NASHUA, N.H. (Jan. 10, 2012) — As the morning bell sounded at Charlotte Avenue Elementary School in Nashua, N.H., teaching assistant Jean Marie Eckstein ushered in students and voters.
Eckstein, 53, cast her vote early in the morning before the school rush began. As a teacher, Eckstein said, she feels an obligation to vote. “We teach these young people to vote, so as teachers we have to set an example for them,” says Eckstein. “Getting students interested in politics is very important to me.”
One such young person is Eckstein’s step-son who traveled up from Rochester, N.Y., to work for Republican candidate Ron Paul the last few weeks. “He gets to count votes tonight after the election,” says Eckstein. “He’s so excited about it and I’m excited that he is so involved.”
Eckstein, a registered Republican who has lived in Nashua for 30 years, was not swayed by her step-son, and instead voted for Jon Huntsman. “I wanted to go with the underdog,” said Eckstein. “I think he has good experience and would be the best nominee.”
Just down the road at the Amherst Street School in Nashua, Walter Marcella cast his vote for for Massachussets Gov. Mitt Romey early this morning.
“I think Romney is most qualified to handle the economy and jobs,” said Marcella. “Those are the two biggest issues in America today, and that’s why I voted for him.”
Over the last week Marcella, 65, has worked to convince his friends and neighbors that Romney is most deserving of the nomination. “I encouraged everyone I know to go to Romney events,” said Marcella. “Most people told me they converted to Romney supporters after hearing him speak.
Marcella, a banker and registered Republican, has close ties to the Romney campaign. Marcella’s daughter-in-law works as a speech writer for Romney. For weeks now, Marcella said, he has seen his daughter-in-law put in long days often 12 hours or more.
“She’s in Manchester at Southern New Hampshire University right now,” says Marcella, “already working on what Romney will says after tonight’s victory.”
On the other side of the ballot, registered Democrat Tom Pappas, voted this morning for president Barack Obama.
“It’s my civic responsibility to come out and vote,” said Pappas. “In order for the democratic process to work people need to exercise their right to vote. I’ve never missed an election since I was 18.”
Pappas, 54, said he plans on voting for Obama next November. The candidate he is most worried about facing is Mitt Romney. “The economy is a big issue,” said Pappas. “Business is his sweet spot, so the bad economy could play well into his message.”
Pappas, an attorney who has lived in Nashua his whole life, says that even he’s a Democrat he went to see many of the Republican candidates speak over the last week. “It’s important to go see candidates from both sides,” said Pappas. “I want to know what everyone’s positions are even if I know I’m not going to support them.”
Pappas brought his nine-year old son Kyle to the polls this morning. Voting, he said, is a community event in New Hampshire. “Every time I vote I see a dozen people from around the neighborhood that I know,” Pappas said. “We take voting very seriously in New Hampshire and everyone wants to participate.”
(Ben Klein, a senior with dual majors in magazine journalism and political science at Syracuse University, is covering the New Hampshire primary for The Saratogian.)