The Helpers: Community & Voting in a Pandemic


It’s Election Eve in Beaver County, and all through the house, the creatures were stirring, wondering if the flames of division in our nation could ever be doused. All poorly-constructed rhymes aside, this is an historic night. Nationally, nearly 100 million Americans have already voted, including 30,000 Beaver Countians, who cast their ballot by mail.

Dorene Mandity, Beaver County’s Director of Elections, predicts that close to 80% of the county’s 116,951 registered voters in the county will participate in the election this year. If you plan to be one of them, make sure to drop off your mail-in ballot in person at the County Courthouse (810 Third St in Beaver) OR be in line to vote by 8:00pm!

Polls open at 7:00am tomorrow – Tuesday, November 3rd! Time is running out to make your voice heard:

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Note sure where to vote? Find your polling place at Pennsylvania’s official elections website,

National civil rights groups operate a nonpartisan voter protection hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) and put together a comprehensive FAQ resource for Pennsylvanians if you have questions about how to vote, or encounter a problem on Election Day.

“A Crisis in Confidence: An Audio Exposé” is a creative audio montage produced by The Social Voice Project for the story, “Election Pandemic” – a transmedia presentation produced through the Community Builder Corps project, a partnership of RiverWise and the Listening Library: Beaver County.

LeeAnn Yunt lives in Ambridge with her husband Mark, their granddaughter, and their pup, Maddie. Like many in the airline industry, she’s been furloughed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “A lifelong learner” whose parents modeled and encouraged civic engagement (she remembers going door-to-door in the neighborhoods with her Mom), she’s served as a poll worker for years and is now an elected Judge of Elections.

She understands the nervousness people may be feeling about voting during a pandemic but wants to reassure her neighbors in Beaver County that all elections officials, from the Director to the poll workers carry out their duties in a nonpartisan way, striving for a smooth, orderly, legal process where every vote is counted. There’s a “check-and-balance” system for keeping votes secure, verifying, and counting each person’s vote, whether it’s cast in person or by mail.

Each poll worker has a book of all the registered voters in their precinct, she explains. When a voter comes in, the poll worker checks their name against the list, signs them in, gives them a number (based on when they come in – for example, the first voter is #1), and guides them to the voting machine to cast their ballot. Special pandemic measures are in place to sanitize the equipment and ensure physical distancing during in-person voting to keep both voters and election workers safe.

This year, people who requested mail-in ballots will have their names highlighted in the poll book. If you requested a mail-in ballot and decided to instead vote in-person on Election Day, she advises that you bring everything that came with your ballot and turn it over to the poll worker, who can void the mail-in ballot and help you vote in-person. You may also take your completed mail-in ballot to the Beaver County Elections Office at the Courthouse (810 Third St. in Beaver). No matter who you vote for, LeeAnn hopes you’ll “get informed and be part of the process.”