AUSTIN, Texas — There’s been talk of deep red conservative Texas going “purple” sometime soon, but this pocket of the Lone Star state is far from being a swing state.
In liberal central Austin, next to the imported Mexican soft drinks and the taqueria at the entrance, voters lined up on Tuesday to cast their ballots at the Fiesta supermarket, waiting patiently.
It was a stark contrast to the way elections are done in Israel, where everyone gets the day off, congregating at the polling booths in mainly large high schools before heading off to spend time with family or friends. One can only imagine what would happen if Israelis could vote at a Shufersal or Super-pharm, imploring strangers behind them or ahead of them to “guard their spot” while they wandered the store to pick up items before making their way back to have a heated argument with newcomers to the line about who was ahead of whom.
But here at Fiesta, Austinites looked sober, if somber, standing in an orderly line that snaked all the way outside the store and into the parking lot, not a food or drink item among them.
Signs surrounding the entrance warned that “electioneering or loitering” was not allowed within 100 feet of the polling place. Which may or may not have deterred any supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, called upon to “monitor the polls” amid his unfounded and unsubstantiated claims of a “rigged election.”
In any case, none was out there. But Hillary Clinton voters were.
“This vote is about what’s right and she’s the better man for the job,” Donna Marco, an Austinite by way of New Orleans in her fifties told the Times of Israel
“Trump is ignorant about how to run the country,” Marco said, adding that she was “scared to death” that the controversial real estate mogul may soon be commander-in-chief. “I’ve never been scared before [in an election], but he sounds not well,” Marco said.
Melinda Parr, 32, echoed that fear, explaining that the stakes were higher this time around.
“I think [there’s] greater risk than in other elections. Other times, the other guys could have done things in policy differently, but they wouldn’t start World War III. Trump is a volatile person,” she warned.
She also added a caveat voiced by many who are supporting Clinton in order to stop the rise of Trump. “I don’t think she’s the best option, and I wish it was different, but you have to consider the alternative,” she said.
At the city hall in Hutto, a largely more conservative Austin suburb just north of the city, a number of voters who described themselves as Republican could not bring themselves to vote for Trump.
Hutto native Zach Mateer, 32, said he’s “usually a Republican,” but would vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson.
“The whole process is disgusting to me and the two party system is antiquated and tears people apart,” Mateer said, adding that he disapproves of the candidate his usual party nominated.
“Trump doesn’t exemplify leadership to me, especially how he talks about other nationalities,” Mateer said, though he wasn’t too hot on Clinton either, who he described as a career politician too embedded in the system.
Daniel Demara, a 29-year-old Marine Corps veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he’d vote Libertarian as well.
“I enjoy my firearms so I can’t vote Democrat, but I feel the Republicans on social policy can be too conservative,” he said.
Demara echoed the general feeling of displeasure with both major party candidates, adding that for him, Clinton’s email scandal was no small thing.
“I’m a military guy and I know how dangerous classified material is,” he said, raising doubt that Clinton didn’t know the correspondence was sensitive and criticizing her carelessness.
One Clinton voter took special issue with Trump’s outreach to African-Americans voters.
“He said we have nothing to lose. That’s so far from the truth. We’re not all poor or live in the inner city,” said S. Guillery, a 35-year-old African-American oil and gas worker originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Guillery wore a black t-shirt with Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous quote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and said that while “it’s relevant every day,” he felt a special desire to wear the shirt for election day this time around.
“Both parties are total opposites and there’s scandals on both ends, but I can relate better to Hillary than Trump,” he said.
For Hutto couple Michael and Gail Walters, it was time for this election to be over already. Both said they were sick and tired of a divisive, nasty, and drawn-out campaign, something that they said they couldn’t remember from any election before.
“This time around it’s not, I’m voting for this guy or for that guy, it’s I’m voting because I hate the other guy,” Michael, a military veteran said.
Gail said in previous elections, she saw many more signs on front lawns, but that this time around, she thinks people seem embarrassed to say who they’re voting for. Dejected, she said she thinks the whole world “sees this election and is making fun of our country.”
Neither would declare who they’re voting for, but both were clear as day with their desire that the day pass without incident. “I’m just hoping it’s peaceful,” Gail said.