State News

Early voting in 2012 could exceed '08 totals in NC

Posted October 17, 2012
Updated October 18, 2012

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— Campaign activists have accelerated their hunt for votes for President Barack Obama, Republican Mitt Romney and other candidates in North Carolina on the eve of in-person early voting, redoubling their emphasis on personal contact with likely voters.

Voters can cast absentee ballots at more than 350 locations in all 100 counties starting Thursday. The pressure upon campaigns during the early voting period is enormous in a battleground state such as North Carolina, causing them to ramp up get-out-the-vote efforts. Voting Find an early voting site near you

"Every single day of early voting is Election Day," Hanna Lyons, an Obama volunteer, said inside a former hardware store that now serves as a campaign office in the Raleigh suburb of Fuquay-Varina. "Whatever push we feel in November, we feel that daily in early voting."

Mitt Romney's eldest son, Tagg Romney, knocked on a few doors in Winston-Salem, Burlington and Raleigh Wednesday to get out the vote and convince people his father is the right man for the White House.

"He's worked at fixing things, turning things around," Tagg Romney said. "I can tell you, as a son, he is a really good guy. The other team is trying to paint him as someone he is not."

More than 2.4 million people cast in-person early votes in 2008, or 55 percent of all ballots cast in the general election. Many attribute early voting by Democrats to Obama's 14,000-vote win over Republican John McCain, the first for a Democrat in North Carolina in 32 years.

"It's not too much to say that literally every vote counts, and both campaigns have got to realize that the more votes they bank, the better their chance on Election Day," Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer said Wednesday. Early voting Ballot changes may make early voting more attractive

First lady Michelle Obama spoke about early voting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Tuesday and inspected an RV called the "Early Vote Express" that began touring the state Wednesday. Another Obama campaign charter bus emphasizing early voting has been traveling the state this week with guests like Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and other GOP politicians were expected to hold similar early-voting events Thursday. Romney's eldest son, Tagg, was expected to knock on doors for his dad in Raleigh on Wednesday afternoon.

But much of the get-out-the-vote work falls to Romney supporters such as Ed Stiles and Rhian Merwald, who canvassed a neighborhood Tuesday in Garner, 10 miles north of Fuquay-Varina.

As residents walked their dogs or puttered around in golf carts, Merwald and Stiles asked people who answered door bells whether they could count on them supporting Romney, gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory and the rest of the Republican ticket. They left campaign literature and lists of early voting sites. People who weren't home received door knob hangers listing Republican-backed candidates.

Door-to-door visits work because it "reinforces that people are not alone in their sense of frustration and that their values are being completely ignored," Stiles said.

Republicans historically have emphasized mail-in absentee votes, and GOP voters again have turned them in at a rate higher than their registration totals so far in 2012, according to State Board of Elections. But while roughly 225,000 people voted by mail in 2008, Democrats swamped early voting sites four years ago and ended up casting 560,000 more ballots than Republicans before Election Day, according to board data.

Republican National Committee political director Rick Wiley said activists will focus on "flushing" — a term to describe driving GOP-leaning voters living around early voting sites to the polls.

"I don't believe the Democratic margins are going to be nearly as high as they were in 2008 in those opening days of early voting," Wiley said as volunteers made phone calls to likely voters at the state GOP headquarters in Raleigh.

North Carolina Obama campaign spokesman Cameron French said the campaign is "very confident in our ability to turn out voters in the early vote time period" given the four years the organization has been working in the state.

That organization includes 54 campaign offices, including the one in Fuquay-Varina. Tagg Romney knocks on Raleigh doors for dad's campaign Tagg Romney knocks on Raleigh doors for dad's campaign

A wall calendar in the basement had Thursday's date highlighted with green marker. Volunteers sat at a folding table and called supporters to remind them of early voting. Retired government employee John Partridge, of Holly Springs, is volunteering for the first time because he said Obama needs four more years in office to straighten out long-term problems that couldn't be fixed in one term.

"If the people don't get out to vote, then we're liable to be in that ditch again, and this time we will be covered with dirt," he said.

State elections director Gary Bartlett said he believes the in-person early vote will meet or exceed 2008 totals. Bitzer predicts two-thirds of the ballots could be cast by mail or in person before Election Day. There are now nearly 6.6 million registered voters, 300,000 more compared to November 2008.

"There are going to be long lines at early voting sites and long lines on Election Day," Bartlett said.

134 Comments

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  • bdaughtry2 Oct 18, 5:21 p.m.

    > You have a very flexible view of the past. - WooHoo2You

    And you have a distorted one.

  • WooHoo2You Oct 18, 4:18 p.m.

    > How old are you? Guess you didn’t know there was a president between Reagan and Clinton. - WooHoo2You

    bdaughtry2,

    -Meaningless point.

    That’s the only ones you can point out.

    -The point was the boom started with Reagan,

    Boom to our debt.

    -and yes for my clueless friends, there was another Bush in front of Clinton....

    Glad you are learning.

    -and that coupled with Newt Ginrich's republican congress is where the surplus and balanced budget came from....

    So Newt ‘laid the groundwork?’ (love how you pick and choose...PRICELESS)

    -Clinton began the unraveling with Bonnie Frank and the housing cancer they created.

    Whatever Rush tells you to think.

    - That's your history lesson for the day.

    You have a very flexible view of the past.

  • WooHoo2You Oct 18, 4:15 p.m.

    > > Um, CONSUMERS create demand for products which drives production (thus creating wealth) in our CONSUMER based economy. - WooHoo2You

    So consumers created a demand for Apple's ipod...THEN Apple decided to build it. You do not understand economics. And, since I majored in economics....just keep making yourself look foolish.-bdaughtry2

    So if Apple did not make the Ipod most of the people who bought one would have not spent the money on something else? (There are more MP3 players on the market) If Kraft did not make Mac & Cheese kids would go to bed hungry? LOL…you majored in economics!

  • piene2 Oct 18, 3:25 p.m.

    "> Why would that be necessary? Those people know what is good for them - piene2

    Are you holding them at gunpoint?

    bdaughtry2"

    Are you kidding me? even though my drivers are telling the people that there are long waits to vote, the vehicles are running full up and hardly have time to stop for breaks or fuel. I am doing dispatch duty and the phone is ringing off the wall with requests for pick ups. We need more vehicles and more drivers.

  • piene2 Oct 18, 3:12 p.m.

    "Tell us piene2, is the price of golf higher now or when you sold? ------------------------------ I'll help. Approx $950 in 2009 and $1600-1700 in 2012. So I guess those so called fools did OK for themselves.

    cgpvnp"

    That is good. that is very, very good. They may have done well for themselves but they have done far better for me. I bought the bulk of my gold in the sixties and seventies and I bought it for very little. During the bush years I bought no gold as such but did buy a lot of jewelry among other things. I bought it for less than it would have brought simply selling it as gold but it is not my responsibility to educate others. When President Obama was elected I sold a lot of precious metals at huge profits to those silly people that thought the sky was falling. Now when President Obama is reelected I will sell even more at huge profits. Of course if, somehow, Rmoney were to be elected, as soon as the economy tanks again, I will be back buying for pennies on the dollar.

  • bdaughtry2 Oct 18, 2:40 p.m.

    > And preceded by an 8 year Reagan presidency.-bdaughtry2

    > How old are you? Guess you didn’t know there was a president between Reagan and Clinton. - WooHoo2You

    Meaningless point. The point was the boom started with Reagan, and yes for my clueless friends, there was another Bush in front of Clinton....and that coupled with Newt Ginrich's republican congress is where the surplus and balanced budget came from....Clinton began the unraveling with Bonnie Frank and the housing cancer they created. That's your history lesson for the day.

  • bdaughtry2 Oct 18, 2:37 p.m.

    > > Um, CONSUMERS create demand for products which drives production (thus creating wealth) in our CONSUMER based economy. - WooHoo2You

    So consumers created a demand for Apple's ipod...THEN Apple decided to build it. You do not understand economics. And, since I majored in economics....just keep making yourself look foolish.

  • Barely Oct 18, 2:11 p.m.

    Why is early voting such a big deal? Your vote doesn't count any more than on election day, and you are basically locking into a candidate. Say it was discovered next week that the candidate you voted for was caught selling weapons to a drug cartel and selling those drugs to a terrorist organization for campaign money. You already voted for that person, so if you changed your mind... too late. It doesn't make sense, unless you are absolutely going to be able to vote on election day or you prescribe to the saying "vote early; vote often".

  • delta29alpha Oct 18, 1:48 p.m.

    Doesn't a person have to have a job before he can become a consumer? Is this a chicken and egg scenario? Are not the wealthy also consumers probably spending more than the the middle class on products and services that support businesses that in turn provide jobs for their employees?

  • WooHoo2You Oct 18, 1:22 p.m.

    > Clinton balanced the budget, left us with a surplus

    > With a Republican controlled Congress his last 6 years I do believe - wmoss2

    And preceded by an 8 year Reagan presidency.-bdaughtry2

    How old are you? Guess you didn’t know there was a president between Reagan and Clinton. LOL!

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