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Kerry Takes Crestwood, A Classic Swing Precinct

Among those voting for the first time was Marcos Araya, 38, a construction worker. Originally from Chile, Araya said he has lived in the United States for 20 years and became a citizen last November specifically so he could vote in this election. He cast his ballot for Kerry.

"We need the change," he said.

Edmund Siwick, 86, a retired Air Force and civil service worker wearing a National Rifle Association cap, said he voted straight Republican. His vote was as much a vote against Kerry as it was for Bush.

"Kerry scares the hell out of me," he said. "He's no hero. I've been in three wars -- World War II, Korea and Vietnam -- while he was in for four months and wrote himself up for his medals. Bush got an honorable discharge. I think Bush is a better man. He's got principles. He didn't flip-flop. The other guy, who does he think he's fooling?"

But the vote of veterans was not uniform.

Norman Wright, 72, who fought in the Korean War and is a former federal and state employee, was a strong Kerry backer.

"I'm a veteran. Bush isn't," he said. "He was in the National Guard. I don't know how he got the idea to go over and pick on Iraq. We've never had a president go into a war without a reason. With his father, Saudi Arabia asked us to help out. Nobody asked this Bush to go into Iraq."

His wife, Icilda, 73, also said she favored Kerry because of Bush's action with the Iraq war.

"Our dear beloved sons here in America are over there dying without any reason," she said. "In addition, food prices are high and there are no jobs. In four years, this president hasn't done anything beyond invading Iraq."

For some voters, Bush's handling of Iraq cut the other way.

Kelly Garcia, 36, a nurse and mother of three who was helping with the PTA bake sale outside the polling place, said she voted the same way this year as she had in 2000 -- for Bush.

"I believe in his policies," she said. "I trust him. My husband's a police officer. My brother's a police officer. The way Bush handled 9/11, I felt secure. And I don't trust anything Kerry says. He fluctuated too much."

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