State News

Registration deadline brings flurry to elections offices

Posted October 10, 2008
Updated October 13, 2008

— A flurry of activity in elections offices statewide peaked Friday in the hours leading up to the 5 p.m. deadline for voter registration

Those who didn't register by Friday still have the option of registering and voting at a one-stop voting site between Oct. 16 and Nov. 1. They must register and vote at the same time, however, and cannot vote on Election Day.

Friday's deadline meant another wave of paperwork for election workers.

North Carolina added more than 600,000 registered voters to its rolls in the first nine months of the year, swamping election officials, who are scrambling to process the paperwork of those eager to cast a ballot.

"Pretty much all the staff is working on no sleep," said Gary Sims, deputy direction of the Wake County elections office. "Everyone is just in that mode to get stuff in. We know how important this election is, so everyone is working hard to get it done."

Twins Paul and Joe Hesselblad were part of the deadline rush.

"He actually was in California for the last presidential election, so he's not registered at all here," Paul Hesselblad said. "I voted in the last presidential election, and this is is more important than the last one."

"I woke up this morning, (and) he said, 'You have to register.' I said, 'OK, let's do it,'" Joe Hesselblad said with a laugh.

Cherie Poucher, director of the Wake County elections office, said she loves the added interest the election has created.

"Democracy's a wonderful thing, and the more people that participate in it, the happier we are," Poucher said. "It's a lot of extra work. But to see the interest – to see people getting ready to exercise their right to vote – is a good feeling."

The deadline marked an end to a historic registration period in which a heated Democratic primary began a voter-registration surge that has continued unabated as Election Day has approached.

Democrats have enrolled 290,808 of the new registrants since Jan. 1, while 128,162 new voters have enrolled with the GOP.

Democratic hopeful Barack Obama hopes to take advantage of the disparity to become the first from his party to win the state in presidential balloting in more than three decades. Adding to the furor, North Carolina also has two of the most-watched races in the nation for U.S. Senate and the governor's office.

"I believe that we will be over 4.2 million voters who participate in this election, and that will be somewhere around 68 percent turnout of registered voters," said Gary Bartlett, director of the State Board of Elections.

Poucher said thousands of new registrations have poured into her office each day since the start of the month. Her staff moved into a new room to handle all the paperwork, sorting piles of envelopes and buckets of mail seven days a week. Hundreds of phone calls come in each day from voters wondering if they are registered.

She warned new registrants their voter card may arrive a little late this year because of the backlog, but said all who signed up on time will be able to vote.

"Generally, in a normal time, what we get in on Monday is processed Tuesday," she said. "But when you start getting thousands and thousands a day, it will take longer to get through them all. But we will."

Bartlett encouraged voters to take advantage of early voting so that tempers don't flare in long lines on Election Day. He's hoping that some 35 percent of voters cast a ballot before Nov. 4 to relieve some of the strain.

"We hope that every person that wants to vote before Election Day chooses that option or a mail absentee ballot," he said. "That would take a tremendous burden off on Election Day."

Statewide, 368 one-stop voting spots will open next Thursday – 100 more sites than North Carolina has had previously – including some at shopping malls that will be operating on weekends.

"The way we look at it, maybe you might still stand in line at an early-voting site, but why take a chance at having to maybe stand in line three or four hours on Election Day," Sims said. "(There is) just no need to take a chance in this election. Get out there and vote, and vote early."

22 Comments

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  • makeadiff Oct 10, 2008

    Who is going to pay for all the promises of free this and free that? Nothing is free.The money has to come from somewhere (increases in taxes).We have far too many people leaching on those who work hard to try to make a good living only to have it taxed out of them and given thoughtlessly away.This is SOCIALISM.Soon there will be no incentive to work hard and try to make a better life for you and your family. It will get to be so disheartening that people will just give up. Think about it. Where there is no incentive there is no drive. No drive equals less people working and creating.American ingenuity and pride will suffer greatly.Soon there won't be enough contributing members of our society to support the burden of socialism.Our quality of life here in the USA will steadily decline in more ways than one. This is so frightening on so many levels.Let's start rewarding productiveness instead of punishing it."Ask not,what your country can do for you,but what you can do for your country.

  • mike275132 Oct 10, 2008

    Soon Comrade Obama becomes "Dear Leader".
    We won't need to have these silly elections ever again.

    All Hail Obama! Onward to National Socialism!

  • onyourheels2 Oct 10, 2008

    have no fear, it's one thing to register and another thing to vote correctly. remember, dems have a hard time voting correctly. it tough connecting those dots. i think this year, you are suppose to connect to persons name that you don't want as pres to the dot beside pres. i'm forwarding this to acorn so they will be aware of it.

  • PaulRevere Oct 10, 2008

    Great news...if they are all legit. I'm not holding my breath.

  • iwideopen Oct 10, 2008

    Looks like the Republican scare tactics did not work this time around.

    NC is going to go blue -- Obama/Biden 08'

  • The Fox Oct 10, 2008

    I thought Nevada got all the Dallas Cowboys signed up including Terrell Owens?

  • now Oct 10, 2008

    ACORN has already registered all of the Carolina Panthers. They registered the Dallas Cowboys last week so it is our turn to get some good decent Liberal corruption.

  • cary2006 Oct 10, 2008

    What this country needs is not a Democrat nor a Republican in office- what we need is an HONEST person to stand up for what is right!

    Well; theoretically yes. what is right is relative to where you stand. Fed paying mortgage for a homeowner in trouble is good for him/her and it is good for the bank and realtors ; but is it good for other homeowners?

  • cary2006 Oct 10, 2008

    I love the early excuses of voter fraud coming from This election will be just like 2000, it'll wind up in the courts, we'll see if they're as willing to get it over with quickly when a Dem's on top as they were when a Repub was on top.

    The supreme court is ready too. they do their part to help out the repubs.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Oct 10, 2008

    redapace: "Typical politics. Blame the voting system when you are losing. Democrats have done it in the past and now it's the republicans' turn."

    You are right, to a point. But if you had paid attention the last couple of Decades, the Republicans have been complaining about the SAME THING consistently. It's the Democrats who go out in bus loads, lead people on, and register useless people to vote. Not to mention ACORN who is registering tons of dead people and non-existent people to vote. And I GUARANTEE you the masses of these illegal votes won't go Republican. That's the Republicans' complaints. Has been and will continue to be.

    As stated previously, I'm locked and loaded with my LEGAL voter registration. McCain/Palin in '08.

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