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Michigan Swing Town Voters Share Their Thoughts On The Election


As Election Day gets closer, voters are starkly divided over which presidential candidate's vision will be best for the country. In places like Williamston, Mich., a tiny swing town in a purple area of the state, even neighbors disagree. Abigail Censky from member station WKAR in East Lansing has more.


ABIGAIL CENSKY, BYLINE: Walking down the street that bisects charming downtown Williamston is like walking through a field of yard sign landmines. The yard of Mimi's Busy Bee preschool has a God-and-country Trump sign. The purple house across the street sports a Biden-Harris 2020 sign. Beth Bush lives in the middle of all of this. Her house has a blue hate-has-no-home-here sign. Over the din of summer cicadas, she says she tries to stay out of politics.

BETH BUSH: I don't really engage in conversations like that amongst friends because there's a couple of things that you don't talk about unless you're with really, really close people.

CENSKY: Bush didn't vote in 2016 but plans to this year. She's a teacher and says education is her main issue, but she's still undecided.

BUSH: And so, like, that's kind of a big thing for me, and I can't say that either person running for president would be somebody I'd want to choose, to be honest. So (laughter) it's back to the drawing board.

CENSKY: President Trump narrowly carried this part of Michigan in 2016. Two years later, a narrow win in Williamston helped Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin pick up the U.S. House seat here. It's still a conservative part of the country, says Todd Gardner. He's voted for Democrats in recent elections. Speaking in the parking lot of a busy store, he says he thinks most voters here will go for Trump again, but not him.

TODD GARDNER: Anybody but Donald Trump.

CENSKY: Gardner says he supports former Vice President Joe Biden's pitch of restoration.

GARDNER: My hope is that the tone of the presidency can return to what used to be normal. I think this has not been a normal four years of a president, and I really would like to get back to people not shouting at each other. I know we live in a divided nation, but it just seems he's made it more divided than it has to be.

CENSKY: Those divisions are a big concern for Sheri Holman. She's retired and from a family of union autoworkers who ditched Democrats in 2016 to vote for President Trump. She says she'll be voting for him again for what she says is the safety of the country. Holman says she doesn't know what will happen if Biden is elected.

SHERI HOLMAN: I can't, really, but I just don't think he has, really, the backbone. I think he does whatever people tell him to do, where I think Donald Trump is - many people don't like him, and I don't necessarily like him personally, but he's a strong - he's got a strong backbone.

CENSKY: She says she's not optimistic a Biden or Trump win will calm the political climate.

HOLMAN: I'm sure there'll be riots no matter which way it goes.

CENSKY: For places like Williamston, the next two months will be tense, even if people avoid talking politics around town.

For NPR News, I'm Abigail Censky in Lansing.


Abigail Censky
Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.