Voters came in droves but with individual missions as they crowded into Allen County polling places on Election Day.
Those who chose to share their thoughts cited civic duty, the handling of the pandemic, the economy, or a general uneasiness across the nation. Mentions of specific candidates were rare in chats outside a half-dozen polling places. Timid voters balked at giving their names, especially last names.
Christie Cochran was among the 20 or so casting their ballots in the last half-hour at The Pointe Church, 5335 Bass Road, Fort Wayne. "It's just important to me that I exercise my right to vote," she said. "I've been blessed to live in the country where I am and so I just want to make sure that my kids know that I did my part in changing my history."
Ashton McFee voted at The Pointe moments later. "I was never really big into politics before," she said, "but I've been seeing what's been going on within our country and I've been paying attention to more than just the media and gathering my own information about who's running for president and deciding what would best benefit my country."
Candice Kaiser brought your daughter Marissa, 6, as she voted at Woodburn Missionary Church. "It's about patriotism," she said. "I grew up in a military family and understand my responsibility as an American, as a community member, to vote and participate. An election is just part of that duty."
Kevin Cressley also voted late in the afternoon at Woodburn. He said the widespread criticism of President Trump brought him out to vote for the first time, at age 57. "I don't understand it," he said. "We get a good president who's for the American people and everybody wants to complain about everything he does."
Sally Lake said she voted because she doesn't want Joe Biden to become president. "I think President Trump is doing a fantastic job," she said. "They made fun of him because he didn't control the epidemic, but he did. He sent medical ships and everything he could and they're still making fun of him.
"I don't like it when — and I don't care who you are — I don't like it when the politicians knock the other candidates instead of telling me what they're going to do. I want to hear what you've got going."
She said she is opposed to abortion and believes in the right to own guns under the Second Amendment. "I live in America and I want to stay free," she said.
At Saint Patrick's Church in Arcola, Todd Fick said he voted to preserve his Second Amendment rights. He also glanced at the school board races on the ballot. "I don't have any kids and I like where it's at so I just kept who's in," he said.
A couple who gave their names only as Bill and Tammy also voted at Arcola. About four voters were in the old school basement at that moment. An election official joked that it was part of the lunch hour rush.
"We're doing what you're supposed to do as an American citizen and hopefully give us four more years of prosperity," Bill said. "And we want to keep God out front."
"We're very religious on that," Tammy said. "The economy is doing good. My 401(k) was doing great before the pandemic."
"That killed everybody," Bill said. "But she's coming around again."
At Aboite Baptist Church, Zoe Liebrich said she cast her vote because she wants to preserve Americans' freedoms and ideals. She chose not to name her preferred candidate for president.
Jadyn, who chose not to give her name, is recently of voting age and voted for the first time, at Aboite Baptist Church. Her dad, Vince, also voted. Jadyn said the pandemic is an issue to her. "I think a lot of it has been handled a way that I don't agree with," she said. "I just think coming out to vote and voting a certain way would really benefit our country. My generation has had a lot to say and I think this year will be a big change."
She said she has been somewhat worried about voting. "But they talk you through it. It's fine," she said.
"She's very excited about it," Vince said.
Lines were long early at some polling places, dwindling at midday and growing again.
One voter returned to Woodburn at about 4 p.m. He said he had been there at 6 a.m. and about 200 people were in line. So he returned to a line of about 20, as the line began to grow once again.
At The Pointe, election sheriff and inspector Kristi Witte said about 760 people had voted by 4 p.m. Voters came in waves, she said. She said voters had been patient.
As 5:59 p.m. as darkness settled on The Pointe, Witte stood watch at the door. Two voters arrived with seconds to spare. She waved them through the door and to the desk. At 6:00, the doors closed.