Pandemic Can’t Keep Voters Away in Northeast PA

A Lackawanna County judge ordered the polling place at John F. Kennedy Elementary in Scranton to stay open for 45 extra minutes Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, after machines at the polling place went down for 45 minutes earlier in the day. (Keystone Photo/Patrick Abdalla)

By Tyler Miles

November 3, 2020

The pandemic actually inspired some Scranton-area residents to head to the polls on Tuesday.

SCRANTON – A global pandemic did little to keep voters away from the polls Tuesday night. In fact, it’s what spurred some city residents to get out and exercise their right to vote.

“I got two daughters, and one of them does have underlying conditions,” said David Kizer. The 22-year-old father said he didn’t want to name his newborn daughter’s condition, but said she will see doctors regularly until she is about 18. He is very concerned about the novel coronavirus pandemic, and he wants a president who can help alleviate its stranglehold on the country.

For Kizer, he said that would be Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Kizer was one of the last residents to place a vote at South Scranton Intermediate School. Most people who voted at the school showed up early in the morning, according to officials, who reported a line before the doors opened at 7 a.m.

Corey Wilson, 41, said he understands the strain that the coronavirus placed on Americans, but thinks Democrats are weaponizing it to make President Donald Trump seem inept. 

“The pandemic hit and it kind of put everybody in a very bad spot,” he said minutes after voting at West Scranton High School. “Now, not me per se, because I worked through the whole pandemic and things like that because of my job. I just think people aren’t really looking at the big picture—they’re looking at the promise of something being made up by the Democrats without knowing what that promise is.”

Wilson said none of the other Democratic presidents have done much to help or “be for the people.”

One example of this in Wilson’s eyes was the enforcement of health care by former President Barack Obama. The reasoning for the Affordable Care Act was sound, Wilson said, but it forced people who didn’t get sick or require health care to “get taxed anyway.”

“Trump had the economy going in the right direction, but because of the pandemic, it threw everything off,” Wilson added. “It was kind of like taking one step forward and 10 steps back and because of that everyone’s view became skewed.”

Another voter there, Neicha Ortiz, 23, said that had she still been in her native Puerto Rico, she would have been just as likely to try and topple Trump at the polls so that America could have a leader that “justifies” the United States.

“We deserve someone with more professionalism to represent us because we are one of the powerhouses, yet we have a clown representing us,” she said. “I feel good because I came and I voted.”

Ortiz said Biden did little to inspire her.

“I don’t really like either of them (Trump and Biden), to tell you the truth,” she said.

At St. Peter’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church, the night ended slowly with voters trickling in and out sporadically, but according to officials, the polling place saw a high turnout early on.

Darlene Leonard, 67, declined to say which candidate earned her vote Tuesday night. She said that this presidential election is no more special to her than in previous years.

“It’s not like I ran out to go vote, because whatever election is here, I go and vote,” she said, emphasizing that she exercises her American right to vote with each opportunity given.

Tracy Rekus, 44, also exercises that right to vote when she can, and has not missed voting in a presidential election since she turned 18.

“I voted for Trump again. I voted for him in the last election,” Rekus said. However, Rekus said, her politics don’t always lean Republican; she’s pro-choice.

She’s optimistic Trump will remain in the White House for another four years and pointed to the number of supporters to show up to his rallies compared to the rallies held by Biden.

“I voted all red today.” 

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