A steady stream of voters arrived at Ed Roberts Campus in South Berkeley on Tuesday morning, braving light rain to slide their mail-in ballots into a yellow secure drop box and get, in exchange, a red, white and blue “I Voted” sticker — and a sense of pride in having performed a civic duty.
The voting center had been open since Saturday, though Election Day was by far the busiest of all four days, said longtime election worker (and eclair connoisseur) Jane Stillwater, as she directed a man toward the mostly-open voting booths.
Berkeleyside interviewed voters as they left the polling site. We found a professor teaching her students to be informed citizens and a community college student worried about abortion rights and the sanctity of elections.
Berkeley resident Jill Schepmann, 44, is an adjunct professor in writing at the University of San Francisco. It’s not quite part of her job description, but she felt it was her duty to make sure her students think critically about who and what they vote for.
In the weeks leading up to the election, she said she asked her class to study all seven California ballot propositions and present their findings. Even after parsing through several voter guides, her students felt there was plenty more digging to do before they could make a decision, Schepmann said. But taking the time to find out what you’re really voting for — and who’s funding the things you vote on — is worth it, and “fundamental to democracy,” according to Schepmann.
“It’s our responsibility,” Schepmann said. “It’s a right that some of us get, and if we have it, (we) should try to exercise for the greater good.”
Peter Mitchell-Dayton, 60, and Caitlin Mitchell-Dayton, 65, are Oakland residents and UC Berkeley graduates who “always vote in person.” Peter, a web developer-designer, said he was voting because of concerns about the “rising tide of fascism” and election deniers. “We still can’t believe it,” said Caitlin, an artist, noting that she’s especially worried about the erosion of trust in democracy because Nazis were able to take power in Germany even without majority support.
Berkeley City College student Jayne Robert-Adams, 20, arrived with her mother in tow. For their family, voting is a family affair and one that includes her younger brother, who isn’t old enough to vote yet. The night before, they read through the election pamphlet and endorsement lists and read about candidates’ platforms online, before holding discussions on the issues they care about.
“You can’t vote on something if you don’t know about it,” Robert-Adams said on why being an informed voter matters.
Robert-Adams is concerned about keeping the right to abortion, particularly amid the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. She said she voted yes on Proposition 1, which would enshrine the right to abortion in the California state constitution.
“I’m really concerned about the sanctity of elections,” Robert-Adams said, adding that she’s worried about voter fraud.
“Living in California, I feel like my vote doesn’t have such a monumental impact,” said Robert-Adams. “I think the state of the country is in a different place.”
She’s not alone in feeling like Californian voters get the shorter end of the stick when it comes to representation.
“We’ve never had that much of an effect here,” said Jenny Hurth, a 62-year-old artist and seamstress. “It feels like we can’t really capture the things here that are bothering us elsewhere.”
Berkeleyside followed up on concerns about a U.S. Postal Service mailbox in Berkeley. A League of Women Voters board director shared a photo on social media of a South Berkeley mail collection box that had been left open on Monday.
USPS spokesperson David Rupert dismissed speculation that someone had tampered with the box. He said the box’s “lock was not compromised” and it’s likely a mail carrier just forgot to close it properly. The mail was picked up around 2 p.m., the issue was reported shortly afterward and USPS had secured the box by 5:15 p.m.
Where can I vote today?
There’s still time to cast your vote on several Berkeley races including City Council, measures and rent and school boards. The polls close at 8 p.m. today.
You can also hand your mail-in ballot over to poll workers at a voting center or deposit it in a secure ballot dropbox today.
Here’s a map of all the drop boxes in Alameda County. The boxes in Berkeley are located at:
Berkeley Civic Center, 2180 Milvia St.
UC Berkeley, between Sather Gate and the Architects & Engineers building
Frances Albrier Community Center, 2800 Park St.
Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue Ave.
North Branch Library, 1170 The Alameda
West Branch Library, 1125 University Ave.
Below is a list of the voting centers in Berkeley. The centers are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Anna Head Alumnae Hall, 2537 Haste St.
Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St.
Rosa Park Elementary School, 920 Allston Way
Longfellow School gym, 1522 Ward St.
West Campus Oxford gym, 1222 University Ave.
YWCA Berkeley/Oakland, 2600 Bancroft Way
Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, 401 Grizzly Peak Blvd.
Epworth United Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St.
North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave.
Berkeleyside will be updating the results from the local races so check back with us after 8 p.m. for the latest.