Voters of all ages and backgrounds donned their masks and and filed into Glencliff High School Tuesday morning to vote. Poll workers in blue protective gowns greeted people with a giant bottle of hand sanitizer and a list of COVID-19 screening questions. But many voters say it wasn’t just the pandemic that made this election feel different.
“It’s crazy out here in the world,” says Charity Davis, a 23-year-old Black woman.
Davis sat out the last presidential election. But she decided to vote for the first time this morning to honor her ancestors who sacrificed for her right to vote.
“I believe in equality, and I just want that change for everyone,” Davis says. “There’s a lot of racism going on right now and, just, things that are said about the Black community that just shouldn’t. And so, I want change for me and my people.”
Mario Alvarez was also voting in his first presidential election. And the 19-year-old says his identity played a major role in his decision, as well.
Alvarez was born and raised in Nashville, but his parents are from Mexico. He says he voted for Joe Biden, because he wants a president who will be more open to immigrants.
“I’m not saying that Biden will have all of the changes as one person, because not every president is good,” Alvarez says in Spanish. “But, I believe that he’s a better option than Trump.”
Alvarez hopes Biden will stop detaining children in immigration detention centers and improve relations with other countries. As a first-generation American, he says he feels extra pressure to vote for what he believes is right.
“Many countries hold elections that are not fair, in the countries their parents come from,” Alvarez says. “It’s always better to have a voice and be heard.”
Felix Diaz’s Latin-American roots also weighed heavily on his mind as he voted. But, unlike Alvarez, he decided to support the president. Diaz left Venezuela 30 years ago, and he says he’s terrified the communism he escaped there could make its way to the U.S.
“When immigrants come to this country and they live in a comfortable way, they forget many things,” he says in Spanish. “Not everyone thinks in the way of imagining what could or couldn’t happen. But you have to do it.”
Diaz knows that many Latinos vote for Democrats, who are typically more open to immigration. But Diaz believes that communism and socialism have infiltrated Democratic politics. And, even though he doesn’t think Trump is a perfect president, Diaz says he’d rather stick with what he knows.
“There should be new people, younger people that govern this country,” he says. “Fatally, torturously, for whatever reason, we don’t have them.”
Colin Fulgenzi was another hesitant Trump supporter at the polls Tuesday morning. Fulgenzi was excited to vote for the businessman in 2016, hoping his work experience would help the economy.
But Trump’s comments about women and people of color have made it harder for Fulgenzi to stand by the president. He says there were times he considered voting for another candidate, instead.
Fulgenzi says he’ll be OK with whoever wins. But he’s worried that others won’t accept the results.
“I’ve seen some posts lately that are like, you know: ‘What’s everyone doing for the Civil War next week?’ And it is scary,” he says. “My faith and my belief doesn’t rest on them. But I know there’s a lot of people out there, and I’m friends with them, on both sides, who feel so strongly.”
Fulgenzi says he doesn’t know how to comfort those people. He’s even considering moving to a more remote area, where he would feel safer. In the meantime, he hopes people who are upset with the results don’t turn to violence.
“I think we need to pray for those in power,” Fulgenzi says. “And I really think that there’s a lot about the world today that’s good and evil that we’re missing. And it’s not just red or blue or Black or white.”