Voices of voters: What people say as they cast Super Tuesday ballots

By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Twelve states in all cast votes for presidential nominees on March 1, also known as Super Tuesday, the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests. Republicans are voting in 11 states, with 595 delegates at stake. Democrats are casting ballots in 11 states, too, plus American Samoa, with 865 delegates up for grabs.

Here’s a look at what some voters had to say as they went to the polls Tuesday:

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Sandi Garrett has never voted for a Democrat but says she would in November if Donald Trump locks up the Republican nomination — even if that means choosing Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday, the church employee from Dallas tried to make sure she doesn’t have to. She voted for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in the GOP primary because — as she put it — he was the least offensive choice.

“I’m very upset with the way the race is going and how people are listening to Trump and thinking that he could possibly be a decent president,” she said. “I just am floored that people that I’ve known all my life that are very conservative could think anything he’s saying could ring true.”

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Twin sisters Vivien and Gillian Gattie, both retired, 72 years old and originally from England, were less than thrilled at their options as they showed up to cast ballots at Boston City Hall.

“I’m so appalled at the choices,” said Gillian, an independent who voted for President Barack Obama twice, but chose a Republican, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, as a “protest vote” because she didn’t care for any Republican or Democrat this time around.

She said she would only vote for Hillary Clinton in November if it came down to a contest between her and Donald Trump.

Vivien, a registered Democrat who also voted for Obama in the last two presidential elections, cast her ballot for Clinton, though reluctantly.

“I voted for her because I think she can win,” she said. “I can’t get excited for Bernie Sanders.”

Like her sister, Vivien said she has concerns about Clinton.

“I really don’t care for her much. I don’t trust her,” Vivien said. “But I think she’s qualified — the most qualified of the candidates.”

Gillian agreed, adding that Clinton’s record as secretary of state and the controversy over her use of personal email for official business blemished her trustworthiness.

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Jon Russell said he prefers U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont but voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.

“I believe a lot of what he’s saying in terms of domestic policy,” the 69-year-old Atlanta resident said of Sanders. “I just think he’s too far ahead of his time.”

A psychologist who lived in Australia for about 20 years and returned to the U.S. eight years ago to care for his ailing mother, Russell said foreign policy and the way the U.S. is perceived in the world is important and that also influenced his vote.

“I have trouble with trust,” he said, explaining his reservations about Clinton. “But unfortunately the other chap doesn’t have the foreign affairs experience.”

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Trump
Retired Marine Corps. Gen. Bill Weise. (AP photo)

Retired Marine Corps. Gen. Bill Weise joined about a dozen people waiting patiently in line at the Greenspring precinct in Fairfax County, which traditionally has the highest turnout in Virginia. The precinct is made up entirely of voters from the sprawling Greenspring retirement community.

The 86-year-old Weise says seven months of agonizing over who he’d vote for came down to the final 10 seconds before he filled in the bubble next to Ted Cruz’s name. Ben Carson was his favorite candidate, but he concluded Carson wasn’t viable. In sorting through the other GOP candidates, Weise felt Cruz would make better decisions than Donald Trump.

“I’ve read Cruz’s autobiography,” he said. “He’s not perfect. But show me somebody who is. …The ideal candidate does not exist.”

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Michael Kernyat of Chesterfield County, Virginia, voted for John Kasich even though he thinks he probably just threw his vote away.

The 60-year-old retired computer consultant said Kasich is “the most reasonable person running” but probably has no chance of beating Donald Trump.

“Nobody is going to stop that freight train,” Kernyat said. “I think it’s going to come down between him and Hillary (Clinton).”

He said people seem to be rallying behind Trump because “they’re tired of politics as usual,” but he prefers the moderate positions of Kasich.

“The only one who really scares me in this election is Bernie (Sanders),” Kernyat said.

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Tyler Murphy, a 26-year-old Boston resident who works as a project manager for a construction company, voted for Donald Trump on Tuesday even though he thinks the billionaire businessman is “undeniably wrong on a lot of things.”

For better or worse, he said, the controversial candidate is the “wake-up call” the country needs.

“Ultimately, if we have to elect someone who is borderline crazy to get people to understand what’s going on, then that’s what we have to do,” Murphy said.

An independent, he voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 and Barack Obama in 2008 and said he’s donated to both parties in the past.

Murphy said that if Trump had not become such a viable candidate, he would likely have voted for Hillary Clinton.

“I just don’t think she’s going to be the person to shake people out of their seats,” he said. “She’s not what the country needs right now.”

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Karen Williams, a lifelong Democrat from Duluth, Georgia, said she voted for Hillary Clinton. But the 55-year-old voter mostly has her eyes on Donald Trump, whom she wants to stop from gaining the White House.

“I can’t see him talking to dignitaries from other countries, insulting people,” she said. “A lot of countries don’t take kindly to insults.”

Williams is so concerned about the campaign season’s “childish behavior” in the face of very real challenges for the country that she said a prayer before going in to vote Tuesday.

“I prayed,” she said. “I prayed for this nation. I really did. I’m really concerned.”

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Associated Press writers Jamie Stengle in Dallas; Phillip Marcelo in Boston; Kate Brumback in Atlanta; Matthew Barakat in Falls Church, Virginia; Larry O’Dell in Chesterfield County, Virginia; and Alex Sanz in Johns Creek, Georgia, contributed to this report.


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