They came with their kids. They came with their elders. They came with their dogs.
They came wearing pantsuits and proudly sporting their red “I Voted” stickers.
On a glorious, sunny November day, all the ingredients were coming together perfectly for Minnesotans to revel in their quadrennial celebration of democracy.
The only problem was, by the time the party started, the guests were ready to go home.
“I’m glad it’s over,” said Troy Borca of Rosemount. “The negativity, the mudslinging.”
Heather Binger of Lakeville agreed. “It’s been very divisive with friends,” she said.
“Like everyone, I’ll be glad when it’s over,” said Apple Valley resident Michael Solum.
A sense of weary frustration came out time and again in conversations with Twin Cities-area voters Tuesday. A bitter political battle that outlasted nearly everyone’s patience was over. But instead of joy, many felt exhaustion.
“It’s been annoying,” Jake Helmandollar said, exiting his Lakeville polling place. “Just so negative.”
Many voters spoke of anxiety and fear.
Annoula Bahneman of St. Paul emigrated to the United States from Greece 55 years ago. Wearing a Greek-themed bandanna, Bahneman said she’s never seen an election like this: “It’s not the America I came to in 1961.”
Krista Carroll of Blaine, a business owner and mother of four, called the election “wildly disheartening.”
“You would hope the best of humanity would be represented in our leadership,” she said. “That wasn’t the case this time.”
Carol Longtine, 77, of Minneapolis, said she fears a rupture in the fabric of society.
“I’m very afraid of the results. I’m afraid of whichever one gets elected. I’m afraid of civil unrest,” she said. “It has been possibly the scariest campaign that I’ve ever experienced.”
Leyla Mohamed brought her 2-year-old daughter, Manha, to her polling place in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. Mohamed said she hopes for peace after the election.
“I don’t want America to become like other countries,” she said. “My baby was born here. This is her motherland. I don’t want this to be like Somalia.”
The end of the bitter campaign didn’t spill over into Election Day battles at polling places. Voters are being “very civil,” said Amy Steeves, an Apple Valley poll worker. “It’s about the right to vote.”
And the day wasn’t without joy. Like many, Troy Widner of Eagan was glad that the long election season was over. But he was energetic and upbeat as he left his polling place.
“I’m glad we finally got to have our say,” Widner said. “And that actually feels good. I’ve said what I wanted to say as a citizen.”
Siiri Davidson of St. Paul strolled up to her polling station dressed to support Clinton in a tan pantsuit she dug out of her closet, her late grandmother’s red hat and a blue scarf. Dozens of women held a pantsuit parade in downtown Minneapolis to demonstrate their backing for the first female presidential nominee from a major party.
And in the end, Yahye Musse offered the perspective of someone who knows what life is like without elections.
He emerged from the Brian Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis with a smile on his face and a cigarette in hand. The American citizen, a native of Somalia, has now voted in two presidential elections.
“It’s very different in Somalia. No elections there. It’s better here,” Musse said.
Staff writers Liz Sawyer, M.L. Smith, Shannon Prather and Rochelle Olson contributed to this report.