No, we don’t yet know the winner of the 2020 presidential election. The votes are still being counted. What we do know is that voter turnout was unprecedented and I believe that makes democracy the winner. It was likely helped by the highly contentious political climate, as well as the clear attempts at voter suppression. Americans rose up and said, “Oh, no you don’t. I will vote in spite of your shenanigans.”
Many voters voted early or by mail. Luzerne County’s early in-person voting took place at the county’s Penn Place building in Wilkes Barre. The wait was often nearly two hours. While I was doing errands in the past couple weeks, I drove by Penn Place several times and felt verklempt looking at the lines of citizens waiting to exercise their constitutional right to vote and have their voices heard.
In a bit of local excitement, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt broadcast from Wilkes Barre as part of his “Across America” tour, highlighting battleground states across the country last Wednesday. I knew he was going to be in town because my always au courant sister texted me that morning. She had seen a teaser on The Today Show with a bridge in the background. Our apartment overlooks the Market Street Bridge which spans the Susquehanna River between Wilkes Barre and Kingston, Pennsylvania. Our first clue…
That afternoon Mr. Smith and I set out on our daily walk as soon as he was home from work so we could be back to watch NBC Nightly News. Walking along the elevated levee path through Nesbitt Park we spotted NBC News trucks, crews setting up lighting and putting down plywood to cover the squishy river front. We may not be Holmes and Watson, but it didn’t take us any time to realize Mr. Holt would be broadcasting directly across the river from our apartment with the Market Street Bridge and Wilkes Barre skyline behind him. Without even trying, we had stumbled upon the broadcast location. While we were standing there looking down at the action, we were approached by a man coming from the other direction. He wanted to know if anyone had “given us any trouble” about walking on the path. He had come to play disc golf but was told he could not. I explained that was probably because of Lester Holt. “Who’s that?” Oh, Lester, we’re sorry. We explained who he is to our new friend and told him we were pretty sure he could play disc golf tomorrow.
Continuing on our walk, I was silently chastising myself for not having my phone with me so I could snap a couple pictures. When we got to a turn in our route, Mr. Smith said he wanted to continue on and finish the walk, but suggested I cut through King’s College campus and head home to get my phone and go grab some photos. I swear sometimes he can read my mind.
This picture below was taken moments before a very polite security guard approached me and asked if I needed any help. I responded no, no, I was just heading out. No arrests were made.
Mr. Smith got his full walk in. I was able to get a couple of pictures and we were home and settled in in time to watch the news. Thanks, Lester.
Yesterday I was a poll worker. It was a very long day. I arrived at 6:00 a.m. and left at 8:45 p.m. It was an experience I won’t soon forget. So many new first time voters, some elderly voters who had been voting for nearly 70 years and everything in-between! If you have an opportunity to be a poll worker, I strongly recommend it!
For many of us, 2020 is the most stressful election cycle we have lived through. I hope we can now take a breath and no matter which team we are on, acknowledge the momentous problems our country faces. Hopefully we can emerge less divided and more compassionate. Then we would all be winners.
C’est la vie.