State News

N.C. GOP lashes out at voting sites near Obama rally

Posted October 19, 2008
Updated October 20, 2008

— North Carolina's Republican leaders lashed out at a county elections board that expanded the number of early voting sites open Sunday, saying it only accommodated people attending a rally for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Terri Robertson, director of Cumberland County's elections, said she was concerned that a crush of people Sunday afternoon would leave her staff working all night to process voters. Elections officials are required to process anyone who is in line by close of polls at 5 p.m.

"We decided that the best thing to do for our staff was to open two more sites so they weren't up all night processing voters," Robertson said, noting about 4,000 people in Cumberland County cast ballots on the first day of early voting last week.

The full county elections board, including one Republican member, voted unanimously on Friday to open two additional voting sites Sunday, bringing the total to five. The State Board of Elections also approved the move.

More than 2,500 people lined up Sunday at the five early-voting sites in Cumberland County to cast ballots, Robertson said.

The county doesn't plan to open voting sites on Sundays for the rest of the early voting period, but will have polling places open the next two Saturdays as well as week days, according to a schedule on the state elections Web site.

Linda Daves, chairwoman of the state Republican Party, said the party supports extra early voting capacity, but the GOP opposes such a move when it is taken to accommodate people surrounding Obama's campaign.

"Their action makes the voting process an extension of a partisan political rally and that is clearly inappropriate," Daves said.

More than 271,000 people have cast ballots statewide since last Thursday, when the early-voting period opened. About 60 percent of them are registered Democrats, about three times the number of registered Republicans who have voted, state officials said.

Obama's rally in Fayetteville, which ended mid-afternoon Sunday, drew more than 10,000 supporters, many of whom weren't able to get into the speech because of the crowded stadium but listened to it from speakers outside. His campaign has focused heavily on getting supporters to the polls before Election Day, and he continued that mantra Sunday.

"If you like what you hear today, and if you're ready for change, and if you haven't voted yet, don't wait until Nov. 4," Obama told the crowd. "We want to get as many votes in as possible as early as possible."

The Republicans plan to increase their early vote focus in the coming week with a number of scheduled events. Early voting lasts until Nov. 1.


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  • aag6422 Oct 22, 2008

    An 18 year old friend of mind went to the Cary Towne Center to vote for the first time. An older white woman watched him fill out his ballot and when he circled Obama's name she looked him up and down and said "it figures". My friend is biracial. What a wonderful first time voting experience for him. I thought the way a person voted was their own business?

  • ignc73 Oct 20, 2008

    ballmom: you heard that, huh? I heard that elephants are pink.

  • airbornegirl16 Oct 20, 2008

    I just wanted to say that to all of those yelling about race this and cheating that and unfair whatever need to seriously calm down. You want to get your point across? Get out there and vote for the candidate that you feel will turn this mess of a country around. Because we can sit here and insult and try to shut the other guy up all night long and it won't make a bit of difference. The real results will come Nov. 5th when hopefully we have someone elected to the presidency that can deliver what they promise. Also I fail to see the unfairness of the early voting place opening on Sunday when it was approved by the state board of elections.

  • ballmom Oct 20, 2008

    Farrakhan is on the record saying Barack Obama is the Messiah..i heard he was the anticrist which is a person, office, or group recognized as fulfilling the Biblical prophecies about one who will oppose Christ and substitute himself in Christ's place.

  • pennywigeon Oct 20, 2008

    Convenient. Early voting will only be open on one Sunday in Cumberland County and that was the Sunday of the Obama Rally. All other Sundays they will be closed.

    This is poor judgement on the Cumberland County BOE as it appears to be catering to the convenience of one event.

    To make things appear fair they should have at a few Early Voting Stations open EVERY sunday . Anything else and it looks very poor.

  • OhBella Oct 20, 2008

    Ha ha! Hey GOP's...what would Jesus Do? He says spread the wealth. Come don't get to chose when you get to be "conservative". What is wrong with those earning over 250,000 paying more in taxes? That's enough to live a comfortable life.

  • FairPlay Oct 20, 2008

    This was voted on by the local election board with a Republican member also. How is this unfair? Anyone could go vote there if they looked it up as a polling place.A vote is a vote and it is not cheating. And the Republicans are crying foul at every turn. It is getting pretty old.. (ha ha) I voted today and yes, split ticket. Just go and vote and stop complaining.

  • zeitghost Oct 20, 2008

    "open two additional voting sites Sunday, bringing the total to five."

    three were already scheduled to be open. it was the first weekend of early voting and they expected big numbers. McCain spoke in NC this weekend; i honestly don't see how it could be determined to be related to who was actively campaigning in the state at the time.

  • bill0 Oct 20, 2008

    They didn't change the voting hours and they didn't change the voting days. They just expected to get swamped with people that day so they opened 5 stations instead of 3 so they wouldn't have huge lines. Everybody who voted was entitled to vote and would have been able to vote at the other 3 locations. The only difference is that they didn't have to stand in line as long. Apparently, the GOP is mad because they were hoping that potential voters would just give up and go home if the wait was too long. They know that if all the newly registered voters actually go to the polls, it will be a landslide. McCain's only hope now is that those voters don't show up. Obama has already won the ground game in terms of registrations, so there are a lot more registered democrats than registered republicans now. McCain's only hope is to have a greater percentage of registered republicans show up.

  • Warden Oct 20, 2008

    I'm with everyone who wonders why this is such a big deal. It sounds to me like a few voting stations were foreseeing a bum rush, and looked for a way to spread the options around. I wouldn't care who was having a rally at the same time. Even if its only for one extra day, at one extra place, *anything* that enables more legal citizens to vote isn't bad in my book!