Final push

Final push

Charlese Farkas, a volunteer at the JCC polling station, has worked three presidential elections. Farkas described the lines and turnout with, “It’s as busy a day in the 10 years that I’ve seen.” 	Photo by Adam Reinherz
Charlese Farkas, a volunteer at the JCC polling station, has worked three presidential elections. Farkas described the lines and turnout with, “It’s as busy a day in the 10 years that I’ve seen.” Photo by Adam Reinherz

With Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton sprinting to a likely photo finish, tapping the ballot box was a welcome final push for many this Election Day.

Moments prior to casting his vote on Tuesday, Peter Braasch described a mindset of seemingly common concurrence.

“It’s been mostly exhausting,” the Squirrel Hill resident said while walking toward the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, a polling center for four nearby districts.

“I can’t wait for tomorrow,” noted Shua Hoexter, of Squirrel Hill, after casting his ballot inside the JCC. “All of the facts and important issues were out of the way earlier; now it’s just distasteful, this sort of mudslinging.”

Election returns were not available as of press time. For complete results, reaction and analysis, go to

Though Braasch planned on greeting the end of the election with pizza and beer among “a close group of friends,” he said that he is worried about the future, regardless of who wins. “I don’t know where we go after this.”

“My hope is that I’d like to see our country come together after this election, because we’ve been so divided,” the Rev. Michael Foley said while waiting in line at the JCC.

Nearby was Fern Moscov, a Squirrel Hill resident who offered more pragmatic desires. “They have to make accommodations for voting for older people and people with disabilities so that they do not have to stand in line,” she said.

“We’ve had a line most of the day,” added Ann Truxell, who for the past 16 years has worked at the JCC’s polling station. “I’ve never seen it quite as busy,”

“Gore and Bush was pretty busy, but this was busy too,” offered Marlene Haus from behind a table as she marked a sheet with voter information. Haus has volunteered at the polls for more than 20 years.

“It’s 10:30 a.m., and we’re already at almost 31 percent,” said Truxell, noting that of the 582 people listed in the registry, nearly 180 had already voted. Reaching that figure so early in the morning was “amazing,” she said.

One of the early ones was Alisa Fox. By voting in this election, she said, “I’m excited to make history. I hope America is making the right choice.”

But even before the ballots were counted, at least one voter was already disappointed.

“I’ve been on this earth for 80 years and this is the worst presidential or other election I’ve ever experienced,” lamented Betty Lou Margolis of Shadyside as she gathered among a group of friends near the polls. “If this country can’t learn soon to pick better candidates we’re up the creek.”

Just across the Monongahela River, Mt. Lebanon folks in Ward 1 found longer lines than usual at their polling place, Jefferson Elementary School, along with construction that closed down part of Moffett Street, creating challenges for voters coming by car. But that didn’t affect the enthusiasm that some had for this election.

“I was really excited to vote in this historic election, and also excited to have it be done,” said Sharon Perelman, who was voting alongside her daughter, Andi, for the first time.

Despite the vitriol of this election cycle, and the candidates’ ad hominem attacks against each other, Mt. Lebanon resident Charlene Tissenbaum said her decision-making process was based on the candidates’ positions rather than their personalities.

“I made sure I was really educated in terms of all the policies and what the different candidates were standing for,” she said, adding that she felt there was a lot at stake this year.

“Because of that, and also because of the candidates who are running, I think it is even more important for us to come and vote and make our statement, and do what we can to try to make the difference for the future,” she said.

She ultimately opted to vote for Clinton, she said, because of her positions on women and minorities.

Steve Glick, who split his ticket by voting for Clinton for president, as well as Republican incumbent Pat Toomey for the U.S. Senate, said he didn’t feel differently coming in to vote this year than in previous elections, although he did have a sense of relief that it was finally coming to an end.

“No more stupid, tasteless political ads,” he said.

For Glick, the presidential race was no more significant than those of the past.

“We don’t know what kind of president Trump would be if he wins, and we don’t know what kind of president Hillary would be if she wins,” he said. “I think it is the same as any other presidential election.”

What did differ this year, he said, was his personal reaction to the candidates.

“I’ve never voted in an election where I absolutely hated both candidates as much as I do this year,” he said.

Despite concerns over interference or disturbances at the polls, at noon on Tuesday things were business as usual, according to Wanda Murren, press secretary for the Department of State.

“There have been no complaints that were out of the ordinary,” she said. Only “minor issues” had been reported, including an electronic glitch in Butler County, which was easily resolved.

Turnout could not be calculated until the polls had closed, she said.

Adam Reinherz can be reached at Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

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