Short lines and calm prevail at U.S. polls early on Election Day

Voters fill out their ballots at a polling place on election day in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.

Wearing face masks and standing spaced apart, Americans waited at polling stations early on Tuesday to choose a president on an Election Day marked so far by orderliness and mostly short lines, even as major cities braced for potential unrest.

The masks and boarded-up stores in many city centers were reminders of two of the issues shaping 2020’s polarizing elections, with COVID-19 still ravaging parts of the country after a summer of sometimes violence-marred protests against police brutality and racism.

In New York City, some voting lines snaked around blocks. But in many places lines were short or non-existent, which poll workers guessed was due to an unprecedented wave of early voting, with a record number of ballots cast before Election Day.

In Atlanta, Georgia, about a dozen voters were lined up before sunrise at the Piedmont Park Conservancy. First in line was Ginnie House, shivering in the cold, waiting to cast a vote for the Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a former vice president seeking to replace President Donald Trump, a Republican, in the White House.

“I lost my absentee ballot and I’m not going to miss this vote,” said House, a 22-year-old actor and creative writing student, who had flown back to Atlanta from New York just for this purpose. Of Trump, she said: “He’s dividing our country.”

In Hialeah, a predominantly Cuban-American suburb of Miami, Marcos Antonio Valero, 62, was voting for Trump, as he had done in 2016. He said he took the day off from his job as a construction worker to cast his ballot in person because he did not trust voting by mail.

At a polling station in Houston, Texas, Andy Valadez was blowing a shofar, a trumpet used in Jewish and some Christian ceremonies and, in this instance, as a way to pray for a Trump victory, according to Valadez.

“We want to pray for a fair election,” the 55-year-old marketing executive said, his shofar wrapped in a U.S. flag. “We believe in America and want everyone to have a safe voting experience.”

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