Virginia gave Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump victories in the state's primary Tuesday. (Results here.) Voters expressed excitement, fear, and civic duty -- and some brought the kids along -- for Virginia's open primary election, part of Super Tuesday voting. WMRA's Christopher Clymer Kurtz, Jessie Knadler, and Emily Richardson-Lorente talked with polling officials and voters to get a sense of turnout, and of what's on voters' minds this election season.
At a polling station Tuesday morning near Linville, just off Route 42 a few miles north of Harrisonburg, the stream of voters was looking pretty typical for a primary election. Here's Christopher's report:
Edom Precinct District 2 Chief Mary Sue McDonald said that four of the precinct’s over 2,000 active registered voters were waiting and ready when the doors opened at 6:00. By 6:30, eleven Republican and seven Democrat ballots had been cast.
MARY SUE MCDONALD: It’s already been steady. This area will provide good voter turnout.
One early morning voter was Jerry Holsopple, a professor at Eastern Mennonite University. He doesn’t always vote in primaries, but felt that this was an important one.
JERRY HOLSOPPLE: We have a great diversity in our country that we could value and lift up, or we can decide we don't want to be diverse.
Fred Eberly, District 2 Supervisor for the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors was there, too. He said that this election
FRED EBERLY: It has interesting players and a lot of 'em aren't acceptable.
Broadway High School history teacher Jennifer Ennis brought her two children, Madison and Jordan, along with her, as is her tradition.
JENNIFER ENNIS: I'm just really excited that a lot of people are passionate about the primaries this year.
Jessie Knadler has this report from the Lexington area:
The scene outside Faith Mountain Baptist Church – one of the polling places in predominantly Republican Rockbridge County – is pretty subdued. Eight or nine cars line the gravel driveway with more vehicles trickling in sporadically. Two of the vehicles have rebel flag bumper stickers on them.
ELEANOR DORSEY: We’ve had a pretty good turnout today. It’s pretty steady.
Eleanor Dorsey is the chief of this precinct, which has about 800 registered voters. It’s the first time she’s overseen an open primary, and she’s not sure whether voters are showing up to vote Democrat or Republican.
DORSEY: We won’t know that until tonight.
This is the first primary Patrick Wonsul has been able to participate in due to his absentee status as a member of the military. He had wanted to vote for Rand Paul. Wonsul’s big issue?
PATRICK WONSUL: Fiscal security of the U.S. government. My preferred candidate already dropped out I’ve been at a loss for who to vote for and just the chaos that’s ensued.
For Maggie Debbies, her main sticking point is right to life.
MAGGIE DEBBIES: I feel we must support everyone who is in a crisis pregnancy and we must support them through that pregnancy and afterward. Still the issue of life is a great, great, huge issue.
She wouldn’t tell me who she voted for and neither would voter Thomas Gritzmacher.
THOMAS GRITZMACHER: I’m a citizen. It’s my job to vote.
But he would say what ranks highest on his list of national priorities.
GRITZMACHER: National security. ISIS and all the other radical, fanatical Islamic groups out there are a total threat to Western civilization and to all human beings who do not adhere to their beliefs.
And, Emily Richardson-Lorente filed this report from Charlottesville Tuesday afternoon.
The playground at Woodbrook Elementary in Charlottesville is hopping with kids. It’s election day, so school’s out, and six-year old Katie Metz is proudly sporting an “I Voted” sticker. Although she didn’t really. Her dad Josh did, though.
JOSH METZ: I feel fairly confident about the choice I made, I’m more worried about the choice others will make. (laughing). I identify as a moderate conservative, but there’s absolutely no viable conservative candidate this year.
So, rather than sit out the vote, this registered Republican voted for … Bernie Sanders.
METZ: I felt that it was more important to lend my support to a strong Democratic candidate than against a bad Republican candidate.
There’s no easy way to tell how many voters here may be flipping sides, but we can tell how many asked for Democratic ballots versus Republican ones.
FLOYD: I’d say it’s about fifty-fifty.
Floyd is the election chief here.
FLOYD: Turnout so far has been moderate to heavy … I think it’s going to be a pretty good day.
Mara and Derrick Frazier are here voting with their four-month old baby.
MARA FRAZIER: I’ve been a Hillary supporter for years, even when she was running against Obama…
DERRICK FRAZIER: She’s got good experience, good resume, not exciting like maybe with President Obama, but she’ll definitely make a good president, I think.
EMILY: What do you think of the Republican choices?
MARA: Absolute joke, every single one of them. They’re just a bunch of buffoons up there. It’s very difficult to watch their debates.
Republican Ray Codell has actually met Donald Trump a few times, but he decided to vote for John Kasich, anyway.
CODELL: Of all of them, he’s the one standing the most above the fray.
And, this extra report from Emily....
Here at the Woodbrook Elementary polling station, it’s not hard to find first time voters. In fact, every time an 18-year old votes, the guy scanning the ballots yells “We have a first time voter!” (I wasn’t allowed to record that, though.)
SAM DENIM: My name is Sam Denim and I’m 18.
EMILY: This is your first election?
DENIM: Yeah, first election.
EMILY: How are you feeling about it?
DENIM: I feel pretty good. I voted for Bernie Sanders, he’s definitely the best candidate. I’ve watched the debates and there’s a lot of yelling going on in the Republican debate (laughing).
SADIE KELLY: My name is Sadie Kelly.
Sadie Kelly is a first-time voter, as well. She voted for Bernie, too.
KELLY: He absolutely has the most integrity out of all of the candidates by far.
EMILY: Can I ask what you think about the Republican ticket?
Ted Cruz has a lot of potential.
EMILY: You think Ted Cruz has potential but you’re voting for Bernie Sanders.
KELLY: Yes absolutely. Yeah (laughing). There’s no blue or red. It’s all politics.
Now if you think this is a story about how all 18-year-olds are voting for Bernie Sanders….
JOSH OLIVER: I’m a Democrat, but I voted Republican because I don’t want Trump to win.
Josh Oliver is voting for the first time, but he’s making a pretty sophisticated calculation.
OLIVER: You know, I don’t think the Democratic primary’s going to be too much of a competition, so I figured vote for the one that’s actually going to be a lot closer, so.
EMILY: So, you switched to a Republican ballot?
OLIVER: I voted for Jon Kasich.