Election Day arrived in Hernando County in a whirlwind of red, white and blue. The election featured tight races for the White House and the County Commission, plus a historic referendum in Spring Hill, sparing nothing in terms of enthusiasm among voters and candidates alike. Hernando Times staffers chronicled the day from all parts of the county. Here's what we saw:
• • •
Megan Sacks, 15, and her mother, Tracy, win the campaign spirit award.
Sacks donned a vest and skirt made from a fabric patterned with the word "Republican" and the GOP's elephant logo.
"Everyone at school was wearing these Obama shirts and Obama buttons and I wanted to be different," said Megan Sacks, outside the precincts at Grace Presbyterian Church in Spring Hill.
"So we had this Republican fabric at home and my mom made me this outfit to wear to school today."
Before school started Sacks posed in her outfit next to a huge McCain-Palin sign with two thumbs up.
• • •
Cassandra Clayton, 41, is the owner of Happyland Daycare in Brooksville. She's also a persuasive force this election.
When lifelong Republican LaDonna Garman, 31, came to pick up her 5-year-old daughter, Parker, Clayton gave her the hard sell for Obama. And it worked.
"I've always been a Republican ever since I started voting," Garman said. "My family has always said that the Democrats were for higher taxes. But (Clayton) has been telling me how Obama is really for helping out the middle and lower class."
As Garman left the daycare center, she headed for her precinct, to cast her first vote for a Democrat.
• • •
Sarah Klein said John McCain is too old to be president. And she should know.
The Altria Woods resident was born in March 1907 when women couldn't vote. She has seen many elections.
"One candidate was too old," she said of McCain.
As for Obama: "I'm not sure if the other is always truthful about what he's going to do."
Still, in the end she voted for the Republican ticket because of vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin.
"I think she can kind of help (McCain) along," Klein said.
• • •
The polls were not the only place with long lines Tuesday.
On State Road 50 in Spring Hill, voters could trade their "I Voted' stickers for free chicken sandwiches at Chick-Fil-A and free coffee at Starbucks.
The line at Chick-Fil-A stretched from the counter to the front window at one point. "We've been cookin' and cookin' and cookin'," said a cashier with eyes stretched wide in a look of disbelief.
The Starbucks crowd felt more collegial as a dozen-plus caffeine lovers spawned impromptu discussions about this much-discussed election season.
Voting, apparently, makes you hungry.
• • •
The typical youthful faces of Obama's campaign volunteers are not exactly what you found in Hernando County.
At 3 p.m., as Election Day wound down, Obama's Campaign for Change office on Spring Hill Drive teemed with a dozen or more helpers — all senior citizens.
Some had spent the day canvassing neighborhoods while others helped transport voters to the polls.
The office was decorated from corner to corner with Obama images. A poster even hung in the bathroom.
All were working hard, eagerly but cautiously looking forward to a party after polls closed.
A victory party, they all hoped.
Times Staff Writers Logan Neill, Joel Anderson and Thomas Marshall and Staff Photographer Lance Rothstein contributed to this report.
John Frank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6114.