Voters’ Voices: Portsmouth, N.H.


PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (Jan.10 2012)—On the state’s seacoast, voters on Tuesday celebrated their special role in presidential politics at the voting booth.

At the Robert J. Lister Academy polling place,  Linda DiBernardo, 67, was out with her husband Ralph DiBernardo, 68, a retired deputy fire chief, to support President Barack Obama. The couple recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They came out, they said, to be sure the Democrats had a voice and the primary would not be just about the Republicans.

“We’re concerned for the future of our country,” Ralph DiBernardo said.

At New Franklin School polling place, Norm Olsen, 59, cast his vote for Republican Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts.  Olsen is in the software business. After voting, he stood out in the bitter cold to encourage others to do the same. “What we need in the White House is someone who understands the economy and how business works,” he said.  “And that’s why I’m holding a Romney sign.”

His biggest concern is the economy. He is very discouraged with Obama. “I think that the things that he said he was going to do he hasn’t done,” he said.  “And the economy, most importantly, hasn’t improved.”

To be a voter in New Hampshire is a unique experience, Olsen said, and he really enjoys the engaging electoral process.  “The chance for candidates to make their mark with some personal retail campaigning,” he said, “in my opinion, is really important.”

Also at New Franklin School polling place, John Evans, a retired lawyer and Episcopal priest, was looking forward to voting for Jon Huntsman. “What brings me here is my enthusiasm to see change in Washington,” he said.

Evans, 72, was born in Chicago but fell in love with Portsmouth and has been a resident since 2006. “I never lived in a small state like New Hampshire and the intense personal involvement is perfectly incredible,” he said. “It’s a small state but it has a big impact because of that.”

Ronan Donohoe, a retired high school teacher , described  himself as a “stalwart”  for Obama. “The Republican cast of characters are just so deplorable,” he said, “so it’s necessary to get the Obama campaign rolling now.” He added, “If good people don’t do it, the bad ones will, he said. “So you’ve got to get in and take those places.”

Another Obama supporter out on Tuesday was Joshua Denton, 30. He’s a veteran of the Iraq war and is using the GI bill to attend the University of New Hampshire School of Law.
“’m here in support of President Barack Obama,” he said, “because I believe in getting him elected and I believe in him to stand up in support of our country.”

Debra Richards, a retired floral designer, was thrilled at the prospect of casting her vote.  Richards, 79, excitedly pranced down the steps of the New Franklin School moments after casting her vote for Romney. Richards calls voting a responsibility.  “How can we complain about things if we don’t express ourselves in voting?” she said.

“I do love to vote, I really really do,” Richard said.  “I love it even though I’m probably not making a bit of difference. I would never miss voting.”

(Sistina Giordano, a graduate student in the magazine, newspaper and online journalism program at Syracuse University, is covering the New Hampshire primary for The Citizen of Auburn, N.Y.)


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