11/07/06 — Off to the polls

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Off to the polls

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on November 7, 2006 1:45 PM

As voters pulled into the Greenleaf Christian Church this morning, a blue T-shirt-clad Carey Winders support group cheered them on from the parking lot.

“Vote Winders,” they yelled, as each resident walked into the building to cast their vote.

But despite their efforts, officials inside said by 9:30, less than 100 had made it to the polling station. Maybe it was the rain or the high early voter turnout taking its toll on the numbers, Chief Election Judge Curtis Hinton said.

“It’s going pretty steady right now,” he said. “We’re getting maybe 28 or 29 voters per hour.”

The rate is lower than Hinton has seen in previous years. This is not the first election he has judged.

Still, he expected a higher turnout than he has seen thus far.

“I thought it would be a little heavier,” he said. “It’s not crowded at all. There’s just not as many people coming in as you would expect.”

The difference between today’s turnout and that in 2004, for example, is striking, he added.

“During a presidential vote year, you might have people backed out the door,” Hinton said. “But this is the way it has been all morning — one or two coming in at a time.”

Across town at the Wayne County Public Library numbers were even lower. By 9:30, only 53 had cast their votes.

Hundreds had shown up, precinct Chief Judge Judy Hallow said, but most of them were there expecting to do early voting because in previous weeks, the library was the one-stop place to be for early voting.

“It takes time to get their name and address, find them on the map and direct them to the proper place to vote,” Ms. Hallow said.

The turnout at the WAGES Building was slow and steady, too.

Still, Chief Election Judge Bobby Jones said turnout was better than the same election last time around.

“We’re having more than I would have projected,” he said. “I’ve contacted other polls, and they say the same thing — it’s steady.”

Cindy Williams and her husband, Rick, were among those few to check their favorite candidate this morning. She said she hoped more Wayne County voters would ignore the weather and hit the polls.

“It would be a real shame if the right candidate for the people isn’t elected because voters didn’t want to drive in the rain,” Mrs. Williams said. “I know people always have regrets after an election, and I would hate it if that was the case tomorrow morning.”

Her husband agreed.

“People who don’t vote are putting our democracy at risk,” he said. “The right to vote for those people we think will lead us in the right direction is all we got. If we don’t use it, we might as well not be American.”

Polls countywide will stay open until 7:30 this evening. Election results will be available in the Wednesday edition of the News-Argus.