David Smith was doing double-duty outside the Sanford Civic Center in Sanford, Fla. He was there not only as a voter but also as a candidate. He is running as a Republican for the Florida State Legislature in District 28. Despite his party affiliation, he said it did not affect his vote.
“I voted based on the candidates and their positions, mostly,” Smith said as a voter, not as a candidate. Smith also took the time to explain, in his view, how the country works. “They should work with [Trump],” said Smith, a retired Marine colonel. “Those are the checks and balances put into our Constitution by our founding fathers. Between the executive branch and the legislative branch they have an obligation to move the country forward.”
Smith is a fan of President Trump. “He’s doing a great job,” Smith said. “I hope he keeps it up. He has my full support.”
Carlos Garza said he hoped the election would help restore order to Washington.
“It’s a shambles right now,” said Garza, 51, after voting in South Texas.
Garza of Weslaco, Texas, works at a car dealership. He isn’t registered with a political party but identifies with Democrats. He said the Senate race was important to him, although he sees both Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz as “good candidates.”
Jonathan Evans, a wildlife removal specialist in Fayetteville, Ga., said President Trump had not affected his vote. A registered Republican, he was voting for Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate in Georgia’s gubernatorial race, in spite of his feelings about Trump.
“I’m upset with Trump,” said Evans, 24, a conservationist who studied wildlife biology and opposes the Trump administration’s environmental and conservation policies. He did not vote for a presidential candidate in the 2016 election.
“He’s doing a good job with the economy, but he’s not helping the environment,” he said of Trump, citing the administration’s plan to strip the Endangered Species Act of key provisions enacted nearly half a century ago to keep plants and animal species from going extinct.
Gloria Coleman was talking to friends, having voted at the Sanford Civic Center, three blocks from the county courthouse. Sanford, Fla., is more known lately as where George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. It’s a racially mixed city that is 60% white and 32% black. Coleman admits to coming to the polls because of President Trump.
“Yes, yes and yes because of some of his policies and some of his prior doings,” Coleman said when asked if Trump influenced her to vote. “I’m just not with it. I think we need a change.”
But Coleman does not have the all or nothing attitude of some voters.
Firefighter Brice Reiner makes his way past voters as he arrives for his shift at Orange County Fire Station No. 32 in Yorba Linda. The firehouse was performing double duty Tuesday as a polling station. More photos: America goes to the polls
For Jose Humberto Espejo, this election is about standing up for democratic principles.
“We want liberty, us Latinos. We have the freedom to vote for who we want,” Espejo, 70, said in Spanish as he left a South Texas polling place with his wife Tuesday morning. “We came to send a message that we are all immigrants in this country.”
Espejo was born outside Guadalajara and came to the U.S. as a migrant worker, tending fields in Central California and Texas. He settled in McAllen, Texas, and in 2000 became a citizen.
Voter turnout in Los Angeles County will remain unclear immediately after the elections because of the rising number of mail-in ballots.
The rise in voting by mail has made it much tougher for local governments to calculate voter turnout. That challenge is magnified in places such as Los Angeles County, where a majority of votes could be cast by mail in this election.
As such, it takes more time.
The nation's most populous county is home to more than 5.2 million registered voters. And of those, about 42% are permanent vote-by-mail voters.