Local election officials say that people have issues with the way the COVID-19 pandemic has been handled.
AMELIA COUNTY- The polls are officially closed across Virginia. The votes are in and now the country sits in anticipation over. But in terms of how many people casted their ballot this Tuesday, this Virginia county had a decent turnout. According to poll workers, it was less than past elections. But, the influx of absentee votes could be an explanation. Initially
“It’s been very good,” said Arlette Foster, an election officers for Amelia’s second voting precinct. “This year there was a lot of people voting ahead of time. So even though the turnout has been good, it’s been different.”
Maria Whitaker also witnessed a similar experience at the county’s first precinct. Whitaker became a poll worker during the 2016 election and 2020 has proved itself to be a entire different year. The COVID-19 pandemic through a wrench into the country’s election plans. But, Amelia County residents didn’t let that stop them from casting their ballots safely. Right when the polls opened at 6 a.m., there were people lined up and ready to go at the Painville Fire Station.
“I’ve never seen so many pickup trucks in my life,” said Whitaker. “Every parking space was filled and a few were parked out on the road this morning.”
Throughout the day, the crowds eventually died down. But the stream of voters remained steady. Poll workers reported a lower amount of votes than previous years. But, considering the turnout of early and absentee votes, they said that this was normal.
A good turnout
To help keep voter’s safe, Amelia County’s polling locations have been working overtime to make sure their locations meet CDC guidelines. Making sure that voters feel comfortable enough to come to the polls is half the battle.
“We’ve got masks and sanitizer for people that need it. We also offer curbside ballots. We really haven’t had to tell people to stay six feet apart. They’ve really been doing it on their own,” said Foster. Most of the voters who arrived wore their masks and practiced social distancing. At the beginning of the year, there was worry that voter turnout would go down drastically because COVID-19 related anxiety. But, many voters’ desire for change trumped their fears.
“We need some integrity, we need someone who’s going to focus on what needs to be fixed with the economy, healthcare and infrastructure, as well as equality for everybody,” said Barbara Marshall, a resident of District 2 in Amelia County. For Marshall, the pandemic wasn’t going to keep her away from the polls. In fact, it was one of the many reasons why she chose to vote.
‘The pandemic is the issue for this election. We don’t have a lot guidance and leadership right now in terms of what we should do to eradicate it,” said Marshall.
“Voting is the most important thing you can do.”
People of all ages came out to do their civic duty this brisk November morning. Twenty year old Kathryn Gross was one of the youngest there. To Gross, it wasn’t a question of whether or not she was going to vote this Tuesday. Casting a ballot in this election was her top priority. While many of her own friends are not voting this year, Gross believes that it’s of the utmost importance.
“I want to vote and not many young people do,” said Gross. “Voting is the most important thing. But nobody really thinks that. We, as young people, can make an impact on the outcome of the election.”
On the other end of the spectrum is 73-year-old Patrick Ware, a Vietnam veteran. Since he’s been able, Ware has not missed an election. And this year, despite the pandemic, he made sure to come out and cast his ballot.
“I vote every year. We’ve got to keep this country running. Whoever you vote for, it’s your choice,” said Ware. Ware hopes that whoever wins this election will be able to bring together the United States.
“The country has been divided. And it’s time to that we come together,” said Ware. “I was a veteran and I fought for this country. And it hurts to see it in the state, it’s in.”
Arianna Coghill is a content producer for the Dogwood. You can reach her at [email protected]