Local Politics

Thousands cast early ballots

Posted October 16, 2008
Updated October 17, 2008

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— Hundreds of people lined up Thursday morning to cast their ballots as early voting opened statewide, and voters kept streaming through polling places across the region all day.

More than 1,700 people voted at Cary Town Center by Thursday evening, and some waited in line for more than a half-hour to exercise their right to vote.

"I'm just excited about this election. I think we got some important issues, and I want to go ahead and get my vote in there," voter Jamie Powell said.

Four other early voting sites in Wake County also attracted crowds Thursday.

"Some of them I've talked to, there were up to 400 people in line when they opened at 10 o'clock," said Cherie Poucher, director of the Wake County elections office.

About 700 people had voted by noon at the elections office, and Poucher said 7,600 people had cast their ballots across the county by the end of the day.

"We had record-breaking turnout this year,” elections official Nicole Shumaker said.

People who aren't registered to vote can register and cast a ballot at any site in the one-stop process. Another 10 early voting sites will open across the county on Oct. 23.

Voters Derek Crump and Thomas Austin said they wanted to vote early to avoid long lines expected at the polls on Election Day.

"It's going to be a huge election and (will create) a big turnout," Crump said. "I wish they would (allow early voting) even earlier."

"I assume on (Nov. 4) the lines are going to be a lot longer," Austin said.

More than 6.1 million people are registered to vote in North Carolina, including 2.8 million Democrats, 2 million Republicans and 1.3 million independents.

Voter Chester Borden said he had heard the candidates debate the issues for weeks and didn't need to wait until Nov. 4 to cast his ballot.

"(I want) to avoid the rush while everything is fresh in my mind," Borden said.

Ernest Whonder waited 35 minutes to cast his vote.

“This is an unusual year,” he said.

Marvin McClain voted in downtown Raleigh, where the lines were not as long.

“Whatever happens, whoever becomes president, I know, I had something to do with it,” he said.

Poucher said about 100,000 people voted early in Wake County in 2004, and officials hope that number will more than double this year.

The only problems reported Thursday were at Cary Town Center and Triangle Town Center, where mall managers stopped people from handing out pamphlets on candidates, Poucher said. Managers said they don't want shoppers to be bothered by the electioneering.

A ballot box at Triangle Town Center also jammed Thursday, which slowed the process as officials switched to a back-up system.

In Durham, hundreds of North Carolina Central University students rallied at the campus brickyard Thursday morning before marching to an early voting site at the old Holy Cross Church on South Alston Avenue.

In Cumberland County, long lines weren't the only problems for voters, as some had trouble finding a parking spot near the polls.

A tiny lot outside the Board of Elections office wasn't nearly large enough to accommodate the number of people who wanted to cast ballots.

"There's parking around downtown. They just may have to walk to get here," county elections director Terri Robertson said. "We've done all we could do by blocking off our lot."

Construction at the county courthouse means parking across the street from the office also is limited.

"I'm done with it, and I'm glad and I can go home," said voter Sharon Lopez, who said she was lucky to find a nearby parking space.

"I waited and waited," voter Lewis McKoy said. "I was lucky to get in."

Early voting will continue through Nov. 1.


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  • ifcdirector Oct 17, 2008

    I heard Obama's ACORN sent at least 100 homeless guys down there to vote.......at all four polling places of course.

  • TheWayISeeIt Oct 17, 2008

    Will they give preliminary results for these early votes, or do we have to wait until Nov. 4th?

    Voter registration fraud is being blown out of proportion by the right wing whiners. Even if Mickey is registered to vote, he still needs to show up at his polling place, provide a fake ID, and risk a felony conviction to do so." There were only 26 cases of voter fraud between 2002-2005 (see article on Slate.com), so it's a non-issue, as the electoral college prevents this one vote from ruining the whole election.

    Obama/Biden '08!

  • DrunkSober Oct 17, 2008

    Of the 7600, they reported on radio that 7,599 voted OBAMA and 1 voted for McCain.wow this change things is really getting popular.

  • Tawny Oct 17, 2008

    Carolinagirl: If you think that ALL presidents in this country have had EVERYONE'S best interest at heart,.....then I have some beach front property in Kansas to sell ya!

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Oct 17, 2008

    Obama's campaign and his surrogates says that those who oppose Obama are racist, yet over 90% of African Americans plan to vote for Obama because of his race. Seems the African American voters are the biggest racists in this election.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Oct 17, 2008

    Hopefully they are able to keep the hundreds of thousands of improperly registered by ACORN from voting.

    If we don't, ACORN which received $800,000 of funding from Obama will steal the election for Obama.

    $800,000 is a cheap way to steal the election.

  • carolinagurl Oct 17, 2008

    "it makes it too obvious your intensions when you are a 73 year old first time voter and african american- arfamr1031

    well arfamr1031, maybe it took 73 years for that african american to feel there is someone on his/her side for a change.. no pun intended."

    If it took 73 yrs to feel like there was someone on his/her side..that is unbelievable....and people say the "whites" are racist..I do believe that every president that has been in office or has ran for office had everyone's best intentions at heart....besides they all do not tell the truth...even Obama!!

  • dshell99 Oct 16, 2008

    i'm glad US Vet isn't running things. election day is ALWAYS a mad house. anything that makes it easier to vote and still go on with my life is fine by me! and absentee ballots are ALWAYS permissible for military personnel. they just have to get off their behinds and make sure that they ask for and get their ballots BEFORE the dates to ask and submit them runs out. there are so many things in this great country that you can get and do to make your life easier and better. you just have to get off your behind and do it. nothing comes easy. go vote 08!

  • TeresaBee Oct 16, 2008

    it makes it too obvious your intensions when you are a 73 year old first time voter and african american- arfamr1031

    well arfamr1031, maybe it took 73 years for that african american to feel there is someone on his/her side for a change.. no pun intended.

  • Quagmire Oct 16, 2008

    US Vet Totally disagree. I'm glad your not running things.
    I think election day should be moved to a Saturday morning and run thru Sunday evening.