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Early Voters On This Year's Highly Contested Presidential Election

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And happy election-almost-over day. And many people have been spending these last few days before November 3 voting.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Would you like a Republican sample ballot?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Would you like a Democratic Party sample ballot?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I went to the Haymarket Gainesville Community Library in Prince William County, Va., which is an early voting location. And respectively, underneath a red and blue tent, volunteers of the two major parties were handing out sample ballots at a steady clip. It was busy, and there was a lot of enthusiasm.

MARISSA QUANDER: Woo (ph), woo, woo, woo, woo. (Laughter) Yeah, first time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That is Marissa Quander, who is 23, and she is a first-time voter. She came with her best friend's mom, Sandy Holland.

QUANDER: I think in this climate, it's been really important that you have a voice and put that forward. And it feels amazing. You go in there, and they clap for you. And everyone's so kind, and it feels like you're doing your part. I feel, like, lighter or something. It was good.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Marissa Quander wanted to keep whom she voted for private, but Sandy Holland said she voted for Joe Biden because of how the president has dealt with the pandemic, and she is worried about the issue of health care. She says this is a politically mixed community where the suburbs rub up against old Virginia farms, and this election has been tense.

SANDY HOLLAND: I've never known one to be so fraught with emotion and an opinion from all sides. You know, in prior national elections, my recollection is that you may or may not know who someone's voting for, but it's less emotional and it's more fact-based and less argumentative - just argumentative.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Marsha Floor (ph) is 76 and a retired park ranger.

MARSHA FLOOR: I'm happy to profess my preference.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That preference - Donald Trump.

FLOOR: One may not like his personality, but he is the best person for our country. If you tax big business, then business is just going to go overseas again, and our people here in the United States will not have a job. I don't know if the other party has thought about that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Explain to me a little bit about how you see the other side.

FLOOR: It's hard for me to believe that educated people would believe in socialism and the different Marxist tactics that are in place today in the Democratic Party.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Have you had difficult words with friends during this?

FLOOR: Oh, of course. Yes. Yeah, we're kind of split. You know, I don't even want to be around Democrats right now because I will stand up for my beliefs, and it just causes problems.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Another Republican woman of Peruvian descent said she was also motivated to vote for Trump because of fears of socialism, a theme that the president has been hitting on, especially in the Latino community. Every Republican man I tried to interview declined. Matt, who did not want to give his last name, told me he's a Libertarian, and that's how he voted.

MATT: Freedom of speech, gun control, right to privacy, search and seizure - the full gamut, you know? So that's - that always is what motivates how I vote.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He doesn't like Biden and thinks no one should be in politics that long. Of Trump, he says even a broken clock is right twice a day. So Trump is accidentally doing some things he likes. But Matt says he still can't vote for him, and he says there are others who share these views.

MATT: There does seem to be this sort of surge of folks who are looking for solutions that are outside our traditional two-party system.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And finally, I met Julian, Keiana and their nine-month-old Jermiah Amaker. They had just voted for Joe Biden. They are Black. And I told them that some of the Republicans I'd spoken with had cited the racial unrest as a reason they were voting for Donald Trump because they saw it as lawlessness. Julian and Keiana disagreed.

JULIAN AMAKER: Definitely a lot of unrest right now. I'm not saying we should defund the police, but let's have police officers trained not to fear people of color when they approach them.

KEIANA AMAKER: We're definitely in a - the most politically charged time of voting. And we definitely need to do something not just about race, but about policy, about legislation. There is so much we need to do to clean up the country that we all live in and love. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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