By Max Charles and Ariel Thomas| firstname.lastname@example.org
No matter who wins this year’s presidential election, it’s clear that 2016 will be remembered as one of the most politically charged. When asked this week about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, voters don’t hesitate to blast them both.
“Hillary is a liar who would get us and our troops killed and Trump is just too crazy to lead the country,” says Tom Hamilton, a 23-year-old bartender and registered Libertarian who lives in St. Augustine. “I’m voting for Deez Nuts.”
Deez Nuts had filed to run for president as a write-in candidate in 2015. His candidacy drew national attention after voters learned he was actually Brady Olson, then 15, a student from Iowa. Hamilton says he’d vote for Deez Nuts as a protest against the other candidates.
He’s not the only one who’s been turned off by the presidential race. Charles Dunn says what bothers him is “the amount of sensationalism” in the contest.
“People care more about the image that they’re voting for rather than the issues,” says Dunn, a Flagler College student. “You have to vote for the better of two evils, ignorance versus corruption. It’s pretty telling of our country and the circus politics we’re involved in.”
“I’m very against all of it,” agrees Cassie Smith, referring to the upcoming general election.
Smith, 19, a student at Flagler College, is a registered independent and says neither Trump nor Clinton has inspired her to go to the polls.
“Even when you vote, I think it doesn’t count. I think it’s all a scam.”
But the political issues being blasted in the media are inescapable, says Smith, who grew up in a generation where all her peers share everything online.
“We’re all on social media,” says Smith. “And that’s all we’re talking about, and we’re tuned in to all the arguments.”
The Florida state primary was held on Aug. 30. Among the winners was Marco Rubio, who defeated businessman Carlos Beruff in the Republican primary.
Flagler College student Stone Duro, 21, was among those who on Tuesday.
“I’d say people in Florida care more about the Senate race than other elections specifically because of Marco Rubio,” Duro says.
Rubio will face Democrat Patrick Murphy in the general election.
Voter turnout in the primary was high, according to the Florida Division of Elections. Turnout jumped from 18 percent in 2014 to 24 percent this year, officials say.
Many people nowadays vote not just because it’s their civic duty, but because of how they view the importance of the election, according to a Harvard Kennedy School study .
It has been an emotional and combative presidential race.
“People are unhappy with the people in office,” said Ken Cerotzke, 70, a tour guide in St. Augustine.
But some voters say they aren’t necessarily inspired by either candidate.
“It would be different if there was only one ignorant candidate running instead of both,” says Flagler College student Kierra Wilson, 20, who has no party affiliation and has never voted.
People of all ages are disillusioned with politics.
Charles Wilhelm, 75, a retiree from Miami, says he votes “only if I really like the person – or don’t like the alternative.”
His wife, Silvia Wilhelm, 70, said she planned to participate in all elections, and could see how the political climate was affecting voters.
“In some ways this is disgusting – horrendous. The options are not attractive,” she says.
“It’s an embarrassment to the political process,” her husband said.
The couple’s daughter, Lisa Capps, 43, said the “scary aggressive” nature of the election encouraged her to vote.
Some voters have been switching parties in recent months.
Courtney Fisher, a 21-year-old senior at Flagler College, registered as independent, but later switched to Democrat so that she could vote for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. She says that she is worried that Trump will win the presidential race. At the same time, she’s pleased there is a woman presidential nominee.
Deanna Silvey, a 21-year-old Flagler College student, says switched from Republican to Democrat.
“I only considered myself a Republican because my family is very conservative, but the more educated I became, the more I realized that I had acceptance for certain groups of people (gays, transgender, immigrants, etc.). I realized then that I agreed with more of the social views of that of the Democratic party,” Silvey says.
She said she plans to vote against Donald Trump.
“I think Trump is intolerant of so many people and he promotes this intolerance to his followers. He goes against my social and economic beliefs.”
Courtney Knudsen, Brianna Kurzynowski, Troy MacNeill, Rebecca Spreitzer, Roxanne Steward and Lindsay Tahan contributed to this report.