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Here's what Election Day looked like at polling places across Kent County

Emily Lytle
Dover Post

Kent County voters showed up at the polls Tuesday ready to make history.

While the state reported a record voter turnout of 68.66%, Delaware’s least populous county didn’t shy away either with about 65% of its just over 130,000 registered voters participating this year.

Compared to other presidential election years, about 17% more registered Kent voters cast their ballots for president than in 2016, and it went up 26% from 2012.

Some who chose to vote in-person Tuesday said they were motivated simply because they wanted a say in the local, state and national leaders. Others said there were specific issues driving them to the polls.

Voters wait to cast their ballots at the Clayton Firehouse on East Street just after the polls opened at 7 a.m.

Voter Ralph Murray cast his vote early Tuesday morning in Smyrna, and the 51-year-old said the top issue for him was "the handling of the coronavirus.”

"The economy for small businesses, the little man who’s suffering, businesses are closing and there’s no relief in sight," Murray said. "It’s important for someone to take action. There’s no time for all the fighting and arguing, just get it done."

LEVY COURT RESULTS:Kent County Levy Court results show support for incumbents amid COVID-19, disaster relief

He wasn’t the only one who had the pandemic in mind when coming to the polls.

Serena Alexander, of Smyrna, said the coronavirus was a big issue driving her vote.

"We need some type of health plan in place to deal with it," the 23-year-old woman said.

For some, it was an undying support for a presidential candidate that lit their fire.

William Slade, a 10-year Navy veteran who voted at W. Reily Brown Elementary School in Dover, said he voted for Biden, because he's a more trustworthy candidate.

"I don't like a lunatic and a liar," Slade said about Trump. "I don't understand how American women have voted for him. He said, 'I can grab your p***y, because I'm rich.' But [yet] they got Bill Cosby locked up?"

Navy vet William Slade proudly shows off his T-shirt that reads "I Am Black History," after voting at W. Reily Brown Elementary School in Dover Tuesday.

Voter Dov Fried had the same amount of passion for the opposite candidate when he voted at Fred Fifer Middle School in Camden.

"I want to save America," he said. "I think President Trump is the best. I think he is going to save the country."

Long but quick lines

Most polls in the area saw lines that spiked in the early morning and dwindled to a steady pace throughout the day.

As the polls opened in Smyrna and Clayton, voters faced lines ranging from about 35 to 45 people at Smyrna Middle School and the Levin Center, to more than 120 waiting outside the Clayton Firehouse. 

Alexander, who cast her ballot at the Clayton Firehouse, said she had never seen a line that long to vote.

In Cheswold, the lines started before 6 a.m. and quickly spread down Main Street and past the railroad tracks. 

Voter Elliott Glover said he was already the 15th person in line when he arrived at 5:40 a.m.

Voters exit Delaware Technical Community College's Dover campus before noon Tuesday.

Chris Johnson and Jeanine Carroll came to Cheswold early Tuesday morning to cast their ballots before work, but they decided to return in the evening after seeing the lines. 

“We knew we were coming back,” Johnson said with confidence.

Cars similarly streamed into a packed parking lot at the Dover Elks Lodge on Saulsbury Road.

The line stretched along the building and was steady between 7 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., but voters said they were "surprised" and "delighted" to discover how quickly the line was moving.

Voters Paula Gannon and Delores Bishop said it only took about five minutes to get near the front of the line.

A first-time voter in Delaware, Calvin Jeffrey said he didn’t know what to expect. He is originally from the Bronx.

"I thought this was the norm,” he said. "I’ve never seen a line this long in my life."

Peaceful atmosphere

Patty Carney came to the polls with multiple members of her family, and she said she did notice one difference from voting here her whole life.

"It’s the first time I can remember having a police officer in the parking lot," she said. "I’m glad they’re here in case anyone wants to start anything."

Still, police were not called to any Kent County polling place for incidents of violence or voter intimidation. Voters, campaigners and poll workers alike commented on how positive, friendly and peaceful everyone seemed to be Tuesday.

Elizabeth Pallmann sits inside Cheswold Fire Hall greeting voters around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

This was the first time 17-year-old Elizabeth Pallmann worked the polls, and she said one thing stood out while she was hunkered down in Cheswold.

“I’m amazed at the kindness of people,” Pallmann said.

She said people were polite and eager to vote all day Tuesday.

Pallmann and her fellow greeter Gwen Bailey would cheer on first-time voters, making a celebratory moment as they handed them an “I voted” sticker.

One such voter was Bradley Beamer, 18, who drove home from his college in Pennsylvania to cast his ballot.

He and his mom Jennifer said they were impressed by the friendliness of the poll workers after such a long day, as well as how quickly they went through the process.

Dover Post staff Andre Lamar and Ben Mace contributed reporting to this story.