Typically, when you think of a polling place, you imagine community centers, churches, schools and gymnasiums, right? But imagine casting your ballot in a laundromat or skating rink.
Since 2008, Philadelphia-based photographer and political junkie Ryan Donnell has been documenting unexpected polling places — in his project “Behind the Curtain.”
It started when, during the 2008 election, he was sent to vote at an Italian social club in south Philly. He then got in touch with the registrar’s office and weeded through location lists looking for other polling-place oddities.
“When I go through the lists of places and see elementary schools, I disregard them,” he said on the phone. “Most of America votes at an elementary school, but [at] the Church of Scientology? Now that is something different.”
He has also found himself at bakeries, bars, skating rinks, barber shops and funeral homes. The purpose of the project, he says, is to take a look at American democracy — and the way America votes.
“It turned out that the images were a great representation of the diversity in our country,” he says.
The series isn’t limited to Philadelphia. Donnell has also shot images in Chicago — and during this year’s presidential election, he will be photographing polling places in Los Angeles.
“It’s personal to me,” he said. “I love politics, democracy, and I love this country.”
So where will you votethis year?