A Day in the Life of a Neighborhood Precinct

Back Photo gallery Nov 9, 2016 By Joan Cusick

Logan Leonhardt walked up to the check-in table at Poll A in Sierra 2 Center and the 4-year-old turned in his purple “ballot” to neighbor and poll worker Eric Johnson. His mother, Krystin, quickly snapped a photo of Logan’s first unofficial vote, which remained on display for the rest of the day.

Welcome to Election Day in Curtis Park, where two adjacent precincts voted at the neighborhood center on 24th Street and 4th Avenue in Sacramento. In this presidential election, more than 900 ballots were cast on-site, with hundreds of mail-in ballots deposited in pink collection boxes. Polling inspectors Geoffrey Neill and Tony Sertich — both Curtis Park residents — claim the turnout at this poll is among the highest in the city.

The 11-person election crew arrived at 6 a.m. to set up voting booths and organize check-in, and they didn’t leave until the last precinct vote was counted around 9 p.m. Johnson volunteered for the $125-a-day post “because civic engagement is a great thing to have. And this may be the last year for the Sierra 2 polling place, so I figured get out here and see democracy in action while I still can.”

Johnson cites the passage of S.B. 450, which will create larger voting centers open for 10 days before the election. Voters will be able to cast ballots or drop off mail-in forms at any voting center in the county, regardless of their home precinct.

Election Commission records only go back about 25 years, but longtime residents claim ballots have been cast at Sierra 2 — and, before that, at Sierra School — for decades.

“I was just watching mother and daughters coming into this poll, and it’s pretty special,” observed three-time poll worker Sue Staats. “That’s what you don’t get when you don’t have a neighborhood polling place — you don’t get the families coming in and having this be a generational experience.”