June 4, 2023

Local scenes of democracy in action

A sign points voters toward Liberty High School in Bethlehem, where ballots were cast on Nov. 8. Photo by Jesus Zaldivar

On sunny Nov. 8, citizens of Nazareth and Bethlehem made it to the polls, as did the rest of the country. A housewife with her toddler girl, a carpenter wearing a washed-out bib overall, an octogenarian on a walker, a skater, a lady on high heels, a father demonstrating the vote exercise to his pre-teenager daughter, couples in their 60s, 40s, 20s. Black, White, Asian American. They all voted.

By 10 a.m., the parking lot of the Middle School, in Nazareth, Pa. had fewer than 20 vehicles. At the main gate, Mark Roth, an Air Force veteran stationed in Germany during the Cold War, held a “Veterans for Fetterman” hand-written sign.

Next to him stood Kurt Derr, campaigning for Democrat Lisa Boscola. “Very early there was a long line, the flow of voters has been steady since,” he said.

Derr, an election veteran, nostalgically recalled the poll runners and checkers in the past: at specific times on election day, such helpers would annotate names of those who had not yet vote and reminded them by phone.

Roth and Derr were joined later by Republican Judy Sadawsky, a retired paralegal, who distributed the traditional “Joe Emrick State Representative” nail files. “He is such a good man, you see it in his eyes,” she said of her candidate.

Soon after Judy’s husband, Stan, joined. The concessionaire of the NCC cafeteria before Sodexo take over, a retiree, now writes a book “reflecting on life”

By 3 p.m., some 700  citizens had cast their votes at the Middle School.

Mark Roth, an Air Force veteran stationed in Germany during the Cold War, holds a “Veterans for Fetterman” hand-written sign in Nazareth on Election Day. Photo by Jesus Zaldivar

A mile away, at a second polling place in Nazareth – the Saint John United Church office –a Democrat campaigner jokingly said that he felt like the “Jehovah Witnesses of politics.” Just as zealots tenaciously try to gain souls for Christ, he explained, volunteers like him try to gain voters for his party. And he felt uncomfortable.

“Or perhaps we’re the Mormons of politics,” a tall man in his late 60s said. He distributed Mastriano and Dr. Oz pamphlets and when the conversation turned to electronic vote the man praised France. “Eighty million paper votes are counted in one day and here we are in the most powerful nation on Earth, where vote counting takes forever.”

Nobody corrected told the man that France’s population was 68 million, of which 49 million were registered voters.

By 4 p.m., approximately 360 ballots had been cast at St. John’s.

In Bethlehem, in the Memorial Gymnasium building at Liberty High School, Lisa Robinson, a film editor and Vincent Facchiano, a former NCC welding instructor, welcomed voters. A continuous flow of voters arrived after work.

Here and in the Nazareth borough, voters displayed clarity about their vote intention; Bethlehem voters seemed genuinely opened to interaction with election volunteers.

By 6 p.m., approximately 500 votes had been cast at Liberty School.

At 8 p.m., all ended.

Vote counting took place.

Jesus Zaldivar

Jesus Zaldivar, contributor to The Commuter, is a Media Production student at NCC. Previously, he conducted biomedical / environmental research in South America, Europe and six states in the U.S. (Contact: jesus.zaldivar@student.northampton.edu)

View all posts by Jesus Zaldivar →
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