Voter apathy isn’t a problem this year.
A record number of citizens here and nationwide are expected to cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential race.
In Snohomish County, turnout is projected to be near 85% of the 510,000 ballots mailed to registered voters, compared to 79% of the 456,000 registered to vote in 2016. Island County has about 60,000 voters. Statewide, there are 4.8 million active voter registrations.
Marysville resident Jessica Figueroa is voting for the first time since she became a U.S. citizen. She is backing Joe Biden for his stances on immigration, economics and health.
“I need a president who listens to scientists,” she said.
Snohomish aerospace salesman Jesse Bowers is voting for Donald Trump again.
“He puts America first,” he said. “I think he has done fantastic.”
Courtney Criss, a Marysville mother of four, two with Down syndrome, is a former Republican turned Biden voter due to Trump’s behavior toward people with disabilities and those with differing opinions.
“That’s not how presidents are supposed to act,” Criss said. “Every day he surprises me with something else. He just needs to go.”
On Whidbey Island, Army veteran Morley Curtis prefers Trump, despite referring to him as a “moron.”
“The reason I like Trump is because he’s not a politician, he’s a businessman,” Curtis said.
In the 2016 election, Snohomish County voters chose Hillary Clinton at 54% over Trump’s 37%.
The 2020 race is not limited to Red or Blue. Third-party candidates also are finding some support among Washington voters.
Layla Bush of Lynnwood is backing Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen.
“They speak to a different path, a different plan for a direction that we can take the country in,” she said.
Jessica Figueroa, 27, Marysville
Jessica Figueroa came to the United States from Mexico at age 5 with her mom. She got her Green Card at 18. In 2017, she became a U.S. citizen.
This is her first time voting.
“I am not just voting for myself, I am voting to represent a household,” she said.
She lives with her boyfriend, Rafael Flores, a DACA recipient, their 17-month-old daughter, Leilani, and her mom, Guillermina Victoria, who has been waiting over a year and a half to finalize citizenship.
Figueroa initially supported Elizabeth Warren, then Bernie Sanders. She plans to vote for Biden. She likes Kamala Harris better.
Immigration is a big issue for her.
“Based on what Trump has shown, he has proven what a harmful impact he can have on my family and community,” she said.
“Biden acknowledges the disadvantages and inequalities that minorities face, including housing.”
Other issues for her are equality and affordable housing.
She was surprised by all the measures and candidates on the ballot and the thick voters’ guide.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” she said. “It’s more than just checking a president. It’s a lot of reading.”
Figueroa, community center coordinator for Connect Casino Road in Everett, hopes to have a virtual workshop for first-time voters to explain the voting process.
“But not who to vote for,” she said.
Jesse Bowers, 27, Snohomish
Jesse Bowers is pleased with the president.
“He puts the health of the American people first,” he said. “He shut down travel from China early which was a risky move before a single death here from coronavirus. Despite many states shutting down businesses, restaurants, malls, our economy is greater than it’s ever been. I can see it in my 401(k) and my personal investments. I’m pro-life and Donald Trump is pro-life.”
Bowers, married with an 8-month-old son, works in sales in the aerospace and defense industry.
“I work in an industry that has been hit hard by tariffs,” he said.
His only complaint about Trump: “At certain times I wish he would keep his mouth shut and let the other side embarrass themselves without him trying to do it for them.”
He said politics has polarized people.
“Anybody that I come in contact (with) that doesn’t feel the same way as me seems to not only shun me but shut down any communication,” he said. “Nowadays people cannot disagree on politics and still be friends. It’s sad when people choose politics over relationships. I have friends who have done that to me. It’s all about emotion these days. Nobody can be rational.”
He has a Trump sign in the yard.
“I have two Donald Trump shirts and I wear them proudly despite the dirty looks people give me,” he said.
Layla Bush, 37, Lynnwood
Lifelong Democrat Layla Bush said morality has her favoring the Libertarian ticket of Jo Jorgensen and Spike Cohen this November.
“I feel like right now the Black Lives Matter movement and the issue with accountability in our police departments are one of the most important issues in our country and I am not satisfied with Biden and Kamala Harris,” Bush said.
A Barack Obama supporter in 2008 and 2012, Bush said the party no longer advocates for minorities. In the Libertarian Party she saw a huge effort to connect with marginalized communities.
“People are tired of the Democrats and Republicans,” she said. “The Libertarian view of letting individuals make choices for themselves and getting more localized control … allows for more choice for people.”
Bush campaigned to get Jorgensen on the ballot in Washington and has waved signs for the candidate. She admits a Libertarian victory is highly unlikely, but said the vote can go a long way toward the party’s future
“If we can get 5% of the vote that means (the Libertarian Party) gets automatic ballot access in most states,” Bush said. “It’s a system that is controlled by the two parties … and it’s time to break that monopoly.”
Courtney Criss, 43, Marysville
Courtney Criss said her vote for Biden is based on policies for “education, healthcare (including pandemic control), poverty and people with disabilities.”
“Bottom line, Biden has a plan,” she said.
She didn’t check a box for a presidential candidate in the last election.
“I was a strict Republican until 2016,” Criss said. “I have a law degree. I consider myself pro-life and a woman of faith.”
Donald Trump is responsible for changing her party affiliation.
“It made me think and review how I wanted this country to be. I was appalled how he treated people,” she said. “I was offended for my children when he was mocking the reporter and did that hand gesture because I have two children with Down syndrome. I am sensitive about people with disabilities. All people need to be treated with respect.”
She is concerned about the dismantlement of the Affordable Care Act.
“We do have good private insurance but there are a lot of expenses it doesn’t pick up. We depend on Medicaid for some additional things, therapies, equipment and medicine.”
Morley Curtis, 63, Greenbank
Morley Curtis voted for Trump in 2016 and plans to again.
“It’s kind of a joke for me because I would probably never vote for him in a normal world,” he said.
“I hate politicians, I hate lawyers, and that’s all we have today. We don’t have real people anymore, we have a bunch of idiots. I hate the way our government is going. The only reason I like Trump is that he’s different from the people who are running for government now.”
Curtis retired from the Army and is a maintenance worker at the Oak Harbor Naval Air Station. He’s not worried about COVID-19 or health care or other hot button topics.
“No issue will affect me,” he said.
He called Biden “a puppet.”
“He is going to go away and Kamala Harris will be president,” he said.
His wife also supports Trump.
“She used to watch that idiot show of his. She loved that show, I thought it was so stupid. He’s still a moron. Even today. In politics, it’s a matter of who you hate the least.”
Doug Evans, 31, Everett
Doug Evans has a Bernie yard sign that he altered with tape to turn into a Biden sign as a way to show his support for both.
“I’m not that enthusiastic about Biden. I am a Bernie supporter,” he said. “It’s all about Biden’s coalition of people. He has done a good job coalition building. And his message of ‘healing America’ and he is executing that vision. He has the right people. It will help shift the nation where we can find economic and environmental justice.”
It’s the “why I am voting for Biden, not the why against Trump. It’s better to uplift the thing you desire rather than to dump on the thing you don’t want.”
Evans, a musician, workforce development specialist and precinct committee officer, has T-shirts with Sanders’ “Not me. Us,” slogan.
“There was always energy around him. It wasn’t locked to Bernie, it was locked to the ‘not me, it’s us,’” he said. “Biden is so milquetoast.”
Nancy Taylor, 59, Spokane, formerly of Brier
Nancy Taylor said she wasn’t happy about voting for Trump in 2016.
“I held my nose,” she said. “I was almost not going to vote. I am enthusiastically voting for him this time.”
Taylor, who works in the insurance field, said she studied up on Trump the past four years.
“Rather than listening to sound bites, I’ve listened to entire conferences, speeches and meetings,” she said. “He has the nation’s interest at heart. I’ve listened to people say he’s a tyrant, he’s Hitler and he’s a fascist. I’ve seen zero of that.”
She praised his handling of the coronavirus.
“Unfortunately, I think Trump had some very bad advice in the beginning. And he has a lot of political pressure, but I think he’s done a very good job,” she said.
Anthony Welti, 36, Marysville
Anthony Welti made his own bid for State Insurance Commissioner as a Libertarian in the primary election. He blames the two-party system for the failed political discourse and public policies that resulted in protests and riots from pundits on both sides of the aisle.
“We are trying to make sure everyone knows that they not only have a third and a fourth option, they have better options than President Trump or Mr. Biden,” he said.
Welti said he hears from supporters on the left and the right that a vote for Jorgensen is a vote for the opposition. He sees it differently.
“There is no such thing as a wasted vote … political parties or a candidate can only earn or lose your support. Make them earn it,” he said.
Planning to vote?
People can register in person at a county elections office or voting center until 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. The deadline to register online or by mail is Monday.
As of Friday, one-third of voters statewide had cast their ballots.
Go to votewa.gov to check the status of your ballot.
Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; email@example.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.