fb-pixel Skip to main content

Dispatches from New England’s polls: Lines, relief, and high hopes

Voters lined up at the Nazzaro Community Center in Boston’s North End.Matt Rocheleau/Globe staff

Globe staffers and correspondents fanned out across the region to capture voices from the polls.

Mission Hill: Last-minute decisions

Julie Hernandez walked toward the voting booths at the Tobin Community Center in Mission Hill shortly after noon, holding the hand of a young niece and still trying to decide who would get her vote for president.

“I don’t know,” said Hernandez, 34, furrowing her brow. “My family already has voted for Hillary, so I might as well vote for her, too.”

If the choice ultimately was a difficult one, Hernandez did not offer any reasons to vote for Donald Trump.

“I didn’t like the way he has addressed the Latinos and undocumented people. It was not the way to go,” said Hernandez, whose family immigrated to the United States from Guatemala. “We’re here to work hard and have a better life.”


There were no lines at the Tobin, just down the hill on Tremont Street from the towering spires of Mission Church. One poll observer from the group Election Protection, who asked that her name not be used, said she was “unnerved” by the slight turnout at this site.

However, as the lunch hour progressed, the number of voters began to swell. One of them was Tanika Pizarro, a 27-year-old who said she supported Clinton because of her “strong words” of leadership.

As for Trump: “He’s a little bit cruel,” Pizarro said.



Lynnfield: ‘I just want something different’

No matter who they voted for, people left the polls here Tuesday with grimaces and sullen faces, calling the campaign season “just awful,” a “terrible experience,” and a “disaster.

As of 1 p.m., 3,347 voters had cast ballots at the high school in this traditionally Republican-leaning town, out of about 9,000 registered. Others voted early and absentee, local election officials said.


Donald Trump supporter Susan Quirke, 53, said in the months leading up to the election she felt she couldn’t admit to co-workers and friends whom she supported because they would judge her. It felt good today to finally cast her vote, she said.

“I just want something different,” she said.

Athene Hennessey, a 28-year-old hairstylist, said she voted for Trump because her two brothers, who serve in the military, told her to vote for anyone but Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“This is hard. I just don’t know,” she said.

Other voters were more enthusiastic, like Mark Mathews, who held a Trump sign and waved to voters as they entered Lynnfield High School. He called Trump “an honest guy, a strong guy,” and said he agrees with the candidate’s views on giving money to foreign countries and immigration.

“Borders, language, culture, if we don’t have those things we can’t keep the sovereignty of this country,” Mathews said.

Phil Clifford, a 55-year-old business owner, said he voted for Trump because he likes his stance on national security and the economy.

“I just figure the lesser of two evils,” he said. “Something’s got to change.”

Ryan Carvalho, 42, a construction contractor, said he was “not excited,” to vote, but ultimately cast a ballot for Trump.

After the election, whatever happens, “I just hope we all ban together,” Carvalho said. “I just think politics needs to be cleaned up as a whole.”

Clinton supporters weren’t much more enthusiastic.

Eric DiChiara, 45, a recruiter, said he thinks Clinton is more qualified to be president, but said no matter what the outcome, it feels “like a cloud has lifted” now that the election will soon be over.


Stacy O’Connell, a 41-year-old homemaker and former college professor said she voted for Clinton but wasn’t totally impressed with either option.

“If this is the best we have to offer then maybe we need to start digging deep and finding some better candidates,” she said, adding that this election made her feel a duty to teach her three children about politics and elections.

“Despite all that’s getting thrown at us from all sides, I do think that this is a great country,” she said.



Needham: Little joy in doing their civic duty

Seymour Wertheim steadied himself with a cane, taking deliberate steps past an American flag that lay slack against a pole on a breezeless day. With a click of his cane, the 85-year-old entered his polling place at a local senior center around lunchtime.

Wertheim came to do his civic duty, but that didn’t make him happy about it.

“I voted for the lesser of two evils,” said Wertheim, a registered Democrat. “They were both terrible, but I had to cast a vote. Hillary is no bargain, but [Donald Trump] is dangerous.”

Irlanda Nunez agreed. The 73-year-old said she was a Democrat and so she voted for Hillary Clinton.

“The way he talked,” Nunez said of Trump, “I didn’t like it.”

But like Wertheim, she believed that she had a duty to do.


“You have to vote,’ Nunez said, “even if you don’t like either.”

Nancy Scholz, another registered Democrat, came to the opposite conclusion. Scholz said she woke up this morning and finally made her decision.

“I voted for Trump,” said Scholz, who brought her 5-year-old daughter with her in the voting both. “The best opportunity we have for real change is to bring in a non-politician.”

Recreational marijuana? Another slot parlor? Cage-free chickens? Expanded charter schools? Some voters here cast straight tickets on the ballot questions.

“I voted no on everything,” Cathy Collishaw, 70, said with a laugh. “I guess I’m a Scrooge.”

But Nancy Scholz, 45, did the opposite.

Expanding charter schools would give more city kids a chance a better education, she said. As for legalizing recreational marijuana?

“If people are going to do it,” Scholz said, “you might as well tax it.”

Robert Lay voted against adding another slot parlor, but supported the other initiatives. He voted to expand charter schools to increase opportunity and because he thought opponents were disingenuous about the funding impact. Lay also voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana.

“I’m from the ‘60s so I’m not afraid of it,” Lay said. “I’m not all that interested in it [for recreation], but it could increase access for medicinal marijuana.”

His wife has a bad hip, he said, but there is no local medical marijuana dispensary.



Winchester: Sporting a pants suit inspired by Clinton


At Lynch Elementary School on Monday, Hillary Clinton won a mock student election by a landslide.

On Tuesday, the grownups got their chance to weigh in at the school, the polling place for two precincts. Winchester voter Janet Damaske showed up wearing a Hillary Clinton-inspired pants suit and a button that said “I am the Force.”

Keren Avnery voted for Clinton, too, even as she called her the lesser of two evils and a sell-out. She expects a Clinton election would bring no change and even portend a “slow death to democracy.”

With emotions over the election running high, poll workers were ready for anything. They set out pylons and signs marking the 150-foot minimum distance for electioneering. Inside, they set up a rope line to steer voters from different precincts down a hallway to their polls. An early morning crowd of voters stretched all the way down the hall, but by mid-morning, the crowd had thinned to a steady stream.

After the rancor of the presidential campaign, some voters were less motivated to vote on the top of the ticket than on issues closer to home.

Avnery, 27, was most excited to vote on Question 4, the ballot measure that would legalize marijuana use, having seen the benefits of medical marijuana through her work as a registered nurse.

“There’s a lot more people who would benefit from it if it loses the stigma,” she said.

On Question 2, she and her husband, Chris Whitney, said they had wrestled with the question on increasing the number of charter schools. They wanted to nudge the public schools toward improvements, but also considered teachers’ arguments that additional charters would deplete their resources.

“One thing Keren and I have been talking about is, could pushing charter schools promote the change we’re always looking for? Or will it eventually hurt it because we’re taking funding away?” Whitney asked.

Ultimately, Avnery voted against more charters in the hope that lawmakers will craft a more comprehensive solution to the challenges facing public education.

“Try again, politicians,” she said, translating her vote. “Just adding more charter schools isn’t the answer. Discussing the funding is important.”



Weymouth: Sharing a birthday with the Donald

A 50-year-old government worker, who first identified himself as Ron Glass, then acknowledged that wasn’t his real name, said he voted for Trump because “we have the same birthday, June 14. We’re both from New York, we’re both arrogant, and we both have money.”

The father of four, who cast his vote at the Chapman Middle School, said he was only joking about having money, but was serious about his support for Trump.

“I hope he will bring some kind of change. She’s crooked. I don’t trust her,” he said.

His wife, who declined to give her name, said she also voted for Trump, but was less enthusiastic.

“I am just so sick of politics as usual, and I just made up my mind when I walked in the door,” she said. “I just don’t know if he’s the right person, but you have to vote.”

On his way into the Pingree Primary School, Bob Segalla, a 55-year-old chauffeur said he was voting for Clinton.

“I think she’s the sane one, the lesser of two evils,” he said.

He said he was disappointed that the candidates didn’t talk more about the issues instead of “just going after each other, digging up dirt.”

Linda Higgins, a 70-year-old hair stylist said she voted for Trump, in part because she’s tired of the Clintons.

“Why not have someone who is not a politician, spending their own money and not special interest money?”

Matt Glavin, a 20-year-old college student, said he was excited to have voted in his first presidential election and chose Trump because, “it’s time for a change.”

“I’m not super happy with who Donald Trump is as a person, but I think he’s going to surround himself with good people,” he said. “I like Pence.”

Alex Tisme, a 25-year-old office worker, said the presidential race was so polarizing that he didn’t want to say which candidate he voted for. But he was eager to discuss his vote for more charter schools.

“I went to public schools myself and was able to make it out of there, but some people are trapped in a failing school,” he said. “Giving them access to charter schools is something I feel is needed.”



North End: Cherishing the Election Day ritual

Even before the polls opened at 7 a.m., a line of voters ran down Bennet Street and the polling place at the Nazzaro Community Center. This election marked the first time early voting was allowed in Massachusetts, but Maureen McGlame, 73, wanted to continue the time-honored tradition of going to the polls on the second Tuesday of November.

“I like to vote on Election Day,’’ McGlame said.

McGlame said the long morning line “speaks for itself about how serious this election is for this country.’’ She said she planned to vote for Hillary Clinton.

“How could I not?” she asked. “We would be in really big trouble if she doesn’t win.’’

McGlame also said she planned to vote no on Question 4, saying “marijuana is a gateway drug.”

Sarah Evans, 22, an unenrolled voter who works at a local software company, said she planned to vote for Clinton and yes on Question 2. And on Question 4?

“That’s a game-time decision,” Evans said.



Somerville: An embrace now that it’s finally over

As they left the polling station at Somerville High School, Tessa Harrison and Andrew Rula briefly embraced. They had done it. They had survived the election season.

“I’m feeling great,” said Rula, 28, who works for Amazon. “I’ll be much more excited tonight, after the results are in, I’m hoping.”

Both Rula and Harrison enthusiastically voted for Hillary Clinton. When asked, how they would react if she were to lose to Republican Donald Trump, their enthusiasm vanished. Rula said there wouldn’t be enough alcohol in the world to cope. And Harrison, 27, a dog walker, said tears would be involved.

“But it’s the democratic process, and I’ll stand by what my country decides,” she said.

As Jonah Silberg, 27, walked down the steps and toward his bike, he said he was optimistic that Clinton would win.

Silberg, a salesman, was happy to put the election to bed, a sentiment echoed by others as they recalled months of vitriol, character assassination, and bickering between the candidates.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” said Steve Horne.



West Roxbury: ‘I think it’s been the worst yet’

By 7:30 a.m. at St. George Church, a line of about 100 people snaked out to the parking lot. Despite the heated election for president, there were no Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump supporters holding signs outside, only a handful of people backing a ballot question or candidates in local races.

People were friendly as the line moved slowly, chatting with their neighbors about what they saw as a dismal election season.

“I think it’s been the worst yet,” Meredith Hanna said after voting with her 3-year-old daughter Madison. “It’s so personal. There have been personal attacks, times ten.”

She said she was happy her daughter was too young to understand the back and forth attacks.

“I was starting to refuse to watch CNN,” said Amy Wyeth, a Wellesley College graduate who voted for Clinton, also a Wellesley graduate. “It was so negative.”

Josh Glenn of West Roxbury said he was distressed at how divided the country had become. Glenn, who also voted for Clinton, said it felt as if the election had gone on too long.



South End: On the fence

Bay Village resident Alicia Bardaro, 29, said had not been impressed with either presidential candidate. In the end, she voted for Clinton.

“I really could’ve been swayed either way,” Bardaro said at the polling station at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology.

Bardaro, who works at a public relations firm, said she respected Trump’s success as a businessman, but sided with Clinton in part because he focused more on insults than issues.

“Donald Trump’s Twitter feed — all it does is bash Hillary,” she said. “He never actually talks about anything of substance.”



West Roxbury: Undecided until the last minute

At 7 a.m, the line of voters ran the entire length of the parking lot at the Holy Name School. By 8:15, people were moving through quickly.

Even as she walked into the school to vote, Jeanne Reis, a 66-year-old West Roxbury resident, said still hadn’t made up her mind about the presidential race.

“As we stand here right now, I am undecided,’’ she said. “I don’t trust Hillary and Trump is off the wall.’’

Reis is a registered Democrat, but said she is bothered by the Clinton email scandal and the candidate’s role in the attacks in Benghazi.

“Maybe I will go as the governor goes,’’ said Reis, who said she had never before abstained in a presidential race.

John McDonough, a 63-year-old Boston police officer, could not have been more certain.

“Trump,’’ he said. “He might do more for someone like me and my family. [Clinton’s] not going to do anything to help me out.’’

Lea Tenneriello, 89, voted for Clinton. She had volunteered for Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign in New York before moving to Boston, but said supporting Clinton was not difficult.

“I simply could not stomach Trump,’’ the retired social worker said.


John R. Ellement of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele