Covering a vital community in the 2020 Elections: North Philadelphia
Election day in North Philadelphia surprised with not very long lines at the polls.
Nov. 3, 2020 in Philadelphia did not fall anything short of eventful. The morning began early at 6:30 a.m., with people lined up and eager to submit their vote at polling stations across the city.
In North Philadelphia, the lines formed, but ran swiftly and smoothly. By 8:00 a.m., the polling locations were in-and-out affairs.
While one might assume this sudden drop is due to a long history of low voter turnout in this part of the city, one parish member at El-Shaddai Baptist Chruch had other ideas.
Sharon Whaley told AL DIA of her and her parish’s efforts back in August, to help people from her community fill out voter registration and mail-in ballot forms. When the ballots came in the mail, she then helped fill the paperwork out and get them sent well before Election Day.
But throughout the city, one could feel an eerily quiet day filled with uncertainty, hope, frustration, and worry.
On the corner of Norris Square Park, at the Puerto Rican restaurant, ‘El Sabor,’ the owner said he was going to close early and board up his shop in preparation for potential chaos on election night.
He explained that during the uprisings over Geoge Floyd’s murder, his business was one of the stores affected. However, he said his worry was not about the restaurant being broken into — a place he’s owned for over 30 years — but a possible fire that could be deadly for the tenants that live above his business and whom he’s also the landlord for.
North Philadelphia is known for their high population of Latinos, specifically Puerto Ricans. Those from the area know it as ‘el barrio,’ because of the large amount of Puerto Ricans that have migrated to the city from the island, especially after Hurricane Maria’s devastation in 2017.
In another part of North Philadelphia, inside the restaurant ‘Izlas,’ in the Plaza Americana, AL DÍA met up with Councilwoman María Quiñones Sánchez, as she was lifting spirits and hoping for a positive turnout. Sporting her Kamala Harris-inspired Chuck Taylors, Quiñones-Sánchez said she was stopping for a quick bite before heading back out to the polls to continue the hype train.
Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris had just been in the City of Brotherly Love a day prior, on Nov. 2, 2020. The councilwoman had the opportunity to show her around the community and took her to the iconic Porky’s Point to meet potential voters.
As the day winded down and the city got dark around 4 p.m., the city felt desolate. The streets of center city were boarded up also in preparation for a night of civil unrest. Cops were on every street, but there were barely any people in sight.
Though, as predicted, there was no announced winner on what is considered a historic election, it was a night where people remained on edge. Many left their televisions on overnight, website links open to the tallying of election results, or could not sleep all night awaiting possibly the most important election in our nation’s history.
As Pennsylvania enters its final stretch of counting and eyes fall to Philadelphia, its Northern neighborhoods and the outreach done there before Nov. 3 could prove crucial to who gets the state’s 20 electoral votes.