'We're on a mission': Long lines as voters in four states cast early ballots
Early voting for the U.S. election opened in four states on Friday, and the crowds at one polling station in Fairfax, Virginia, were massive.
“So this is a big turnout,” said one voter, wearing a black face mask. “I’ve had my mind made up for a long time and wanted to get my vote counted.”
Wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing, hundreds of voters were determined to cast their ballots in person as early voting was held today in Virginia, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, mail-in voting is expected to be higher than ever in the U.S. this year, but many are nervous about taking that avenue.
U.S. President Trump has repeated baseless suspicions of voter fraud connected to mail-in ballots, and has sown doubts that the U.S. Postal Service can handle the amount of mail-in ballots. The Democrats have accused Trump of attacking the postal service in order to disrupt the election process by damaging the efficacy of the service.
Many voters who braved in-person voting on Friday in these four states said they were doing so out of an abundance of caution to get their votes heard.
“I think everyone here feels like we're on a mission," a voter in the line told CTV News. "The mission is to make sure that our vote is the vote that gets counted."
The lineup outside of the polling station was enormous, stretching more than two blocks away and snaking around the corner. People in line said they waited for more than three hours to cast a ballot, an unprecedented wait for voters in the region.
One voter said he had been expecting a crush at the polls.
"This is 2020,” he told CTV News. “And we've been talking about voter suppression.”
While officials weren't expecting crowds this size, they have prepared for voting in a COVID-19 era.
Inside one Fairfax polling station, there were masks, hand sanitizer, face shields and tamper-proof ballot boxes.
“It was worth the four hours,” said a voter after successfully casting her ballot. “Our country is very divided and we need to rebuild our country.”
While some Americans cast their ballots earlier, Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden were both campaigning in swing state Minnesota.
“One day earlier this month, the United States had 1,000 deaths of COVID, Canada had zero,” Biden said in a speech.
“In the midst of this unprecedented national crisis, Trump has given up on even pretending to do his job.”
National polls show Biden with a slight lead, so Trump is making a push for Puerto Rican voters by finally approving aid money for the island that he previously blocked — three years after it was battered by a hurricane.
In 2017, Trump visited the island to see the damage firsthand. The president was heavily criticized for tossing paper towels at displaced citizens.
Despite this history, Trump has still said publicly that he is “the best thing to ever happen to Puerto Rico.”
Following the news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsbug’s death on Friday due to complications from cancer, Twitter users took up a renewed rallying cry for Americans to make sure they vote in the upcoming election.
Some experts predict almost two thirds of Americans will vote early, with both parties urging people to cast their ballots as soon as possible before the election on Nov. 3.