Carson City – There are two polling places in Carson City, the Community Center and the Carson City Courthouse, so I visited both locations around midday on election day.
The Community Center parking lot was all but full. Cars circled slowly looking for parking spots. Small groups of stalwart Democrats and Republicans stood near tables and truck tailgates and handed out literature and candy.
Ray Badger was standing at a table skirted with signs for Democratic candidates. Listen to an interview with Ray Badger.
“We’re trying to get people to vote. It’s important. It’s the American way,” Badger said. “We believe our list of candidates, the Democrats, are the best informed and the way people aughta vote, but most importantly, they just should vote.”
Badger said he has voted in every possible election since coming of age and added that it saddens him so few people vote. I asked about the challenge of enticing younger citizens to the polls.
“I think it is (difficult), but I was out here 2 years ago, and I think younger people were better represented today. It’s never enough,”Badger said. “I think young people think sometimes they’ve been left out, and that’s unfortunate. The only way to get left in, is to vote.”
A couple parking spots to the north of the Democrats, a group of Republicans gathered around a pickup truck tailgate festooned with signs for Republican candidates. This was the first time Bob Stru and his wife have done more than vote during an election. Listen to an interview with Bob Stru.
“This is the first time we see a big difference coming to our country,” Stru said. “We don’t have a politician as a president to, and he’s being very effective I think, for the good.”
Mr. Stru said he thinks President Trump has revered the nation’s decline.
“We feel that without this kind of approach that he provides, the country is going to go down hill. It was on the way downhill already, and we’ve recovered from it,” Stru said. “I visit other countries, and find out that they are really taking notice of what he is doing.”
Stru said his support for the Trump Administration has come at a cost for his wife.
“My wife has paid a penalty because she’s a Republican, and she has a real dear dear friend from high school who’s Democrat, hard Democrat, and that girl has said, ‘we don’t want to be with you anymore. We’re dropping our friendship.’ We have a situation where people cannot talk to each other without yelling at each other,” Stru said.
A few more parking spots to the north, Ken Elverum, a former Carson City teacher was seated near a table upholstered with signs for Democratic candidates. Listen to an interview with Ken Elverum.
“We’re here just to let people know that the Democrats are involved, and we’re not going to go lightly,” Elverum said. “We want to make sure that our voice is heard, even just greeting people in the parking lot and thanking them for coming out to vote.”
Elverum said this election cycle was unique in his experience.
“For me it is very different. We’ve never done this kind of thing before, and I’ve been involved in Democratic Party politics here in Carson since I moved here in 1988, and I’ve never seen anything like this, the enthusiasm, and people willing to go door-to-door and sit in a parking lot like I’m doing,” Elverum said.
I asked what accounts for the unusual enthusiasm for the democratic process in 2018.
“A lot of it is the political atmosphere,” Elverum said. “I think we’re fed up with the tone of the political discourse. I used to work in the State Legislature here in Nevada and in Oregon as well, and wasa nonpartisan staff member, and we learned that not everyone agrees on everything but you can be civil, and the tone of the entire country has become uncivil, and that’s not the way it should be.”
The scene was similar in the parking lot of the Carson City Courthouse. Democrats and Republicans sat across from each other at tables replete with literature, doughnuts and candy. Both parties have been in the parking lot since the beginning of early voting. Laura Hale is a volunteer for the Carson City Democrats and said this Election Day is busier than past years. Listen to an interview with Laura Hale.
“I think it’s a lot busier this year. I mean, from the time I came here this morning just a steady flow of people. People having a hard time trying to find parking … yeah just a really big, huge turnout, and we’ve seen a lot of new Democrat voters, and actually just heard some people as they were walking, and they’re teaching their children, telling their children how they voted and why, and she’s saying ‘I’m a registered Republican, but this time I’m voting Democrat, so we gave a little cheer for that.”
Just across the row between the parked cars the Republicans stood around a table and were quick to say they’ve been there since early voting began, and there has been no trouble with the Democrats.
Janice Baldwin and Marti Cockell have been tabling in the courthouse parking lot since early voting began. Listen to an interview with Janice Baldwin and Marti Cockell.
“The Dems are here too, but we all get along. It’s Carson City,” said Marti Cockell of the Carson City Republican Central Committee.
I asked both Janice Baldwin and Marti Cockell what accounts for the rancor and uncivil tone of contemporary American politics.
“The media and the PACs that provide so much money for campaigns would become a little more positive and we’d hear a little more about what the candidate can do for us and not what awful things he has done to other people and vice versa, then I think maybe we wouldn’t have divisiveness as much,” said Cockell. “I mean there is always going to be some because people think differently, but I think that’s a real big problem, and this time it has been byond a problem. It’s been not even worth watching.”
I asked if President Trump was responsible for the decline in civility.
“Well actually, let’s say it is Trump because the opposition is trying to hurt him, trying to take him down,” said Janice Baldwin. “He would like to see us united. I mean it’s in every one of his speeches, and it doesn’t mean we come together politically, it means we come together as human beings.”