The stories behind the standout images from the U.S. election

The stories behind the standout images from the U.S. election


Here are some of the striking moments captured by our photographers as U.S. voters went to the polls and the stories behind the images:

DONALD TRUMP by Tom Brenner

I live down the street from Donald Trump's campaign headquarters but had never noticed who worked there. When we were unexpectedly allowed onto the office floor, I was struck by the crowd of smartly dressed young people behind the president's re-election campaign - tense, tired and excited. It was around noon, but the clock on the wall had been stopped after counting down to midnight.

. Scranton, United States. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden makes his way through the crowd outside of his childhood home on Election Day in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

JOE BIDEN by Kevin Lamarque

Until election day, the coronavirus threat had constrained Joe Biden's campaign, with no crowds and little interaction with the general public. Here, on a whistle-stop retrospective tour of his hometown, Scranton Pennsylvania, Biden mixes more freely with supporters gathered at his childhood home, flanked by his granddaughters who help him through the crowd.

. Oklahoma, United States. Reuters/Nick Oxford
Voters wait in a long line to cast their ballots at Church of the Servant in Oklahoma City.

PERSPECTIVE by Nick Oxford

A seemingly endless line of socially distanced voters greeted me when I arrived at this polling place in Oklahoma City around 8 AM. With another 100 or so people inside, it was taking about two and a half to three hours to vote but people were quite relaxed standing or sitting in their unusual self-created pattern. The buildings facility manager kindly escorted me to the roof, where I could put the turnout into perspective.

. St Charles County, United States. Reuters/Lawrence Bryant
Electoral workers at curbside voting in St. Charles County for voters who have coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during Election Day in Missouri.


I was struck by the way these poll workers waited for a voter using curb side voting for people with COVID-19 to make her selections on the ballot. To me, they seemed to be giving her privacy by turning their backs and chatting to pass the time. It shows the perseverance of people seeking to have their voice heard during a pandemic and the courage of the poll workers enabling them to do so.

. New Orleans, United States. Reuters/Kathleen Flynn
Dana Clark and her 18-month-old son Mason wait in line at City Hall as early voting begins for the upcoming presidential election in New Orleans, Louisiana.

SEEKING SAFETY by Kathleen Flynn

Teacher Dana Clark was adjusting a "safety pod" over her and her son as I passed the voting line on Oct. 16, the first day of early voting in New Orleans. She had bought the pod to use in the classroom with her fifth-grade students, hoping to protect them, as well as her own kids and her husband, who has underlying health issues, from COVID-19. The image, which garnered 46k likes on Twitter, seemed to express a convergence of widely felt emotions: fear of contagion, hope for a child’s future, pressures on educators and a wish for racial justice.

. Marfa, UNITED STATES. Reuters/Adrees Latif
Mayme Royer, 93, and Peggy Thornsburg react to presidential election results during a pro-Republican watch party in Marfa, Texas.

A LITTLE DANCE by Adrees Latif

I met Peggy Thornsburg's friend the day before the election in Marfa, a small Texan town known for its active arts scene and mysterious lights that can be seen darting across the nearby desert. Peggy and her husband Kim then invited me in to their election watch party after I showed up at their home, attached to the Marfa Holocaust and Model Ship Museum that they run. This is the moment Thornsburg and her friend Mayme Royer, 93, do a little wiggle and dance in their chairs to word that Trump is leading the count in Florida on the new 74-inch television they have bought for the occasion.

. Marfa, UNITED STATES. Reuters/Adrees Latif
Early voting ballot board judge Kelsey Issel prepares to seal ballots from early voting after counting them during the 2020 U.S. presidential election in Marfa, Texas.


In the Marfa courthouse, the ballot count was being done at the front of the courtroom behind the wooden rail where the defendants and plaintiffs normally sit. In this shot, Kelsey Issel, early voting ballot board judge, seals mail-in and early voting ballots back in their boxes after counting - a small part of the U.S. democratic process in action.

. Detroit, United States. Reuters/Rebecca Cook
GOP poll challengers react after being asked to leave due to room capacity at the TCF Center after Election Day in Detroit, Michigan.


I have covered many elections but had never seen anything like this. On day two of the count, a crowd of people came to the Detroit facility, many of them chanting "shut down the count!" and saying the election was being stolen by the Democrats. The photo shows an official telling them they cannot come in because of room capacity. Shortly afterwards, the Detroit Police manned the door, as the challengers peered through the windows, chanted and knocked.

. Washington, United States. Reuters/Erin Scott
Shannon Erstein and Beka Carlson react to preliminary 2020 U.S. presidential election results in Washington.

ANXIOUS WAIT by Erin Scott

A small group of people gathered in a park a few blocks from the White House to watch election results. The evening already felt uncertain, with many of those present wondering if violence would break out. I noticed these two women leaning on each other as more states were added to the too-close-to-call list. Their expressions mirrored the sentiments among the crowd.

. Louisville, United States. Reuters/Bryan Woolston
Barton Foley, 32, with his cat "Little Ti Ti" on his shoulder, casts his ballot on Election Day at Ballard High School in Louisville, Kentucky.

COOL CAT by Bryan Woolston

Just after noon on Election Day, I noticed a cat sitting on the shoulder of a voter at a polling station in Louisville, Kentucky. As I approached it turned to look at me. The man continued getting ready to cast his ballot as if having a cat on his shoulder while voting was completely normal - a bit of light relief on a stress-filled day.