Cold and crowds didn’t stop them—Trinbagonian-born folks living in US swing states made it their business to go out and cast their ballots in yesterday’s US Presidential elections.
All eyes in yesterday’s election were on the swing states of Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Southern Appalachian locations, where votes from those areas were expected to produce the winner.
For Texas-based Anika Thomas and her son Ezekiel Aaron, yesterday was the first time they had voted in a US election.
Both voted early in their area. A Joe Biden supporter, Thomas said, “We’d gone to do early voting last Friday but there were too many people.”
Thomas, who’s lived in the US for almost 20 years, became a citizen last year. A private-sector worker, she also worked with the recent US census.
Thomas added, “Texas is traditionally known as a Red (Republican) state and we saw how that party was really, really making efforts to get people to vote via organisations. Every day I’d get calls and texts urging me to vote. It has been an experience,” she said.
In Tampa, Allan and Sonabai Beddoe also voted early. Allan, a Vietnam veteran, said, “It took about 15 minutes, it wasn’t bad.
“We’ve lived here for 50 years so it’s not a new experience but this was a very, very different election. There were things that struck me in this election more than ever—like (Donald) Trump’s rallies for instance.”
In Miami, retired business executive/pilot Irwin Alexander, who’s lived in Florida for 50 years, said, “We didn’t have to line up. We requested mail-in ballots two weeks ago, received them and mailed our votes in—very easy.”
Alexander noted that since last week stores had been shuttering and boarding up show windows in the event of problems.
“But we’re cautiously optimistic, no violence will occur,” he said.
In Phoenix, Arizona, Kirt Da Silva, who’s lived in the US for 35 years, also voted.
He said, “If Biden wins so be it. But where the economy’s concerned, I’d prefer Trump. He’s not a speaker, he can’t communicate and he’s arrogant but sometimes I think that’s what Washington needs.”
Pennsylvania-based Andre Warner, a Howard University graduate, went out with his wife to vote in 45-degree cold weather since they’d heard of delays with mail-in ballots.
“So my wife and I decided to go in person. We were about 57th in line at at 6.30 am and after the polling station doors opened at 7 am, we completed voting by 7.30 am.”
Warner—a university education mentor—added, “People are cautiously optimistic. We saw what occurred in 2016. We’re not seeing any violence here in Harrisburgh, like the big cities, but whichever one wins, I still believe there may be issues—whether lawsuits or otherwise.”
North Carolina-based Wayne Whittingham—a Howard colleague of Warner’s—has been in the US almost 40 years. Whittingham is a regulatory affairs and quality assurance consultant in the pharmaceutical industry. He voted last week.
“I’d expected long lines since the average wait was between 30 to 60 minutes. But I was lucky—got in and out in under 10 minutes,” Whittingham told Guardian Media.
“My area, Wilmington, has been quiet compared to others. But I stayed at home (election day) since COVID numbers are rising again.”
New York-based Michael Molino (former T&T Prisons Officers Association secretary-general) was also among last week’s early voters. Molino, who’s lived in the US since 2002, noted, “From all appearances, we may have a new president and I hope we do—anything else may be scandalous. But we never know, it may even go as it did in 2016.
“Whichever way it goes, though it may have some instability here. I was just downtown and people in the mall were boarding up windows.”
Molino almost didn’t get to vote. He left T&T to return to the US in early March just before the COVID lockdown.
In Baltimore, Gwendolyn Roberts, from a T&T clan, added, “The lines were extremely long, some people had to sit in chairs waiting to get in, and it’s very cold but people were distributing doughnuts and water so that helped. We braced for the worst but hoped for the best.”