10/31/04 — Early voting in county shatters record

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Early voting in county shatters record

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on October 31, 2004 2:05 AM

Polls open Tuesday in Wayne County. Is there anyone left who hasn't voted?

When one-stop early voting closed Saturday, nearly 20,600 county residents had already made their choices for president, governor and county commissioner.

That equals a 34-percent turnout before the first ballot is cast Tuesday. It's nearly three times the previous mark for one-stop.

"What can I say? It's been incredible," Election Director Gary Sims said Saturday night. "We have broken every record that we could have imagined."

The final tally was 9,403 voters at the Wayne County Public Library in Goldsboro, 6,904 at the Belfast Fire Station, and 4,274 at the Dudley Fire Station.

The 20,581st and last person to vote via one-stop was Alando Mitchell, 32, of Goldsboro. He had stepped in line at the library just before Board of Elections member Chet Beverly called the 1 p.m. deadline.

Mitchell wasn't fazed at all by the news that he'd still have to wait an hour.

"I want to go ahead," Mitchell said. "That way I can head home from work Tuesday, sit down in front of my TV and watch the election returns start to roll in.

"I know it's going to be crazy at the polling places Tuesday. Knowing that I've already voted and my vote's going to count, that means a lot to me."

In addition to the one-stop ballots, the Board of Elections had received 918 mail-in absentee ballots as of Saturday, with more expected in the mail Monday.

But that doesn't mean that the poll workers will have nothing to do Tuesday.

The county has 63,001 people who are eligible to vote, and Sims is now preparing for a total turnout of 85 percent, which is 20 percent higher than his earlier estimate.

For those who still need to vote, polls open Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. All 30 county precincts will be used during the election.

Even though interest has been high this year, especially in state and national contests, many of the local "races" are one-person affairs.

Three of seven Wayne County commissioners aren't opposed, nor are two of three school board members. Three legislators didn't draw opposition, and five District Court judges will all return to the bench next year.

But voters will still pick a president and vice president, a U.S. senator, governor and council of state seats.

Control of the Wayne County Board of Commissioners rests on whether Republicans can win three of the four contested seats.

Pete Gurley, chairman of the Wayne County Board of Education, faces a challenger, Joseph Hackett.

And a strongly contested fight is being staged for register of deeds between Democrat Lois Mooring and Republican Chris West.

Voters should remember that people who want to vote a straight-party ticket must still vote separately for the presidential/vice presidential ticket and in non-partisan races, such as school board, judicial and constitutional amendment.

Anyone with elections questions can call the Board of Elections at 731-1411 or visit www.waynegov.com/boe.