After months of debates and campaigning in battleground states, the time to elect a president is here. The issues range from foreign policy to economic recovery in a race that has grown increasingly tight. The State asked Midlands voters to comment on what this election means to them, in their own words.
April Jones, 29, is a pre-kindergarten teacher in Lexington 1.
“As a school teacher, I always feel like I’m directly involved with the future of young children, so I think this election is about the future of our country and in what direction we’re going to go.
“I’m voting for Barack Obama for the second time. It’s a great feeling. I feel like he expresses the values that I cherish and hold dear. I think as an educator, I feel he really seems to value education. He values all of our schools and wants all of our schools to succeed and do well and that’s something I really can relate to.”
Clare Morris, 50, is a public relations professional and owner of the Clare Morris Agency in Columbia.
“I think these are pivotal times. I feel, as a small business owner and someone in the middle class, that the middle class is kind of sliding south. ...I was ready to vote for a Republican for this election ... but I just can’t support Mitt Romney.
“I’m not a big fan of the president’s policies. I don’t think we are necessarily any better off than we were four years ago, but then again I don’t know of anybody who could have done better because of all the chaos in the world and the economy.
“So I plan to vote for the president. It’s really more a vote against the Republican Party than a vote for the president because I feel that Mitt Romney is an elitist who is out of touch with real Americans. ... And I feel like he treats women like we’re from another country.”
Travis Butler, 34, is a Columbia-based commercial real estate developer.
Butler plans to vote for Mitt Romney.
“We are in the worst recession since the Great Depression. I’m hoping (Romney’s election) will have a trickle-down effect where good businessmen are willing to follow his lead and get involved in politics. Most of politics ... are made up of lifetime politicians who simply do not get it.
“(Romney) gets it because he is a businessman. It’s not just what he created; it’s what he has turned around. Look at Staples. There has been one company after another that were failing and Romney came in and turned them around.
“As hard as it is to build a successful company from the ground up, it is even harder to turn a failing company around. The true testament of great business acumen is to take a failing situation and turn it around because it takes prioritizing and making tough choices, which is also what is required of good government.”
Michael Kanwisher, 27, is a second-year orthopedic resident with the Palmetto Health system.
“Traditionally my whole family has been Democratic. ... I was an Obama supporter last time around. This time, I’m leaning more Republican.
“Working in the hospital, I’ve started to see that maybe I’m not as in favor of a lot of the aspects of Obamacare as I thought. I don’t quite know if the system would handle the influx of additional patients that are going to rely on Medicare and Medicaid.
“I feel like, in the last four years, Obama hasn’t made as much of a change as he talked about. I thought there would have been more of a difference. He made all these promises of overhauling health care in a beneficial way, and so far all the things I’ve seen have been just more cutbacks. ... A lot of changes that I see haven’t really benefited patients or doctors or the system in any way shape or form.”
Marquell Benjamin, 22, is a picker at Amazon, meaning he rounds up the items customers have purchased online and prepares them to be sent out.
“The election to me means that everybody in America gets a chance to vote. If people want to vote a certain way, they have the right to do that. That’s important because it’s one of our rights. ...
“I’m planning on voting for Obama,” although he said he didn’t really agree with Obama spending more on military salaries. “But I have a couple of friends who are in the military.”
“Everything else he stands for, I agree with.
“We’ve had a lot of jobs to come up now. Obama is helping with the change in America. There were a lot of people who weren’t working but now they are. (The economy) is coming back. It’s coming back slowly, but it’s coming back. But I feel people should give him another chance because he is making it work. You can’t change stuff overnight and he is making things happen.”
Phil Howell, 66, is a retired warrant officer from the United States Army.
Howell thinks there should be a third option on the ballot for voters: “none of the above.”
“I’m going to vote for the lesser of two evils. ... I’m probably going to vote for Romney. ...
“The incumbent hasn’t shown us doodley-squat.
“Mitt Romney is an unknown. He is such a rich guy up in that strata that I don’t see how he can possibly relate to people on fixed incomes, or less. But I’m willing to give him a chance to show his stuff.”
Compiled by staff writer Mindy Lucas.