As the 2016 presidential election came to a head on Tuesday, Manatee County citizens made their voices heard in ballot boxes across the county.
The Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website reported a nearly 79 percent voter turnout with all 70 precincts reporting.
Manatee County fell strongly in favor of Republican candidate Donald Trump. Out of nearly 182,000 ballots cast, Trump had 101,622, or 56 percent, and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had 71,033, or 39 percent.
Most of Manatee County, 38 percent, voted by mail. Election Day voters were the next-largest category and early voters were the smallest group. Manatee County has 231,056 registered voters, according to the supervisor of elections.
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Disgusted, anxious and sad were some of the terms voters used to describe how the 2016 election season left them feeling. Few voters walked into the booth with vigor about voting for their candidate, whether it be for Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump or any of the third-party candidates.
For Megan Chlebina, stepping into the polling place at the American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24, 2000 75th St. W., on Tuesday was just something she feels she has to do as an American citizen.
“It’s my right,” Chlebina said. “And you can’t complain if you didn’t go out and vote.” Chlebina didn’t reveal who she voted for but expressed some ambivalence about the choices on her ballot.
“It’s been awful,” she said of the 2016 campaign season. “I’m ready for it to be over. It’s been pretty dirty. And it’s kind of sad that those are the two best primary candidates we could come up with in the U.S.”
The American Legion polling place opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday and voting clerk Sandy Spenner said the day began with a line of people waiting and turnout was steady since they opened the doors.
For Ann Rector, voting on Tuesday was something she needed to do for the sake of the country’s future.
“I think it’s a very dangerous time in the country’s history,” Rector said. “I voted for Trump because I think that he’s the most qualified to make big changes. I particularly like that he wants to strengthen the military.”
Greg Barger had a positive and painless voting experience. He didn’t disclose who he voted for specifically but alluded to the choice he made.
“Mainly to keep certain idiots out of office,” Barger said of his reason for voting. “That’s probably the politest way I can put that. Not that our choices were awesome this year, but given what we had, somebody’s just a little short-fused and I felt I definitely didn’t need to let that happen.”