Some polling locations around Duluth were busier than others the morning of Election Day.
Election official Ken Stanley has been volunteering at a Lincoln Park neighborhood polling location since 2008 and said he had never seen it busier.
The Holy Family Catholic Church in Lincoln Park had collected about 300 ballots shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday, Stanley said. Nearly 40 were lined up to vote before doors opened at 7 a.m.
An hour after polls opened, more than 130 people had cast a vote at Asbury United Methodist Church in West Duluth.
Of the voters the News Tribune spoke to Tuesday morning, many were either voting for the first time or had not voted in a presidential election before.
Erica Allen, 30, of Duluth, cast her first vote in 2018. Tuesday was the second time she had voted.
For Allen, becoming politically curious and choosing to vote was part of a much larger personal-growth story closely linked to a decision in 2016 to report a sexual assault case from her childhood.
A cycle of denial was broken then, she said. “I wanted to know the truth about everything.”
On her way to vote, she thought about all the people who would vote for the first time Tuesday.
“It’s just amazing that everyone’s opinions and voice matters,” Allen said. “I was very excited to vote again this year. We’re part of a union and we’re all counted.”
Willie Wilson, of Lincoln Park, voted for the first time at age 36. He strolled up with three friends to his polling location excited.
"Did you vote? Did you feel good?" he asked a passing stranger leaving the Holy Family Catholic Church.
His neighbor and friend convinced Wilson the night before that he had a right to be heard.
"This was a good experience. I loved it," Wilson said after voting. "I just hope that I can do this by myself now without them."
He arrived with the candidates he supported written on his palm: U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, Rachel C. Sullivan for Sixth District Court and Kelly Durick Eder for Duluth School Board. The list of candidates did not include anyone running for president. Instead, Wilson wrote in his own name for president.
"I don't trust either," he said, referring to President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. "They both get caught up in lies. ... They are both Christopher Columbus ancestors."
Two 20-year-old university students showed up together to vote in their first presidential election.
"It's really empowering just because it's such a big election," Maija Johnson said from outside Washington Junior High School, 315 N. Lake Ave.
Key issues that influenced Johnson's vote include clean energy and racial justice. She voted for honesty, too.
As of noon Tuesday, shortly before the News Tribune went to press, none of the election officials and judges at Duluth polling locations had experienced any difficulties.
Overall lines moved efficiently; election officials cleaned off tables between each use.
Photographer Steve Kuchera contributed to this report.