Point Park 2020 Election Coverage

Adapt or die: political organizations, campaigns utilize different strategies ahead of the election
Effectiveness of political strategies to be determined by voters
By Amanda Andrews

Senate Minority Speaker Chuck Schumer speaks with the panel of Patriotic Millionaires on Oct. 23.

Fiona McCarthy never thought at 25 years old that she would be involved in a job regarding taxes, let alone having to spread the word about income inequality in America almost entirely through Zoom and the Internet.

McCarthy is the deputy communications director at Patriotic Millionaires, a nonpartisan organization made up of economic experts and millionaires who want to see changes to the tax code. In an effort to educate about the “rigged” tax system during the coronavirus pandemic, she and the rest of Patriotic Millionaires have had to adjust to how they are reaching people in a “Zoom economy.”

“We were originally planning…to go physically to these congressional districts across the country, and spread our message there,” McCarthy said. “And especially in the fall tour, we’d love to do a big pre-election push for people to understand these issues really deeply and how it affects the economy for years to come. So it has really changed to being open to sort of digital formats only, and that has been a huge learning curve.”

As the election race tightens across the country and in Pennsylvania, it is currently unclear whether the varying in-person and virtual strategies political organizations and campaigns are using will be effective enough to determine each of their ideal outcomes. However, today’s turnout and the results from thousands of mailed-in ballots will ultimately reveal what worked—and what did not—for the candidates and the causes they are advocating for.

For Patriotic Millionaires, they have conducted their Tax The Rich. Save America Roadshow event, originally planned to be in-person, entirely over Zoom over the course of the pandemic. Their guests have ranged from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to state representatives like Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon of Pennsylvania’s 5th District or Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan’s 13th District.

Although Patriotic Millionaires has live-streamed in-person events in the past, planning and running virtual-only events has proven to be beneficial in some ways, McCarthy said, as logistics and organizing where people are standing are no longer issues. There have still been challenges though in navigating entirely virtual events for the organization.

“We’ve had so many issues with technical difficulties and making sure that people mute their microphones all the time, like little tiny things that you wouldn’t expect to come up,” McCarthy said.

According to McCarthy, the Tax The Rich. Save America Roadshow is meant to inform any American about the tax code, which she said has led to “many people [not] get[ting] the advantages that rich people have.”

The pre-election push the organization is making is very much driven by the stakes of this particular election.

“People just need to understand that this is an immediate crisis, and actual lives are at stake in the economy,” McCarthy said. “And more than just the next 10 years of unchecked inequality are going to continue to grow unless we do something about it like rais[ing] the minimum wage and get[ing] money out of politics.”

Dr. Joseph DiSarro, professor of political science at W&J College, agreed that economics would very much be on the minds of voters this election season similarly to past election cycles.

“But the main issue in this election, in my opinion, will be as in the past: the economy and economic well being,” DiSarro said. “As the great President Franklin Roosevelt said, freedom of religion and freedom of speech are great, but you also need freedom from want and fear, and there’s nothing more fearful to an American than the loss of their job. People jump out of buildings when that happens. So I think people will vote their economic interests on November 3.”

In terms of campaign finances, in the last week before the presidential election, the Biden Campaign outspent the Trump Campaign around $40 million more in TV and radio advertisements, according to NBC News.

The coronavirus pandemic has particularly put President Donald Trump’s and Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign strategies into stark relief. President Trump has consistently held rallies while Joe Biden suspended most in-person events until August 31 and has since been making stops around the country. President Trump has criticized Biden’s cautious approach, whereas the former Vice President has publicly denounced President Trump’s rallies as endangering public health.

According to DiSarro, Biden’s edge against President Trump, despite fewer in-person appearances, is how his campaign has mobilized in reaching out to voters.

“When you’re outspending your opponent by so much, he’s got so many volunteers, doing so many different things to connect with the voter. The personal appearances aren’t as important,” DiSarro said. “They may be important for the base, and the Republican base is very much interested in seeing the candidate because…the numbers are huge at these rallies that the President has had. So could that make the difference? Could that somehow overwhelm the critical advantage of the Democrats having money, volunteers, and direct contact through social media? I don’t think so. I don’t think it will be enough.”

Organizers at the Trump Campaign, however, said that they believed the Trump Campaign’s focus on traveling and meeting with supporters would win Pennsylvania, a battleground state that President Trump won in 2016.

“Though we don’t necessarily target voters by geography, because President Trump himself maintains an aggressive travel schedule, and because Pennsylvania plays a key role to our pathways to 270 [electoral votes], we have the ability to go everywhere in the state,” said Thea McDonald, Deputy National Press Secretary of the Trump Campaign. “As Joe Biden only manages a few events per week, he can’t visit the towns and communities that have suffered from his 47 years of public life all across the Commonwealth.”

According to the most recent statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of State, out of the just over 9 million voters in the state, more than 3.5 million are registered Republicans and more than 4.2 million are registered Democrats as of Nov. 2, 2020.

Though there are more registered Democrats in Pennsylvania, the Trump Campaign points to their success in 2016 and reports that even more Pennsylvanians have registered as Republican since his presidency began.

“The Trump Campaign is making sure we’re connecting directly with every one of them, everyone who voted for him in 2016, and every blue-collar voter who has moved away from the radical left over the last four years because the President has delivered real results for the people of Pennsylvania,” McDonald said.

Dr. Gerald Shuster, professor of political communication, presidential rhetoric, public speaking, and speech composition at the University of Pittsburgh, said that at this time, it is difficult to tell how the Democrats’ and other political organizations’ strategy of using Zoom will work out for them.

“I’m not sure how effective the Zoom strategies work because they’re obviously connecting with a lot of people who are familiar with that particular medium, but beyond that, it’s not like turning on the TV and seeing a Zoom ad,” Schuster said. “It’s not that simple. Whereas regular media ads and even using social media are much more effective I think.”

The effectiveness of Zoom, in addition to old strategies like direct mail and TV advertisements along with newer strategies like social media, is especially uncertain given a digital divide reported among Americans who may have limited or no access to advanced technology. This especially is of concern to McCarthy about Patriotic Millionaires having to switch to an entirely online modality.

“One of the many disadvantages of having to go entirely virtual is that we’re not able to reach folks who don’t have any internet access. That’s a privilege in itself, to be able to log on your computer and have a Zoom meeting,” McCarthy said. “Our audience is anyone who is interested in the future of our country and making it more free for everyone and more fair for everyone, but it’s limited by the circumstances for sure.”

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Updated: 11:09 AM 

From a Dream to Reality

By Tiara Strong

Growing up as a little boy from downtown Manhattan, New York projects, politics was not a big thing in Jay Ting Walker’s household. Fast forward to 2020, Mr. Walker will have a different experience than everyone else this year. He will be on the ballot this year at the upcoming Presidential election on November 3, 2020. Mr. Walker is running for State Representative of the 23rd district in Pennsylvania and will be representing the Green Party.

“I am excited to see how well I do,” Mr. Walker said.

The Green Party is always front and center when it comes to political issues such as healthcare, education, and fracking. Mr. Walker is not optimistic that issues such as fracking will be addressed whether President Donald Trump or Job Biden is elected.

“They both agree that they are not going to ban fracking,” Mr. Walker said.

Mr. Walker wants to rebuild the communities instead of taking from them. He wants to keep things to a local level. He notices a trend with all leaders of the United States; that is, doing what profits a few corporations. The vision he has for Pennsylvania is one that includes peace for all, no wars, and saving the land we live on. The Green Party encompasses all of those things.

“We are a grassroots democracy. We are not backed by Wall Street and that is what sets us aside from the other parties,” Mr. Walker said.

Mr. Walker is optimistic, even if he does not get elected as the State Representative of the 23rd district of Pennsylvania. Mr. Walker has gained a lot of support this year and if the Green Party gets 5% of the vote then it will still be viewed as a victory to Mr. Walker. That 5% vote opens up many doors politically and financially.

“We raised a lot of money this year, a respectable amount of money,” Mr. Walker said.

Mr. Walker is not stopping until the time is up. At the top of the morning today, November 3, 2020, he is currently outside of the University of Pittsburgh’s campus at the William Pitt Union polling place. He is campaigning until the end.

“I put in the work all campaign season. I’ve gotten so much support from people,” Mr. Walker said.

Typically, there would be watch parties all across the city. Due to COVID-19, the Green Party will be hosting a watch party tonight via Zoom. Mr. Walker is proud of himself no matter the outcome and is excited to see how the election turns out. Regardless of the outcome, Mr. Walker has a clear message.

“No matter what happens, win or lose, we will have to continue to fight. We will not just lie down and take it,” Mr. Walker said.

As today progresses, everyone will have to wait and see how the election will turn out. As some states, Pennsylvania, included, have allowed mail-in ballots to be counted up until November 6th. Until then, it is a waiting game.

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Updated: 11:28 AM

Voting in Downtown Pittsburgh

By John Ziegler

As polls begin to open at 7 A.M., voters downtown are eager to vote for the next President of the United States.

PPG Paints Arena, home to the Pittsburgh Penguins, opened their doors to residents of downtown to cast their ballots. The 30-degree temperatures did not stop hundreds of people from voting in the 2020 presidential election.

The diverse crowd boasted a variety of reasons for voting, but many noted the importance of the election as a whole.

“It was extremely important to vote today and every election for that matter. I always try to vote when there is an election,” said Lisa Cunningham, 33.

Many individuals touched upon how Covid-19 played a role in how they voted, but others stated that their opinion has been set for a number of years.

“Corona did not play a big factor in the decision, my decision to vote was made four years ago,” said Ryan Arnold, 60.

The desire and anticipation to vote were tempered by a sizeable wait time to get into the booths, with many waiting almost over an hour due to a delay in the opening of the polling station.

“They are waiting so long to open the doors, even though they were supposed to open at 7, and it’s nearly 7:30,” said Domenica Battaglia, 60 in regard to the significant wait time.

In the early stages of voting, many individuals appeared in unbiased clothing. Angela Kemper, a Pittsburgh native, displayed her beliefs with a “Black Lives Matter” mask and was open with her disdain towards Donald Trump.

“45 is an asshole, the country is divided, and the virus needs to get under control,” said Kemper.

With the uncertainty over when a victor will be declared in the coming days, people around the nation will undoubtedly have their attention directed at the television.

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Updated: 2:24 PM

Political Pride at The Polls

By Sara Rae Wisniewski

PHILADELPHIA– When Point Park University senior Elena Troia leaves her house on election day, she makes sure to put on her blue wig and Joe Biden face covering.

“Election day should be fun! Everyone should celebrate their ability to vote in creative ways,” said Troia.

Election day may look different this year between mail-in votes and social distance polling, yet that is not stopping people from showing their political pride through creative outfits.

Pennsylvania is one of the few states that allow for creative expression at the polling place. According to the Nation Center for State Legislatures website, the 10 states of California, Delaware, Kansas, Montana, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont all have laws against political promotion at polling places. Each state has different regulations but some of the rules include no signs or shirts that feature a candidate’s name.

Yet, in Pennsylvania, there is no regulation against apparel at the polls, as long as it is not used in an aggressive, campaigning, fashion. Those campaigning must stay at a distance depending on what state.

“Any other person or voter not in the process of voting, campaign workers, signs and all other electioneering material must be located at least 10 feet away from the entrance to the room where voting occurs,” according to the Pennsylvania Department of State voting guidelines.

Many small businesses stepped forward to start selling political merchandise as the election approached, knowing people would be wearing their products to the polls.

Ashley Peel, co-owner of the shop Philadelphia Independents started selling her “Bad Things Happen in Philadelphia” shirts after the first presidential debate in September.

“Philadelphians quickly took to social media to air their grievances to even be mentioned by that man. Shirts, stickers, and everything else you can imagine started to pop up from local makers and the demand for it were immediate. We had numerous customers come in the next morning asking what we had already!” said Peel.

The demand for political shirts, face coverings, pins, and more continued to increase approaching the election, especially ones that have an eye-catching comedic value. Another local shop owner, Matthew Charles of Do It Now Shirts, also joined other businesses in selling political merchandise.

“People wear political merchandise for a variety of reasons. Some people have a particular statement that they are trying to make, while others are just trying to make light of a situation.  It’s all about the individual expressing themselves” said Charles.

The city of Philadelphia was less alive than usual this election day. With the possibility of violence in the city from the election results, shops, cafes, and restaurants across the city were closed off with wooden slats. This emptiness may have left a silence across town but that did not stop people from letting their voices be heard at the polls.

According to the Philadelphia Office of City Commissioners, Philadelphia should be expecting its biggest voter turnout in history. Just over 1,135,000 people were registered to vote this year. This is 90% of all of those who are eligible. Yet, this number did not make for long lines considering many voted by mail.

Rather than the bright red and blue that are often sported at the polls, there was a lot of black insight. Various shirts with meaningful intent with “Black Lives Matter” or blankly profanity against President Trump could be seen.

Philadelphia local Jared Landau decided not to wear any political clothing but with intent. Today he wears just a black jacket and jeans.

“In the 2016 election, I went out on election day in my ‘I’m With Her’ t-shirt in support of Hillary Clinton. Clearly Hillary lost the election so now I view what I wore as bad luck. I am hoping my choice of not dressing up will reverse my luck!” said Landau.

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Updated: 2:56 PM

Making a Change

By Shea Dickey

Dedicated is one word to accurately describe Pittsburgh residents as they stood downtown in the chilling temperatures to cast their vote in the 2020 presidential election. Many were bundled up in multiple layers of clothing as they drank their complimentary coffee that was provided by World Central Kitchen while waiting in line outside of PPG Paints Arena.

At 8:15 a. m., only an hour and fifteen minutes after the polls opened, voters were lined up out the doors of the arena, down Center Avenue to the intersection at Washington Place

“I’ve been through a lot trying to get my stuff transferred over just so I could vote. It’s a very important election to me, and I don’t like how the last four years have gone, so I am hoping to make a difference,” states Lauren Davis, 36, a relatively new Pittsburgh resident, originally from Cleveland, Ohio.

Marcus Shutt, 23, an insurance producer from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania also believes this election is very important. “This election was important enough for me to get out of bed before 10:00 a.m. when my work usually starts, and I am out here at 8:30 a. m., so that definitely says something,” said Shutt.

Many college students from different schools around the area such as Duquesne University, Point Park University and the University of Pittsburgh were proudly representing their school gear as they waited to vote.

“If you want to see change in the world then you have to do your part,” said Ilani Move, a 21-year old college student. “I would like a president who knows what they are doing and genuinely cares about the well-being of all people in their country.”

In addition to college students wanting to make a change, Jarrod David is a 20-year-old Duquesne University student who also voted at PPG Paints Arena. Hesitant about voting at first, he said, “I was honestly on the fence about even voting, but the more you see happening, I feel like you need to get out there and voice your opinion—especially with everything going on around the world.”

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Updated: 3:31 PM

Election Day in Sunny Florida

By Alexus Metayer

FLORIDA– The sun was blazing this Tuesday morning as voters, wearing their Black Lives Matter shirts and “Make America Great Again” hats, stayed in line to vote at Stephen Foster Elementary school. Workers looking calm and engaged in their positions and voters eager to record their results.

Due to the situation the world is in right now, everyone had their masks on. The majority of the masks worn were disposable masks. However, a voter had a mask with the picture of George Floyd, black and printed with the words “I CAN’T BREATHE”.

The school is in an area that is calm and friendly. There were a few workers spaced outside and did their parts. There was not much of a line at this polling place. Voters that came love quickness and convenience.

Today was momentous for first-time voters successfully casting their ballots, like Adayja Simpson, 18, a Valdosta University student, born in New Jersey but raised in Sunrise, Florida. Simpson said she was excited to vote. “It was very important and exciting for me to vote because my vote determines the future of this country, even with the uneventful events happening right now,” said Simpson. Simpson said it was hard for her to make a choice due to the fact that both candidates have bad reputations. But that did not stop her from flying down from Georgia to vote at her old elementary school.

Tanese Reid-Jacques, 19, a student at Broward College, who came to the polling place before class, appreciated the quickness of voting this year. She did not have any issues voting this year. “I got my ballot through the mail and came to drop it off here,” said Reid-Jacques. “There were no threats or violence. I was in and out to go to school.” Reid-Jacques also mentioned how it was her second time voting and the importance of youth voting. “Voting determines our future. That includes student loans, health care, reproductive rights, and many more important problems in today’s world,” she said. “When you vote you can determine the outcome of the situation for the better. We have the right to vote on our beliefs.”

A mother and daughter duo, Marsha Jean, 28, and Marie Louis, 50, showed up and showed out to cast their votes. Both were wearing Black Lives Matter shirts with white, ripped denim shorts, and black Air Max 97 sneakers. Louis has been recording her votes at Stephen Foster for a while now. “Not a lot of people come vote here so those who come here get in and get out in a snap,” said Louis. “This polling place is convenient and safe that I got my family to vote here as well.” Louis brought her daughter, Marsha, with her this afternoon. Jean said that her vote today was very important to her. “The federal government response influenced me a lot because I don’t trust the current system to help me,” said Jean. Therefore, she voted based on the issues of equality and the protection of the constitution. The dynamic duo felt safe with their polling place as there were no complications of COVID being spread.

David Jacobi, 28, raised in the neighborhood of Melrose, expressed his main issues for voting. He said how the federal government was late responding with the issue for COVID-19 influenced his vote. Mr. Jacobi said, “Nothing was mandated till months after half of the U.S. had COVID-19. Till this day Trump doesn’t take it seriously. If President Trump doesn’t take the slightest issue of wearing a mask seriously then how could he possibly be fit for being a president for the next upcoming presidential term.”

As the day died down, voters slowly came. Once every 45 minutes, there would be at least 3 voters pulling up to cast their votes. In the midst of a pandemic voters, families, and workers still managed to have good energy. The turnout was peaceful especially since there were no issues at this polling site. Even the little kids were cheerful to grab the “I Voted” stickers from their parents and wear them like they made a huge difference in the world.

Norma Guzman, 55, handed out “I Voted” stickers to those who walked out the doors, finishing recording their results. She wore a red shirt that had the American flag on it. She signed up to become a poll worker because she knew not a lot of people would sign-up due to COVID-19. “Why not be the oddball and help out,” said Guzman. “I am happy that I got to be a part of this eventful day.”

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Updated 3:47 PM

Polling in Oakmont

By John Signor

As the sun rose over Oakmont, Pa on the crisp morning of November 3,  it brought much-needed warmth to members of the community as they began to line up outside the borough building located at the corner of 5th Street and Virginia Ave to vote in the 2020 election.

As the polls opened at 7 a.m., Constable Sweenie of the Oakmont Police Department was the first to vote as he would be there until the polls close at 8 p.m., keeping order and making sure the polls were operating smoothly. “So far, we’ve had a few instances where community members didn’t want to wear a mask and so to resolve the situation, we provided them with provisional ballots in order to protect everyone and follow safety guidelines,” said Constable Sweenie as he stepped outside to check to see if anyone was outside ready to vote.

One community member voting as well as working the polls was Sandra Swazuk, a retired 72-year old who has lived in Oakmont her entire life and once worked for Allegheny County. “Voting is as important as breathing,” said Swazuk. “I am tired of seeing our president and the face of our country spewing nonsense every time I click on the TV.”

L Ward, a 34-year old who took her lunch break to vote at the polls in person, had a similar opinion to Swazuk’s. “I came out to vote because I love our country, and I am worried about the direction that it has been headed,” said Ward. “And I do my part to elect people who I feel will direct the country in the direction best for the country. That is why I take time out my workday to still vote.”

One resident of Oakmont who also lives on 5th Street, across from the borough building, commented on the environment of the line as he was a bystander all morning. “Oakmont is a quiet town, as a community, we all get along and that was no different today, said the Oakmont resident. “While the Trump supporters showed up in full displays of wardrobe, when they were asked to cover up any political clothing and change political masks, they did so without hesitation.” He added hasn’t seen a line like this in a long time, living across from the polls.

The town of Oakmont is small, the community is close and friendly, and even when politics are involved the community still remained civil. The polls on the morning and afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 3 were quiet, but still crowded. The turnout was above average in an election labeled so crucial and a wide-age range was present in an area that is often referred to as “senior center.”

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Updated: 3:59 PM

Election Day Photo

By Victoria Sadauskas

Volunteers for Joe Biden stand outside the Findlay Township Activity Center in Imperial, PA. on November 3rd, 2020. (Left to right) Chyanne Rippole, 23, of McKees Rocks, Nick Yanosick, 22, of McKees Rocks, and Wrenn, 62, of Pittsburgh.

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Updated: 4:22 PM

Election Day Photos

By Lauryn Nania

On November 3rd, 2020, citizens of all ages in Westmoreland County gather outside of Cornerstone Ministries located in Murrysville, PA waiting to vote in the 2020 presidential election.

On November 3rd, 2020, 75-year-old Jack Phinney of Murrysville, Pennsylvania follows COVID-19 safety protocols by wearing a mask that also supports the 2020 democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Phinney casts his vote for the presidential election at Cornerstone Ministries located in Westmoreland County.

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Updated: 6:09 PM

Election Day at PPG Paints Arena

By Abby Yoder

“Today is the most important election day of our history,” Ryan Delameter of Duquesne University said as he waited to vote.

Voters were lined up this morning at the PPG Paints Arena voting polls, according to the volunteers working the polls. I arrived at the voting scene at around 10:30 this morning, right as the line was beginning to diminish. I waited in line for about 25 minutes to vote. People were dressed in neutral colors, no abundance of red or blue, and bundled up during the cold of the morning.

“Took me five minutes; it was easy. I’m a first-time voter and I was expecting a much longer process,” said Delameter.

“I’m voting today for healthcare,” said Megan Nyan, 46, of Brooklyn, NY.

“I am voting for racial equality. Something needs to be done about racism in our country,” said Claire Lindsay of Butler, PA.

Voters were wearing masks and keeping their distance to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The voters expressed they felt safe and out of danger’s way while casting their votes today.

“Pittsburgh is a safe area. We have nothing to worry about here compared to voting areas like Philidelphia and Boston,” said Daniel Lugo of Alleghany County.

Megan Nyan said the government’s reaction to COVID-19 influenced her vote in major ways, whereas Claire Lindsay said her mind was made up long before COVID-19 struck America.

Just around the corner of the voting polls stood a group of ladies holding Biden/Harris signs and posters that read “Honk for Biden.” Passerbys cheered on the ladies and honks were heard periodically throughout my time at the polls.

The polls will close tonight at 8 p.m.

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Updated: 6:21 PM

Election Night Coverage: Beaver County

By Mia Funari

I was unable to view polling places when they opened; however, my mother had shared some information on it with me. Focusing on the Chippewa/Patterson Township area, the lines to vote were very long. Surprisingly, it was very calm: I had expected heated arguments or conversations to occur, as this is a very big election. I was also informed that there seemed to be an equal representation of both parties during this time. However, at the Patterson Township Fire Hall, most of the representation was for Trump.

Chippewa/Patterson Township

When I got the chance to head out, I realized that there had been a drastic increase of campaign signs in the Aliquippa area. First, I visited the Hopewell Municipal Building, and it was a ghost town. I watched one car drive off as I was pulling in and another one coming as I left. Because of that, I did not encounter any voters.

Aliquippa Area

Hopewell Municipal Building

Next, I headed to Our Lady of Fatima Church, and in which I experienced the complete opposite. Pulling in took minutes as there was a line backed up on the road; parking spots were hard to find. As I approached the line, I came across two men who were organizing this location and asked them a few questions. Both of these men were in their late 40s, from the Aliquippa area, and were members of the Republican Party– supporting President Trump. They seemed very passionate about who they were choosing to vote for, but I did not perceive it as aggressive at all.

Our Lady of Fatima Church

As they both talked on the subject, they mentioned how he had made great improvements in our economy, the benefits of building the wall, and various aspects of medication and health care.

Despite there being a decent amount of people, this line also remained peaceful, as people waited to submit their votes. As I was making my way back to the car, I encountered a couple leaving the poll and thought it was a great opportunity to hear a different perspective. I did not ask their ages; however, they seemed younger, possibly early-mid 30s. The first question I asked was whom they voted for, and they quickly responded with Joe Biden. As I asked why, they stated that they value equality, in which Biden continues to speak on behalf. Another huge reason as to why they decided to vote for Biden was due to the coronavirus and the restrictions.

The woman mentioned that the coronavirus was handled very irresponsibly, as we had no clarity on the situation at hand. The number of deaths and those with positive cases could have been drastically lower if we had taken extra precautions, she said. People are still not wearing masks or worrying about social distancing. It was very clear to both of them as to who was the better choice.

My final destination was Our Lady of Fatima Church which was also not full of voters. I came across two girls who were first-time voters, and I thought this was important to add the perspective of a younger generation.

The first girl elaborated as to why she chose to vote for Biden. “I voted for Biden because I think he is the better option of the two. I think he has the best intention of bettering our environment and health care of the people. Regardless of his flaws I think he actually cares about people, and you can tell he has a good heart,” she said.

The other girl she was with expressed how passionate she was in her decision. She stated that she voted for Biden because of his support of the LGBT population and that he wants to initiate the LGBTQ+ Equality Act in the first 100 days of office.

She also mentioned how she agrees with his views on climate change, eliminating fracking to help conserve the environment as a whole. She stated how Biden supports racial minorities, plans to boost retirement security and financial wealth for racial minorities, give access to $100 billion of business loans to small businesses, and supports women’s rights by abolishing the wage gap as well as making health care more available to women.

I found it very inspiring that these girls my age were so passionate about politics and involved in this election.

All in all, I thought making these interactions with voters was very eye-opening. I loved hearing the different perspectives and what made each candidate stand out to them. I noticed, not only tonight but also throughout the start of these campaigns, that those in support of Biden are more vocal on the matter.

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Updated: 10:00 PM

Election Day Coverage: McMurray, Pennsylvania

By Natalea Hillen

The Bible Chapel, McMurray, PA

My polling station located in McMurray, The Bible Chapel, is only a few minutes away from my house. When I first arrived, the parking lot was not packed, and I did not have to wait in any line to receive my slip of paper. There were multiple voting stations available for use.

This was not my first time voting because I already voted in the primary election months ago. Also, as a kid I went to vote with my parents, so I have been to The Bible Chapel multiple times on Election Day.  I walked up to the table and gave the volunteers my first and last name to vote. My name was officially processed, and I was able to vote! It felt so good to know that I have a say in the presidential election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. I believe that it is important to vote.

After I submitted my paper into the machine, it showed that I was the 800th voter and that my vote counted. I also asked one of the volunteers when the busiest time was. She stated that the morning was insanely busy, and there were very long lines. It was really nice that I did not have to wait in any long lines while being there.

After I voted, I interviewed a few people there. I asked them how they voted, who they voted for, and what issues were important to them. Most of the people I asked questions to were Republican. Overall, it was a really cool experience to go and see the atmosphere during this controversial election. I am happy that I voted, and I believe that this country and democracy are important.

The Bible Chapel, McMurray, PA

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Updated: 10:09 PM

Working the polls in times of COVID

By Caitlyn Scott

I have been working the election polls in Washington County for the past three years. Starting through the Honors Program at Trinity High school at 16, I have worked alongside peers and judges of elections to help register and sign in voters on Election Day.

In the past before the Covid-19 pandemic, I had operated sign-ins for voters to check their status of registration along with assistance on polling machines. Since the pandemic hit as of March 2020, the protocols for in-person have changed only slightly. When working the June preliminary for the Democratic and Republican primary election, we now had to wear masks and gloves and sanitize cards and pens used by voters. For signing in, the board of elections had resorted to using Q-tips to sign in signatures to reduce the re-touching of pens and the sign-in pad. Along with this, the process of casting a ballot had changed as well, considering new voting machines were distributed to polling sites across Southwestern Pennsylvania.

During my time working the polls, I have only worked in either primary or local ballot elections only, never a presidential. Usually in the past, the highest number of people we would record voting was between 200 and 600 people. On Nov. 3, I witnessed over 600 in-person voters. Despite Covid-19 and masks, a steady flow of voters in person came through the Thomas Presbyterian Church located in Eighty-Four.

I worked in numerous positions. I would switch from giving voters a run-down of how to insert their ballot and cast their vote to record the names and numbers of how many voters had shown up to the polling place. Most of the procedures in-person were not that much different than the previous years before. We had a big enough room to be able to fit in as many people at once as possible and had taped lines indicating the amount of room people could social distance from one another.

I hope to continue poll working in the future, no matter the current economics or health circumstances we as a nation may be facing. It is something that I enjoy because I get to help my community and meet new people.

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Updated: Nov. 4, 2020 1:14 PM

A frightening feeling on Election Day

By Zachary McColpin

This entire election has been so hectic.  Honestly, it is scary.  It feels as if everyone is constantly fighting.  I am not sure if it is because I was too young to see all of this at the other elections, but this election seems crueler than the others.  Right after voting, a student from Point Park put on their story that they voted for Trump, and people verbally attacked her all day long.  Eventually, she came out and said that it is not possible for her to change her vote so people should stop attacking her, which is a good response, in my opinion.

Yesterday, I traveled to three different polling areas to see how crowded they were.  To my surprise, there was nearly no crowds at any of them.  The polling place near my house and the polling place in North Strabane Township had next to no line at all.  The polling place in Imperial, where my grandparents live, had a decent bit of people but not as much as I expected.  This is most likely is due to mail-in voting.  The people around me do not like the idea of mail-in voting, so seeing such a lack of people at the polling locations shocked me.

North Strabane Township Polling Location

I am very scared for this election to be over.  Not because I am worried about who will be our president, but I am worried about how the people will react.  People are already fighting, and we have not seen the results yet.  No matter who wins, a lot of people are going to get mad.  I am legitimately scared of what is to come.

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Young voters display tension and passion on Election Day

By Claire Lindsey

PPG Paints Arena

Nov. 3, as it was to most all Americans, was deeply enthralling. Compounded on top of the pre-existing anxieties that accompany Election Day, I faced the task of interviewing voters as they came and went from the polling centers at PPG Paints Arena, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and the Heinz History Center. To describe the mood that engulfed these centers as tense would be to grossly understate the fear, rage, and passion that seethed from voters.

This overwhelming feeling of profound emotion is what I presume to be the culprit behind the eerie silence surrounding the polling centers. The first few people I approached refused to answer the questions that I was so eager to ask. A uniformed member of the United States military was so opposed to any form of questioning that he uttered a harsh “absolutely not” when I approached him with my notepad and pen. I asked a poll volunteer if she could give me a short description of her duties. She paused between drags off her cigarette and told me that she was not interested in any of the questions I had prepared.

Discouraged by a few blunt rejections, I wondered if I would be receiving quotes from anyone at all. However, my spirits were quickly heightened by one certain demographic of voters. If there ever was a sect of people that refused to be silenced by emotions or tension, it would be the young college students I found. Not only were they delightful to speak to, but also they responded to my questions with such honesty and depth.

PPG Paints Arena

As the nation feverishly awaited Election Day, speculation arose that violence and hate crimes could be present at the polls. As a result, I had concerns about my safety. Point Park freshman Abby Yoder was more at ease than me and felt safe in her surroundings.

“I have trust in Pittsburgh to not disappoint me,”

Yoder said. She explained that she is from Philadelphia, which has experienced riots and protests. She expressed that she felt safer in Pittsburgh than she did at home. “It’s a pretty safe area.”

Some of Yoder’s fellow voters did not feel quite as secure. Pitt student Jordan Falk said he was concerned about protestors blocking the polls. Point Park seniors Zia Mancuso and Rain Diaz shared similar concerns. Mancuso expressed her unease about the tension and swirling rumors of threats.

Diaz was the first and only person I spoke with to mention the hazard that coronavirus posed to in-person voters. “There is always an inherent risk of exposure given the current pandemic,” he said. For Diaz, the risk of exposure did not outweigh the reward that is the assurance of in-person voting, however.

“There are a lot more steps with the mail-in and early voting processes that you might not be able to see. There are a lot of regulations to ensure early voting, but I thought that there was a sense of security and wanted to be able to make sure my vote was secure,” Diaz said. “It’s also such a historic day to get to say that we showed up and did it – Nothing is going to beat that.”

The security of in-person voting certainly coaxed voters to the polls. Point Park student Madi Kaiser said she does not trust mail-in voting. Her friend Tyler Heckel, who also attends Point Park University, agreed. “The postal service gutting scared me,” he said.

Kaiser and Heckel shared their fears regarding what will ensue after the results of the election are announced. Kaiser recalled rumors spread through the news and social media.

“If Biden wins, then Trump supporters are going to hurt people of the LGBT community and people of color. And if Trump wins then Gen Z is going to go crazy,” Kaiser said. “We went from [the fear of] World War Three in January to now a civil war.”

Heckel commented on the precautions taken by Pittsburgh businesses to avoid property damage if riots take place. “It’s so strange seeing them take all the clothing out of storefronts and boarding them up,” he said. “It’s just surreal.”

Point Park junior Theo Bliss is from Georgia, but he decided to register and vote in Pennsylvania as it is a swing state. I asked him if he was concerned about possible riots following the election results. He responded with nervous laughter. “In one scenario, America is kind of turned upside down. I feel like there would be a revolution,” he said. “And in the other scenario, I don’t think there would be a revolution. I think people would be so angry that they would possibly go out and harm people.”

Bliss and I discussed the portion of Americans who are choosing not to vote. “I think if it has to do with Covid-19 or safety or health precautions – I understand. I understand even if you don’t vote because it’s hard to feel like you’re doing the right thing in this election specifically,” he said. “It makes me sad that people wouldn’t want to have a say in the future of the country.”

Bliss was far more understanding of non-voters than others. Point Park sophomore Jasmine Schulte described the non-voter mindset as upsetting. “This is definitely one of the most important elections that our lifetime will ever see,” she said. She added that she knows a lot of people who have chosen to abstain from voting because they do not have enough information to decide which candidate to support. “If you don’t know enough about it – educate yourself. I definitely think that everybody should have come and voted if they could.”

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

Point Park student Taylor Mitchell went to the polls with her friend and Chatham student Gabriella Briceno. Mitchell chuckled and said that she plainly does not understand non-voters. “If you can vote you should vote.” Briceno thinks that “at this time, in America, we don’t have the luxury of not voting.”

My day of surveying voters had rocky beginnings. While fall is upon us and the air was cold, it was not the weather that sent a shiver down my spine. Rather, it was the crushing sense of pessimism I felt. Speaking to young voters certainly lifted my spirits, but it was not until I met with Point Park University’s Student Government president that I began to feel not only hopeful but powerful.

Dennis McDermott is in his junior year, studying political science. While his interest in politics is deeply rooted, he could not name one specific reason for this fascination. He presumes it could be due to early exposure to the internet.

“I saw how people were being treated and the situations people have to deal with across the United States – which we are told in high school is just the most amazing place on Earth. I think ‘This can’t be right. This isn’t what I learned in history class and my Republican state of Nebraska,’” he said. This experience was shocking. From there, he progressed. “I have to help. I have to do something.”

McDermott is often described as a very politically active individual. To him, this means donating money to worthy candidates and volunteering time to their campaigns.

“I did a ton of it for Bernie Sanders during the primary,” he said. “I’ve been doing it less for Joe Biden because I don’t think he needs my help as much as the Senate candidates do across the country.”

Today, McDermott is most concerned with the coronavirus and civil and voting rights. He said there is a reason there are protests in nearly every state in our country. That reason, he said, is that people feel as though their voices are not being heard and they “don’t have as much impact as they should.”

With these issues in mind, McDermott has grown restless this election season. He said that Election Day left him as a wreck. “I’m just waiting, at home, CNN is on,” he said. “It’s not that I think we [those supporting Joe Biden] are not in a position to win – We are. It’s just that there’s a lot of other factors that go into things preventing us from winning that are not legal.”

McDermott is hopeful, cheerful even, despite his anxieties. He said checking the polls does put him at ease. He has spreadsheets as well to help him organize his thoughts. “I listen to a lot of podcasts of people just saying, ‘Hey, it’s going to be all right,’ and that makes me feel better,” he said.

McDermott voted by mail about a month and a half before Election Day. “I wasn’t messing around. I was like, give me my ballot. I’m returning it immediately,” he said. On the topic of non-voters, he has mixed feelings. “I think it’s selfish when a person who is as young as us, a person who is maybe a straight white male who hasn’t dealt with disenfranchisement in their life says that voting doesn’t work. I think that is extremely selfish,” he said. “I can kind of understand the viewpoint of a black individual who has actually had polling places taken away from them and told they can’t do mail-in ballots. I can understand why they may not want to vote. And while I don’t suggest that they do that, I can understand.”

He is aware of the possibility of riots and protests following the election. He warns against believing the “TikTok idea” that there will be a civil war. However, he can see a situation wherein Biden wins the popular vote but loses the election. In this case, he can foresee violent protests. “I acknowledge that non-peaceful protests are a valid form of protest,” he said.

McDermott left me with an assignment of sorts: to be optimistic. He encourages youth to not discount all that they have accomplished, even when things do not go their way. This is a valuable lesson, and I hope my generation can subscribe to such an idea.

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Updated: Nov. 4, 2020 9:32 PM