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After a tiring campaign, Tri-Lakers are eager to vote

State Olympic Regional Development Authority President and CEO Ted Blazer is the first person to cast his ballot on the first floor of the North Elba Town Hall in Lake Placid before 6:15 a.m. today. (Enterprise photo — Antonio Olivero)

LAKE PLACID — Forty minutes before the scheduled sunrise, eight voters clutched their hot coffees and wore their winter coats, lining the hallway of the first floor of the North Elba Town Hall, ready to cast some of the first ballots of what might be the most anticipated Election Day ever.

A few minutes later, as each scurried back out into the twilight of morning to their running cars, most all of them shared similar sentiment.

“I’m late for work,” one woman said rushing out the front door of the town hall, “but I’m just glad it’s going to be over.”

Five hundred and seventy-six days after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy and 511 days after Republican candidate Donald Trump announced his, Election Day is finally here.

Stepping through the red and blue Statue of Liberty curtains at the town hall was the equivalent of the old “getting the monkey off your back” cliche. For many, including Jason Andersen of Lake Placid, a weight was lifted with their vote.

Elisa McIntosh of Saranac Lake casts her ballot on the morning of Nov. 8, 2016, in the Harrietstown Town Hall auditorium in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)

“I just really wanted to get it out of the way, you know,” Andersen said. “I think this election brought out a lot of the bad in a lot of people — a lot of good people arguing over stuff that they never really worry about any other time.

“Every four years this happens,” he continued, “but this time, I think, was pretty brutal. I don’t think, no matter who wins, I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as people think it’s going to be, but, you know, whoever wins, all we can do is hope for the best, you know?”

Down on the first floor, Andersen was one of the first four people to cast his ballot with state Olympic Regional Development Authority President Ted Blazer being the first to enter and exit the voting curtains and take his ballot over to the input machine downstairs.

Up on the third floor, Cascade Cross-Country Ski Center owner Art Jubin once again cast the first vote at the North Elba Town Hall on Election Day.

Standing in front of Blazer on line downstairs, waiting for her chance to vote, was Megan Boughton of Lake Placid. She left the ballot box beaming and was hopeful to see history later tonight.

People mark their ballots at Tupper Lake's polling site, the former Holy Ghost Academy on Marion Street. (Enterprise photo — Kelly Carroll)

“This is a really exciting election. I wish my mother was alive for this; she’d be very proud,” Boughton said. “I’m hoping we’ll have our first madam president, and I think she’ll do a fantastic job.”

Next door at the Stewart’s Shop on Main Street, some voters streamed out of the town hall doors and into the convenience store for their morning coffee and breakfast. Regulars said hello and asked if each other had just voted or would vote. One group said they wouldn’t vote because they thought it wouldn’t matter.

“Hillary’s already won it,” a man said between sips of coffee.

After Trump bettered his chances by more than 20 percentage points nationally between Oct. 18 and this weekend, according to the latest election forecasts by FiveThirtyEight, things do seem to be looking up a bit for the favorite Clinton as of this morning. The site put Clinton’s chances of winning at 71.6 percent, as of this morning, to Trump’s 28.4 percent, and forecast her to take 300 electoral votes, more than the threshold of 270. They also forecast her to win the popular vote 48.5 percent to Trump’s 45 percent, with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson taking 4.9 percent.

If that result occurs, Patti Thompson of Lake Placid will be ecstatic. After casting her vote before 6:30 this morning at the North Elba Town Hall, Thompson said she was “absolutely” voting for Clinton. Like Andersen, this was a burden she was glad to remove.

People wait in line to vote before 6:15 a.m. today in the North Elba Town Hall in Lake Placid. (Enterprise photo — Antonio Olivero)

“I’ve been waiting for this day for months,” Thompson said, laughing. “It’s about just making sure that the country sustains itself through the next four years … just getting rid of all of the rhetoric and returning back to a normal — our normal country.”

Saranac Lake

Over at the Harrietstown Town Hall, a steady stream of voters moved in and out this morning to cast their ballots.

People enter the North Elba Town Hall in Lake Placid to vote shortly after the polling site opened at 6 a.m. today. (Enterprise photo — Antonio Olivero)

Elisa McIntosh and Patrick Murphy of Saranac Lake said they voted for Hillary Clinton. Why?

“Donald Trump’s terrifying,” McIntosh said.

Both McIntosh and Murphy had been Bernie Sanders supporters during primary season, but they said they knew early on that the cards were stacked against him.

“There might have been some compromising to have to vote for Hillary,” Murphy said, “but overall I feel very good voting for her and not so much having to vote against somebody.”

“And it’s cool because you’re voting for a woman for president,” McIntosh said. “I feel very empowered.”

A student teacher at Bloomingdale Elementary School, McIntosh said students in her first-grade class have been learning about the presidential election and reading books like Marc Brown’s “Arthur Meets the President.” Today, they’ll have a voting booth set up in their classroom where they can vote for Trump or Clinton.

“It’s been very interesting to hear them reflect what their parents are saying,” McIntosh said. “They’ll say, ‘Hillary is a liar. She’s going to jail.’ I’m thinking, ‘Have you ever heard her speak?’ But I have to keep my mouth shut and let them say what they want to say.”

Back at the town hall, Dan Jenkins of Coreys also cast his vote for Clinton.

“I’ve always been impressed with her work ethic and her sincerity all through her public life,” he said.

Sandy Fiorile of Saranac Lake said she cast a write-in vote for Bernie Sanders, even though he’s no longer in the race.

“I feel he’s better than the other two put together,” she said. “I know it’s not going to change it, but I’ll be able to say I did not vote for those two fools. That’s how I look at it.”

Tupper Lake

For voters in Tupper Lake this morning, the focus was on keeping candidates out of office.

Dennis Dechene said his hatred of Clinton and the need for a change from the Democratic Party brought him out to the polls. He said he fully supported Trump and was specifically concerned about Clinton’s views on Second Amendment rights.

“Hillary Clinton has never done a thing except steal from Arkansas and then move to New York — her and her husband both,” Dechene said. “I’ve never liked them before, and I don’t like them now, and Trump will change.”

He conceded that Trump may be inexperienced, but he felt he would have people working under him to serve as mentors.

Bob King agreed.

“I think Clinton is manipulative and a liar, and we’ve had enough of that,” King said. “I believe Trump really thinks in his heart he can do a lot better than Clinton, especially economically. Whether he can do it or not, I don’t know, but I’m willing to give him a chance.”

Gretchen Reid said she was not particularly fond of either candidate but believed it was her civic duty to vote, and decided on Clinton.

“Trump makes statements without any backing,” Reid said, “says very negative things about many groups of people, makes claims and doesn’t back off when proven wrong, and won’t take credit for his own mistakes.”