|Voters are expected to turn out in record numbers at polling stations [Photos by Linda Haddad]|
As election polls opened early in Southern California, Los Angeles residents in the San Fernando Valley braved the rain, dark clouds, slippery streets and long lines to cast their votes for John McCain or Barack Obama.
Al Jazeera visited Pacoima and Van Nuys to ask Angelino voters who they are voting for and why.
Roman Stollenwerk – Assistant curator, 28, Pacoima
I strongly disagree with the Republican party in general and that’s why I am voting for Barack Obama.
I truly don’t feel comfortable with McCain in power because I am extremely unsettled by his choice in Sarah Palin.
She encompasses everything I am against politically and I would hate to see her enforce her views on me or any other American.
She has strict religious views and to see her enforce them frightens me.
The fact that John McCain picked someone so extreme in views as his running-mate just shows how reckless he is. Who wants a president like that?
Obama represents my views and more. He’s going to help the people that need help.
Oscar Ontiberos – Construction worker, 51, Pacoima
Without a doubt I voted for Obama.
He will be the president who will help America in this economic crisis.
We are having many, many problems in this country economically and it’s just not fair what is happening to us – the middle class and people less fortunate.
When Obama speaks, he not only inspires me but young people too. It’s amazing.
He can do more for cities like Pacoima, for example – provide more jobs for these younger men who need it instead of joining gangs and selling drugs, help schools become better, and maybe even provide more schools and attract smarter people to teach.
He motivates and that’s the bottom line.
We need him now.
Richard Mena – Unemployed, 49, Pacoima
I am not too fond of Barack Obama. He scares me.
I voted for John McCain because he does not scare me.
Obama want’s to take my money and give it to other people. What’s that about?
Obama is making too many promises we all know he won’t be able to keep.
And this “change” thing – what does he want to keep changing?
Again, I don’t want him taking my money. Is that the “change” he’s talking about?
This issue of redistributing the wealth is just plain wrong.
People need to pull their weight in this country, that way we can make it what it really is supposed to be.
When corporations make money, they started with nothing. And if you are smart enough to make that much, then keep doing it.
People should be able to make and earn their own money and keep it.
Sandra Martinon – College student, 20, Pacoima
This is my first time voting in a presidential election and I am excited and proud to say I am voting for Barack Obama.
He’s going to stop this war in Iraq and it couldn’t come sooner.
I have many friends of mine who are serving in Iraq and it scares me hearing about our brothers and sisters and what they are dealing with there.
I know the soldiers are serving this country and we all appreciate them, but we need to bring them back home because they were misled in this war.
Obama is going to be able to bring my friends back from Iraq safe and respectively.
And as a young person I know my vote counts, and I just hope Obama inspires other young people to speak their mind and vote.
Robert Ousley – Disabled, 53, Pacoima
Barack Obama’s views on education, taxes and, most importantly, healthcare are right on.
I was shot in the chest 29 years-ago in this city. That shot ruptured my spine.
Medicare has been pretty good to me but there are others out there who are not disabled but need healthcare and the bills are just killing them.
I also like how Obama has talked lots about sending kids who can’t afford college, to college.
Cutting costs on students who will do some community service is a great idea – I’ve never heard of an idea like that before from other politicians.
Obama is just different and that’s what America needs now for sure.
We need something different.
Suzanne Norman – Office assistant, 76, Van Nuys
I’m a Democrat but I voted for John Mccain.
Barack Obama is just way too young. He has practically no experience.
He’s making many promises that I know he won’t be able to keep. He sounds a bit naive. His tax plans sound iffy. The middle class will not get the tax cuts he is promising. Those who really need a tax cut won’t see it.
McCain has his head on straight [and] has wonderful experience when it comes to fighting a war. His ideas on Iraq sound more realistic. His choice in Palin is great.
She needs more time to learn and she will.
I just hope McCain’s choice for Palin as the vice president does not ruin his chances to become president.
Joshua Nouril – Unemployed, 26, Van Nuys
I voted for the lesser of two evils – Barack Obama.
Obama disappointed me when he promised Aipac [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee] that Jerusalem would be undivided and the capital of Israel.
That shocked me.
But I am Iranian, and the idea of having dialogue with Iran makes me happy. We and Iran need it before things ever escalate.
Iran will be having its own elections soon and hopefully there will be change in leadership there as well.
I also love Joe Biden, that man is crazy.
I loved when he yelled at Donald Rumsfeld during senate hearings about torture being used in the war.
Biden made a point that if we torture our enemies, they will torture us back if they capture our soldiers. That makes sense and Biden was smart for pointing that out.
Michael Binkow – Television producer, 49, Van Nuys
I’m an independent and was a strong Ralph Nader supporter 35 years ago.
But today, while I would love to have better and more viable third-party candidates, I voted for Barack Obama.
In 2000, I would have loved to have voted for McCain if he made it to the general election. He was a real maverick back then.
Today, well, he just keeps drinking a cup of conservative Kool-Aid. His pick of Sarah Palin as vice president reinforces that conservative agenda.
Obama is not perfect and won’t be the be-all, end-all president. But his ideas and push for change are just what we need right in this time of crisis in the US and around the world.
The idea he pushes of serving your country in many different ways is also what young people need to hear. At the end of the day, we are all Americans and need to help out, like I did today, taking the day off of work and volunteering at polling places.
I like what Obama represents.
He gives a glimpse of light for a brighter future after eight years of darkness.