Voters’ Voices: Portsmouth, N.H.


PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (Jan. 10, 2012) — A passion for civic duty drove many Portsmouth voters to the polls on Tuesday.

“I guess I have a strong belief in participation,” said Richard Winkler, 27, a marine engineer. The state having the first-in-the-nation primary was not his motivation for voting, he said. “I would be enthusiastic no matter what.”

With the temperature sitting at an unseasonably warm 32 degrees, Winkler was in a T-shirt and carrying a cup of coffee as he walked from his truck into his polling station at a local elementary school. He cast his vote for Ron Paul, Winkler said, because he agrees with nearly all of Paul’s views. But he has little faith his choice would win the day. “He’s weird and unelectable,” said Winkler. “That’s the truth.”

New Franklin School’s location just off Interstate-95 offers voters easy access and a place to park before they walk inside the small school’s basketball gymnasium to cast their vote in either the Republican or Democratic presidential primary.

The school represents Ward 1 of five in Portsmouth, a seacoast town of New Hampshire which shares a water border with Maine.

When Joanne Dowdell, 53, came out of the school after casting her ballot, she took over  a sign from a man supporting President Barack Obama . She refused to say whom she voted for.  She raised the sign higher. She looked down at her Obama button. She laughed. “You can guess,” she said.

In November, Dowdell will join Obama on the general-election ballot as a Democratic candidate for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.

At the North Church Parish House, voters walked by signs promoting several candidates. Across the street, Obama supporters waved their placards to encourage voters to  choose the president.

Lindsay Blakey, a 29-year-old bank manager originally from Concord, said she votes in every election.  “I feel like nobody will make a difference unless people vote,” Blakey said. “We’ll keep having the same people and the same ideas in office.”

Though Obama faces little opposition, Blakey said,  she voted for him to show support and because he deserves more time in office.

Blakey takes pride that New Hampshire helps narrow the filed of presidential candidates. She said,  “I like that we’re a small state that can play a huge role.”

(M.T. Elliott, a graduate student in the magazine, newspaper and online journalism program at Syracuse University, is covering the New Hampshire primary for the San Angelo Standard-Times.)


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