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News

Voting early means long lines
 
Published Thursday, October 30, 2008
by LaToya Hankins, For The Charlotte Post

Stephanie Cain had never seen anything like it but she refused to let a little line stand in the way of casting her vote on Oct. 26.


“I’m from California and the longest I had to ever wait to vote is 20 minutes,” as she stood in line at Freedom Library.


“This is my first time voting in North Carolina and when I got into line today the second quarter for the football game had just started. Now, we are into half time and I’m still in the line.”


Cain is one of the estimated 105,000 voters in Mecklenburg County that have taken advantage of early voting as of Oct. 27, a figure that has astonished election officials.


“I have been surprised at the consistent growth of people coming out to vote,” said Michael Dickerson, Mecklenburg County Board of Elections director.


“Usually when we have done early voting the numbers start off gangbusters then peter out and pick back up as it gets closer to election day. This year, the numbers have been growing and growing each day.”


Early voting started across the state on Oct. 16 and ends Nov. 1. According to the N.C. Board of Elections, as of Oct. 26, more than 1 million people in North Carolina had voted as part of early voting. The total number of votes cast for the 2004 election was 984,000 during early voting period. After only 10 days of early voting for the 2008 election, 1,078,710 people had voted.


The majority of those casting early votes were Democrats, who made up 58 percent of the voters. Republican voters made up 25 percent of those who have cast their vote.


Dickerson said there have not been any major problems with early voting and he credits the Board of Elections’ decision to open 20 sites to allow people to cast their vote.


But, there were still lines of up to two hours at some sites.


Three of the busiest have been the Marion Diehl Recreation Center with 7,648 votes by Sunday followed by the University City Library with 7,007 and the South County Regional Library.


In contrast, the Plaza-Midwood branch, which reported lines that snaked down the street, reported 3,896 voters.


The reasons for early voting for those who braved the lines at libraries and community colleges across the city were varied. Some people voted during the weekend because their jobs would make it unlikely they would be able to vote on Election Day.


Churches across the city brought members to the polls and on Oct. 27, there were scores of voters who stood in line after leaving services early to be in place when the polls opened at 1 p.m.


Others, who had experienced the long lines that come on Election Day, decided to brave the long lines when they would have the time to spare to wait.


“Long lines when it comes to voting are universal but I rather do it early than the day of the election,” said Robin Hayes, who voted Oct. 25 at Plaza-Midwood Library.


“The closer it gets to election, the longer the lines will be and I rather come out early to make sure my vote gets counted.”


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