Located at the intersection of Church Street and Pelham Road in the city of New Rochelle is Trinity Elementary School. Blue tape that prompts voters to observe the recommended six feet of distance due to the coronavirus pandemic are spaced out on the ground from the front door of the school all the way around the block. The building’s parking lot, which usually remains sparse in the midst of the pandemic save for a few of the teachers’ and administrators’ cars, is entirely full.
Today, Nelly Conforme, 73, waits in line with her son-in-law, Kiro Rodriguez.
Four years ago, Conforme did not vote and regrets it to this day, she says. Two days before the 2016 election, her children surprised her with a birthday trip to Puerto Rico and her flight departed before she had the opportunity to vote for then Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I never made it in time to vote and I still think about all of the people who also didn’t vote and what could have been. I never thought a presidency like the one we’ve had would happen,” Conforme says.
So this year, she made sure to get to the polls to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Conforme doesn’t drive and has not taken public transportation since early March, so she waited for Rodriguez to bring her to the polling site.
“I knew the line would be long, so even having the company of someone waiting with you is nice,” she continues.
Rodriguez, 46, echoes Conforme’s sentiments. The store manager, who lives just a few minutes away in the Davenport section of New Rochelle, says that he missed much of the early voting period due to work, but that waiting on the line on Election Day is worth it.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty with a lot of things, but what we do know is the importance of voting this election,” Rodriguez says.
New Rochelle’s City Hall, which is just a short drive away, is much less populated. The building is surrounded by the city’s police department headquarters, a church and a row of homes with lawn signs that endorse Biden and Harris.
Angel Rodriguez, 72, voted for Clinton in 2016 and plans to vote along the same party line this year.
“I’ve always voted Democrat. Years ago, we could see eye to eye — Democrats and Republicans. Now, the lines are more divided than ever. That’s why we need to vote. Our lives depend on it,” says Rodriguez, who is not related to Kiro Rodriguez.