Pictures show the final days of an election like no other

After a tumultuous year, a record number of Americans unite in voting.

Photograph by Natalie Keyssar, National Geographic
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Supporters wait for President Trump to arrive at a rally at Scranton airport in Pennsylvania on Nov. 2, a day before the election.

Photograph by Natalie Keyssar, National Geographic

As the 2020 presidential campaign draws to a close, millions of Americans have lined up, in the midst of a pandemic, at schools, churches, and community centers across the country to cast their vote in an election like no other. From last-ditch legal battles over mail-in ballots to voting machines going dead, this election has been a ride, to say the least. “Life depends on it,” said one early voter in Brooklyn, New York, who like a record 100 million others, cast her vote before Election Day even came around. As President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden crisscrossed the country in an effort to rally last-minute votes and people made their way to polling stations, we sent photographers to capture the final days of one of the most historic elections on record.

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A truck decorated with Biden-Harris stickers is parked in the driveway of a supporter in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Door County, where Sturgeon Bay is located, voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and Donald Trump in 2016, and is considered a bellwether county in the swing state.
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A pedestrian passes boarded-up businesses in the Farragut North neighborhood of Washington, D.C. on Monday. Many businesses near the White House and in downtown D.C. have boarded up their windows and doorways in case of unrest
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Trump supporters line up to take buses to a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Monday.

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Bomba dancer Barbara Ortiz leads a performance outside the Alafaya Branch Library early polling station in Alafaya, Florida. Bomba is a dance form that originated in Puerto Rico. The Latino vote in Florida is seen as pivotal for the presidential election.

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Jenis Walsh, Northeast Regional Director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, sits at her desk at the Democratic Party’s office in Wilkes Barre. “I have one day left,” she said, “and all we have to do is execute, execute, execute.”
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First-time voter Alexi Jenkins, 18, arrives to cast her ballot at a polling station in a school gymnasium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Birds fly past the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.
National Geographic sent eight photographers into the field to document the lead up to pivotal election decisions: Andrea Bruce in North Carolina, Christopher Gregory-Rivera in Florida, Greg Kahn and Jared Soares in Washington D.C., David Guttenfelder in Wisconsin, and Natalie Keyssar in Pennsylvania. Photographers Graham Dickie and Stephanie Mei-Ling covered large voter turn out in Texas and early voters in New York.