Americans head to the polls early as Election Day approaches

Americans head to the polls early

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person voting totals continue to soar.
Published: October 30, 2020
Voters waited in line with their mail-in ballot applications outside of Temple University's Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Penn., on October 26, 2020
Voters waited in line with their mail-in ballot applications outside of the Liacouras Center at Temple University in Pennsylvania on October 26.

Despite the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases across the United States, Americans this year have exceeded in-person voting totals from 2016 and mail-in ballot totals have already doubled.
Election 2020
In 2016,
24.2 million Americans voted by mail and just over 23 million voted early in-person, per ElectProject.org. This year, over 52 million Americans have voted by mail and 27 million have voted early in-person, CNN reported.

On the penultimate day to vote early in-person, hundreds of Philadelphians showed up to cast their ballot ahead of the November 3 presidential election. At 1 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26, the line at the Liacouras Center on Temple University’s campus crept around onto a second block.

Deborah Kemp, 66, arrived at Temple University too late to vote on Sunday, so she returned to the Liacouras Center around 12:30 p.m. on Monday, 6 hours before the location closed.

“I want to make my vote count,” Kemp said. “Last year I suffered a cardiac arrest, and I did not want to waste this Heaven-sent opportunity.”

Kemp said she is supporting Biden and Harris because she trusts their administration will resolve the healthcare crisis – primarily that they will make sure a plan that protects Americans with preexisting conditions remains the law of the land.

Philadelphians could vote early in-person until Oct. 27 at 17 satellite election offices. As the in-person early-voting came to a close, one volunteer from the Pennsylvania Democrats for Voter Protection said she noticed that the line at the Liacouras Center got longer each day.

To assist in speeding up the voting process, volunteers from the Biden, Harris campaign and the Working Families Party handed out mail-in ballot applications to voters in line. In Pennsylvania, early-voting locations only accepted mail-in ballots. Voters who arrived without a mail-in ballot registered for their ballot inside the location or while in line. Voters who arrived with their mail-in ballot complete could skip the line and drop their ballot off within minutes.

Mykayla, a volunteer for the Working Families Party tables at the entrance of Temple University's Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Penn., on October 26, 2020.
Mykayla, a volunteer for the Working Families Party tables at the entrance of the Liacouras Center at Temple University in Pennsylvania on October 26.

A WFP volunteer said that the party did not have any candidates on his election’s ballot, but they tabled at multiple early-voting locations in Philadelphia to answer voters’ questions about how to fill out the ballot application. The WFP also scheduled DJs to perform for the lines, provided chairs to anyone in line who requested one, and handed out snacks, the volunteer said.

Sisters, Debbie and Germaine, decided to vote early because they will work at their local polling location on Election Day. Debbie, a poll worker at her voting location in North Philadelphia, said Barack Obama’s election in 2008 inspired her and her sister to get more politically involved.

“Obama gave us hope back in 2008, that’s why I started working at my voting location,” Debbie said. “I’m here voting to see Trump out and because I trust Biden and Harris to restore what Trump has tried to take away.”

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is a contributor for The NewsHouse