At the polls, passion prevails


There's nothing like the solemnity of Election Day to bring out the thoughtfulness in people.

That was the prevailing feeling I took away from numerous interviews at several polling sites around the valley.

But one conversation was downright hair-raising.

While attempting to interview two local voters outside Cadwallader Middle School, we were interrupted by a downright aggressive canvasser who sought to influence us.

Not to vote, but to patronize a nearby cosmetic hair removal business.

The cards she distributed were good for free nose and ear hair removal for men and a discount waxing for women.

Economy?

Overrated.

Health care debate?

Never mind.

Suddenly, all political questions were reduced to trivia and replaced by thoughts of discount leg-waxing and manscaping.

POSSIBLE ALIAS: At Cadwallader, I approached a couple who had just voted. When I identified myself, I received an immediate laugh from Andrea Chadwick and her friend ... John Smith.

Although the economy is chief on their list of issues, Smith adds, "I'm sick of all the attack ads and phone calls on both sides. I don't care if they're Democrat or Republican. They're ridiculous. They keep calling and calling."

Couldn't agree more with Mr. Smith.

NO ENDORSEMENT: While some voters were highly motivated to get to the polls and support their favorite candidate for president, Rebekah Velasquez wasn't one of them.

Outside Arbor View High, she said, "There's a lot of countries that don't have that right (to vote). I think to not vote is taking that for granted. I feel like it's my responsibility. If we're not happy with something, we need to make a change. … It's hard. I don't really like either one, but I guess you have to vote for the lesser of two evils."

I can't quite imagine either candidate saying, "I'm the lesser of two evils, and I approve this message."

STILL WAITING: Local political and animal rights activist Gina Greisen says she is still waiting for an answer from the secretary of state's office. Greisen filed a complaint alleging voter registration fraud in late September with the secretary of state's office after witnessing a canvasser associated with controversial Strategic Allied Consulting repeatedly mislead a voter. Strategic, which has generated millions from the Republican National Committee, has been linked to voter registration problems in several states.

EXIT POLL: Some ill-informed election officials at Twin Lakes Elementary this morning tried unsuccessfully to remove me from the polling place. Perhaps they feared I would frighten away voters. I decided not to go. Veteran Nevada journalist Kent Harper of the Mesquite Local News experienced a similar problem outside an early voting place in that rural community.

TOUCH SCREENS: As poll volunteers prepared for the late-afternoon rush at Arbor View High, team leader Celeste Herrera said approximately 800 votes had been cast by 3 p.m., and almost all had gone off without a hitch.

The exception was one voter who just couldn't get the hang of the touch screen on the voting machine. Herrera speculated that most of the so-called "malfunctions" of the machines are actually because of folks using too heavy or too light a touch on the screens. At Arbor View, the issue was resolved by using the eraser end of a No. 2 pencil.

While it's only anecdotal, multiple polling places appeared to have a higher than average number of locals attempting to vote only to find that their registrations either had been lost or hadn't yet been processed in time for them to cast a standard ballot. In such cases, they were allowed to cast provisional ballots.

LIBERAL REPUBLICAN: Just when you think you have the political parties figured out, along comes local teacher Alan Cummings with a history lesson. Cummings describes himself as a longtime registered Republican, but that's not the way he voted this time.

What motivated Cummings to vote this year?

"In one word: fear," he said outside Rhodes Elementary. "I never felt that way prior to an election before, that the future of our country is at stake. I've never seen ... totally opposed viewpoints of how to run the country. ... I was a lifelong Republican before I realized they were no longer the liberal party. It was very socially progressive. They were the ones who started the national park system, gave women the right to vote. Democrats were opposed to it. They freed the slaves."

CONSERVATIVE VIEW: For Jeremy Reed, the decision of whom to vote for president was a simple matter. The answer was Mitt Romney.

"Honestly, it's because I do not want to see President Obama elected again," Reed said emphatically. "There's not really anything that I agree with him on. Just about everything he's done" has been wrong.

R-J ENDORSEMENT: Never let it be said that a Review-Journal endorsement fails to motivate some voters.

One voter in particular appeared absolutely energized Tuesday afternoon outside Rhodes Elementary.

When I identified myself and my place of employment and asked for an interview, she replied, "No, you guys endorsed someone I don't care for."

Then she sprinted for her car.

John L. Smith's column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Email him at Smith@review journal.com or call 702-383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.

 

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