In Wilkes-Barre, a polling station that once held three wards now holds six

    WILKES-BARRE, Pa.As expected, Tuesday has brought lower turnout to northeastern Pennsylvania’s polling places as the region still deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Walking out of the Toyota SportsPlex, Shakeera Davis admitted she was worried about the virus, but said her duty as a voter came first.

    “If you don’t have a vote, you don’t have a voice,” she said around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

    The Toyota SportsPlex, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (Image via Facebook)

    The SportsPlex normally hosts three wards during elections. However, because the county consolidated the number  of voting locations, it held six wards.

    Poll workers hustled around the arena, helping residents find their correct ward, and worked through some computer issues. 

    Betsy Summers normally runs one ward, but had to run two on Tuesday. 

    Even though she spent some of the morning troubleshooting issues, she believed voters were getting a fair chance.

    “I’m confident every vote will be counted,” she said.

    Just a few blocks from the polling place, a handful of teenagers stood protesting the death of George Floyd.

    The protest started when Elyse Rosario and a friend showed up with a sign. A junior at Meyers High School in the Wilkes-Barre Area School District, Rosario said she was proud of the crowd that gathered.

    “It shows we’re not scared,” she said. Cars honked their horns in support as she talked. 

    She and Hailey Wilushewski, 19, another protester said that a few people had shouted at them, but most people seemed supportive. 

    Wilushewski has grown up seeing news stories about black men dying at the hands of the police. She rattled off a list of historically racist incidents from the past 400 years before asking, “How many more years does history have to keep repeating?” 

    When cars honked, the girls would wave and smile.

    Later in the evening, several Wilkes-Barre restaurants and stores closed their doors early amid rumors of a riot.

    “The Wilkes-Barre Township police have advised us that they are taking the threat seriously. With that said, we will be closing tonight at 6 p.m.,” Nello’s Pizza said on its Facebook page. “We hope nothing comes to fruiting, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.”