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President, Pandemic Top Of Mind At Election Day Polls In Tulsa

Chris Polansky
Voters waiting to vote on the morning of Election Day 2020 outside Tulsa's University United Methodist Church.

More than 446,000 Oklahomans had already cast their ballots via mail-in voting or in-person early voting by the time polls opened statewide at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, but traditional polling places in Tulsa still drew crowds.

Voters at Tulsa's Braden Park Baptist Church, at 5th and Yale, were split into two lines on opposite sides of the church based on the first letter of their surnames. Most wore face masks. Many said the COVID-19 pandemic had played at least some role in their electoral choices. 

"How our particular administration has handled it this year, I'm disappointed," said Alyssa Ide, who works in film production. "More than disappointed."

"I was not a supporter of Trump even before the pandemic, but, oh my God," said Jennifer Reins, a history teacher at Nathan Hale High School. "Blood on his hands. It's ridiculous."

Reins said even more than the president's handling of the coronavirus, though, she was voting against him based on what she said was his lack of character and integrity.

"I think he is a disgusting person. I think he is a liar and a cheat. He is terrible," Reins said. "When your defense is 'That woman is too ugly to rape,' you're a despicable person." (Trump has dismissed allegations of sexual assault made by writer E. Jean Carroll by saying "She's not my type.")

About 50 people were lined up outside University United Methodist Church on the University of Tulsa campus a few minutes before poll workers opened the doors. 

Brian Duncan said he was the first to arrive around 6:20 a.m. He said he wanted to be sure he could cast his vote for Trump before going to work at his warehousing and logistics job.

"Policy-wise, he's been great," Duncan said. "My wife and I are divided on the subject."

"His character, I think, is what a lot of people try to harm him for, but for what he's done for the economy, what he's done overseas, with Middle East peace and trade deals, no other president has ever said he's going to do anything and actually done 90% of it, with the mainstream media attacking him every single day," Duncan said.

"He didn't have to take this job," Duncan said. "He decided to because he wanted to make the country a better place. That's commendable."

Trump won all 77 of Oklahoma's counties in 2016, and the state's electorate has grown significantly more Republican and less Democratic since then. According to the Oklahoma State Election Board, on Nov. 1, 2016, 45.61% of voters were registered as Republicans and 39.71% were registered as Democrats. On Nov. 1 of this year, Republicans made up 50.01% of registered voters, with Democrats making up 33.23%.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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