DEL VALLE — I spent the morning in Del Valle to find out what Election Day would look like on the fringes of booming Austin. Del Valle is a majority-Latino unincorporated area that, while still largely rural, has seen explosive population growth in the last two decades. In Del Valle ISD, 81 percent of children are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and voter turnout tends to be low.
At the Del Valle Community Center, a small building surrounded by fields, I met Albert Dickey, an unemployed web developer. Dickey explained that the community center functioned in part as a food pantry. In fact, he had come from Austin to get food and, realizing that the building was a polling location, decided to vote there as well (Travis County voters may vote anywhere within the county).
“I usually vote Democrat, but I voted Trump this year,” Dickey said. “I just don’t like Hillary personally; in fact, I voted Trump and then all Democrats after him.”
Juan Jimenez, a car mechanic and longtime Del Valle resident, said the last time he voted was in 2000 — for George W. Bush.
But Trump upset him so much, he said, that he had to vote this year.
“All Trump knows how to do is host reality TV shows and grope women,” he said. “I don’t like either of the candidates, but I’ll take Clinton over him.”
At another polling location, I met Joe Jimenez, the election judge on duty. “We had 121 people in the first two hours we were open,” he told me. “A lot of first-time voters, and people who didn’t know if they were registered or not.”
He said that he was seeing an increase in voters who spoke only Spanish and in voters who are Vietnamese, Japanese and Filipino.
Outside, I met first-time voter Shane Ramey, who moved from Arizona to Del Valle for construction work. Ramey voted for Trump, he said, because we need “a change of pace.”
“Trump’s got an economical background,” Ramey said. “He’s had some bankruptcy issues, but no one’s successful all the time.” Ramey clarified that he doesn’t identify with either political party and said he considered both options: “I could almost agree with some things Hillary said, but I agreed more with Trump.”
Read the rest of the Observer’s election day coverage here.