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Keep Houston Press Free
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Scenes From The Polls: The GOP In The Fifth Ward!

It was an early day of voting for Nino and Anita Garcia.

The 64-year-old Nino, retired from the Army, dropped his wife off at Scroggins Elementary in the Fifth Ward at about a quarter to six. As a judge, Anita had to check the seals on the machines, put up signs and sample ballots, and generally make sure everything was in place. After dropping her off, Nino went back home, then came back a bit before 9 to vote for John McCain.

“He’s got the Purple Heart, I’ve got the Purple Heart,” said Nino, who wore a faded t-shirt emblazoned with an eagle. He explained that, like McCain, he was wounded in Vietnam. But he’s not a straight-ticket voter.

“I’m a vote-splitter,” he said. “Just put it that way.”

He’s also not a stranger to politics, having run (and lost) for City Council in 1989, against Ben Reyes.

Of the presidential election, he said, “It’s one of the most controversial I’ve seen in a long time.”

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While the campaigns may have been heated, everything was going smoothly at Scroggins, Anita said.

“I’ve seen places where they’re just yelling and screaming…but it’s been very good here,” she said. She had judged one time before, even though, she jokes, she “came out of the closet” as a Republican in this heavily Democratic precinct.

As for the R-word, she joked, “You have to whisper that in here.”

-- Craig Malisow

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