Official turnout numbers and election results won’t be available until later this evening, but Anniston Star reporters have been in their field all day, asking voters their opinions as they came out of the polling place. The interviews below are a sampling – however unscientific – of what we heard.
Golden Springs Community Center
Some voters at the Golden Springs Community Center said their votes went to the candidate who seemed more trustworthy, although there wasn’t a whole lot of agreement on which candidate that was.
“I didn’t like what I was hearing from Romney,” said Danay West, who voted for Obama in 2008 and again on Tuesday. “I think Obama is just a more honest person. You can believe what he says.”
West said he didn’t think Obama’s first four years had been as successful as he had hoped, but said another four years could give the president a chance to cement his legacy.
“He can turn it around if we give him the chance,” he said.
Jim Brooks, also voting at Golden Springs Community Center, said he believed Obama hadn’t been truthful on his policies. He said economy had suffered under Obama’s leadership.
“I think he’s going to get our economy back on track,” Brooks said of Romney. “I have not liked the direction we were going under Obama.”
Buzz Elliott, who also voted for Romney, said he thought Obama was telling the truth when he promised change four years ago. It just wasn’t change he agreed with.
“We got to make a new change, it’s killing people out here,” Elliott said, referring to what he said was the lack of job growth during Obama’s administration. “Obama said he’d change things, but he didn’t tell us what kind of change.”
Of course, there are more options on the ballot than the Democratic and Republican candidate. One voter, who declined to give his name, said he voted for the Libertarian presidential candidate— even though he couldn’t recall that candidate’s name after he cast his vote.
“We need a viable third party in this country,” he said. “We need more choices.”
— Brian Anderson
Jacksonville First Baptist Church
For Cheryl Reese, 57, it’s important to vote, especially in presidential elections.
“If you’re going to vote, that’s the one to vote in,” she said.
Obama hasn’t quite lived up to her expectations, she said, but his record wasn’t enough to change her support for the president, for whom she voted in 2008.
“It was a hard choice,” this time, she said after casting her ballot at Jacksonville’s First Baptist Church.
Reese said she also was sure to vote in the referenda for constitutional amendments. There were 11 statewide amendments on the ballot, and another one just for Calhoun County voters. Reese said she was most concerned about Amendment 1, to reauthorize the Forever Wild Land Trust for another 20 years. The trust purchases wilderness land from private owners to keep it undeveloped and provide recreational opportunities.
“The others, I didn’t feel that informed about,” she said. “But I’m hoping that one goes through.”
Barb Bungert, 53, said she voted because she thinks “it’s important. You should use your rights.” She also cast a vote for Obama in Jacksonville. She chose John McCain in 2008, she said, but was swayed this time by issues important to her as a woman.
“I don’t like the way the Republicans are swinging on women’s rights,” she said.
Keith and Pam Kadle each chose Romney. The couple, both age 50, said it was primarily the presidential race that brought them out to vote at Jacksonville’s First Baptist Church.
Keith Kadle said he wanted to vote to “get this country back on the right path.” He added that he thinks Romney “has a better vision for the future of the country.”
Pam Kadle said it was important to her that Romney “professes to be a Christian.”
“I’m afraid that if we turn our back on Israel we’re just going to be destroyed,” she said.
Marsha Cater, 65, also said she chose Romney because she’s concerned for the country, “Economically, morally,” she said.
“I feel he will head us in the right economic direction,” Cater said. She said Romney is intelligent, and that his businesses sense should help him steer the economy. She said he also seems like “overall a good man.”
“If there’s such a thing as a good politician,” she said.
— Ben Cunningham
Mental Health Center, Anniston
Jennifer Kennedy, 32, said the candidates’ positions on federal spending and health care helped her decide which man she wants to be the next president. Standing outside the Mental Health Center in Anniston, an Anniston polling place, Kennedy said she has never voted in a presidential election but decided Tuesday to cast her vote for Romney.
“I feel like he’d be a good financial advisor to get us out of the debt we’re in,” Kennedy said. “I think we need a change.”
Rob Svensen, 50, also said at the same polling place that he too wants Romney to be the country’s next commander-in-chief. It’s important to him, he said, to see unemployment drop and government spending decrease.
Vonda Holifield, 40, said she knew before the race even began that she wanted four more years of Obama. She said that she supports the president’s health care policy and believes it will help low-income families afford medical care.
— Laura Johnson
Calhoun County Health Department
Lasonja Talley didn’t have far to walk to cast her vote. Talley, who works at the the Calhoun County Health Department, cast her vote there at about 1 p.m. She chose Obama.
Talley said she was voting not only because she wanted to make her voice heard, but because she believes those who don’t make their wishes known by casting their ballot have no reason to complain later when the elected officials do something they don’t like.
“It’s a very important time,” Talley said. “I mean, it’s for the president.”
Laetrell Brooks, 39, said she also voted for Obama, who she believes is straightening up the office.
“I believe he can do what he said he would do,” Brooks said.
Not everyone was so willing to reveal their preference.
Kenneth Miller, 63,, said he was there because he wanted to make a change in society. But he declined to say who received his vote.
— Laura Camper
Anniston City Meeting Center
There was a steady stream of voters at the Anniston City Meeting Center Tuesday morning. Traffic in and out of the polling place was not as robust around 1 p.m., but it never stopped. Lawrence Swann, 66, opted to vote during the early hours of the day. Swann said he voted straight Republican and felt strongly about helping Romney get elected.
“I don’t feel Obama has done as much as his advocates seem to think,” Swann said.
William Johnson, 71, voted for Obama. He said he favored Obama because “he helps people” and has “been bringing jobs.” Beyond the top of the ticket, Johnson wasn’t too concerned.
“I didn’t vote for any of the rest of them,” he said.
“Barack” is the man for the job for Lachaeska Taylor-Grant, 36.
“I like him being family-oriented, I like that he wants to help the middle-class families,” she said.
As for the local races, she said: “I’m a party person. I went Democrat all the way.”
Taylor-Grant said she feels that it’s very important for her voice to be heard.
“I want everybody to know that I have a say-so in what goes on in our United States,” he said. “So if my one little vote will put him ahead, I love that.”
Earl Morris said he voted to keep the current Obama-Biden administration in place. The 85-year-old voter said he’s been paying attention to presidential elections since the Roosevelt era. Though he wasn’t old enough to vote as a 10-year-old paper boy delivering the Anniston Star, he said his paper route made him far more informed about politics than the rest of his playmates.
“I have observed during the course of this administration it has been presented in a fair manner, more so than any administration I have observed,” he said. “And I have been observing for a very long time.”
Christa Lackey, 39, cast her ballot for Romney.
“I’ve always voted for the Republican Party,” she said. Currently unemployed, Lackey said she feels the economy does better when a Republican is in office and feels aligned to the Republican Party in terms of social issues.
Her Republican leanings also extended to Roy Moore, whose values she said she believes in and whose campaign ads have resonated with her.
Sheryl McLeroy, 43, said she voted for Obama because he has the same vision she does for the country. “I think he’s a hardworking man and a good family guy,” she said.
She said she disagrees with the Republicans on a number of issues, including the economy. “I think the Republicans are greedy,” she said. “I think they want regulations for everyone but themselves.”
McLeroy said she has cancer, and healthcare was an important issue for her.
“I feel that my healthcare is in safer hands with the Democrats with Barack Obama” she said. “I feel that care for my children or women—I completely disagree with getting rid of preventive care for women.” She said she is against attacks on Planned Parenthood and birth control.
“I would hope the least we could do is hand (people) a condom and them not spread disease in our county, our country, our city.”
— Paige Rentz
First Presbyterian Church
The day was special for Jaquona Jones, 20, not only because of the nature of the election but because it was her first time to vote — ever. The seeming negativity of the campaign did not dissuade her from casting her ballot.
“I wanted to make a change not only for myself but for future generations to come,” said the Anniston waitress and church worker.
On the other hand, a veteran of many an election was 69-year-old “Baby” Ray Murphree, who described himself as a “dedicated conservative.”
“You couldn’t keep me away,” Murphree said. “I’d vote regardless.”
Voting at the east Anniston church was described by an outdoor observer as “pretty swift — I’ve seen a lot of young people voting.”
The observer, who gave his name as “Eddie S.,” said he worked for the Alabama New South Alliance, which he described as a Democratic-oriented group.
“When I got here at 7 o’clock I think the first four people in line were in their 20s,” he said.
By shortly after 3 p.m., just over 600 people had voted at the location, not including provisional ballots.
— Bill Edwards
Westside Baptist Church
Jacksonville State University student Deonta Freeman said he’s not deep into Democratic Party politics, but he voted straight Democratic Tuesday afternoon after what he saw in the debates. The elementary education major said his primary reason for voting was funding for education.
“Of course I voted Democratic,” he said. “Because I’m a college student and I love my Pell grants, and I would love to see them stay here unlike the Republicans.”
Freeman said restrictions to the Pell program that began this summer affected him tremendously, as he had to pay out of pocket for his summer classes. He said he felt Obama would better protect the Pell program.
Lily Barragree, 18, cast her first presidential ballot for Obama. The JSU student from Arab voted for the president, she said, “because I feel like if Romney gets in, women are screwed. I’m pro-choice, and I believe we should be able to do what they want with their bodies.”
— Paige Rentz
Oxford Public Library
Paul Bright said he never lets anyone know who he votes for. Not even his wife.
“That’s personal,” said Bright, an Army veteran and retiree from Anniston Army Depot. “It’s a secret ballot.”
Tight-lipped about his intentions, Bright is the kind of person who befuddles pollsters. But while he’s not willing to commit to an answer publicly, Bright maintained that he’s never been an “undecided.”
“Oh, I’m decided,” he said. “I know what matters.”
Even so, Bright acknowledged that he did sometimes have trouble making sense out of the 12 state amendments on the ballot.
“It’s really confusing,” he said. “I just do the best I can.”
Dee Hubbard said she was undecided on the presidential race until the first debate. Then she chose Romney.
“He seemed like he was more of a family man,” she said. “They’ve been trying to put him in the light of a businessman, but he’s a family man.”
— Tim Lockette
Betta View Hills Church of Christ, Oxford
Coldwater resident Donna Grizzard said it was Mitt Romney’s candidacy that got her out to vote. Asked why, she mostly talked about Romney’s opponent.
“I just want Obama out,” she said. With four years to bring the economy back., Obama hasn’t made much progress.
Andy and Dana Pugsley came out to vote for the sitting president, even though they knew their vote was likely to make no dent in the electoral college count.
“I knew that when I moved here,” said Andy Pugsley, who moved to Oxford from Long Island, N.Y. two years ago. “I understand that this is the Bible Belt and people here have3 different opinions than people in other parts of the country. I’m okay with that. It’s what makes this country great.”
Andy Pugsley said he voted for Obama because “of the two, he’s made the best choices.”
The Pugsleys didn’t vote on most of the amendments on the ballot, saying they hand’t lived in the state long enough to understand the issues behind them. But both marked “yes” on Amendment 1, the re-approval of Forever Wild.
“That was easy,” Andy Pugsley said. “Putting land aside for animals – that was the only one that was easy.”
— Tim Lockette