10/16/08 — First voters: Lines are long as residents take advantage of one-stop voting

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First voters: Lines are long as residents take advantage of one-stop voting

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on October 16, 2008 1:46 PM


Voters wait in line to cast their ballots at the Wayne County Public Library in Goldsboro today as the early voting process for the Nov. 4 elections begins.


John Tew, left, and Terry Daily vote early.

Many Wayne County residents were ready and raring to cast their votes during the first day of one-stop voting today.

About 30 people waited outside the Public Library polling station on Ash Street, with the line of voters extending around the corner of the building.

Some, like Shelton Sutton and Charles Kirk, had been there since 6 a.m.

"I wanted to be the first," Kirk said about why he came to vote early, but Sutton got to the library before he did.

Sutton said he wanted to "go ahead and get his vote over with early," and when asked who he would vote for in the presidential election, he replied, "(Sen. Barack) Obama."

"He and I will cancel one another out," Kirk said about their votes, implying he would vote for presidential candidate Sen. John McCain.

But most who told of who they would vote for as the next commander in chief didn't pick the Republican candidate.

"I'm so excited that in my generation, history will be made," Vanessa Kirby said. "I feel like Obama is the better candidate. And it's because of Obama that young people are voting."

Bernard Saltr wasn't afraid to tell who his vote would be cast for, either.

"Obama, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, of course," he said.

And when asked why he would choose the Democratic candidate, he replied, "Because we need a change."

Mary Whitley asked to wait to reply about her vote until she actually cast it, so as she walked out of the library, she said she voted for "the Democrat" in the presidential election.

But as she was waiting in line, before casting her vote, she said she hopes that her waiting in line will "be an incentive for everybody else to vote."

"I am going to try and get as many people out here to vote as I can," she said.

Francis Nottingham didn't want to reveal his pick for president -- he said he just wanted to come out and "exercise this right and responsibility to vote" -- and his wife, Vonda, said only that she would vote for "the best one to get the job done."

For birthday girl Evelyn Everson, voting was the best gift she said she could give herself.

"I just hope that it's fair and there are no issues with the equipment," she said. "We are all here to elect the best person for the job."

A few of the residents waiting to vote at the library said they came today to get their vote over with, as this year's November voter turnout is expected to be a large one.

Since the May primary, 3,413 new voters have registered in Wayne County, not counting another 850 who have not yet been entered into the system, according to county election officials. Twice as many Democrats, 1,673, registered as did Republicans, 828, during that time. Another 901 registered as unaffiliated and 11 registered as Libertarians.

The county has 65,962 voters eligible to cast ballots. Democrats account for 33,276 of the total; Republicans, 21,198; unaffiliated, 11,468; and Libertarians, 20.

Elections officials expected up to about 60 percent, or almost 40,000, of that total to cast ballots. Approximately half of the votes cast were expected to be one-stop votes, election officials said.

By 9:45 this morning, 256 residents had already cast their ballots, according to election officials.

Others at the library, like John Tew and Terry Daily, said they came because their polling stations were changed, and it was closer to do one-stop voting at the library than to vote on Nov. 4 at their new station.

Neither would say who their choice for president would be, but both said they were tired of the politics.

"I want to vote and get this mess over with," Tew said.

The mess he was referring to was, "all that crap said on TV (about either politician)," he said.

"Yeah, I would rather see them talk about the issues than all this back biting," Daily said.

Daily was the only person in line who would reveal his choice for a local seat.

"I can tell you that I am going to vote for Mr. (Eddie) Radford who is running for the school board," he said. "I've been knowing him for a long time."

Archer Watkins' reason for voting early was aimed at a U.S. Senate candidate.

"I'm here to fire Elizabeth Dole (the Republican candidate for the Senate) because she's totally lost contact with the people in North Carolina," he said.

He said he was also out early today because the government "spent $10 billion a month in Iraq and now they want to move into Afghanistan" and "because a woman should have a right to choose whether she has a child or not."

And though he didn't discuss his pick for president, he did say, "I'm here to vote for a change because we need it. And you can capitalize that if you want."

The county will have three primary locations open for one-stop voting through Nov. 1, with two satellite sites to open during the week prior to the election.

The primary one-stop voting locations are:

*Wayne County Public Library, 1001 E. Ash St.

*Dudley Fire Station, 4533 U.S. 117 Alt. South at Dudley.

*Woodmen of the World, 3733 U.S. 117 North.

The sites will be open Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.

The satellite one-stop voting sites will be open Oct. 25 through Nov. 1 at the Fremont Town Hall, 120 E. Main St. in Fremont and Johnston Ambulance Service, 2803 U.S. 70 West. The hours of operation will be 1 to 5 p.m.

All five sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 1, the final day of one-stop voting.

One-stop voting also offers a way for people who missed last week's registration deadline to still vote.

A separate table will be set up at the sites where people may register and vote on the same day. To do so, they must have a photo identification that has their correct address. Lacking that, a bill, such as a utility bill with the address, may be used.

To register to vote, a person must be a U.S. citizen 18 years of age or older and must have been a resident of the state and county for 30 or more days prior to the election.

The deadline to request an absentee by mail ballot is Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. The ballot must be returned in the mail by 5 p.m. on Nov. 3. So far, the county has received 1,400 requests for absentee ballots.

The fastest way to receive such a ballot, elections officials said, is to mail a written letter to the Wayne County Board of Elections, Attn.: Absentee Request, 209 S. William St., Goldsboro, N.C. 27530.

The letter must include the person's name, date of birth, physical address, mailing address, the election day for which the ballot is needed -- in this case Nov. 4 -- and signature.

A near relative of the voter may request a ballot. The relative must state who the ballot is for and their relationship to the person. A near-relative is defined as a spouse, parent, grandparent, legal guardian, child, grandchild, sibling or in-law.

People who registered to vote on or after Jan. 1, 2003, and did not present identification will be required to submit one of the following forms of identification with their returned absentee ballot: a current and valid photo identification; current utility bill, government check, payroll check or bank statement showing name and address; or another current government document showing name and address.

More information about the election, a listing of candidates and sample ballots are available at the Board of Elections' Web site at www. waynegov.com/boe.

The Board of Elections office will open Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. and will remain open until all precincts have reported and returned their equipment.

Election night results will be displayed in the office's board room as they are received from the precincts.