Turnout was heavy in South Berkeley Tuesday, with voters lined up outside the Black Repertory Theater on Adeline Street even before polls opened.
And just down the block, at the corner of Adeline and Harmon street , another line was waiting to start making calls across the country from the Northern California headquarters of the Barack Obama campaign.
“We’ve had a great big turnout,” said Lani Borgwardt, who was serving as inspector at one of the precincts voting in the Black Rep. “Everything’s been busier than in the past elections, and I see a lot of enthusiasm. People are excited,” she said.
“I’ve been here since six o’clock,” said Darnell Johnson, a volunteer at the Obama headquarters. “It really got busy about 6:05,” he said.
Ruby Reid, a site coordinator at the headquarters, said “We’ve had hundreds of volunteers at the site every day. Today we’re doing get out the vote calls.”
Democratic Party volunteers have been making arrangements to bring voters to the polls.
“You should have been here Saturday,” Borgwardt said. “The whole street was lined with people making calls on their cell phones.”
For Sean Vaughn Scott, the Black Reps development director, Tuesday’s election holds a special resonance.
High on a wall above the where precinct volunteers sat checking off voters and handing out ballots, is a black and white photo from 1972.
The image features a 6-year-old Scott and his parents standing with Shirley Chisholm, who sought the Democratic nomination that year. George McGovern, the eventual victor, was handily defeated by incumbent Republican Richard Nixon.
Grandson of the theater’s founders and son of the woman who founded the Black Studies at the University of San Francisco, Scott said this year’s election has a special meaning for him.
While the Black Rep has hosted elections almost since its founding 44 years ago, “this year the turnout has been exponentially larger,” he said. “The beauty of it is that it’s really galvanized the community.”