The votes are in: Manatee County is ready for this election to be over.
Half of county voters submitted their ballots during the early voting, but hundreds of voters lined up early at the 70 polling locations across the county Tuesday to make sure their voices were heard.
“I’m just happy it’s over already because there’s so much propaganda going on,” said voter Lydia Torres, adding that she did a lot of research.
Torres voted for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday at G.T. Bray Park because she said she wasn’t a fan of early voting.
“I feel more comfortable doing it the same day,” she said.
At the Manatee River Garden Club, Cathy Runkle cast her ballot for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“I didn’t vote early because I just don’t trust what’s going to happen to the ballot, so I wanted to wait until the day,” Runkle said.
Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett assured that votes cast Tuesday and during early voting would matter.
“It’s really a shame that people feel that way,” Bennett said. “You always hear ‘the elections are rigged’ and we do a good job of rigging them. We hire the right people to rig it the way that the vote will come out right.”
Jermaine Christmas, 43, said he didn’t have to wait in line at the Braden River Library when he voted just before 1 p.m. For him, the presidential race was important.
“You got two candidates, neither one is great, but you’ve got to pick what’s best for the country,” Christmas said
Barbara MacDonald didn’t approve of early voting and voted on Election Day as she has for years.
“My feeling is you should vote on Election Day and only if you are incapacitated should you use mail-in vote,” MacDonald said. “We all saw what can happen in a week.”
Just after 2 p.m. at the Elks Lodge off 75th Street West in Bradenton, 869 people had voted Tuesday, according to the precinct clerk Kathleen Vandergrift.
“We had a lot this morning and steady ever since,” she said.
Bradenton resident David Tartaglia, the vice chairman of the Manatee County Libertarian Party, was campaigning for presidential candidate Gary Johnson and U.S. Senate candidate Paul Stanton outside the Elks Lodge on Tuesday afternoon.
“After this very contentious election, a lot of people are looking for a different choice,” said Tartaglia, 63.
On Tuesday, the Libertarians were “getting good reception,” he added.
“Had a few Trump people and a few Clinton people tell me on the way out and said ‘I picked your candidate’ so that makes us really happy,” he said. “People want change and you’re not going to get that voting for a Republican or a Democrat. We’re in it to win it this year or another year.”
Voting continues across the county until 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Many keep their vote private
Many did not want to reveal how they voted Tuesday, but Parrish resident Steven Johnson was an exception.
After he emerged from Faith Lutheran Church, 9608 U.S. 301 N. in Parrish, Johnson was comfortable sharing.
“Neither presidential candidate got my vote,” Johnson said. “I don’t think the main party choices represented America as a whole.”
Locally, Johnson voted “no” on the half-cent sales tax for public infrastructure.
“It will only give more money for mismanagement,” Johnson said. “I think the best way to handle infrastructure is not with the tax, but to replace the people who delegate the funds.”
Johnson was part of a strong voter turnout at Faith Lutheran, said voting clerk Fran Polovoy.
“By noon we had 450 vote, and 60 percent of our voters do early voting,” Polovoy said.
Great weather helped, Polovoy added.
“Four years ago it was raining on election day, and we had people standing outside with umbrellas,” Polovoy said.
Palmetto resident Shakila Crawford, who works in the kitchen at Manatee High School, voted for Hillary Clinton for president at the Palmetto Youth Center, 501 17th St. W., Palmetto.
“I think she will be a good president and I think she will win,” Crawford said around 1 p.m.. “I voted Democrat all the way.”
Willie Barton of Palmetto also voted for Clinton at the Palmetto Youth Center.
“She is the best qualified,” Barton said. “I also voted to extend the existing half-cent sales tax. I just thought it was the right thing to do.”
Lakewood Ranch turnout
In Lakewood Ranch, there was still plenty of politicking going on.
At the intersection of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Main Street near the Lakewood Ranch Town Hall precinct, Trump supporters were waving signs. Many drivers honked and waved in support.
Joe Carro, of Lakewood Ranch and Long Island, got tired of having his Trump signs ripped off his yard, he said. During the course of three weeks, at least two dozen signs had been torn down.
“That’s why I’m out here,” Carro said. “They’ve even ripped signs off my bike, or knocked it over.”
Carro said he intended to stay out until 7 p.m., when polls close.
Dale Gulden, of Bradenton, was not out in favor of any candidates, but instead at the polls in opposition of Amendment 1, a proposal to amend the state constitution.
“People who voted for it would think they are voting for solar power, but are actually dealing a harmful blow to the solar industry,” Gulden said. “It uses all the key words like consumer protection and subsidies.”