Manatee Republicans vote in presidential primary election today

MANATEE -- Business sense, Christian values, and beating Barack Obama were some of the factors Manatee voters considered as they penciled in their votes on Tuesday.

Marjorie Fleming voted at the Christ Episcopal Church on Manatee Avenue West.

“I’m not supposed to tell you,” Fleming said about sharing her vote. But later, she changed her mind and said she voted for Newt Gingrich. “We need someone that will stand up for Christian values.”

She drove away, a “God Bless America” plate displayed in the front of her car.

Jeffrey Smith voted for Mitt Romney at the G.T. Bray gymnasium.

“I think he probably is the most qualified to handle the problems,” he said, adding that he didn’t like Obama. “The thought of having ObamaCare is absolutely frightening to me. I don’t want to live in a socialist country.”

Steve Farbalaunux said he’d vote for “anybody but Barack Obama,” including his tennis shoes.

At the end, though, he chose Romney because of his business skills.

“This country is nothing but that, a business, and he is an effective businessman.”

“There’s really nobody that we can vote for in this election,” said Carol Munn, who voted at Emmanuel United Methodist Church on Cortez Road. She said the issues she was interested in, schools and providing more for law enforcement, were not addressed by the candidates.

“Federal government has been the way it’s been for ions,” she said.

That’s why she voted for Santorum.

“Rick Santorum is the kind of guy that we need up there,” Munn said. “He’s a down-to-earth kind of guy that’s not there for the money. He feels we need more importance than the people up there.”

Dr. Jeffrey Thompson, a Bradenton dentist, voted at the Christ Episcopal Church precinct this morning.

He voted for Romney.

"I think we need a businessman," Thompson said.

Top concerns for Thompson were education -- he is the father of four -- and healthcare, being a healthcare provider.

Also voting at Christ Episcopal Church was Ron Koval, who declined to say who he voted for.

"It's secret ballot," Koval said, but added that he voted for the candidate he thought would continue to the end of the election campaign and win the presidency.

Polls will be open until 7 p.m. at 117 polling places, according to Bob Sweat, Manatee’s supervisor of elections.

Commissioner Robin DiSabatino, anticipating a long county commission workshop meeting this morning, said she took advantage of early voting last week.

"It was a breeze," she said, adding, "My husband did it, too."

Early voting ended Saturday.

DiSabatino said she missed going to her regular voting place, Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, 7461 Prospect Road.

"I do like going to my precinct," she said. "I like to be involved."

About 1,100 poll workers are on the job.

Many Manatee County residents have already voted, either during early voting days that lasted through Jan. 28, or via absentee ballot.

About 2,211 voted early, and a little over 10,000 voters as of Monday had made their choice with an absentee ballot, Sweat said.

“We’re still getting those in, but right now, we have a little over 10,000,” he said late Monday.

“We’ll get more mail this afternoon, and twice tomorrow,” he added.

Absentee ballots must reach Sweat’s office by 7 p.m. tonight , so he urged voters who have an absentee ballot but have not yet turned it in to deliver it personally to the Manatee Supervisor of Elections office, 600 301 Blvd. W., Suite 118, Bradenton.

He advised voters not to drop an absentee ballot at their polling place.

Sweat also suggested people vote early.

“The best thing is to get up and get it over with, so you don’t run late into the afternoon,” he said. “The earlier the better.”

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