Record breaking: Early voting turnout highest in Wake County history
Posted November 5
Updated November 6
Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County surpassed all of its prior early voting turnouts, with more than 302,000 residents casting their ballots in the 2016 general election, the Wake County Board of Elections announced Saturday. The previous early voting turnout record was 260,743 in the 2012 general election.
About 44 percent of North Carolina voters have now cast ballots through in-person early voting or by mailing in absentee ballots, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
Officials said that more than 3 million people have cast ballots in the 2016 general election, with 2.9 million of them casting ballots during the 17 days of in-person early voting.
The massive turnout during the early voting period is outpacing the 2012 results by 13.4 percent, officials said.
Early voting ended at 1 p.m. Saturday in the vast majority of the state's counties.
“We are proud of the highest early voting turnout in the state’s history,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “Statewide, North Carolina had more early voting hours and more sites than ever before.”
At North Carolina State University, poll volunteers delivered pizza to voters who had been waiting in line for hours.
“It’s a big festive, cool thing that’s going on, but a lot longer than I was bargaining for,” said 19-year-old Abby Parker. “But I also want my voice to be heard, so we’re all here for the same reason. We believe in something and we’re here to stand up for it.”
On a university campus, many people in line were first-time voters.
“It’s exciting. I’ve been waiting to vote since I was like in middle school, so I want to take the opportunity,” said 19-year-old Olivia Zalecki.
"This is important. There are people in the world that don't get a chance to vote," Vito Petrone said. "I've got concerns about it, unfortunately, being the age of information with the Internet and media."
Donata Gerald brought her 11-year-old daughter to the voting booth to show her the importance of voter participation.
"I'm young. I can stand, no worries," Gerald said. "She gets to participate and watch me vote – very important. She's voted at school."