UPDATE: Gazette reporters Jeff Raasch, Christy Aumer and Meryn Fluker set out Tuesday to gather comments from voters at a variety of area precincts. Here’s what people were saying, by precinct.
Notable: About 20 people waiting in line when the polls opened — 171 voters at 9:20 a.m.
Dave Balvanz, 61, of Marion, was the first voter in line at Squaw Creek Baptist Church in Marion. He said he voted for Mitt Romney for president.
“I’m ready for a change,” Balvanz said. “I don’t think everything has gone the way (Obama) wanted it to.”
Balvanz said the condition of the economy was a big factor in how he decided to vote.
“Maybe Romney can’t do any better, but you’ve got to give a guy a chance,” Balvanz said.
Martin Chapa, 40, of Marion, voted for four more years with Barack Obama as president.
Chapa, who moved to the United States about 15 years ago from Mexico, said he voted for Obama in 2008 but followed the presidential race closely this year. He said Romney did not earn his trust.
“He flip flops so many times, you don’t know where he stands,” Chapa said.
Betty Perez, 40, of Marion, voted for the first time in her life on Tuesday. She said watching the debates got her more interested in the election, and she decided to make her vote count this year.
“I think what the country has gone through the last four years, we definitely need a lot of changes,” Perez said. “This year, I decided my vote does count.”
Perez said she believes Obama can improve the economy.
“I don’t believe he’s had enough time to do what he envisioned to do,” Perez said. “He had a big mess to clean up.”
Robert and Kathy Baclet of Marion both voted for Romney. Kathy, 59, said rules in Obama’s health care plan that requires companies to pay for insurance for anyone who works more than 30 hours per week impacted her directly and ultimately guided her vote.
“I’m a part-time worker, and my hours got cut back due to Obamacare,” Kathy Baclet said.
Jinae Nielsen, 28, of Marion, said she voted for Obama as the “better of two evils.”
Nielsen, a breast cancer survivor, said Obama’s health care initiatives swayed her vote.
“It’s important for me to have insurance,” Nielsen said. “If I get dropped, I don’t want to have a problem with a pre-existing condition or anything.”
Jamie Vandersee, 34, of Marion, brought her 10-year-old son to the polls and voted for Obama.
“I feel he was put into a bad situation, and he’s done the best he could,” Vandersee said. “Throwing him out of office in four years when he had an 8-year problem to deal with isn’t exactly fair.”
Macel Ralston, 52, of Cedar Rapids, said she voted for the first time Tuesday and found the process easy and smooth. She and her husband, Keven, picked Obama for president.
“I voted for Obama because of the fact Mitt Romney is one scary dog,” said Keven Ralston, 55. “Someone needs to squish that corporate bug.”
Patricia Hennessy, 26, of Cedar Rapids, said she supported Obama based on his stance on health care. She said she would strongly consider moving to Canada if Obama does not win a second term in office.
“I will not live in a place where I have no rights over my body, and my child doesn’t have any healthcare,” Hennessy said. “I have a special needs child, that is one big reason I’m voting for Obama.”
Hennessy moved back to Iowa from Florida recently and lost her birth certificate during the transition. She said it made it more difficult for her to register to vote, but she didn’t mind.
Notable: About 50 people waiting in line when the polls opened — 383 voters at 10:45 a.m.
Kathy Hall, 68, of Cedar Rapids, said she voted for Obama in an election that she called “extremely important.”
A registered Democrat, Hall said picking Obama was an easy choice.
“I’m very opposed to infringing on women’s health rights,” Hall said. “I don’t have any idea who Romney is and what he’d do as president. He says whatever that particular audience wants to hear, I think.”
Kurt Suchomel, 53, of Cedar Rapids, said he immersed himself in the political process the past two years, weighing the candidates’ economic proposals and foreign policy. He ultimately chose Obama.
“If they would have voted in somebody that was a little more moderate, I would have had a more difficult decision to make,” Suchomel said. “A big part of my decision is that I just don’t trust Romney, and I’ve always voted for the person, not the ticket.”
John Hughes, 77, of Cedar Rapids, said he believes President Obama is a socialist who has “totally failed.”
“Our country is in terrible, terrible shape,” Hughes said.
Hughes the choice was clear for him in this election. He voted for Mitt Romney.
“He’s been successful in most things he’s done, even though he’s been demonized by the liberal media,” Hughes said. “I think he’ll make a fine president.”
Laurie Etheridge, 43, of Cedar Rapids, said she is a longtime Democrat who voted for Obama on Tuesday. She said she and her 10-year-old son, Joseph, saw Obama speak in Mount Vernon three weeks ago.
Joseph had dyed his hair pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and as Obama shook hands of people in the crowd, he stopped when he saw Joseph and told him, “nice hair.” Obama showed him a pink bracelet he was wearing for the same cause, and commented that it matched Joseph’s hair.
Matt Bauler, 26, cast his ballot for Obama, primarily based on his vision on the economy.
“I believe Obama’s view on the economy affects it in a future kind of a way, not a quick fix,” Bauler said. “It will be hard, but improved in a way that is stable and solid for our children.”
Nathan Bowden, 32, of Cedar Rapids, cast his ballot for President Barack Obama. Bowden also voted for Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
“There’s something about him as a man that I admire,” Bowden said, citing the president’s character and stature. “I’m more drawn to him than I am to Mitt Romney … That’s really important to me, the charisma somebody portrays.”
Bowden joined his girlfriend Lanessa Godwin, 25, at the polls this afternoon. Godwin, who also lives in Cedar Rapids, cast her vote for Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Taxes and business issues drove her decision.
Godwin was turned away from the polls this morning because she’d recently moved and the address on her driver’s license did not match her new residence. She returned with a recent bill to verify her address but left when the wait caused her to almost miss an appointment. Upon her third trip to the polling place, she was finally able to vote.
“I think next election I will be voting early, even though I like how it’s old school on Election Day,” Godwin said.
David Sawyer, 63, of Cedar Rapids, is a registered independent yet said he has never voted for a Republican candidate.
“I think the Republican Party is the party of the rich,” he said. “They are not friends of the middle class.”
Sawyer’s concerns about former Gov. Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan wanting to reform Social Security and Medicare led Sawyer to vote for President Obama this year. Sawyer called the barrage of campaign advertising and political programming “overkill” and said he hasn’t actively watched a political ad on television in over two months. He also did not watch any of the televised presidential debates.
“I don’t like debates,” Sawyer said. “They bore me to death.”
Lisa Huffer, 50, of Cedar Rapids, also considers herself an independent, but she too opted to support the president this year.
“I like his ethics for women,” she said.
Hollan Goetz, 30, of Cedar Rapids, voted for President Obama as well, citing his female-friendly politics.
“I think he’s doing a great job. I’d definitely like to see his progress continue,” said Goetz, who cast her ballot for Obama in the 2008 presidential race. “He’s pro-woman compared to Mitt Romney.”