//Helen Lyon of Grand Junction and Jackie Bennett of Englewood are voting for candidates of the opposing party they have identified with for years. Photos provided by Lyon and Bennett.
The roar of the presidential campaign rallies has quieted, billions of dollars have been spent and the majority of Colorado voters have made up their minds as Election Day 2020 commences.
In Colorado, mail-in voting—a practice adopted statewide in 2013—kicked off last month. Since Oct. 9, more than 2.8 million ballots have been returned to county clerks for today’s General Election.
As people on both sides of the aisle wait and hope the election results point their way, one element that’s hard to quantify is how many people who are registered in one party will vote for the other party’s presidential candidate. Ms. Mayhem spoke to four of these voters who are jumping party lines.
Jackie Bennett of Englewood couldn’t wait to cast her vote for Hillary Clinton four years ago. She grew up loving the Clintons alongside her parents, and she even met former president Bill Clinton at a Red Rocks campaign rally while in high school. But the Clinton craze soon faded when Trump entered into politics.
“The email thing happened, and Benghazi. [Clinton] is one of the corrupt people,” Bennett said. “Trump is for America. He’s for the troops. He’s not a politician. He just talks to the people. I think he’s done a great job.”
It’s estimated that around 9% of voters who supported President Barack Obama in 2012 crossed party lines to endorse Trump in 2016.
Brittany Thompson, a lifelong Democrat living in Berthoud also falls into that elusive category. For her, 2016 marked an overhaul in party preference because of frustrations over tax fees under the Obama administration.
“We couldn’t afford health insurance, but yet you’re going to charge me for not having it?” Thompson said. “I hated it.”
When it came down to cast her vote between Clinton and Trump, the choice was clear to her.
“I don’t think a woman would be a good fit. We’re just more emotional than men are, and I think we act on our emotions,” Thompson said.
Even though this year’s Democratic Party nominee is once again a man, Thompson has no plans of returning to her former blue background this year, or ever.
“Trump’s outspoken, he speaks the truth, and I can appreciate that about him,” she said.
Voters from a red background have also decided to jump party lines this year. Helen Lyon of Grand Junction has been a Republican voter for more than 40 years. The retired church assistant has spent the better part of the year reflecting and researching before she concluded that Trump will not earn her support a second time. Instead, she will vote for former Vice President Joe Biden.
“COVID was just like the nail on the coffin for me. He’s just killing all these people, he’s causing a lot of people to die. I feel like it is his fault,” Lyon said. “And I think the impeachment showed me, these people on the Republican side, we have lost our moral compass. I can’t believe in the Republican party anymore. They’re not the party that I knew back in 1972.”
Molly, a small business owner in Denver, whose last name has been omitted for privacy, grew up watching her father serve as an elected representative for the Republican party. It’s been a part of her DNA for decades. In 2016, she took note of Trump’s strategy to win over voters.
“He would demonize the other side and drive fear and chaos to wedge us apart, and it’s working,” Molly said. “Republicans say it’s all about freedom—freedom from government, taxes, freedom to carry a gun. How is it free when you have somebody in the White House that if you disagree, you’re the enemy, you’re targeted, attacked, fired, and pushed out and marginalized? That is not freedom.”
And because of that, she’s switching her allegiance to focus on issues that young people care about, including economic empowerment, climate change and racial justice.
“I’m voting straight down Democratic, and the reason is that we have to excise this cancer. We have got to get this cancer out of this party and start over again,” Molly said.
No matter which side you lean, voter passion is palpable this year. So far, more than 90 million Americans have mailed in their ballots or voted early in person, smashing 2016 records, according to the US Elections Project.
As the hours pass and the votes are tallied, the only thing left to do is wait.