Tim Reid figures it’s none of his business who his neighbors vote for president in November. But he’s still curious.
Reid, owner of South Forty Farms at 640 Highway 274, decided he’d interject a little fun into a campaign season that needs it. On Sept. 13, he set up a ballot box at his produce store. He put paper slips out and asked folks to choose which candidate they want for president. He plans to tally the totals a couple weeks before the Nov. 8 election.
“Out of curiosity, I thought I would set it up,” Reid said. “I wanted to know who people around here are backing for president. I wanted to have a little fun with it.”
Obviously, the votes cast at the store have no legal standing and aren’t affiliated with the general election Nov. 8, where voters will turn out at their polling stations. Official polling isn’t the point.
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As the country farm store might suggest, the bigger goal is providing fat to chew.
“I had one guy come in and write ‘neither’ on a piece of paper, and say he’d just vote for neither one of them,” Reid said.
Even when he doesn’t ask, people offer their thoughts on an election where both major national party candidates spark plenty of opinion. Reid isn’t interested in convincing anyone to vote a certain way. He’s more interested in getting to know customers and neighbors. And, if he sells an extra jam jar or two, he won’t complain.
Reid is curious to see how his homemade farm stand box results will reflect the final numbers in November. Customers were leaning red early, when the box hadn’t been out two full days.
“It seems to me like more people are voting for (Republican candidate Donald) Trump,” Reid said.
On Tuesday morning, hours after the first presidential debate, curiosity got the better of him. Reid cracked open the ballot box to see where the results stand, which he'd like to compare with the mornings after the coming two debates. He wonders whether the televised events will make a difference. The second televised debate is Oct. 9.
"We're going to see if it changes anything," he said.
Neighbor John Lane arrived mid-tally. He hadn't planned on candidate polling Tuesday morning, but he was interested to find out where locals stand.
"I was just coming to get some deer apples," Lane said.
He glanced at the totals through one debate. Trump had 137 votes. Democrat Hillary Clinton had 49.
"Yeah, I can believe that," Lane said. "I can definitely believe that."
Reid didn't ask for names, but had places on his ballot to list ages and gender for anyone who would. Reid was surprised 70 women voted Trump, compared to 36 for Clinton. Clinton getting 73 percent of her support from women didn't give him pause, but Trump's 51 percent did.
What didn't surprise Reid were the 24 votes choosing neither major party candidate. Combined, there were nine ballots marked either "independent," "neither," "none." Third party candidate Gary Johnson got five write-in votes. Three ballots were left blank.
The fun came with among the one vote apiece ranks. "Undecided" got one vote, as did "I just don't know" and "third party." "Moving to Canada" got a vote, as did "monkey," "my 6-year-old grandson Evan" and "They both suck."
Lane perused the results before grabbing a bag full of enough apples to plant an orchard. He worked with a local political party in the past, and figured Reid already has as good a local sample as any of the fancy groups will get this election season. He's interested to see if the debates change anything, and how close Reid's box comes to predicting the local choice Nov. 8.
Until then, Lane has places to be.
"Let's go feed these deer," he said.
John Marks: 803-831-8166