Raleigh, N.C. — Preliminary totals from the state Board of Elections show that more than 460,000 North Carolinians had voted early in Tuesday's primary by the time one-stop voting sites closed early Saturday afternoon.
Extra poll workers staffed each of Wake County’s nine one-stop voting sites. In Wake County about 5,600 voted on Saturday. Overall 37,000 people in the county took advantage of one-stop voting for the primary.
In Durham, 20,231 people participated in one-stop voting.
“We were just surprised with the volume,” said Gary Sims, Deputy Director of the Board of Elections in Wake County.
Sims said longer lines before the election theoretically should mean fewer people at the polls on Election Day itself. He added that though many people have become accustomed to voting early, just as many are used to voting on only Election Day.
“That’s why we will always have Election Day,” Sims said.
According to the State Board of Election's Web site, 466,396 people had voted by 10 p.m. Saturday. That includes at least 22,181 mail-in absentee ballots.
Hazel Thomas was likely the oldest early voter. The 101-year-old Raleigh resident cast her ballot Friday at the Wake County Board of Elections office.
During the final campaign days, Democratic presidential candidates, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, and their surrogates will be criss-crossing the state.
The Obama campaign said a last-minute get-out-the-vote effort Saturday had volunteers and staffers canvassing neighborhoods and holding rallies in cities, including Chapel Hill, Durham, Fayetteville, Raleigh, Southern Pines and Wilson.
Recent polls show Obama's lead slipping into the single digits as the two vie for North Carolina's 115 pledged delegates.
The race between Clinton and Obama is the primary's marquee match-up, but a slew of state races are also on the ballot.
Republican and Democratic voters will give the nod to their nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and state attorney general, along with the state cabinet. Seats in the U.S. and state legislatures are also up for grabs.
Judgeships and district attorney positions – including Mike Nifong's old seat in Durham County – will be contested.
Some local referenda will appear on the ballot, including the land transfer tax in Orange County.
Polls open at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday for primary-day voting.