Election issues in Park Merced

“At every polling place, the doors should be open. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.” - Virginia Marshall The post Election issues in Park Merced appeared first on San Francisco Bay View.

Election issues in Park Merced
I-Voted-sticker-Cali-2024, Election issues in Park Merced, Local News & Views
Voters eager to vote who chose not to vote early or by mail flocked to polling places across the city on March 5, Election Day, but some encountered unnecessary obstacles. In Park Merced, some of those obstacles seem to have been racially motivated.

by Daphne Young 

When retired educator Virginia Marshall showed up to vote on Super Tuesday, she was surprised to find the front doors to 150 Font St., a polling location in Park Merced, to be locked.

“I always vote at the same place,” said Marshall,” and I was surprised that the door was closed and locked.”

Marshall says after knocking for a while, someone finally came to the door. She was allowed in and once inside she challenged the five poll workers who were at that location.

“The doors shouldn’t be locked,” said Marshall. And, eventually an argument ensued.

Marshall said she didn’t feel welcome by the five poll workers. As an African American woman, she said she noticed as others entered, all white, they were greeted with “Hello” and “Good morning.”

To make matters worse, once Marshall finished voting, she went to put her ballot into the scanner, but one of her ballots wouldn’t go through. “The error message read, ‘unable to read’,” said Marshall.

“I want to make sure my ballot will count,” said Marshall. So, she asked them to call their supervisor. At first she says the poll workers wouldn’t call the supervisor, Marshall said.

Then Marshall was told to vote again since the machine didn’t work.

Again, she asked for a supervisor and finally a Field Election Deputy showed up to assist.

“Upon my arrival, I was approached by Ms. Virginia Marshall, an African American voter, who expressed her distress regarding the processing of her ballots,” said Mel Washington. “Ms. Marshall encountered difficulties while attempting to cast her votes using the scanning machine. Despite her efforts, one of her ballots was accepted while the other was not. 

“Additionally, she felt discriminated against as she noted that the front door was locked upon her arrival and she was not greeted in the same manner as other voters, particularly those who were white. This led to escalating tensions between Ms. Marshall and the poll workers.”

Washington added that tensions had risen at the polling center that morning as Ms. Marshall accused the poll workers of being racially biased, while the poll workers felt she was uncooperative and used derogatory language towards them.

Washington also said he tried to help de-escalate the situation and referred the matter to the Department of Elections for further investigation. 

As a longtime poll worker, Washington says this Super Tuesday he was amazed to learn that there were also reports of locked doors at other polling locations in the Park Merced area, which included 350 Arballo Dr., 50 Chumasero Dr. and 1300 Junipero Serra Blvd.

Plus, Washington said that on election night as he rode by the 65 Beverly polling location, he noticed poll workers closing up around 7 p.m. As a field election deputy, Washington said he was compelled to ask the poll workers to keep the location open until 8 p.m., which is the scheduled closing time for polling locations.

So, we reached out to SF Department of Elections Director John Arnzt to get some answers about these issues and he responded in an email: 

“We had to close the door to the polling place because the wind was blowing papers off of the election table. However, one of the poll workers was stationed at the door to open it for voters. A voter who may have been Ms. Marshall was upset that the door was locked even though a clerk was present to open the door when this voter arrived.

“This same voter also was given a replacement card since one of her two ballot cards would not process through the tabulator. The voter marked the replacement card and it successfully processed and was counted. After voting, the voter asked to see the initial card that was not processed. However, that original card had already been deposited into a sealed box as required by our procedures and could not be removed.

“This voter became highly upset and field support personnel arrived to also discuss our procedures with the voter to resolve the situation.”

In regards to the other locations and locked doors, we still haven’t received an answer. Plus, there’s no confirmation from the Department of Elections on whether or not poll workers at the location at 65 Beverly were attempting to close early and whether or not that’s a violation of the California voting laws.

Meanwhile, Ms. Marshall says she plans to file official complaints with the SF Department of Elections and with the NAACP, of which she’s a member.

“They were unprofessional, they were rude and they should never be allowed to work in any polling place in San Francisco,” said Marshall. “Plus, at every polling place, the doors should be open. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

We hope everyone took part in the voting process on Super Tuesday. If you experienced any polling discrepancies when you voted in person, let us know.

Daphne Young is a freelance journalist in San Francisco who currently writes and reports for the SF Bay View and the SF Chronicle. She also fills in as an anchor and reporter at KQED Radio. The Chicago native has won numerous awards over the years and is a general assignment reporter who covers everything from breaking news to social justice, business, sports and entertainment. Contact her at daphnemedia2020@gmail.com

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