Cindy Humphrey gave up a long-planned lunch date with old friends in Savannah, Ga., on Saturday for one huge reason: She wanted to vote.
"It's such a big deal to be able to play a role in who our country has for a leader," she said.
A high school English teacher, Humphrey has spent weeks talking to her students, telling them why voting is important. The Republican half of the South Carolina presidential race came to town Saturday, the Democrats get a shot next Saturday.
"I still consider myself a young voter," the 45-year-old Humphrey said. "I had to vote."
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On the way to her precinct Saturday, the Ebenezer precinct at York Road Elementary School, she still hadn't made up her mind.
"I was wrestling between voting for who I thought would win, and who I believe in."
What happened is what should happen in elections. She voted for who she thought was best, not who others said was best.
She voted for Fred Thompson. Thompson lagged in the polls before Saturday, in a tie for third. That vote proves what the late Massachusetts politician Tip O'Neill said so long ago when he uttered the famous line: "All politics is local."
The reason for Humphrey's vote is the war in Iraq. Her boss, the principal at Indian Land High School, has a son in the Army in Iraq. He just won a big award for his service.
"Defense became the final issue for me because I think of David Faris and I want him to be safe," Humphrey said. "It was a big deal to me. The biggest."
Her husband, Ed, also a teacher, voted for Mike Huckabee.
They left holding hands anyway.
From all walks of life
At York Road, a snapshot of conservative York County walked in through several hours. Hundreds of people. Clemson ball caps and overalls. Sport coats and loafers. Gray-haired ladies who wouldn't dare leave the house without jewelry and makeup and college kids whose hair was still matted from the night's sleep.
All were wonderful. Especially the younger voters. The future -- certainly the conservative thinking part of it -- walked in those doors. One fresh-faced guy had a brand-new voter registration card in his fingers without a crease in it, his first time voting, and he announced in a shout: "I'm here to vote!"
Jon Hidalgo, 28 and his wife, Lauryn, 24, came. Louisiana natives, now living here teaching. Jon, inexplicably in the windy gray cold, wore shorts. He still beamed with joy at voting. Louisiana in the blood, I guess.
He and his wife each voted for Ron Paul, the only GOP candidate urging an end to the war in Iraq. However, ending the war was not enough to push either away from other conservative stances toward waiting a week to vote for a Democrat.
"We are asking our troops to do the job of politicians, and that is not right," Jon Hidalgo said.
Andrew Hoover and his wife, Trina, both 32, also voted.
"What an honor, to be part of this democratic process and be heard," said Andrew Hoover. "I feel patriotic today. There are places in the world where people would die to vote."
Both opted for Huckabee.
Stephany Harrison, 27, smiling walking in and smiling walking out. A conservative?
"Absolutely," she said. "Our generation has to make a difference. It's our country, too."
Thompson got her vote.
Jessica Brinson, 20, came back for the weekend from college just to vote.
"My first time for president, and it feels so great to be a part of it," she said.
Huckabee got her vote.
Just a bunch of young South Carolinians from York County on a Saturday, helping decide the future of the world.
Andrew Dys • 329-4065