Curtis Barnes resembled many other businessmen walking down Congress Street in Portland on Tuesday morning, with a snug necktie, shirt buttoned tight and jacket trim on his body.

The only thing he lacked was a red, white and blue “I Voted Today!” sticker on his lapel.

But Barnes, 68, didn’t vote Tuesday. In fact, he said, he has never voted in his life.

“I am politically neutral,” he said. “It’s part of the American system, and it’s part of what America is all about. Everybody has the right to choose.”

Around downtown Portland on Tuesday, it was hard to find many eligible voters who chose not to vote. Maine election officials reported heavy voter turnout throughout the day, and lapel voting stickers were as ubiquitous as wool hats on the chilly streets of Portland.

Barnes made his decision to abstain from politics out of high school, during the Vietnam War. He fancied himself as anti-establishment, and decided that not participating in the political process was more conscionable than voting for a candidate who might be complicit in a war he abhorred.

His feelings of disillusionment about politics did not wane, but over time, Barnes’ decision evolved into religious beliefs. He is a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and has taken what he calls a “biblical stand” against the political process.

Tuesday morning, while many of his friends stood deep in line waiting to cast ballots, Barnes met with others who share his religious beliefs to talk about their day and how they would explain their decision to those who might ask.

Others had their own reasons for not voting.

Earl Chick, 29, of Portland has voted in the past, and likely will again. But he admitted feeling apathetic about this election. The presidential election of 2000 between George W. Bush and Al Gore proved in his mind that his vote doesn’t really count — the Supreme Court, not the voters, decided that race, he said.

“That pretty much showed you that other people control who’s going to get elected. I’m apathetic about it, you might say,” said Chick. “I just, I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like they’re making much of a difference anymore.”

Shannon Googins, 23, of Saco has yet to vote, five years after becoming eligible, because she doesn’t think her vote makes much of a difference. She isn’t registered, and refrains from most political discussions.

She comes from a family of “staunch Republicans,” she said, and “if I were to vote, they’d be disappointed” with her political choice.

At the Mill Creek Shopping Center in South Portland, Joyce Tierney, 43, of Scarborough said she simply had no time to stand in line. She is a single mother of two who holds two jobs, and didn’t expect to get home before the polls closed Tuesday.

“If I was going to vote, I would vote for Romney because of the economy,” she said. “But I don’t have time.”

Aaron Klauber, 21, moved to Portland recently from New York. He is not registered to vote, although he considered registering and voting. Ultimately, he decided, “What’s the point?”

He admitted that he might regret his decision if the election came down to a few votes.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: pphbkeyes

 

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