Polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, in time zones across the nation in what might be the most anticipated and contentious general election in decades. In the Highland Lakes, where more than 60 percent of registered voters had already cast their ballots during early voting, polls opened to fairly short lines that moved smoothly. People left happy to have exercised their right to vote.
“Now that I’m out of the line, everything is a lot better,” said Tyler Krueger, a business analyst who lives in Spicewood. “It’s great to be able to do this, to be able to vote, to be able to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”
Kruger pointed to the blue sky, breathed in the cool morning air, and proclaimed it a great day to be voting at the Spicewood Community Center, a white clapboard building next door to its twin, the Spicewood Church of Christ. Cars, trucks, and motorcycles were parked on the grass as voters donned their face masks and gaiters before entering.
One woman, who asked not to be named, said the line of 15 was too long for her at the moment. She left to go feed her horses, promising to come back later.
Another young man pulled in on his motorcycle and shook out his American flag gaiter that he called his “patriotic riding mask.”
“I was going for a ride and decided to stop and vote,” Shaun Patrick said. “I came to vote for more than the executive. I’m voting for the local leaders as well. It all adds up in the long run.”
A mechanic in Houston, he lives part time in Spicewood. This was his first time to vote in the United States. As a member of the U.S. Army stationed overseas, he voted by mail in previous elections.
Tara Isaac, who works in human resources, said she didn’t vote early because her husband liked to vote on Election Day.
“It’s going to drastically affect our way of life,” she said. “It’s been a pretty polarizing election. I feel like people are going to be pretty upset no matter how it turns out.”
The Spicewood location had a few glitches while getting the computer system started at 7 a.m., but once that was fixed, Isaac said it all went smoothly.
“I hope it all turns out smoothly for everyone,” she said. “I hope everybody behaves.”
Her husband, Robert Isaac, a field operator in Horseshoe Bay, followed her out the door and went to his SUV, which had MAGA and Trump written on the windows in white paint. He pulled a cap out of a pocket and stuck it firmly on his head. It was one he couldn’t wear inside. The name “Trump” was stitched in white across the front of the camouflage cap.
“Voting to me is activating your right to your freedom of speech,” he said. “It’s how you can have a voice about the things going on around your community and your nation. I have always voted.”
Meadowlakes residents took advantage of being able to vote at their City Hall for the first time this Election Day. By 7:30 a.m., about 25 vehicles were parked at the building.
Residents hope this won’t be the last time Meadowlakes has a polling place because of the ease they experienced getting to building, which had a separate entrance for voting.
“Very convenient,” said Dave Carosella.
He and wife Teresa, who have both been voting for 47 years, said they had four people in front of them when they arrived at City Hall at 7:15 a.m.
The couple, who has lived in Meadowlakes for 10 years, usually vote later in the day on Election Day. This year, they decided they’d start their day at the polls.
“We thought we’d get busy and the lines would be too long,” Teresa said. “Now, we’re going to go home and have breakfast.”
The two, who own Custom Creations and Interiors, said their votes came down to one key issue.
“As a small-business owner, the economy is always the important issue,” Teresa said. “The support for small businesses in the current pandemic was necessary for our survival on Main Street. We truly feel our needs were considered in many policy decisions, both nationally and locally. If businesses don’t survive, there are no jobs for workers.”
Another Meadowlakes resident, Charles Heck, threw his arms up in victory after he exited the building.
“It was something (the right to vote) that was given to me, and I appreciate it,” said Heck, who has been voting for 55 years. “I don’t want to lose it or abuse it.”
Heck, who has lived in the city for a year because he has other family members living there, said he arrived at 7:25 a.m. and was able to vote immediately.
The Meadowlakes resident, who is retired from the trade show industry, said he arrived confident of his decision on who to vote for, adding that he read reports, watched debates, and listened intently to what each candidate said. He noted that “everything” was important to him, and he voted his conscience.
“The economy, of course,” he said as he ran through his list of issues. “Socialism versus open or free or whatever you want to call it, open democracy.”
The Courthouse South Annex in Marble Falls saw a steady clip of early voters between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Tuesday as voters cycled through the polling location.
“This was my first time to vote here,” Randy Kruger said. “I’ve voted in a lot of elections prior, but this was great. Very professional. We were in and out, no problems.”
Kruger, who is the Pedernales Electric Cooperative chief financial officer and hails from the Houston area, said he waited for Election Day out of habit.
“I don’t know why I do it that way,” he said. “I’ve just been doing it this way for years.”
For him, this election is significant because it represents the two drastically different sides of the political spectrum at play.
“It’s the dramatic policy differences between Trump and Biden,” he said. “For me, that’s what it’s all about.”
Joseph Williams, who also says he prefers voting on Election Day out of a sense of tradition, cast his ballot quickly and easily. For him, this election is about morals and values.
“The two candidates are two polar opposites,” he said. “So, for me, my choice is incredibly clear. Same with most people I talk to on the streets. Stay away from the news and that sort of stuff. It can be misleading.”
It took about three minutes for sous chef Kelley Gray to cast his vote. It was his first time voting. He was spurred on by the historic significance of this year’s general election.
“The world’s kind of crazy right now,” Gray said. “It’s kind of a mixed bag for everybody. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out, for sure.”
You can follow Election Day news and results on DailyTrib.com as our team of reporters visits with voters at the polls and reports results as they come in and reactions from party leaders and candidates.