Priorities, interests drive voting decisions across Bibb, Houston

Telegraph staffNovember 6, 2012 

Stay-at-home dad Darrell Crumpton, a former machinist at a local zipper factory, voted for Mitt Romney on Tuesday.

Then he almost cried.

Crumpton, 43, has an 11-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy. She is under his care pretty much around the clock. He left behind an 18-year job at YKK to be with her.

He cast his ballot for Romney “for her future.”

“A lot of the decisions I make are based on her care,” Crumpton said, choking up, after voting at Mikado Baptist Church in south Bibb County. “Her being homebound and still recovering from some surgeries and being very sick, ... it just meant a lot for me to come out and cast my vote.”

In Georgia, where voters have chosen the winning candidate in seven of the past 10 presidential elections, Crumpton figured this year’s contest for the state’s 16 electoral votes would largely be decided along racial lines.

“We have more churches in Macon than we do restaurants,” said Crumpton, who’s white. “We have churches on every corner, but we can’t seem to unite. It’s such a divisive situation.”

After voting at the Pentecostal Temple precinct on Anthony Road, Summer Franklin, 22, an aspiring rapper who is studying at a local technical college to become a probation officer, said, “Down South, the Republicans are always gonna win.”

In the temple’s lobby, as voters walked in and out, Franklin, who is black, said, “You already know that, of course, all the white folks are gonna want Mitt Romney to be the president.”

Standing nearby, 15-year-old Tristan Benns, a sophomore at Central High School, overheard Franklin.

“My mom’s white,” he said, “and she’s voting for Obama.”

“Well, I can believe that, and that’s good,” Franklin said.

“We’re driving people to the polls,” Benns added.

“And I appreciate that,” Franklin told him.

“When I’m old enough,” Benns said, “I plan to vote Democrat.”

Franklin says she voted for President Obama, in part, because of his education policies.

“I just feel like Obama has a better plan to rebuild American,” she said. “Watching the debates and stuff, Mitt Romney never said exactly what he can do to get America out of this debt that we’re in. He just was really telling you everything that Barack Obama was doing wrong. If he would’ve told me some stuff saying what he wanted to do to rebuild America, I probably would have voted for him.”

* * *

Janice Davis’ Nike sneakers came in handy for her busy day as poll manager of the Mabel White Memorial Baptist Church precinct on Bass Road.

Davis patrolled a line of more than 100 people that snaked outside at 8 a.m.

“Are you sure you’re voting in the right precinct,” she asked as she tried to keep the line moving. “Got to move a little faster. Got to roll, got to roll.”

At Mikado Baptist Church on Houston Road, poll manager Theresa Harris said voters were patient with lines that she estimated were twice as long as they were four years ago.

“I’m just glad that people are taking the opportunity. ... So many other people don’t have the right to vote,” Harris said.

Retired Macon police officer Charles Grant, 67, voted for just his second Democratic candidate for president.

“I’m voting for Obama,” said Grant, who voted for John McCain in the last presidential election. “I wouldn’t vote for Mitt Romney for dog catcher. He doesn’t know what it’s like to work.”

Grant, who said he also supported Bill Clinton in the past, said he also cast his vote for Bibb Commission Chairman Sam Hart over challenger Tom Wagoner.

“Why should I vote for somebody I’ve never heard of because he was white,” Grant said. “I vote not for the color of someone’s skin, but who’s best qualified.”

* * *

In Houston County, where Earl M. Lockhart has been the poll manager at an Elberta precinct for 19 years, he’d never seen a turnout like the one Tuesday.

By 7:15 a.m., 100 people had cast votes. By noon, more than 500 of the precinct’s 2,800 registered voters had come in.

“This is highly unusual, ... especially so early in the day,” he said. “This is a tidal wave.”

Chilly, rainy weather didn’t seem to deter Warner Robins-area voters.

Precinct parking lots were full and streams of voters left sporting “I Voted” stickers.

Many said the deciding factor was the economy.

“We’ve got a lot of wasted money out there,” said Randy Scott of Warner Robins, who voted for Romney. “For me, he had a more clear plan.”Janice Shierling, 76, of Centerville voted for the first time. Current issues, including health care, convinced Shierling that this election was an important one.

“I felt more concerned this time than I ever had,” she said, while not revealing her candidate of choice. “I just felt a real need to vote.”

Bryson Bagley, 18, also voted for the first time.

“It felt good,” said Bagley, who voted at the Warner Robins Recreation Center. “I finally get to vote. My vote counts, and it matters.”

Daniel Lane stopped by the recreation center to cast his vote for Obama and “let the public know that young people are here to vote.”

“He’s the right man for the job. He’s the right man to get the economy straight,” he said. “And I like his plan.”

As Barbara Gray hustled to her car through the cold rain, she said a topic that came to the fore during the first presidential debate led her to vote for Obama: Big Bird.

“Something that really stuck with me was ‘Sesame Street,’ ” she said of Romney’s plan to cut funding for the Public Broadcasting Service, which broadcasts the children’s show. “It’s a learning station. Why cut it?”

Candace Engel pulled a hood over her toddler’s head as she left the precinct. It was important for her to cast her vote for Romney, she said.

“We don’t need four more years of what we’ve been through,” she said. “If a tire’s flat, you change it. You don’t wait four years for it to get better.”

Bruce Morrissett said the state of the economy and the Affordable Health Care Act, approved under the Obama administration, made him support Romney.

“He’ll quit giving away money,” Morrissett said.

Voter Alice Wolmack supported Obama because of the new health care legislation.

Wolmack stood on a sidewalk near Northside High School with an umbrella in one hand and an Obama sign in another. Some passers-by honked their car horns and gave her the thumbs up. Others stopped to give her coffee. One man pulled over, got out and stood next to Wolmack, waving her extra sign.

“I think Obama is the man for the job because he has done as well as he could have done under the circumstances,” she said. “He did health care, which has been beneficial to millions who would not have been insured without it.”

A few miles away, a large van wheeled into the parking lot of The Elberta Center, and a handful of people from New Hope Center, an assisted living and mental health facility, got out and made their way to the precinct’s voting booths.

“They want to vote,” said Kara Dover, the day-program coordinator at New Hope. “We’ve taught them about how voting is a right.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303. To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751. To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service

Top Jobs

View All

Find a Home

$1,150,000 Macon
4 bed, 4 full bath, 2 half bath. Mon Plaiser a French influenced...

Find a Car

Search New Cars