Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage of people volunteering as poll workers. Some Villanovans have stepped up and donated their time. One student, sophomore Femia Tonelli, shared her experience as a poll worker with The Villanovan.
While some students have been struggling to handle voting and attending classes, Tonelli’s Tuesday was open to vote. Both of her classes were canceled, as her professors wanted to give their students the time to vote. With this free time, Tonelli decided to become a poll worker.
“I volunteered for a few reasons,” Tonelli said. “On a personal note, I like being involved in my community and I like meeting new people. On a broader note, I enjoy being politically involved and I felt like this was a good way to exercise my civic responsibility.”
Tonelli returned to her hometown to work at Sol Feinstone Elementary School in Upper Makefield, Pa. She arrived at the polling place at 6 a.m. and was given directions for what she was in charge of for the day. Tonelli explained that she was mostly in charge of crowd control, bringing people to the front of the line if they had disabilities or helping those that had problems with their mail in ballots. She also would organize people by last names to make the process quicker for others when they reached the front of the line.
Tonelli noted that her polling place encountered some problems with following COVID-19 guidelines.
“The polling location was not really COVID-friendly,” she said. “Because it is an elementary school, the hallways and doorways are very small. People had to come close to each other when they passed by.”
Early in the day, hallways of the school were congested with the line circling inside. Alongside the constable stationed at the polling place, Tonelli worked to spread people out and move them outside.
“I was a little worried that people were going to be angry about having to wait outside in the cold for a long period of time, but most people were very nice about it,” Tonelli said. “A lot of people brought snacks and blankets, they were really prepared to wait.”
Another problem she encountered was a lack of polling machines.
Tonelli explained that her polling location got rid of all of the polling machines, thinking it would be safer to use paper ballots. However, this led to the process being almost twice as long, and people were touching the same desks and pens.Tonelli was worried about this situation and did her best to keep the location clean.
“I was frantically wiping down all the pens and every surface that I came in contact with as fast as possible,” Tonelli said. “I also washed my hands about thirty times and used purell anytime I could.”
Around 7 a.m., Tonelli was finally done and able to head home as she was not a “certified poll watcher” and was not allowed to stay to count the ballots. Although it was a long day, she was proud of her decision to volunteer.
“There has been a general feeling of dread about this election, but the people I saw today seemed really excited to vote,” Tonelli said. “They were just overall enthusiastic to be a part of the process and were all in good spirits, even when they had to wait in line. I am glad I was a part of it.”