Special Report

America Votes

New Yorkers on edge as the city prepares for a turbulent election night

Paul Carnee and his friends protest in front of the Trump Tower despite NYPD barriers. They have been protesting here for years. Photo by Emily Welsch

On the outskirts of Central Park, the engine of a bright yellow Halal cart hums and a man on a scooter is first in line for the famous chicken-over-rice.  On Election Day, the food trucks are one of the few signs of normalcy in the city.

Businesses throughout the city are boarding up their windows and doors in anticipation of riots. Protestors are gearing up with masks and posters. Reporters are lining the streets with microphones and heavy cameras. Times Square looks post-apocalyptic with dozens of police cars and extensive metal fencing.

A Times Square area bakery is boarded in anticipation of Election night rioting.

While city braces for unrest, Election Day brings a familiar routine for Paul Carnee and his friends. For four years, Carnee, 71, has been protesting the administration on the street across the Trump Tower. He’s unconcerned for his safety this day as on others. “It’s because we think we’re invincible even though we’re old,” he said with a laugh.  Although he gets into dozens of verbal disputes per day, he does not fear Trump supporters. His friend points to a brown stain on his sign, where a Trump supporter once hurled their hot coffee.

Carnee is confident that Biden will win, but worries about the volatility of swing states.  “No matter who wins, there’s going to be places in the country that are going to explode.”

On a bench in Central Park, Danny, 31, (who asked not to use his last name) expresses his anxiety.

“There’s a tension in the air,” he said. He voted in the morning and will avoid all social media and news until later in the evening. In the past, he’s been disengaged from politics, but sitting out this year was not an option for him. “This year, apathy is a political choice in itself,” he said.

A “Trump 2020” flag-bedazzled car honks through the streets of Midtown. NYC is a historically blue leaning city, nonetheless, Trump supporters are eager to make themselves heard.

Married retirees Sarah and Abraham (who preferred not to use their last name) just returned from the polls as well. They describe their voting experience as smooth and trouble-free. The couple voted for Trump despite their overtly liberal anti-Trump neighbors. “I try to be quiet because I don’t want to quarrel with anybody; politics is not my thing,” says Sarah. She explains that as a Christian, she feels that the Trump administration advocates for her beliefs more than the Democratic Party. “It’s not that I love Trump or what he does, but he protects Christian people.”

The pair isn’t worried about violent conflict on a state or civil scale; they are more concerned about retaliation from their anti-Trump acquaintances.


Other Stories in Special Report: America Votes

America Celebrates the Election

The staff of Pavement Pieces November 11, 2020

New York celebrates historic win

Thomas Hengge November 8, 2020

BIDEN WINS

Tori Luecking November 7, 2020

Biden win brings relief

Addison Aloian November 7, 2020

The energy of Election Day in New York City

Tori Luecking November 6, 2020

Boarded up, buttons for sale and a Republican viewing party on Election Day in NYC

Michelle Diaz November 6, 2020

Pennsylvania race narrows

Courtney Guarino November 5, 2020

Arab Americans of Dearborn vote Biden

Quratulain Tejani November 4, 2020

Amid national tension and uncertainty, Joe Biden scores big in Michigan.

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi November 4, 2020

Three black women, three walks of life, one presidential election

Jada Okoye November 4, 2020

Voting in Clifton, New Jersey

Kaity Assaf November 3, 2020

Taking the temperature of voters

Journalistic Inquiry November 3, 2020

Students wait and watch

Lana Green November 3, 2020

Students strategize on mail-in or in-person voting 

Lana Green November 3, 2020

Following American politics from the other side of the pond

Lexi Hobbs November 3, 2020

Union Square polling site sees lower turnout, but passionate voters

Yunlai Silvia Gui and Yi Lily Yang November 3, 2020

Early voter visits Texas polling site Election Day to support sister on the ballot

Zoya Hasan November 3, 2020

Voting For The Lesser Of Two Evils

Kirill Bykanov November 3, 2020

NYU student flies over a thousand miles to vote

Addison Aloian November 3, 2020

Two coasts, two Biden votes

Bry Leberthon November 3, 2020

Young voter from Maryland can’t find meaning in the vote

Vanessa Handy November 3, 2020

 Bilingual coordinator in Yonkers, N.Y. helps Spanish-speakers vote

Maria Jinu Kulapurathazhe November 3, 2020

Americans in China Watch and Worry

Jennifer Ren November 3, 2020

To some voters in Stuytown, the president is “deplorable”

Michael Morris November 3, 2020

Election Day

Photojournalism Class Project November 3, 2020

Soho Trump supporter cast his vote

Mengyang Zeng November 3, 2020

Voting in Lower Manhattan

Paola Michelle Ortiz November 3, 2020

Denise Scudder says the stakes are high for Black Voters

Calen Razor November 3, 2020

In 2020, Election Day may rhyme with unrest. At least, that’s what officials fear

Edith Rousselot November 3, 2020

Brooklyn polling site sees small crowd on Election Day

Alessandro Malave November 3, 2020

First time voter ponders America’s future

Marie Louise Onga Nana November 3, 2020

Masked, Boarded Up, and Subdued: Election Day in Times Square

James Pothen November 3, 2020

NYU student casts ballot for Biden-Harris campaign 

Angela Choe November 3, 2020

New Yorkers are ready to VOTE

Photojournalism Class Project November 3, 2020

West Village streets quiet as voters brace for outcome

Abby Rupert November 3, 2020

Virginia Prepares for a Turbulent Election

Julia Gregory November 3, 2020

The Message of “Law and Order” Resonates with TriBeCa Mother

Michael Campanella November 3, 2020

Latino voter chooses Trump

Emma Shores November 3, 2020

Poll worker keeps it moving

Norah Hogan November 3, 2020

NYU sophomore casts ballot for Biden at dorm polling station

Sofya Akcayoglu November 3, 2020

Elderly black voter does not take the right for granted

Nya Etienne November 3, 2020

A reluctant voter makes a choice

Shivani Chauhan November 3, 2020

Smoke clears over Bay Area as voters take to the polls

Karina Gamez November 3, 2020

Fears of violence in the aftermath of Election Day have citizens uneasy

Mikayla Rivers November 3, 2020

First time voters in Long Island worry about election outcome 

Christina Strippoli November 3, 2020

The pandemic can’t stop Generation Z from voting

Jaeguk Lee November 3, 2020

Trump Tower mail in voter for Biden

Shea Grant November 2, 2020

For some, early voting means long lines and lots of rain

Vaishnavi Naidu November 2, 2020

Harlem sees rain showers, fast lines ahead of Election Day

Hanna Gebremichael November 1, 2020