WAYNE COUNTY, N.C. — The presidential race is a big reason early voting is such a hit this year. So far, more than 185,000 people across the state have voted. Durham is leading the state with more than 11,000. Wake County has had about half that number, but early voting is not just a hit in the urban areas.
The line forms early at the Belfast volunteer fire station. On most days, people are waiting a half-hour before the doors open for one-stop early voting. Troy and Beverly James voted early for the first time. Both said they did not want to feel rushed and have plenty of time to go over the ballot.
"[We wanted to] make sure there are no mistakes and make sure everything is good," Beverly said.
John Floars and his family also decided the election was too important to wait.
"It's going to be a very close race, and we just wanted to make sure our vote was in. We couldn't afford to wait until the last day," Floars said.
Elections officials report a steady stream of voters at all three early voting sites in Wayne County everyday. By Wednesday morning, about 6,000 people had voted, which is nearly 10 percent of all voters in the county.
"There's no doubt we're already on track to have a record turnout," said Gary Sims, director of the Wayne County Board of Elections.
If the pace continues, elections officials predict nearly one-third of all registered Wayne County voters will vote before Election Day. Gary Sims is not sure why so many people are voting early, but he is glad to see it.
"What we're always worried about is someone showing up on Election Day and looking at a long line and turning around and not exercising their right to vote," he said.
Neighboring Wilson County is also reporting a steady stream of early voters. Nearly five percent of registered voters in the county have already cast ballots. One-stop early voting runs through Oct. 30 with more sites starting this weekend.