What Arkansans have to say at polls
Posted: November 6, 2012 at 10:17 a.m.
Updated: November 6, 2012 at 3:53 p.m.
A collection of voter voices during the 2012 general election:
In Little Rock, Kevin Ledbetter, 44, who is in between jobs but used to be a waiter, said he voted for Democrats across the board Tuesday.
He said the prospect of Republicans taking one or both houses in Arkansas motivated him to vote.
“If it was only for the president, I probably might have just not even bothered because we [Arkansas voters] are typically so red,” he said.
He said he fears that more economic and education problems could beset the state if Republicans seize a majority in the Legislature.
Ledbetter said he tends to vote Democratic, but the racially charged writings of Republican Reps. Jon Hubbard and Loy Mauch and former Rep. Charlie Fuqua and Mauch added to why he voted for Democrats.
“That definitely was something that inspired me to vote Democratic,” he said. “It just sickened me. We already have a reputation for being ignorant hillbillies anyway and then these people get on national news.”
At Cabot’s community center, Charles Beall said Tuesday that he voted for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“Just the way this country has gone the last four years,” said Beall, 60, who works in law enforcement.
Beall said he voted for Scott Ellington, the Democrats’ nominee for Arkansas 1st congressional district.
“He’s from an area of the state that I’m from, northeast Arkansas, and he’s a prosecutor,” he said.
Beall, a Republican, said he voted for the highway tax, saying it would improve safety.
“Our roads need improvement in this state,” he said.
In Fayetteville, Connie Belk, 65, a retired teacher, said she’s a Republican but added that she voted for both parties Tuesday.
In the presidential election, she said she “absolutely” voted for Romney.
“I think we need a businessman to get this country back to where we ought to be,” Belk said. “I have been concerned about all these trillions and trillions of dollars of debt. It’s ridiculous, and we need to get back to good, sound financial leadership.”
Belk, who moved to Fayetteville from Pine Bluff three years ago, said she voted for the highway proposal.
“Although I don’t need to pay any more taxes, we need better highways,” Belk said. “If that’s what it’s going to take to do it, then I’m for that because we need improvements.”
She also said she voted against the medical-marijuana proposal.
“I do feel sympathetic for those who really need it,” Belk said. “But I’m afraid it will go into other problems.”
In Cabot, Michael Robinson, 47, who is retired from the military and now works as a civilian at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, said Tuesday that he voted for President Barack Obama.
“I just think he needs more time to get everything straightened out,” he said.
Robinson said he voted “mostly Republican, except for Obama.”
“He had a bad start to run with. It’s just going to take him more time,” he said.
In Fayetteville, Kenny Bartle, 41, a commercial lender, said he was raised a Democrat, but that Tuesday was the first election in which he voted Republican almost across the board.
“Abysmal leadership,” Bartle said when asked why.
Bartle said he struggled with the proposed highway tax but that he did vote for it.
“I think it benefits Northwest Arkansas,” Bartle said. “Probably unequally benefits us, and everybody pays.”
Bartle also said he voted for the medical marijuana proposal.
“I think it’s a waste of money, completely,” Bartle said. “I think they should legalize everything.”
In Cabot, Erin Teague, 32, who works for a law firm that specializes in debt collection, voted for Romney.
“I just don’t like the way things have been going. People can’t pay their bills,” she said.
Teague said she voted for Republicans in all races.
“I don’t like the handouts,” she said. “I believe in working, earning a buck. The way it is now, it’s hurting the people in the middle class that are trying to earn a living.”
In downtown Little Rock, Tim Bovard, 47, a pipe organ builder, said he voted Tuesday for Obama and Democrat Herb Rule for Congress.
“With what the Republican Party has been doing to him [Obama] over the last four years, not to mention the country in the previous dozen years, we cannot go back to that,” he said. “Romney has never given us any answers.”
“When we have Republicans that are standing up in the national audience and proclaiming their job number one is to see that he’s a one-term president, that’s not how our government is supposed to work,” he said.
He said he hopes Republicans don’t take over the state Legislature.
“I hope that does not happen with what some of our various Republicans candidates have been getting up and saying in public is shameful around this state,” he said, pointing to the racially charged writings of Hubbard, Mauch and Fuqua.
“In my opinion, people that espouse those kind of opinions should have no business in government,” he said.
He voted for the highways sales tax.
“I spend a lot of time on the highways of this state,” he said. “I will always be in favor of infrastructure improvements. It’s something that all of us need whether we all like to have to pay for it or not.”
He also voted for medical marijuana.
“The idea that it’s a natural substance, a natural occurring thing versus little pills full of God only knows what chemicals manufactured at great profit by some mega corporation that is making money off it,” he said. “I don’t really see the downside.”
In Fayetteville, Loren Berry, 66, a retired consultant, said he voted for Obama.
“I’m very appalled that everyone says it doesn’t make a difference and that the swing states elect them,” Berry said. “I do understand that, because I understand that if you just had a popular vote, then all they’d do is politic in the big cities.
“So, I understand the Electoral College, but it’s still a shame to say Arkansas is a nothing state and doesn’t matter.”
Berry said he voted for the highway proposal.
“I’m typically against taxes, but we’ve got the worst damn roads in the world,” Berry said. “If they actually apply it to the roads, then we’ll be better off. In my work, I traveled all over the state and I was more likely to take the back roads than the main roads.”
Berry said he had no opinion on the medical-marijuana proposal, though he did vote for it only because “a person ought to have a choice.”
Steve Chamness, 36, a police officer who lives in Cabot, said he voted for Romney.
“The last four years haven’t gone very well,” he said.
Chamness said he voted straight Republican, including for U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford.
He also voted against medical marijuana.
“As a police officer, I can’t see that going very well,” he said.
In Hot Springs on Monday, Robert Taylor, 34, said he voted for the president, citing his thoughtfulness.
“I like the way he’s very assertive, sure of himself. He the type of person who gets the facts before he makes a decision,” he said. “The other candidate ... I don’t think he’s very passionate.”
Taylor, who works in sales, said he voted against medical marijuana.
“The vast majority of us have seen what it [marijuana] causes and what it does to people,” he said.
Mike Laird, 58, who works in retail in Garland County, said he voted for Romney on Monday.
“I’m hopeful he can do a little better with foreign policy than this idiot we have now,” he said, saying the U.S. shouldn’t have been supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood during the revolution in Egypt.
Laird said he voted for medical marijuana.
“Absolutely. I know for a fact it works. It does help a lot of people with pain,” he said.
In Lonoke, Jackie McDougal and his wife, Shirley, said they had long considered themselves Democrats but now consider themselves independent. They voted for Romney this year after voting for Republican nominee John McCain in 2008.
“We’re retired and we’re concerned about Medicare and the health care thing,” Shirley McDougal, 67, said Monday. “I think a lot of people are confused about it.”
In Rogers, Aaron Hagan, 37, a small-business owner, said the presidential race piqued his interest above the others. A Republican, he said he voted for Romney because of both financial and moral beliefs.
“I own a business, so it’s very important for me to come out and vote for Romney because of what he stands for and what he believes in as far as my business is concerned down and line,” Hagan said.
Hagan also said he voted against the proposed sales-tax increase for highway improvements.
“I think there are other ways to pay other than a sales tax,” Hagan said. “I think we’re taxed like crazy, so no, I’m not going to vote for a tax at all.”
He also voted against a proposal that would legalize marijuana for medical purposes.
“I think there are a lot of loopholes when it comes to that,” Hagan said. “I think you see it in different states, in Colorado and California and different areas that have that. I think there are too many loopholes and gates that can open.”
In Rogers, Nancy Schneider, 60, a retired police officer said she is a Republican but quickly added that she voted for Obama because, “I hate the last few Republicans that they’ve had.”
“I can’t stand Romney,” Schneider said. “He has no clue what middle-class life is like. He has no clue. And things he’s said and done just prove that he has no clue what it’s like to be, to struggle and be middle class.”
Schneider voted for the highway-improvement sales tax because of the growth in Northwest Arkansas, as well as voting for the medical-marijuana proposal.
“I’m from California,” Schneider joked.
Schneider said she has fibromyalgia and now takes three different narcotics “just to get through the pain.” She said she would consider using medical marijuana in place of her other drugs, but more than anything she’d like the option to try it.
“I was a police officer for 22 years, so I’ve arrested a lot of DWIs, handled a lot of DWI accidents and saw a lot of lives taken from drinking,” Schneider said. “I asked this one ER nurse once if she had a lot of marijuana accidents, and she said ‘No.’
Retiree Robin Reinbold, 62, of Searcy said she voted for Romney.
“I wasn’t happy with the last four years,” she said. Reinbold said she will be on Medicare in a few years and Obama’s health reform package has her worried.
“Every time I go to a doctor’s office there’s a sign saying they’re not accepting new Medicare patients,” she said.
Reinbold voted for Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin for Congress and against the medical marijuana proposal.
She said she was worried about the way marijuana distribution would be regulated under the proposal.
“If they sold it in pharmacies, I’d be for it,” she said.
Reinbold, who voted for the highway tax, said she hopes the Republicans take both Arkansas houses.
Kenneth Walsh, 67, and Joan Walsh, 65, both retirees of Searcy, said they voted a straight Democratic ticket.
Joan Walsh complained that Republicans are obstructionists.
“They just seem to be against everything,” she said. “They don’t want anybody to go across that line they draw.”
Both favored the medical marijuana proposal.
“It should be like an aspirin,” Joan Walsh said.
She made a hissing sound when asked about the prospect of Republicans taking the Arkansas House and Senate.