Voters line up early on election day
North Texas voters got out early and braved a dreary, rainy morning to get to the polls Tuesday, as the most contentious election in anyone’s memory finally neared an end.
A line was forming before the polls even opened at 7 a.m. at the Northpark YMCA in north Fort Worth, Precinct 3552, which has the most registered voters in Tarrant County.
"I'm nervous, mostly for tonight,” said Allison Donahue, 31, of Fort Worth, at the Y. “Both candidates have had negative connotations with them but I know there has to be a selection so really I'm just anxious about the next 4 years."
I'm just glad after tonight we can stop hearing about it.
Voter Jonathan Mendoza, Fort Worth
North Fort Worth
About 40 people were in line as the polls opened, with a steady flow of voters going in and out, rushing off to school or work as they left.
"I was looking forward to today and now I'm relieved that I have it under my belt,” said Vallete Harris, 53, of Fort Worth as she left. “I feel like I participated in a major, historical event going on. I hope that whoever wins can bring us together."
Jonathan Mendoza, 30, also of Fort Worth, is a supporter of Republican candidate Donald Trump. He expressed the thoughts of many: "I would say I'm relieved more than anything else. I'm just glad after tonight we can stop hearing about it."
Quentoya Sahaw, 28, cast an unusual ballot at All Saints Catholic Church in north Fort Worth. "I wrote in a vote for Bernie Sanders. Hillary is just not my cup of tea and Trump isn't either."
She said Clinton hasn’t supported African-Americans enough to suit her. In the end, she voted her conscience by voting for Sanders.
"He just seemed very sincere. He seemed for the people.”
Aracely Beltran, 56, has been a U.S. citizen more than 20 years, but Tuesday marked her first time to vote in the U.S. She came to Fort Worth 36 years ago as an immigrant from Monterrey, Mexico, and said she voted with "an immigrant heart."
The mother of a 20-year-old U.S. serviceman, Beltran said her support for Clinton brought her to the polls.
"I feel excited. I feel happy. I think Hillary Clinton will be a good president for Hispanics, she said after voting at the Family Resource Center on the North Side of Fort Worth.
"I started to dislike Trump ever since he said he would build a wall," she said.
Jose Reyes, 49, voted at Diamond Hill Jarvis branch library. He said he’s been a citizen for eight years and voted for the first time because of Donald Trump's disrespect for immigrants.
"This man is humiliating us," said Reyes, a fork lift operator.
West Fort Worth
The Rev. Joseph Powell of the Greater Rising Baptist Church in Como voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton.
But in explaining his vote, he didn't name all the grievances that many African-Americans and other minorities have against Trump. Powell simply said that Clinton holds a significant edge in experience to be leader of the free world.
"I believe in my heart she can run the country,” said Powell, 70. "It's more than just money. You have to understand other countries.”
Powell said Clinton is not without her faults, but he believes it is her time to lead.
"She will make up for her mistakes by being president."
Adam Powell, 56, and his wife, Sue, didn't want to divulge who they voted for as they walked out of the John Peter Smith Health Center/Viola M. Pitts polling place hand-in-hand Tuesday morning.
The Fort Worth couple just seemed glad to be done with what both deemed the most contentious and upsetting presidential campaign of their lifetimes.
"It's been terrible, it's been horrible, the worst I've ever seen," Adam said. "The bad-mouthing at each other, throwing darts at one another. Whichever way it goes, it's in the hands of God now."
— Jeff Caplan
Southeast Fort Worth
At Precinct 1104, Bradley Center in Fort Worth, where the most Tarrant County voters went for Clinton in the primary, at least one voter was thrilled to be finally at the polls.
With a huge smile on her face, Crystal Mayoyo, 37, of Fort Worth said, "I feel good, no, great! I was anxious but I just wanted to get my voice heard. I support her [Hillary Clinton’s] moral values and ethics and of course I wouldn't mind seeing a woman become president."
Clinton supporter Thomas Moore, 56, of Fort Worth urged fellow voters not to forget about the rest of the ballot: “This is the presidential election and that's important but what a lot of people forget is that there are a lot of other initiatives and places on the ballot that are important and if you truly want to change the system it has to start there."
Kriston Royal, 20, of Fort Worth is a first-time voter, a new mother and a college student who is passionate about young people’s voices being heard: "Truly, they are both rocky candidates but I think Hillary will do a better a job than Trump."
"I'm excited for a woman to become president, it's exactly what young girls need growing up. They need to see that they can be anything they want — even the president."
— Azia Branson
Most of the discussion outside Young Junior High in Arlington focused on whether voters should extend a city tax that would help build a new ballpark.
A handful of supporters and opponents set up next to each other, standing just beyond the 100-foot marker from the entrance to the polling place.
"We're on the verge of exploding in new economic development and we have to keep that engine moving forward," said John Hibbs, an Arlington school district trustee who supports a new stadium.
Not passing the proposal, Hibbs said, would mean losing the baseball team to another city.
Patrick Bussey, an opponent of the proposal, pointed out that the Rangers are still under contract with the current ballpark and that the city should work to negotiate a fairer deal.
"I'm against billionaires coming to us for our money," Bussey said. "Nobody wants to see the Rangers leave, but this deal is so one-sided and bad."
Bill Hanna, 41, voted for a new stadium.
"They'll probably stay either way, but for me, I can't stand going to a game after May. That's one reason. Two, it'll just bring more attraction to Arlington, with the Cowboys and the new restaurants in that area."
Shaniqua Holland, 26, voted against the proposal. She doesn't mind extending the current tax, but she doesn't see the need for a new stadium.
"The stadium we have now is great. It's excellent," she said. "It doesn't have the roof, but I don't think we should be spending millions of dollars to build a new one."
— Ryan Osborne
Millennials for Trump — Arlington
Julia Barnes, 18, and Alex Barnholdt, 18, both Dallas Baptist University from Arlington, voted for Trump at Young Junior High, Precinct No. 2226.
Barnes said she likes Trump's tough stance on immigration. Barnholdt said Trump would bring an outsider's viewpoint to Washington D.C.
Both first-time voters believe there are more younger Trump supporters who have been silent leading up to Election Day.
As for Trump's controversial campaign, Barnholdt said the candidate's comments shouldn't affect his ability to be president.
"All they really have on him is that he's said some bad things in his past," Barnholdt said. "But for being a billionaire, and not having to worry about anything, and that's worst they have on him? I'd rather have that than criminal acts committed on the other side."
— Ryan Osborne
At Colleyville’s Precinct 3331, where Trump received the most Tarrant County votes in the primary, David Medlin, 57, continued the trend.
"I voted for Trump,” he said. “Had to hold my nose while I did it, though. It was mostly an anti-Hillary vote ... I believe we're going to have major problems either way, whoever wins won't make it four years."
He added, "I think the political divide is going to continue. The country is divided — we are deeply divided — it will not heal by this election, unfortunately."
Brigett Callihan, 37, of Colleyville said she also voted for Trump, though she was still nervous after voting.
"I don't think I'll feel any relief until the results are announced tonight,” she said. "Trump was not my first choice but he's definitely better than what the Democrats are doing. I didn't expect him to make it this far but he's still the better candidate for our welfare and our kids' future."
She blamed social media for the nastiness surrounding the election this year. "Social media has made it easier to be argumentative than face-to-face. There's more ugliness in campaigns now than before," she said.
— Mark Smith
Byron Walker, 50, in Keller said he voted for Clinton because of her running mate, Tim Kaine.
"Kaine is a different kind of politician. He's a straight shooter, more down to earth, thinks fiscally. Hopefully he'll help balance everyone out. They won't be able to keep him quiet."
But, he said, "I love the frankness of Donald Trump. He's not afraid to be who he is ... I could've voted for him if he could've shown a little more character instead of being a character."
Vietnam veteran Tom McKeown, 69, also of Keller, said he voted for Trump.
"Actually, I voted for America ... Both parties have failed us. Trump and Pence are not a traditional ticket, they're almost independent. It brings in Trump with new ideas and good business experience, and Pence with solid government experience ... He's more trustworthy than she is."
Michael Richardson, 30, of Mansfield said he thinks Donald Trump is a recipe for catastrophe, but the lifelong Republican also couldn’t bring himself to vote for Hillary Clinton, whom he deems wholly untrustworthy.
So Richardson, conflicted, cast a vote for third-party candidate Gary Johnson Tuesday afternoon at Mansfield's Brooks Wester Elementary School.
"It's ridiculous that Trump has gotten this far, but you can't trust her," Richardson said. "The potential for catastrophe is so high with him. I don't think he could make it through four years without getting impeached."
-- Jeff Caplan
Election has it all
This year’s election had just about everything in it — concerns of Russians hacking U.S. election systems, an old, lewd video where a presidential candidate talked about groping women, emails from another presidential candidate that were reviewed twice by the FBI, even allegations that the election is “rigged.”
American voters tuned in like never before to three debates; terms such as “bad hombre” and “nasty woman” quickly became social media catch phrases; and the highlight for some political fans was watching Saturday Night Live to see how each candidate was portrayed.
In a year in which Donald Trump said he believes Hillary Clinton belongs in jail and Hillary Clinton charged that Trump won’t release his tax returns because they’ll show how he avoided paying millions of dollars in taxes, everyone had an opinion.
But as the election wove itself into nearly every facet of people’s lives, so did election stress.
Newspaper headlines blared the latest update; TV and radio news broadcast continuing developments. An overload of political stories posted on Facebook prompted “friends” to defriend others and call for a cease-fire on political posts.
The Justice Department plans to send more than 500 workers from the Civil Rights Division to 28 states to monitor elections and protect the rights of voters. While they will head to three Texas counties, they won’t be in Tarrant. Federal monitors will be on the ground in Dallas, Harris and Waller counties.
They stressed any complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws may be called in to their hotline, at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767, faxed to 202-307-3961, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or submitted through a complaint form on the DOJ website at www.justice.gov/crt/votercomplaint.
— Anna Tinsley
Compiled by Judy Wiley