Sitting outside Jacksonville’s Good Bean coffee shop, Kathie Olsen says she’s astonished that anybody could still be undecided on whom to vote for in the presidential election. She supports Sen. Obama, but has reservations. - Bob Pennell

Misgivings haunt voters in presidential race

JACKSONVILLE — After listening to two years of campaigning, you'd think most Jackson County residents would have made up their minds in the presidential election.

Yet there remain a few holdouts, and still others who have misgivings about the candidate of their choice.

Jacksonville resident Nuch Polgrang is among the undecided voters torn between Democrat Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain.

She said the vice presidential selections complicated the issue for her.

"I want a lady to get involved," said the 42-year-old at the local post office Monday.

Polgrang leans toward Obama, thinks McCain is a bit old, but likes his vice presidential pick, Sarah Palin.

"If Obama had chosen Hillary (Clinton) that would have been better," said Polgrang, who said the economy is the driving issue for her.

Polgrant and other county residents have about a month left to make up their minds. Ballots will be sent out Oct. 18 and must be returned by mail or placed in an official drop box no later than 8 p.m., Nov. 4.

Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker said the voter turnout this election should be at 85 percent or higher. In 2004, the turnout was almost 84 percent.

"The excitement you feel right now is just phenomenal," she said. "It's inspiring as far as seeing people being really interested in the process."

Walker predicts more than 120,000 voters in Jackson County will register for the election. Currently, there are 117,608 registered.

Kirby resident Wayne Oliver, who was sipping coffee at a Jacksonville cafe Monday, said he was undecided because neither candidate excited him.

"I don't think it really matters," said the 61-year-old veteran.

He said he's leaning toward McCain because he also fought in Vietnam.

But, he added, the government overall hasn't been kind to people who have served in the military.

"They don't take care of us very well," he said.

Jacksonville resident Kathie Olsen has trouble believing anyone could be undecided at this point.

"It's kind of amazing," she said.

Contrary to what some political pundits have been saying, the 64-year-old doesn't think the election will be about the undecided voters.

"I think this will be about whoever gets out the vote," said Olsen as she sat at a local coffee shop.

Even though she's a Democrat at heart, she isn't happy with some of the stances Obama has taken with regard to drilling for oil or the war in Afghanistan. She also said he has not taken a strong stance on the issue that's important to her — the environment.

"I am so mad I could spit," said Olsen. "If you stand up for the environment, you're a radical. It doesn't make sense."

Bicyclists at another coffee shop in Jacksonville said they try to steer clear of politics because it usually gets a little too heated.

That didn't stop Jerry Rhoads from taking a few potshots.

"The old guy's just going to die, and I heard his running mate being interviewed and she sounds like a high school girl, " said Rhoads.

Rhoads' two conservative buddies didn't want to be identified for this story, but one said he supported McCain because the important issues for him are abortion and the economy.

Looking across the table at his two conservative friends, Rhoads said, "We drive the Geo Metro, they drive the Mercedes."

Across town, Lawr Hugo said there are problems with both candidates.

"If you're looking for some great leader that's going to change everything, that ain't going to happen," Hugo said.

Hugo, a 59-year-old Ruch resident, said he leans to Obama but thinks both candidates are putting out more smoke than truth.

"I don't think the truth is on either side," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or

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