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Saturday, December 05, 2020

US elections: Inside a Pennsylvania bar, watching the battle — and waiting

With lawyers on both sides of the political aisle on standby, on Tuesday, millions of Americans voted in schools, police stations and churches.

Written by Karishma Mehrotra | Scranton | Updated: November 5, 2020 7:13:39 am
Voters line up to cast their ballots at the Charles Sumner Elementary School on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Scranton, Pa. (AP)

Around the corner from Joe Biden’s home — where the president-hopeful had spent the first half of the day waving at fans and speaking to his hometown connections — roughly 15 Scranton locals saw the evening turn to night at Morganz Pub & Eatery as they sat in front of four television screens that gave them little information about who their next president would be.

With lawyers on both sides of the political aisle on standby, on Tuesday, millions of Americans voted in schools, police stations and churches. Here in Pennsylvania, election officials began to open up the 2.5 million early mail ballot envelopes today, with their predicted tally to come out only by Friday.

Barring the sporadic events of online misinformation, technical difficulties, and local skirmishes, the only eventful news of the night for those at the local bar is that their state would probably be as pivotal this week as all the channels had told them.

“I keep asking Tom (her husband), why do all these candidates keep coming here? It’s such a small town. Why do we matter so much?” Kristen Scott says, listing a string of political heavyweights who had visited Scranton this election season.

Behind her, a man screams sarcastically, “It’s over! We got Vermont! Shut it down!”. The table of five men, who work at nearby colleges, are all Biden supporters, some with close ties to his family. Most state results on Tuesday night, like Vermont, were predictable outcomes, leaving them with little to chew on.

“I never paid attention to politics until four years ago. I voted him (Trump) in because I wanted this country to change,” Scott says, over the noise of the men behind her. “I said, ‘let’s mess things up.’ Now all I want is to turn on the TV and hear sanity.”

A voter arrives to cast her ballot at the Charles Sumner Elementary School on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Scranton, Pa. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

She had voted for Barack Obama twice before voting Trump. To her left and right are Trump supporters, one of which is her husband.

“Leopards do not change their stripes,” says Tom, Kristen’s husband. “He’s the same *****le he was four years ago.”

“The same people who didn’t know who Trump was four years ago voted him in,” says Billy Bordentown. The 42-year-old financial manager at General Motors says his wife is also switching from Trump to Biden. “I get it. I don’t agree with the way he talks and treats people and all that. But financially, the country is better off than it was four years ago. Obviously, leave COVID out of it. That was out of his hands.”

Bordentown compares Covid-19 to 9/11 — it was out of Bush’s hands, he says. Why is America’s death count so much higher than that of other countries? “I don’t believe their numbers. Our numbers are honest.”

“If they just took Twitter away from him, it would be fine,” he adds.

“His Twitter is kinda funny, though,” says Tom, who voted for a Democrat once — Obama in 2008. “Just like Trump, I liked him because he was different. He felt like an outsider.”

Back at the Biden table, The Indian Express asked the group how optimistic they felt. “I feel optimistic that the sun will come up tomorrow.” Said another: “I feel optimistic that I have to go to work tomorrow.”

All of them left Morganz Pub & Eatery at midnight with no more or less optimism than that. Much like the rest of America, they went to bed on time to get to work the next morning, surrendering to the fact that the next day would bring no final answers.

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