11/04/08 — Morning turnout steady in Wayne

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Morning turnout steady in Wayne

By Steve Herring and Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 4, 2008 1:46 PM


Blondine Knelsen, left, gets an "I Voted" sticker placed on her by Wayne County Board of Elections precinct assistant Dorothy Burns after voting at the Wayne County Public Library polling station in Goldsboro today.


The gray skies didn't slow the early morning voting at the New Hope Fire Department.


Campaign workers hand out information touting their candidates at the polling place at the New Hope Volunteer Fire Department early this morning. The polls will be open until 7:30 tonight. Voter turnout was expected to be heavy despite the rainy weather.

Because of the historical level of one-stop early voting, Kathie Davidson wasn't sure what to expect this morning when polls opened at Oak Forest Church of Christ.

What she found was a line of 20 voters waiting for her at 6:30 a.m. By 9:20 a.m., 134 people had cast their ballots and while the early-morning rush had eased, there continued to be a steady flow of voters.

Those observations were shared by poll workers at other locations across the city. Several also noted the small number of campaign workers, most huddled under umbrellas.

Nor did the steady, and at times heavy, misting rain appear to keep voters away from the polls.

And while the rain was creating some mud, voters said they were glad the political mudslinging is nearly over.

Several especially didn't like U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole's ad calling challenger Kay Hagan a "Godless American."

"When you question a person's beliefs, you are in foul territory," Jimmy Exum said at the WAGES Building after he voted.

Melisha Thompson at Faith Alliance Church said she had a hard time making up her mind whom to vote for because of the candidates' aggressiveness in many races.

"They were all gnawing at each other," she said. "They were mean this time, and I'm so glad it's over."

But although many of the candidates went too far in their attacks against each other, she said the presidential candidates "kept their cool."

Ms. Davidson, chief judge at Oak Forest Church of Christ, said the turnout is normally good because of the precinct's large size.

"But with all of the people who voted early, I was not sure what to expect," she said. "I don't think the weather is affecting the turnout either."

After the early rush traffic was "steady," she said.

"We have not stopped, it has been constant," she said.

About 30 voters were in line at 6:30 a.m. at the Precinct 5 polling place at Belfast Pentecostal Holiness Church, said Rita Marshall, chief judge. Just two and one-half hours later, 136 people had voted and more continued to come in.

Ms. Marshall, who called the early turnout "excellent," said the large precinct normally has a "pretty good turnout" depending on the election.

"Around lunch and by about 5:30 p.m., we will have a good crowd," she said.

The turnout was a little lighter at the Wayne Center, where voters in Precinct 17 cast ballots. But even then 67 people had voted by 8:30 a.m.

Chief Judge Ken Woolsey said 20 people had been waiting in line when the polls opened compared to the normal one or two.

Woolsey said the precinct is a small one, but that he has seen a steady flow of voters.

He said voters and the few campaign voters nearby had been orderly and well-behaved.

He declined to speculate on what is fueling voters' interest, but did say, "Personally, I think people are just excited about coming out to vote."

The Precinct 11 polling place Greenleaf Christian Church also was busy with 110 people voting before 9 a.m. About 25 people were in line when it opened, Chief Judge Cherry Townsend said.

"The turnout is good despite the weather," she said. "No, no, no -- I think everybody would still be voting even if it was snowing outside."

Many of the early voters, she said, are employees at Wayne Memorial Hospital or county schools, who stop in to vote before going to work.

Ms. Townsend was expecting more than 2,000 people to vote before the polls close at 7:30 p.m.

Alycia Coley said this election has made people of all races think about the power of voting.

"It's a great thing," she said. "And what makes it better is have you ever noticed that more of the younger generation is interested in the election? Even preschoolers are wanting to learn about how to vote. And college students, too. I think it's a great thing for the world to see."