Exit polls: What voters had to say about the candidates

  • Cheryl Jefferson of Athol Staff Photo/GREG VINE

  • Lee Lozier of Athol Staff Photo/GREG VINE

  • Marilyn Nelson in Athol. Staff Photo/GREG VINE

  • Emily Lapinskas in Athol. Staff Photo/GREG VINE

  • Tim Canning of Orange showing his preferred candidate. STAFF PHOTO/MAX MARCUS

  • Ken Perkins of Deerfield STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DELUCA

  • Sandra Malinoski of Bernardston with her grandson STAFF PHOTO/ZACK DELUCA

  • James Sullivan of Colrain STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

  • A woman leaves Shelburne’s Memorial Hall, where voting was held Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Published: 3/4/2020 12:11:40 AM

Editor’s Note: Our reporters spread out around Franklin County and North Quabbin region to speak with voters about their preferences in Tuesday’s presidential primary. They heard from supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, President Donald Trump and in one case, the family dog.


A steady stream of voters made its way to Memorial Hall Tuesday to cast their ballots. According to Town Clerk Nancy Burnham, 525 people took advantage of early voting, which began last Monday. Since this is the first year the practice was allowed in the primary, Burnham said there’s no way to know if the number of early voters can be considered few or unusually high in number.

Cheryl Jefferson, who took a Republican ballot, cast her vote for a candidate who wasn’t even listed. A registered nurse, Jefferson stopped at the polls after working overnight for a client in Westfield.

“I voted for my dog,” Jefferson said. “Out of all of them running, he’s the only one with common sense. Some of the things I heard from Bill Weld I didn’t care for, and I wasn’t going to vote for Trump come hell or high water. I figured by voting for my dog — Jack is his name — I’d split the Republican vote a little more.”

Jack is 70 in dog years, so he meets the age requirement for serving as president.

Former Athol Fire Chief Lee Lozier voted in the Democratic primary, casting his ballot for Joe Biden.

“I was looking at all of the candidates,” he said, “and when (Amy) Klobuchar and (Pete) Buttigieg dropped out and decided to support Biden, that was it. Before, there were too many people to choose from. I was glad it had been narrowed down.”

Heading into the polls, Marilyn Nelson said she was unsure which ballot she was going to take, or which candidate she was going to vote for.

“Definitely not Trump,” she said emphatically. “I’ll make my final decision when I get in there.”

Emily Lapinskas cast her ballot for Sanders. She said his stand on the issue of college loans is one reason she supports the Vermont senator.

“I have about $90,000 in student debt,” she said. “I guess there are a lot of reasons I support him, really — socially and fiscally. I went to UMass Amherst and there were a lot of Bernie rallies.”


At Bernardston Town Hall, Biden was able to garner some votes. Matt Trombley said he voted for Biden because he is the “most moderate” candidate.

Sandra Malinoski, who was accompanied by her grandson at the polls, also voted for Biden and noted his “moderate” position. She said she might have voted for Pete Buttigieg, but he suspended his campaign on March 1.


James Sullivan, who moved to Colrain from Buckland six months ago, said he was not an avid participant in politics until he voted for President Jimmy Carter in his first election as a registered voter. He said primary elections seem like “a shakeout process these days.” He cast a ballot for Sanders.

“I’m more in line with his progressive politics,” Sullivan said of Sanders. “It’s only one vote, but I voted.”


At the Deerfield Police Station, the votes cast varied among those interviewed.

Barbara Emond, who voted in the Democratic primary, said she supported Sanders because she likes his views and thinks he can enact “needed” change.

“He has great policies,” Emond said. “I think he can do great things for younger people who can’t afford anything nowadays.”

Another Democratic primary participant, Julia Coffey, voted for Sanders, too.

“He has a movement behind him,” Coffey said. “He has the best interests of the American people making up his core values.”

Pamela Glaven and Daniel Keleher said they cast their ballots for Warren because she was the “most qualified.” Glaven said between the remaining Democratic candidates, she thought Warren is the most likely to beat Trump in the general election.

Voting in his first presidential primary election was 20-year-old Jonathan Delaney. He said he voted for Warren because “she has done her research” and “can make a change.”

“Being a Massachusetts senator helps, too,” Delaney acknowledged.

Voting in the Republic primary was Ken Perkins, who voted for incumbent candidate, President Trump.

“He’s a little brash, but he’s getting s*** done that hadn’t been able to get done in a long time, despite his tweets,” Perkins said. “None of us are perfect. He don’t walk on water either.”


Ted Scott said he makes it a point to participate in every primary election because general elections don’t give you much of a choice on who to vote for.

An 82-year-old enrolled Democrat, Scott said he voted for Sanders because he thinks “he has the best chance of winning.”

Scott also said climate change is a big issue for him.

“I worry about my grandchildren,” he said.

Sue Channel, an enrolled Republican and U.S. Navy veteran, voted to nominate Trump for reelection. She said Trump wasn’t her first choice four years ago, and he still isn’t, but she said the commander-in-chief is often treated unfairly. She said the country is “no worse off, if not better, than four years ago.”

“I can get past the abrasiveness,” Channel said.

She also mentioned it is ridiculous for people to avoid voting because they feel their votes don’t matter. She said entire elections would be altered if enough people had that frame of mind.

“Elections have been very, very, very close,” she said.


Extraordinary high voter turnouts are the norm in Montague Center, said Olivia Sears, warden of Montague Precinct 1, which covers most of Montague Center. A primary typically draws 85 to 90 percent of registered voters, she said.

“Montague Center votes,” Sears said. “I think people are very aware of what’s going on, and very thoughtful about what’s going on.”

Traffic Tuesday morning was typical, she said. By 9:30 a.m. she had seen 130 voters.

Montague Center’s highest turnout ever was in the 2000 presidential election, of George Bush vs. Al Gore, Sears said. But she said she expects this year’s presidential election to be even higher.

John Dunphy, who lives in Montague Center, said he voted for Warren.

“I like her approach to things,” he said. “She’s straightforward and hardworking and practical.”

He added: “I don’t want to see her humiliated in her own state.”

Leaving the Gill-Montague Senior Center, one of the voting sites in Turners Falls, Raichelle Doyle said she voted for Sanders. She supports his ideas about universal health care, and his expectations of improving the middle class’ quality of life.

“Even though some of his visions are kind of lofty ... I think it will be what moves the country to a better place,” she said. “Socialism works for most of Europe. Let’s try it.”

Judy Hartnett disagreed.

“Bernie? Forget it. He’s too radical,” Hartnett said.

She said she had considered all of the Democratic candidates except for Sanders, settling on Biden.

“Eeny meeny miny,” she said.


Over at the Northfield Town Hall, another first-time presidential primary voter cast a ballot for Warren.

Terry Maraslian, 78, said he had made it a point not to vote before as he didn’t agree with either political party. But now, he said, “there is a very big difference between Trump and any president we’ve ever had before.

“I can’t stand having a morally bankrupt person in the White House,” he said.

Donna Sicard also cast a ballot for Warren Tuesday.

“The more I listened to her, the more I felt she was a strong person,” Sicard said.

Kim Sherman proudly said she voted for Sanders. She said she would have voted for Sanders regardless of recent candidates dropping out of the race, but questioned how early votes cast for those candidates would affect the primary outcome.

“I don’t think any of them will beat him (Trump),” Sherman said. “But Biden is too old, too creepy, too touchy-feely for me.”


On the corner just up the street from the Orange Armory, the town’s only voting site, people were holding signs for Sanders, Trump and Warren.

“We remain respectful,” said Tim Canning, who was holding a “Bernie 2020” sign.

Leaving the Armory after voting, Paul Talbot said he voted for Trump, even though the incumbent president has no serious challengers for the Republican nomination.

“You get an opportunity to vote, you should be out there voting,” Talbot said. “I think it’s important.”

Talbot said he used to be registered as an independent voter but had become increasingly unhappy with the Democrats, especially in the last eight years, and re-registered with the Republicans.

He said he is pleased with Trump’s presidency so far.

“His record is unprecedented,” Talbot said.

Peter Chobot also said he voted for Trump. In 2016, Chobot voted for Hillary Clinton. But in Trump’s tax policies, Chobot, who runs his own business, pays $4,000 less than he used to, he said.

“That’s 4,000 reasons why I did it,” he said. “He’s the only president who ever did anything for a small company like me.”

Janet Marble said she voted for Biden because she wanted to return to the style of Barack Obama’s presidency. She specifically mentioned foreign policy as an area Biden would likely improve on.

She also said she liked him morally.

“I think he’s a decent man. He’s an honest man,” she said. “He’s married to a teacher.”

Jillian Whitney said she had been debating between Warren and Sanders. She went with Warren, thinking that she had better views on the environment and the economy. Whitney also mentioned she had concerns over Sanders’ health, considering his age.

“I feel like she’s a stronger candidate,” Whitney said. “And, honestly, anyone to get Trump out.”


Carol Angus said she votes in every primary election.

“I believe in our form of government,” she said. “I want it to work as well as it can and I want to do my part.”

Angus said she voted for Warren, saying the former special advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would be a magnificent president. She said she also respects Biden and admires Sanders for his advocacy for a single-payer health care system. However, she said the self-described democratic socialist “is just not the man for this moment. And he just doesn’t see it, and young people don’t see it either.”

She said ousting Trump from the White House is her overall goal.

“I just want to live long enough to see Donald Trump go down in flames, and (U.S. Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell with him, and Stephen Miller, the monster of immigration,” she said, calling the senior advisor to the president a “twisted, twisted little man.”


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