Election Day buzz started early in Palo Alto, with some voters lining up well before 7 a.m. to cast their ballots, pick up their "I voted" stickers and in some cases snap selfies to commemorate Tuesday's historic vote.
In some precincts, like Unity Palo Alto Community Church, a few people arrived as early as 6:30 a.m., according to poll workers. In many others, lines of voters formed in the busy pre-work hours.
Paula Allard, an inspector in one of two precincts at Palo Verde Elementary School, said she expects the number of voters to exceed the 2012 turnout. By 1 p.m. both her precinct and the other one at the school had about 110 voters come in to cast their ballots. By lunch, the action has slowed down to a steady trickle, with a few voters making their way past the playing children to vote in the school's multi-purpose room.
"It works great with the children because they see everything," Allard said. "They run around, look inside and see what's happening."
They weren't the only local youths learning about getting involved in the democratic process. At Nixon Elementary School, first-time poll workers Katie Freiberg and Marcos Curiel, both seniors at Mountain View High School, said Election Day was pretty much what they expected it to be... a constant flow of voters, intermittent lines, people taking selfies outside and an occasional person from a different county confused about where to vote. By early afternoon, they had helped 97 voters cast their ballots.
Sidney Simon, a poll worker at Palo Verde, didn't need a refresher course on Election Day. Simon, 99, has been working the polls for the past decade. Even during the lunchtime slowdown, the precinct where he was working was largely filled with voters, whom Simon was greeting with cheerful banter. Simon said he was inspired to work the polls because he wanted to be a “good citizen.”
"I don't think of it as fun," the Navy veteran said. "I think of it as a civic duty."
At Unity Palo Alto Community Church, voters also came in at a steady flow throughout the day, said inspector Peter Stonestrom.
"We haven't had any time when we weren't busy," he said.
Several precincts that had seen about 200 voters during the June primary said Tuesday afternoon that they expect the number to get about 500 by the end. While local and state issues undoubtedly play a role in the increased level of civic participation in the heavily Democratic city, Allard summed up the reason for excitement in one word: "Trump!"
At Fire Station 2 on Hanover Street, volunteer David Blum, said he was surprised by the number of voters taking selfies in front of the polling station to mark the historic, and unusual, presidential election.
"We've had a lot of first-time voters come by, and a lot of people bringing their kids with them taking selfies," he said.