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Habitual voters head to polls on a slow election day

June 5, 2012 |  2:19 pm

Howard Berman
At Precinct No. 3341 in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood, only 20 people had bothered to cast ballots in the first three hours of voting Tuesday morning -- 20 out of about 800 registered voters. A sprinkling had dropped off unmailed vote-by-mail ballots.

Those who did show up were habitual voters, the hard-core believers in a democratic system, men and women who look at you like you’re crazy when you ask them what brought them out to the voting booth on a beautiful, breezy spring morning.

“Why did I vote? What a question,” sputtered Sol Silver, an 84-year-old retired architect who turns his nose down on absentee ballots because “I like to vote in the booth."

"I believe in voting," Silver said. "I’m a citizen.”

Poll worker Calvin Chan, 61, deposited his vote-by-mail ballot in the red plastic bin when he showed up for duty in the chilly residential garage at 7 a.m. He is out of a job at the moment, but he recently worked as an inventory clerk at a Chinese video distributor. The paucity of choices Tuesday didn’t stop him from voting, a process that he calls “interesting. I always want to see what people have to say and what they want to present.”

“There were just four issues today,” Chan said. “It seems kind of meaningless. The cigarette tax is kind of silly. Term limits made a little bit of sense. How did I vote on that? It was so important I totally forgot.”

Meanwhile poll inspector Whitney Jory, 23, said she learned to vote at her grandfather’s knee.

“I vote because I grew up always watching the news with my grandfather and talking about the issues with him,” said the 23-year-old, who recently graduated from art school and holds down jobs as a lifeguard and personal assistant to a designer. “He was patriotic. It rubbed off on me.”

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-- Maria LaGanga

Photo: Congressional candidate Howard Berman chats with a polling station worker before casting his vote at Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Valley Village. Berman is in a race against fellow Rep. Brad Sherman. Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times

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