I’m not done fighting,” Johnson said.

Johnson dropped off her ballot at Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors. A popup site there is one of the busiest ballot drop-off spots in San Francisco. Workers told KPIX they collected 1,400 ballots on Saturday.

Liz Einbinder, San Francisco voter, and five of her friends came to Chase Center to drop off their ballots. They divvied up the task of researching the ballot initiatives then collaborated via Zoom to discuss their votes.

“(The Zoom call) kind of helped to make it feel more of a communal experience cause this whole election season has felt sort of alienating,” said Anthony Veerkamp, who was part of the Zoom call.

“Sometimes, it’s a group consensus. Sometimes, people decided to vote one way or the other but we just had a very open and honest dialogue,” Einbinder said.

Warriors guard Damion Lee said no matter how people vote, democracy works when people speak up. He and his wife greeted voters and handed out “I Voted” stickers to people dropping off ballots at Chase Center.

“Speak about the injustices that have gone on in this world and how, in order to fix everything … it starts with compassion. It starts with love and it starts with care,” Lee said.

In San Mateo County, the turnout was also near a record high.

To keep the voting easy, San Mateo County has 45 polling locations during early voting and 49 sites on Election Day. The county has even added mobile voting sites at a couple of shopping malls for the first time.

“Right now, we have basically doubled the number of voters participating in this election that we did in the 2016 presidential election,” said Jim Irizarry, assistant chief election officer of San Mateo County.

Irizarry said that, as of Saturday, San Mateo County had a 59 percent voter turnout. He said they are ready for a big rush on Tuesday.

“San Mateo County has invested over $100,000 in COVID-19 preparedness for its vote centers. We have plexiglass at all of our facilities. All of our employees use masks. All voters are also required to use masks and practice social distancing,” Irizarry said.

All Bay Area counties have early voting locations for either ballot drop-off or in-person voting.

“For me, coming in person is a tradition,” said Robert Carbonaro, a San Mateo voter. “I grew up in New York. It was a tradition to go out with my parents, a big thing, to watch them vote.”

It was a smooth and easy voting process for Carbonaro — in and out in less than five minutes.

One first time voter told KPIX she voted early to make sure her ballot counts. Zhuravi Lorenzo said her ballot and vote is dedicated to her family.

“I’m from Puerto Rico. We cannot vote for the president. So since I’ve moved (to San Francisco) now, I have the opportunity to do it,” Lorenzo said. “So I think it’s super important, especially for my family and friends over there that don’t have the opportunity.”

Comments (5)