TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. –– Tompkins County voters have begun showing up en masse for Election Day, surprising some poll workers with the sheer volume with which they’ve turned out to vote in the 2020 General Election.

Morning voters at the First Baptist Church of Enfield said they had been waiting about a half hour in the line, which stretched outside of the building and into the parking lot. About 35 voters were waiting patiently in the cold, facing a driving wind and occasional snow showers.

Timothy Andrews, waiting in the back of the line with his wife, said they had seen the line earlier when they showed up to vote initially and, realizing it was too long, returned home for some warmer clothes before coming back out. They said they were voting for President Donald Trump based on a desire to preserve “our freedoms and our rights,” and felt confident that the wait for the results of the election wouldn’t drag on too long.

“We thought about the early voting, but we just thought it would be better and more patriotic to come out and vote on the day we’re supposed to be voting,” Andrews said. “It’s worth the wait, to keep our freedoms and our rights. (…) Hopefully it’ll be done tonight. Nobody ever knows, but I think it’s going to be a landslide myself, so hopefully everybody will know real soon.”

Timothy Andrews and his wife. (Photo by Matt Butler)

Predictably, voters were split on the primary issues that made them go to the polls. A couple voting at the Ithaca Reform Temple in Lansing, who did not want to use their names, said that their major issue was business and the economy, which drove them to vote for Trump. On the other hand, Alexandra True, a retired nurse, said that President Trump’s tenure thus far has left her angry at the country’s trajectory, particularly his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think Trump is a cancer in our country and his role modeling of hatred and intolerance has changed the whole texture of the country, and so I’m going to vote for Biden,” True said. “What he has done with the COVID epidemic is horrible. We could have been way ahead of this, and instead we’ve lost so many people to his ignorance. I can’t stand by and see him continue.”

Biden voter Alexandra True, walking to the polls in Lansing. (Photo by Matt Butler)

True, who mentioned that she comes from a Republican family, chose to vote in-person since she assumed so many people had voted during the early voting period and that it wouldn’t be too crowded.

Others were cagier in their responses. One man, voting at the West Groton Church, didn’t want to use his name or say exactly who he voted for, choosing to leave it at “Let’s just say, I don’t like the direction the country is going right now.”

For some, voting is simply a civic duty. Such was the case for Dewey Dawson, who voted for Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen at the Groton Town Hall. Convenience was the main determining factor for why he chose to vote in-person, as he works just a block away from the polling location.

“It’s just kind of been instilled in me that I should always vote, no matter what,” Dawson said. “Personally, I didn’t like Biden, and I’m definitely not a Trump supporter. Kind of went against the family there, but whatever.”

Enthusiasm was clearly high at polling places around the outskirts of the county, as poll stops in Enfield, Lansing and Groton each reported either lines early in the day or had a constant flow of people in and out. While no official numbers are available yet, poll worker Loueen Rosenbush said that the Groton Town Hall location has seen a steady stream of voters since opening at 6 a.m. The line around noon wasn’t quite outside the building, but did include around 10 people looped around the inside of the building’s lobby.

“I have never seen this many people vote,” Rosenbush said at around 1 p.m. “Usually we have this many all day.”

To stay up to date with Election Day coverage as it unfolds, check out our Election 2020 tab on our website, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and see the resources available in our earlier coverage here.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com