TRAVERSE CITY -- Voters across the Grand Traverse region packed polling sites, stood patiently in serpentine lines, and through their many voices offered a local snapshot of the nation’s deep political divide.
Suttons Bay resident Chuck Beyer opted for President Barack Obama over Republican nominee Mitt Romney, but expressed thoughts shared by many voters.
“I don’t like either candidate,” said Beyer, 51. “Give me a candidate that supports the second amendment, is pro-choice and believes in fiscal responsibility. I’m going to vote for Obama because he’s the least dangerous to my beliefs.
“Although I’m typically quite conservative, I don’t like the Republican party this time. They’ve gone too far to the right and they’re going to follow party line,” Beyer said.
Michael McKinney said the presidential race and its implications for the economy were at the top of his mind when he voted at the Civic Center in Traverse City.
McKinney, former pawnshop owner, said he thought the election came down to choosing between two diverse economic paths.
“The Democrats and Republicans are so different about what makes the economy run,” he said.
McKinney ultimately sided with Romney.
“I voted Republican this time,” McKinney said. “I think the Republicans are the party that will put us back to work.”
Traverse City resident Jenny Olney strongly supported Obama.
“I’m for saving the planet,” she said. “I don’t think letting the rich people stay rich and the poor people stay poor helps things.”
Romney had a strong showing in East Bay Township.
“He shares my values,” said DeeAnne Graczyk, 39. “We need to take this country back. We’re going in the wrong direction.”
Tony Miliusis, 64, also supported Romney.
“I voted in general for more conservative values,” he said. “I think our government spends too much money.”
Robert Rienas, 62, opted for a straight Democrat ticket.
“I don’t trust anybody who only pays 15 percent income tax and won’t divulge his income tax records,” he said.
Randi Knapp, of Beulah, brought her two sons, Peyton, 3, and Johnathan, 8 months, to the voting booth with her. Knapp said she thought it neat that Peyton was born the year Obama was elected, and the family saved for Peyton magazines that documented Obama’s election.
Leroy Ely, of Honor, voted because, “It’s our duty. If you don’t, who’s to say what could happen.”
Lisa Ault, a wine consultant who voted at Eastern Elementary in Traverse City, said her vote was for Obama.
“Women’s health care issues are on my mind. I feel that contraception should be more accessible and shouldn’t be harder to get."
Voting at Benzie County’s Homestead Township was particularly special for Tim and Kathy Smith because they also brought their special needs niece, Katelyn Smith, 23, to vote.
Katelyn Smith is borderline mentally disabled and participates regularly in Special Olympics in northern Michigan. She said, “It feels good,” to vote.
“It feels great,” Kathy Smith added. “People with special needs have a right to make a choice, too.”
Jeff Challender, 50, a truck driver, doesn’t care for Obama’s policies.
“I just don’t think the country has been going in the right direction for the last four years,” said Challender, who said he usually votes Republican. “I don’t like the way health care was pushed through.”
“I don’t think Obama’s done a good job, I don’t think he deserves another term,” agreed Lynn Starkey, of Acme Township. “We need to get small business moving, that will get the economy moving.”