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From 'Frenzy' To 'Dead': What It Was Like For Voters On Election Day During A Pandemic

st bernard voting
Cory Sharber
Voters show up early at the St. Bernard City Hall on Election Day.

On the final day of voting, people in Ohio and Kentucky had an array of experiences at the polls depending on where they stopped in on Election Day during this particularly contentious election season. 

At the Bond Hill Community Center, Robert Griffin stepped out of his car. A woman wearing a face mask, rubber gloves and a gray-brimmed hat approaches him.

"I let her know this was my first time to vote and she gave me these pamphlets and said I was doing a great thing."

She grabbed his arm and shouted out that he's a first time voter.

At 33-years-old, Griffin was finally convinced to vote this year.

"I feel like my opinion counts this time," he says. "We really need a change. ... My family members, my girl, they've all been on me to vote, so I figure I need to vote. Maybe I can make a change." 

Another woman handing out information to voters asked to take a picture with him, and Marche Gendrew, 39, snapped the photo.

She's a lifelong Bond Hill resident, votes in every election, and says she always gets it done on Election Day.

"I like the frenzy. I like to get out. I like the energy," she says. "I've always voted on Election Day. It's something that I've always done. I like to just kind of feel the moment and be in the moment and be in the present. So that's why I enjoy doing the same day."

Though she votes every year, Gendrew says this year it felt especially important.

"Of course, the big ticket is the police brutality and just defunding the police," she says. "Those types of conversations are really important. Equity in the Black community is really important." 

'It's A 15-Hour Day For All Of Us'

At St. Bernard City Hall, north of the city, a line of 90 people surrounded the building around 6:30 a.m. Volunteers working the site expected a busy day.

Voting Location Manager Nicole Klungle arrived at the site around 5:30 a.m. and says she's very thankful for everyone who volunteered to work the polls.

“It is like a 13-hour, 15-hour day for all of us and we only get one break and I just really appreciate everybody who puts their time into it," she says.

Voters weren’t just turning out for the presidential election. St. Bernard resident Sean Pratt says it's very important to remind people how important the local elections are.

"Some people have certainly researched a lot and some people have not researched so much," Pratt said. "They're coming in, they know what they're going to do on the top line of the ballot, but not necessarily those down ballot things - sheriff, prosecutor, judges especially and those are super important locally.”

'Today Seems Dead' 

South of the city in Newport, Ky., a slow trickle of people arrived at St. John's United Church of Christ Tuesday morning.

Tom Rose walked to the church to vote, something he usually does on Election Day. But this year, it was part of his strategy to dodge long voting lines.

"I wasn't apprehensive of mail-in ballots, but I figured a lot of people may have gone that route and so the polls would even be less crowded," he says.

The polling location was about full inside and Rose didn't have to wait to vote.

Nearby, Josh Stephenson held a sign supporting Gordon Henry for Newport Commissioner.

He waited nearly two hours last week to vote in Boone County. His wife waited in line for more than two hours on Monday. 

"Early voting seemed to be very crowded, where the polls today seem very dead," he says. "Personally I would have waited until Election Day after seeing the polls today. ...Today it just seems dead, like nobody's really voting. But knowing early voting was a really big thing, I think that's why the turnout today was so low."

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.
Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.