Local Politics

N.C. early voting surpasses 1.6 million ballots

Posted October 29, 2008 11:03 p.m. EDT
Updated October 30, 2008 2:28 p.m. EDT

— More than 1.6 million people have cast a ballot in North Carolina's early voting. Early voting started Oct. 16 and goes through 1 p.m. Saturday, and more people have cast an early opinion in this election than at any time in the state's history.

Data that the State Board of Elections released Wednesday shows 1,690,195 people have voted at early sites. In 2004, the state counted some 984,000 ballots during the full early period.

Another 157,000 voters have cast an absentee ballots, including 5,848 in the military and 2,817 people overseas.

Elections leaders are encouraging people to take advantage of one-stop sites, fearing that Election Day lines could be long. Since Wake County opened 15 early voting sites, 155,755 people have cast votes there.

"I definitely know that I'm talking about it more with my friends than I did in the last election,” voter Kimberly Kirkchun said.

"It means a lot. I mean, it's history," said Kenneth Bryant, who voted Wednesday for the first time.

Historically, young, first-time voters make up a small percentage in Wake County.

"I think it will be high this time because we had such an increase in young voters,” said Cherie Poucher, director of Wake County's Board of Elections.

Poucher says it is too early to know for sure how big the count will be, but she is certain it will be higher than normal.

"There have been some very good grassroots-level organizations going out and registering people, and getting them into the process," she said. "Anything that is going to get them enthusiastically involved is very good for the entire democratic process."

"Come out and vote, even if it's not for Obama. Just vote,” said voter Brittany Morales.

In Johnston County, 22,818 people have cast an early ballot, officials said. Durham County has counted 64,908 early ballots since Oct. 16.