Artcile & Photos by Dylan Baggiano
Voters, old and new, began lining up outside of Legion Field and Mountain Brook City Hall to cast their ballots for the leadership of this nation’s democracy at 7 am Tuesday, as the polls opened up.
With safety being a primary concern, during this coronavirus pandemic 300,402 Alabamians have opted to vote absentee before election day, to stay safe and prevent the virus’s transmission, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said in a Monday press release. Other Birmingham residents have decided to vote in-person, the traditional way, to ensure that their ballots are accounted for, according to election day voters.
Tuesday morning, Shauncee Brooks, a first-time voter and nursing student, said she waited 15 minutes outside of Legion Field stadium to have her say in the presidential election, opting not to vote absentee.
“I don’t feel that you should have to come and vote in person, but it’s something that I wanted to do,” Brooks said.
Brooks also said all of the poll workers were taking proper precautions to wear masks and maintain social distancing guidelines, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Sebastion Attey, a dance instructor, said he waited 20 minutes in line, but wasn’t sure if people were adhering to the social distancing guidelines.
“The polling people and voters were wearing masks, but I don’t think people were standing six feet apart,” Attey said.
Ebony Mars, a medical assistant, said she voted in the last presidential election, but that she was worried about contracting the coronavirus today.
“People are asymptomatic, so they don’t know if they have it or not,” Mars said. “I came though because I know how important voting is—especially with this election. I think it’s important for first-time voters to come in person to learn the process if they don’t have underlying health conditions that would put them at risk.”
At Mountain Brook City Hall, some first-time voters said they were glad to come and vote in-person for this year’s election.
Anna Baker, a nurse, said she was not worried about contracting the virus today, as she waited in line for 45 minutes to vote for the first time.
“We gave the poll workers our I.D.s and then went into the booths, which were all separated,” Baker said. “All of the workers were wearing masks and making sure that everyone was standing on their dots, so that we maintained our distance to prevent spreading the virus inside.”
Baker said she felt her decisions were protected during the voting process, since the booths provided privacy for each person.
Another first-time voter, Will Locket, an architecture major at Auburn University, said he would have felt safer voting by mail but decided to vote in-person, since he didn’t know how reliable it would have been.
“I think that as far as COVID-19 goes, I would have felt a little safer voting by mail,” Locket said. “My aunt’s ballot never came in, though, so I don’t know whether or not my vote would’ve been counted.”
Locket said the glove-wearing polling officials ensured that everyone was wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and that everyone had proper identification.
Edited by Hannah Warren, Ryan Michaels, & John H. Glenn