‘Passionate Patriotism' on Display at Hundreds of Polling Stations

Poll workers in San Diego flourish through four days of in-person voting

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“I call it passionate patriotism.”

There is very little doubt that San Diegan Steve Schweitzer loves Election Day.

“It’s great to be an American. It really, really is. Best place on the planet,” he said while standing outside Bay Park Elementary in San Diego’s Clairemont community. “I feel privileged and honored to be able to participate. I feel it’s my duty to do it.”

Schweitzer, a retired U.S. Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant, has signed up to be a poll worker in 22 elections. This year, he’s a poll site manager during one of the most polarizing elections ever.

“Everything is politically supercharged,” said Schweitzer.

“There’s been a lot of emotions: Anger, anxious, excited,” said Joshua Pantoja outside the polling station at Eastlake High School in Chula Vista. “It’s been pretty hectic.”

Pantoja is a rookie poll worker and a first-time voter. The 18-year-old already cast his first ballot over the weekend, during the unprecedented four days of in-person voting.

“It was pretty exciting. Made me feel different, like more mature,” said the Castle Park High grad. “I always said, ‘If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.’ So, that’s why I had to get up and go vote.”

I always said, 'If you don't vote, you can't complain.'"

Joshua Pantoja, 18-year-old first-time voter in San Diego

“There’s an intensity in the air in a lot of places,” said Schweitzer.

Both men said they’ll miss working the polls, but they looked forward to the end of the election season, which has been altered by the pandemic.

“I’m hoping that we as an American society, 300-million plus people, are just going to exhale and regardless of the results say, ‘We’re through it,’” concluded Schweitzer, who said he expected to be a poll worker for his 23rd election in a couple years.

Pantoja said he’ll be back for his second.

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