State News

North Carolina turnout strong at early voting sites

Posted October 25, 2008 5:50 p.m. EDT
Updated October 25, 2008 6:18 p.m. EDT

— This year, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are locked in a close presidential race as an unprecedented number of voters in North Carolina are casting their ballots early.

The State Board of Elections Web site Saturday reported that 18 percent of North Carolina voters have already gone to the polls.

Early voting began Oct. 16 across North Carolina and attracted some 214,000 voters in the first two days. The crowds have caused waits of an hour or more in some areas.

Despite long lines, elections leaders are encouraging people to take advantage of the one-stop sites, fearing that Election Day lines could be even longer. Wake County has even expanded the number of early voting sites available.

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

North Carolina, which has 15 electoral votes, has become a battleground state after going more than three decades without voting for a Democrat. President Bush won the state by 12 points just four years ago, but Obama has aggressively campaigned here, trying to capitalize in changing demographics and a large number of black voters galvanized by his candidacy.

Early voting ends Nov. 1.