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A Vote That Flew in the Face of Fear Itself

At first light, an army of union workers — those who cook the meals and clean the rooms — set out to drum up Election Day votes, prepared to make the pitch in Mandarin, Spanish or Tagalog. Among the foot soldiers was Tedros Naga, 51, an Ethiopian immigrant who works as a cook.

He and his wife both lost their jobs as the virus leveled the tourism and entertainment industries. With little work to find in Las Vegas, he spent October knocking on doors, encouraging fellow union members to vote early. It has not been a hard sell.

“People have no work,” Mr. Naga said. “People have no food. They maybe soon are losing their house. They want change.”

The virus has struck as well at the core of the American psyche — at the crossroads of individual rights and collective resolve. The federal recommendation to wear a mask, for example, makes obvious sense to some but smacks of deep-state oppression to others.

At a polling station in the New Church of Faith, just outside Orlando, Fla., a woman named Veronica, 35, said she had voted for Mr. Trump because she feared for her freedoms. Moments later, a woman named Dorothy, 45, emerged to say she had voted for Mr. Biden because she feared for her freedoms.

On an Election Day in a pandemic, at a time when the national divide seemed more like a chasm than a fracture, two voters exiting a church were united at least in the operative emotion of 2020: fear.

Reporting was contributed by Eric Adelson, Tim Arango, Mike Baker, Ellen Barry, Julie Bosman, Jill Cowan, Elizabeth Dias, Caitlin Dickerson, John Eligon, Richard Fausset, Manny Fernandez, Thomas Fuller, Hallie Golden, J. David Goodman, Ruth Graham, Jack Healy, Miriam Jordan, Patricia Mazzei, Neil MacFarquhar, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Sarah Mervosh, Dave Philipps, Campbell Robertson, Frances Robles, Rick Rojas, Simon Romero, Carol Rosenberg, Sabrina Tavernise, Lucy Tompkins and Will Wright.


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