2016 General Election

2016 General Election

  • Patrick Riley reporting from precinct 222: 

    Golf carts filled the parking lot at the Bentley Village East Clubhouse Tuesday morning as some residents hopped off their cart to vote and others geared up to hit the links. 

    One of the many that arrived by golf cart that morning was Denise Praz, who lives at Vi at Bentley Village.

    She voted for Hillary Clinton and the choice was easy, Praz said.

    "I never wavered," she said. "Because she's the most qualified to be president."

    Not long after Praz, Millie Ortiz-Charik, sporting a white "Women for Trump" T-shirt, made her way to the polling place. 

    The 57-year-old, who lives in North Naples and has worked as a volunteer for Donald Trump's campaign "since day one," said she is concerned about the direction she said the country is headed.

    "I was born in Cuba, darling. I lived in a socialist country once. Came here. Open arms, this country welcomed my mother and I," Ortiz-Charik said. "We're on the wrong track. It's not going to happen like it happened in Cuba overnight, but we're on our way."

    Ortiz-Charik said she is worried about the election results and doesn't trust "the process."

    "I'm from Chicago. I've seen what can happen," she said. "It worries me when you don't have to show an ID in some states and, you know, when you hear how many people that have passed away are still voting."

    Joseph Cranney reporting from precinct 472: 
    Hailey Dumornay, 27, from Naples said she submitted a protest vote for Jill Stein because Clinton and Trump have "ulterior motives that aren't good for anyone."
    "She is the lesser of two evils," Dumornay said about Stein. 
  • Ryan Mills reporting from precinct 121: 
    Registered Republicans, James and Bonnie Robinson struggled with their votes Tuesday for Democrat Hillary Clinton. Their votes at the South County Regional Library, Precinct 121 in Estero, weren't so much for Clinton but against Republican Donald Trump.

    "I didn't like his attitude from the very beginning of the first point of the debates," James Robinson, 75, said. "His whole attitude, his philosophy, I didn't like. The way he treated immigrants. I think he's racist. I couldn't vote for him."

    Bonnie Robinson, 74, called Trump "abusive" and "abrasive."

    "We'd rather vote on issues rather than party," she said.

    Both James and Bonnie Robinson voted for Republican Marco Rubio for Senate. James Robinson said he considered not voting at all in the presidential race.

    "I almost left it blank, but I went back at the last minute," he said. "Florida is so critical."
  • Ryan Mills reporting from precinct 121: 
    Kiana Pantera Tamayo, 21, an FGCU student who lives in Estero voted yes on Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida. It's already legal in a handful of states, and she said it should be legal across the country so people who need it don't have to move to another state to get it.

    "I know a few people who have actually used medical marijuana as a way to cope with the pain from cancer," she said.

    Pantera Tamayo voted at the South County Regional Library, Precinct 121 in Estero.
  • Patrick Riley reporting from precinct 222: 

    For Karen Bailey voting for Donald Trump on Tuesday at the Bentley Village East Clubhouse was about challenging the status quo. 

    "We need a change," she said. "We need somebody strong. [...] Give him a chance, why not. We know what everybody else is doing." 

    John Beagan, 75, of Tarpon Cove said he couldn't vote for Hillary Clinton.

    "I think she's totally corrupt," he said. "Not a good choice, but I voted for Trump."

    Doris Beagan, 73, of Tarpon Cove, agreed. 

    "I'm the same way," she said. "I didn't want to vote for either one, but I took the lesser of the evils, and I used my conscience, and I voted for Trump."

    Casting their vote for U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio was easier, they said.

    "Strong candidate, good guy," John Beagan said.

    He said he voted 'no' on Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida, because he said marijuana is a "gateway drug."

    "It's just a scary situation to introduce that to younger people and have it available," John Beagan said. 

    Dave Pfanenstiel, 68, of Vi at Bentley Village, cast his vote for Hillary Clinton. 

    "The way he (Trump) is, he doesn't give us any details on what he's going to do," Pfanenstiel said. "He just says, 'This is what I'm going to do,' and we're supposed to trust him. And I don't." 

    He, too, voted 'no' on Amendment 2.

    "I'm afraid it's going to get out of control," Pfanenstiel said. 

  • Eric Staats reporting from precinct 552: 
    Vivian Harding is a rarity at precinct 552 in Golden Gate Estates: a Clinton supporter.
    "I just want to unify the country, and I feel that's what she's about," Hadding, 62, said.
    She had been a Bernie Sanders backer but says she's "thrilled" about a woman becoming president.
    Not so much for Golden Gate Estates voter Mark Rowley, 64. Rowley said he's a Democrat but voted for Trump, figuring it's the GOP's turn for the White House.
    "You might as well go for a winner," he said.
  • Eric Staats reporting from precinct 552: 
    David Palumbo cast a ballot for Donald Trump at Cypress Wood Presbyterian Church, not an unusual vote in Golden Gate Estates, exit polling showed. But instead of the standard spot on his shirt for his "I Voted" sticker, he peeled off the backing and stuck it on his truck window.
    "It will last longer up there," Palumbo, 62, said.
    He said he voted for Trump mostly because of the candidate's economic policies and desire for less government.
    "His plusses outranked his personal behavior," Palumbo said.
  • Brett Murphy reporting from precinct 203: 
    One at a time or in pairs, voters filed in and out of a quiet polling station inside North Collier Regional Park. A group of firefighters passed out flyers in support of four incumbent commissioners. People greeted them before shuffling into the shade of the fitness center to cast a ballot. 

    Courtney and John Klevanosky walked out into the sun confident with their decision: Trump for president, Rubio for Senate. "We want to rough it up a bit," said John, 50, a North Naples resident and lifelong Republican voter. He said he supports "old-fashion" work values that shirk government handouts. Courtney, 47, saw today's choice as more of a lesser-of-two-evils. "I just think the other one is too scary," she said of Clinton. 

    Chris Smith, 52, echoed the sentiment. "That's not my father's Democrat," he said of the party with which he once sympathized but no longer. He categorized today's mainstream Democrats as "socialists" and their leadership as the "political ruling class."

    Not everyone who came out to the polling station, tucked between softball fields and tennis courts, got a chance to vote Tuesday. Caleb Shoemaker, 27, a boat mechanic from North Naples, said he took the morning off work to cast a ballot only to find he'd come to the wrong precinct. 

    "I don't have time to drive 30 minutes the other way," he said, agitated that they turned him away inside his own county. "What sense does that make?" he added before heading back to work. "I won't be voting today – this was the only chance I got." 
    Caleb Shoemaker, 27, said he took the morning off work to cast a ballot, but he was at the wrong precinct.
  • Annika Hammerschlag reporting from precinct 323: 
    "What concerns me when I vote is the country, not the party," said Golden Gate resident Kelley Allen, 60, manager of Buffalo Wild Wings. "When I was younger, I leaned more toward being liberal, but as I've gotten older, I've seen liberal policies denigrate the country. Family and Christian values are important to me, but it's also important to respect other people's views, and liberals always tell us to shut up and go away."
    "It's very odd, Democrats care so much about life but not about unborn life," he said. "Studies show fetuses feel pain at such an early age. It's a human life, and it should be treated as sacred."
    "Our country's going to change one way or another, and I see Hillary as bringing in a socialist era," said Patrick Wenner, 21, of Golden Gate Estates. "I think Trump can bring back jobs and have a positive effect on the economy." Wenner said he also voted for Rubio because he is "extremely conservative and pro life."
    Chantel Wasserman, 22, of Golden Gate said she felt strongly about legalizing medical marijuana. She said she has family members who suffer from muscular dystrophy, depression and cancer, and she feels marijuana helps them cope with their pain. "Without it being legal, it doesn't make it safe for them to use, and I know there's a lot of other people who could benefit from it too."
    Kim Dancsec, 35, of Golden Gate, disagrees. "Once it starts being legalized for medical use then it's going to be legalized for everybody. With the advancements we've seen in medicine, I don't know why we're going back to marijuana."
    Dancsec said she voted for Bruce Nathan for Senate because he's the only candidate who's prolife. "I don't believe in a women's right to choose when it comes to abortion," she said. "I believe in God, and no matter what happens, there are other options like adoption. The decision to kill an innocent baby that had nothing to do with the decision making process to be conceived is not fair."
  • Patrick Riley reporting from precinct 223: 

    A steady stream of voters flocked to the polls at St. John the Evangelist Life Center Tuesday morning. 

    Among them was John Morris, 53, of North Naples, who cast his vote for Donald Trump.

    "I think we need change," he said. "I'm tired of the same policies, and I don't like all the corruption that's going on."

    Sal Gonzalez, too, voted for Trump, albeit reluctantly.

    "I really don't lean either way, I try to pick the best choice, I'm not so sure we had a good choice this time," Gonzalez, 51, of North Naples, said. "I'm not real fond of Obamacare, and I know this was something that the Clintons tried starting a long time ago, so to me it's just an extension of them, and I don't know that Hillary is the most honest person. Not in love with Trump. But I think it's the lesser of both evils."

    In the U.S. Senate race, Gonzalez voted for Marco Rubio.

    "I think Rubio has always done a good job," he said. "He seems like he's a bit above the fray. I think he would've been, you know, maybe he's too young or too inexperience to be president yet, but I think he's doing a good job in the Senate."

    For Jeremy Henry, 33, of Naples Park, it was Donald Trump's demeanor that turned him off.

    "I think Donald Trump might be one of the most arrogant people on the planet," he said. "I guess, lesser of two evils was Hillary."

    Dana Giles, 35, of North Naples, voted for Trump because she was concerned about the turmoil in the Middle East.

    "I think we need a stronger military," she said. "I think we need to act on more homeland security."

    In the U.S. Senate race, Giles cast her vote for Democrat Patrick Murphy, because Rubio was "just a little too conservative."

    "I think climate change is a big deal," she said. "I mean, I don't think it's the biggest deal, but I think that it's definitely something that we should be looking at a little bit more closely. I mean, we're very wasteful."

    With an aunt that suffers from epilepsy, Giles decided to vote for Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida.

    "It needs to be controlled, and I'm sure it will be," she said. "But I think pot smokers will always be pot smokers, and people that are not pot smokers (are) not going to be pot smokers."

    Regardless of who wins the presidential race, Giles said she hopes "it works out for everyone."

  • FGCU student Mark Avril on his vote for Clinton 

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