Sotir Shuka, a former writer and journalist in his native Albania, voted in his first US presidential election today, casting his ballot at the First Church of Swampscott in the morning.
Back in his native land his life was endangered for his political writings. People voted in Albania but they were told whom to vote for, told which ballot box to place their vote in, their actions monitored by police.
He became an American citizen one year ago.
Today, he said, he voted for change.
"We need to move forward, we're kind of stuck," he said.
Inside the First Church, Laura Kelly was voting in her latest presidential election. She first voted back in the 1980s.
She votes because it is important, a civic duty and because she has a clear-cut favorite in the race.
"I want Obama back and things done right," she said.
On the Road
Over at the Swampscott Dunkin' Donuts, the clerk said he was for Obama, too, but most of the people who were driving up to the Dunkin' window were saying they voted or were going to vote for Romney, he said.
All three polling places in town were busy, even hectic.
Some voters came to the polls and discovered they needed to reactivate their registration.
Some voters found out they had come to the wrong precinct.
Over at Precinct 2 the walk wasn't very far for some voters in the wrong place.
The Senior Center typically has both Precinct 1 & 2 voting in the same room; one on one side of the lunch room, the other on the other side of the lunch room.
But Precinct 2 Warden Sherman Freedman said voting officials decided to put the precincts in different rooms after experiencing how busy it got in the last presidential election.
They were busy today, too, albeit, in different rooms.
As of 1 p.m., more than half, 733, of (about) 1,300 registered voters at Precinct 2 had voted.
After they were done casting their ballots, voters could treat themselves to homemade baked goods.
In the cold outside the Senior Center, Ciara Silverman, Grade 10, and Alayna O'Keefe, Grade 9, sold baked goods including Election Day Cupcakes by junior Austin Sagan.
The sale was a benefit for the Peer Leaders group at the high school, a group that promotes positive activities such as a wellness event.
Ciara and Alayna had one pair of gloves between them so they shared, one wore the rightie and one wore the leftie. Then they would trade off to warm their other hands.
Fortunate for the baked sale sellers at First Church the sale was inside.
The big seller was the homemade cakepops. The goods were made by the moms of children who attend the church's preschool.
And the baked sale benefitted the preschool.
Earlier in the day, before lunch, GOP supporter Tim Keeter and several other GOP supporters held signs at the side of Monument Avenue without any competition from the left.
Their counterparts had been on the scene earlier.
He said he was getting an enthusiastic response from passersby — honked horns and thumbs up.
He didn't expect Romney to win in Massachusetts but he did think that the former governor would do better than expected.
Later, a contingent of sign toting Democrats returned to the scene, toting signs at the rotary. A saxophone player jazzed up the campaigning.
Sax player Paul Kusinitz of Lexington has been playing his big baritone sax at Elizabeth Warren events. Swampscott was his 31st stop in the campaign season.
At the Swampscott rotary he played swing numbers for about 90 minutes including Chatanooga Choo Choo.
He said it was delightful playing in the sun and looking out toward the ocean.
At the Swampscott Middle School, five family members walked to the polls.
There was Swati Kelkar and her son, Vaibhav, 2.
Swati's parents, originally from India, were voting in their first presidential election here.
Her dad, Shubhanan Patwardhan, 71, and her mom, Shubhada Patwardhan, 64, put off a trip to California so they could vote in person.
"We are thrilled," he said.