As he waited to cast his ballot at the George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science, Roger Godbolt said he was hoping for one thing: change.
“Everything that’s going on needs to be changed,” said Godbolt, a retired resident who lives on Fontain Street near 20th. “Everything. There is no particular. Everything needs to be changed.”
Wearing masks and social distancing, North Central voters lined up at polling places across the neighborhood to cast their ballots in person for the 2020 general election, which has been dominated by issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession and national outcry against racial injustice.
Pennsylvania polls opened at 7 a.m. today, and anyone in line to vote by 8 p.m. will be able to cast their ballot, The Temple News reported.
All eyes are on swing states like Pennsylvania, which sent its 20 Electoral College votes to President Donald Trump in 2016 after having been won by Democratic presidential candidates since 1992.
As of Nov. 2, 47 percent of Pennsylvanians are registered as Democrats, 39 percent are registered as Republicans, 4 percent are affiliated with a different party and 10 percent are not affiliated with any party.
Jillian Villafuerte, a sophomore graphic design major from New York, registered to vote in Pennsylvania this year because of the state’s reputation as a swing state, she said.
“I feel like it was important for me to change my registration here because this state matters way more than New York, in my opinion,” said Villafuerte, who voted at Carver.
To win over Pennsylvania voters, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, frequently visited the state and held events in Philadelphia throughout October and November, like drive-in rallies and town halls.
Although 76 percent of Philadelphian voters are registered as Democrats, Trump also visited Philadelphia on Sept. 15 for a televised town hall for undecided voters broadcast by ABC, The Temple News reported.
In addition to the presidential race, North Central ballots featured a slate of state and local races, including for the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Pennsylvania Auditor General, Pennsylvania Treasurer, second congressional district representative and third congressional district representative.
Jackie Wiggins, a former teacher who lives on Page Street near 19th, believes these local races are a “critical” part of the 2020 general election, she said.
“These are important because it has to do with where my tax dollars go and how my tax dollars are used,” Wiggins added. “We need to step up our game in terms of posing questions to elected officials.”
Local politicians sought to directly connect with voters at the polls this morning, with State Sen. Sharif Street speaking to in-person voters at Carver, his local precinct.
“It’s like a tradition to say hi to them, and just encourage people in my neighborhood where I live to get out and vote,” Sharif said. “We know that through our votes we can make a real difference.”
Carver is one of more than 700 in-person polling locations in Philadelphia today. Other locations near Temple University’s Main Campus include the Tanner Duckrey School on Diamond Street near 15th, Amos Recreation Center on 16th Street near Berks and Norris Apartments on 11th Street near Berks.
Despite the range of polling locations, some voters waited in long lines this morning to cast their ballots.
Yumy Odom, a board member for the Uptown Theater who previously worked as an administrator for Temple’s Pan-African Studies Community Education Program and lives on Broad Street near Dauphin, waited in line at his usual polling place, the Penrose Recreation Center on Susquehanna Avenue near 12th Street, before deciding to vote at Carver.
“I usually am number one or two within my polling place at Penrose, but I was 56 today,” Odom said. “I don’t mind waiting and they did a good job. Everything was sanitized, COVID-19 protocol.”
Curtis Fowlkes, a construction worker who lives on 15th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue, arrived at Carver at 6:30 a.m. and waited in line for more than two hours before being told by poll workers to vote at the Amos Recreation Center instead.
“It’s not really right, and nobody over there is social distancing,” Fowlkes said. “People are packed together in the line outside and inside.
The Pennsylvania Department of State recommends people voting in person today wear masks, practice social distancing and sanitize their hands. Voters are also encouraged to bring their own black- or blue-ink pens to limit the number of shared surfaces they touch.
Jack Nealon, a sophomore finance major, did not feel concerned about the risk of COVID-19 transmission while voting in person at Carver.
“I don’t mind voting in person, and everything still feels relatively the same,” Nealon said. “You just have to wear masks and take precautions.”
Isabel Robin, a senior musical theater major who voted at the Amos Recreation Center today, said social media provided her with helpful information about learning how to vote.
“There’s a lot of downsides to social media, but I feel like a lot of people have been sharing information about how to register to vote, how to sign up to vote,” Robin said. “I’m hoping there will be historic voter turnout today.”
Besides voting in person, Philadelphians can hand-deliver mail-in ballots to one of the city’s 17 satellite election offices and 15 ballot drop boxes until 8 p.m. today. The satellite election office closest to Temple’s Main Campus is the Liacouras Center on Broad Street near Montgomery Avenue, The Temple News reported.
Philadelphia county election offices had already received over 400,000 mail-in and absentee ballots by Nov. 2, and began counting them at 7 a.m. today. The Supreme Court of the United States will allow Pennsylvania’s county election offices to count all mail-in ballots received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6 as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3, even though this will delay the results of the election, the Associated Press reported.
Sarah Katz, a junior film and media arts major, hopes whoever wins today’s election will be able to unite the nation, she said.
“I think we need clarity, and I think we need peace,” Katz said. “I just hope change can come.”