WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) As the first election in Pennsylvania during COVID-19 pandemic era gets underway, state and local election officials say the process is very much a work in progress.
One of the largest polling places in Luzerne County is at Kistler Elementary School in South Wilkes-Barre but Eyewitness News found low to moderate voter turnout at polling places we surveyed tuesday in the area.
Election officials believe many people stayed away because of concerns about COVID-19. County election officials did take steps to help keep voters safe, including setting up voting stations six or more feet apart from each other and masks were required to be worn or offered to people who were not wearing one.
Thaddeus Donlavage and his Father Gary cast their votes at the Toyota Sportsplex on Coal Street in Wilkes-Barre. Both said they were not going to be deterred by COVID-19.
“Well it’s important that we continue to vote we just can’t let things stand in our way of voting virus or any other kind of thing. We have to cast our vote, ”Gary Donlavage said.
Another voter from Wilkes-Barre, Steve Quinn, says he was a bit nervous about coming to vote.
“Yeah I was a little worried how many people but not bad not bad at all. Everything was organized. They were helped you in anyway you needed it. It ran very smoothly,” Quinn noted.
His daughter Lindsey has a different perspective. She does not know what it was like to vote without concerns over a pandemic.
“I think it went pretty well. It’s my first time voting I enjoyed it actually. As an American we have to come out even with the circumstances. It went very well,” Lindsey said
COVID-19 also convinced many people to use the first ever vote by mail option in Pennsylvania.
“We’ve had a lot of mail-in ballots already come in, so these people are left over coming in to vote,” Mario Romanelli, a poll worker, said.
Luzerne County, like many counties across our region have seen a huge numbers of people voting by mail. In Luzerne County, they expect to receive about 53,000 ballots in the mail and that will result in delays in the final tallies tonight.