Vocal Voters Weigh in on the Election

Blythewood High School's electronic sign displays an American flag

A quiet Election Day follows a noisy campaign in which many S.C. voters say they liked what they heard from Donald Trump.

By Columbia Voice Reporters
November 8, 2016

If it weren’t for the confetti of campaign signs scattered along the road in front of each polling station, few people would have known that it was election day in Blythewood, South Carolina. The small town 30 minutes from Columbia maintained its usual quietness even hours after the polls opened, and the silence in and around the voting facilities further contrasted against how loudly the election season has been playing in many voters’ lives.

At Blythewood Middle School, the little parking lot near its gym barely stayed filled halfway with cars. Inside, many booths remained unused along the back wall, as only one or two people cast their vote at a time. The handful of people working there spoke in hushed voices. The clicking of heels and jingling of keys being shoved into pockets announced each voter’s arrival.

Camden resident and small business owner Tommy Lucas, 46, voted for Donald Trump, picking “the lesser of two evils.”

“I’m very sad that the American people couldn’t come up with two better candidates,” he said. “But it is what it is.”

The Blythewood High School polls were busier than Blythewood Middle, but just barely. The whisper of cars heading down Wilson Boulevard wafted through the thick wall of trees on campus, and one could hear the faint squeak of shoes from a basketball practice when standing in the courtyard outside.

“In all my years, I have never seen anything quite like this,” Siron said. He declined to share whom he voted for in the presidential election, but as he left, he said with a laugh, “You know what ‘ABC’ is? Anybody but Clinton!”

Charlotte Dover outside the Blythewood High School polling station
Charlotte Dover was headed to another precinct so her friend could vote, too.

Charlotte Dover, a 19-year-old insurance employee from Blythewood, has been a Trump supporter since the beginning.

“I know a lot of people are against Donald Trump for the things he said about women and such, but I think his views on foreign policy and trade I completely agree with,” she said. “I just don’t think the things he said about women — I don’t think that defers from him being a good candidate.”

Dover believes that Hillary Clinton will win the election, though.

“Either way, if she does win, I think she’d be in office for only four years, so I guess that’s not too terrible,” Dover said. “But as far as individuals voting, I think he would win if they counted individually who voted for who.”
– Micaela Wendell

At 8 a.m., the oldest, continuous running clock in the U.S. started ringing as the voters of Winnsboro, South Carolina, walked into the town clock building to cast their votes for the president of the U.S. and its congressional members.

Kathy Carrison, office manager at local law firm, and her husband, Bob Carrison, who is retired, both voted for Donald Trump.

Bob Carrison believes that Trump’s message of cleaning up Washington, D.C., and his outside status is necessary for political change in America. He doesn’t think the wasting of funds and resources will change if Hillary Clinton is elected, even though he doesn’t know if Trump can change the system.

Kathy Carrison agrees but said that Trump is a ‘crap shooter’ in a way, but she does not believe Clinton is honest. 

Leroy Williams, automobile dealer, voted for Clinton because he believes she’s the right person for the job.

“She has the experience, temperance, she was a senator, secretary of state and the first lady,” said Williams.

Concerning the political climate in America, he said that “things will get better because as Americans we look for the best in people.”

“After this, we will learn to come together,” said Williams. “We will either learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we will perish as fools.”

Danielle Kennedy

Lois Elijah, 64, was grinning from ear-to-ear, happy to get out of her house on Election Day to vote and take a selfie with her “I Voted” sticker outside of the Hand Middle School polling location on Wheat Street.

“The weather today is absolutely perfect,” Elijah said after posing for her selfie. “You couldn’t ask for a better day.”

Elijah is a retired school psychologist, and her main concern for her former students and own children is the future of the country. That concern is one of the reasons she voted for Donald Trump.

“I voted for Donald Trump because he’s not part of the Washington establishment and as a successful businessman – with God’s help – I hope he can America great once again,” Elijah said.

26-year-old Chelsea Koch cast her ballot for Hillary Clinton.
26-year-old Chelsea Koch cast her ballot for Hillary Clinton.

Even a caring for a newborn baby couldn’t stop Chelsea Koch from getting to the polls on Election Day. The 26-year-old former teacher and now full-time mother said with an election this important, she knew that doing her civic duty was vital.

“I know one day he’ll be old enough to vote,” Koch said, talking about her six-month-old son, Cooper. “I want him to be able to live in a country where he can live his life the way he would want to.”

Chelsea voted at the Ridge View High School precinct, casting her ballot for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party on a straight-ticket, acknowledging how she may be in the minority in South Carolina.

“I’m trying to give this red state a little splash of blue so it’ll be a little lighter shade of red,” Koch said.

 Tyen Vereen, 23, stood outside of the Joseph Keels Elementary school polling location not knowing whether he was so elated because he got the day off of work as a member of the security staff at Fort Jackson, or if it was because he finally got his chance to vote.

“I forgot to register back in 2012,” Vereen said. “I was pretty pissed at myself for not being able to vote last time around.”

Tyen Vereen, unsatisfied with both major-party candidates, cast his vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson
Tyen Vereen, unsatisfied with both major-party candidates, cast his vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson

This time around, although happy with the opportunity, Vereen said he was dismayed at his choices for president.

“I voted for Gary Johnson because I feel like he could be a better option and has more grounded ideas than either Trump or Clinton,” Vereen said.

Patrick Ingraham

Traffic ebbed and flowed in and out of the Chapin Town Hall parking lot. Many took advantage of their lunch breaks, and the parking lot was overloaded with cars. This required many voters to utilize the overflow parking in the freshly laid sod located on the right side of the building.

Inside the building, the line weaved between rows of seats located in the chambers of the town council. In the line were two sisters, Ali and Hanna, who were waiting patiently to get to the voting machines and vote for Donald Trump. The two declined to provide their last names.

They both thought that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had zero business running for president.

How is she still running?Hanna asked. Thats what I want to know.

It just amazes over 30,000 emails, gone. And zero consequences. If thats you or me, were going to be in jail for a long time,” Ali responded.

As sisters continued to weave through the line, they began talking about the future of the United States.

She [Hanna] already has children, and our family keeps asking me when Im going to have them. I just dont know. I just dont know if I want to bring a child into this world with the way its going,said Ali.

A woman named Allison stood with her child in line and waited patiently for her turn to cast her ballot at the machine. The two played a game of peek-a-boowhile she waited to vote. She didn’t want to give her last name, but Allison said she didn’t like the idea of her ballot assisting either candidate’s campaign.

I have to go with a third party. I just cant believe these are the two that we came up with,said Allison as she continued playing the game with her young son. I just hope what Im doing will make an impact on things that will help my children.

It was then noon, and the line continued to grow at the door. People had filled the curbs with their vehicles, and patiently waited as the United States soon learns which candidate will lead them into another chapter in Americas history.

– Jeffrey Griffin 

The Sherwin Forest Associated Reformed Presbyterian Church is quiet on election day. The parking lot is empty. The “vote here” signs have blown over in the wind. Almost ten minutes passed before someone finally enters to cast his vote.

“I voted for Hillary Clinton,” Darrell Wilson, a registered Democrat, said. “I wasn’t about to let Trump win without me saying something about it.”

Wilson was the first of a large crowd of voters that seemingly appeared out of thin air. Like Wilson, they used their lunch breaks and left work to cast their votes – often motivated by the hope that they might prevent the other party’s candidate from winning.

“Trump tries to paint Clinton as a liar, but nothing he says makes any sense. Not a damn thing. Maybe you have some hesitations about her. But you’d have to be a fool to vote for him.” Wilson said. This sentiment is not exclusive to either party however.

“I voted for Trump because I’m a little iffy about Hillary because of the emails. If she’s hiding that then it’s like, you know, what else is she hiding?” Sammie Williams, a registered SC Republican said.

Republicans and Democrats share more than trepidation about the other side’s candidate. They also appear to be equally anxious about what the results of the election will be.

“I don’t think we’ll see any surprises with the local election. (Rep. Joe) Wilson will probably win even though I don’t want him to. But as far as Donald and Hillary, I just hope Clinton wins.” Wilson said. He laughed, but he frowned as he did it.

– Brodie Putz

Melissa Busby, 43, walks out after voting at the Shady Grove United Methodist Family Life precinct in Irmo with an ear-to-ear grin on her face.

The gargantuan grin is something she’s practiced thousands of times as a youth minister at Platt Springs Methodist Church, but even though she was smiling on the outside, she felt differently inside.

“I feel dirty and like I need to go take a shower,” she said, still beaming. “It was pretty horrific. It’s a sad state when that’s all we have to choose from.”

Clutching a coffee with two hands to shield against the November chill, Busby, who didn’t reveal who she voted for, wished she didn’t have to vote for either major-party candidate this year.

She’s voted in elections regularly, but this year was different. This year she was left without a viable choice and her copartner in elections past.

“My 13-year-old, up until now he’s always come with me to vote and the commission has always let him push the buttons,” she said. “I said, ‘Hey buddy, I tell you what. Let’s just keep that going because I don’t want to vote for either of these.’ And he goes, ‘You’re on your own this year, Mama.’ Children understand how bad this is.”

Like Busby, Jim Leonard walked out of his precinct at H.E. Corley Elementary School confused. After months of primaries and campaigning and debates he still wondered if he made the right choice.

“This is the first election that I can ever remember in my life that I voted but I wasn’t happy with either candidate,” he said.

Leonard, a 54-year-old insurance agent, said he voted for Trump because of the Republican candidate’s business background. But even walking out into the near-empty parking lot as the sun peaked from behind the clouds, he just “hopes the country survives the next four years.”

“Normally I went in there and had my mind made, I knew exactly what I was going to do because I followed the debates and everything,” he said. “But in this one, they’re both crooks. I just have to put it in God’s hands.”

– Collyn Taylor

Roger Boyer, a small business owner in Columbia, waits outside Hand Middle School wearing a “I Voted” sticker . He cast his ballot for Donald Trump. Trump sticks out to him for economic reasons: jobs and taxes, but Boyer also believes that Trump will protect Americans for the future. “I think he looks out a lot better for the Constitution, our rights. I believe a lot of those have been taken away over the last eight years,” Boyer says.

Boyer, 46, is not impressed with where the government stands today. “I think we’ve lost touch with what this country is all about,” he says. Like many, he sees younger adults as expecting too much from the government. “As I get older and look at the generations behind us expect the government to do things for them and that’s not how the government was set up,” he says.

Like Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, Boyer believes Trump will “bring us to where we should be.”

Margaret Bauknight, 27, a hospitality graduate student at the University of South Carolina, voted for Hillary Clinton. She believes she is the best option there was, even if Bauknight isn’t her biggest supporter.

“I hate doing a lesser of two evils kind of vote, but it’s not proper to stay home,” she says. “[Clinton] doesn’t have a squeaky clean record,” she says, but Clinton still received her vote.

She hopes that a Clinton victory will put like-minded individuals in powerful places. “I hope they let her get some people on the Supreme Court … I’m excited about people who kind of think the same way I do on the Supreme Court,” she says.

Though, many have turned to third party candidates in the light of these “two evils,” Bauknight believes that third parties should be incorporated at the local level, not nationally.

As for Donald Trump? “I am appalled at the behavior, appalled that it resonates with so many people, being racist, sexist. This has all been just one sad, sad nightmare,” says Bauknight.

John Rodgers, 48, is a vehement supporter of Clinton. “She’s devoted her entire life to public service, from college until today, she was an extraordinary first lady and an extraordinary senator and as far as I’m concerned, she was our only choice for president.

Rodgers isn’t a straight ticket guy. “I wish we didn’t have that straight ticket button,” he says. He once voted for a Democratic governor and a Republican lieutenant governor in the same ballot.

Rodgers sees voting in elections as a civic duty, “I’ve never missed voting once in my life … I think it’s very important for us to have a voice.

– Lindsey Hodges

The polling location at Lourie Senior Center was quiet on Election Day. The air was still except for the “whoosh” of the automatic doors as voters enter, and the occasional train-whistle that Columbia residents are more than accustomed to. Many voters that exited the polls were more than willing to give their two cents on the election, but shied away when it came to giving their names or who they voted for. Despite that, many were still willing to proudly support their candidate.

The Cormany siblings leaving the polls.

Hope Cormany is a registered nurse and her brother Patrick is unemployed. They went to the polls together, but whether they voted similarly is unknown. Hope didn’t want to say who she voted for, but her brother didn’t hesitate to say he voted for Trump, before quickly correcting himself. “I didn’t vote for Trump, I voted against Hillary. I hate Hillary.”

Madeline Hazlett brought her homework to do while she waited to vote, but discovered that there was no need for it. She walked straight into the polling booth with no hassle and cast her vote for Hillary. “I went to the ‘I side with’ website and it goes through how you believe in each political view and I sided most with Hillary so that’s how I made my judgment,” said Hazlett.

Allen Black, a 27-year resident of Columbia, voted for Hillary Clinton and straight Democratic ticket. The 54-year-old Black believes that Clinton has the experience in politics, whereas Trumps’ business capability does not necessarily translate to being a world leader. Overall, he was frustrated at the lack of focus on the issues of the election. “To me it was confusing because it was like a brawl. They weren’t discussing things like who was more qualified for the job, it was more like an argument like kids fighting on the playground, throwing words at each other and trying to dig up skeletons out of the closet.

A twenty something girl walked into the polling place, proudly wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. Her friend waited just inside the door while she ventured inward to cast her vote. A few minutes passed and she returned to the front, her hat now in her hand. As she left the building, she dejectedly told her friend “I forgot to register in time.”

– Delaney McPherson


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