11/04/12 — Making their voices heard

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Making their voices heard

By Steve Herring, Phyllis Moore, Ty Johnson and Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 4, 2012 1:50 AM

Some were motivated by the presidential election.

Others said they never miss an opportunity to cast a ballot, that they see voting as a civic duty.

They came for different reasons and marked different names, but thousands of Wayne County residents have already made their voices heard.

And Al Strohm, the chief judge at the Woodmen of the World polling place, said he has witnessed a "noticeable jump" in early voting.

Mount Olive resident Judelene Dume was among those who made the decision to head to the polls before Election Day -- one of many who made up the steady flow of voters who converged on the First Congregational Church on Friday to vote on everything from their wallet to a desire to continue or change the country's direction.

"It is very important to vote because the change still needs to continue," she said, placing her "I Voted" sticker on her car window.

The president's re-election bid drew her to the polls.

"I voted for Obama for president," she said. "I voted all Democrat. I was born a Democrat. ... Democrat is in my blood."

But others were not so sure that Barack Obama deserves another term.

Brent Williams said he was a registered Democrat, but voted Republican -- that he disapproved of the bailouts for the automobile and banking industries.

"I don't vote for the party. I vote for the man. That is who I vote for," he said. "I think the ideas that (the Republicans) have, if they will carry them out, we will be better off. If they don't carry them out, like the present administration has not carried them out, then we are going to be in the very same boat."

But what he saw as empty promises was not the only reason Williams cast his ballot for Mitt Romney.

He also expressed disappointment in how the country had handled the attacks in Libya.

"I think they could have done a lot different and saved a bunch of lives in doing something different in what they were doing," he said.

Others, like Lyndon Wallace, declined to say how they voted, but talked about the issues that brought them to the polls -- for Mrs. Wallace, unemployment and the military were two of the reasons she wanted to vote.

"It is an important thing to vote. Let your voice speak for your country," she said. "I have been voting for about 10 years now and I think it helps to come out and let your country know that you do count. You need to just get out and vote.

"My children are in the military. That was a driving force for me. I have a son and a daughter in the military and I have a brother in the military. My children came home and my brother came home. They have had two tours apiece and they needed to quit that and come on home and get that done and over with."

Domestic issues were a driving force for some.

Eileen Henderson spent much of her Friday campaigning for Obama because she feels Romney "can't get his facts straight and keep them straight," and doesn't stand for the entire population.

"That is concerning to me. I don't think it is time for our country to go through a major change of bringing Mitt Romney in. He does not see the big picture of the world. He doesn't see the big picture for the country," she said. "You know he made the comment behind closed doors about the 47 percent -- he didn't care about them. Well to me that spoke volumes about the man's character. He can't be trusted. I hope on Election Day, that comes clear to him -- that he was not a strong supporter of all Americans. Behind closed doors, the true Romney came out. That is what I am here for today."

But voters and advocates of particular candidates were not the only ones who joined the fray Friday.

Richard Worrells, a Eureka native, was outside Fremont Town Hall to prevent confusion.

At one point, he handed a sample ballot to Melvin Hall, a Fremont resident, and explained that a straight ticket doesn't include votes for president or non-partisan offices.

He shows him the straight ticket box for a Democratic ticket, just below the names of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

"And this is if you want to vote a straight Republican ticket," he said.

The Fremont Town Hall was a satellite polling place, opening up Oct. 28 to ease the strain on other one-stop sites throughout the county. The last day of voting there was Saturday, leaving Tuesday as the last opportunity for voters in the northern end of Wayne County.

Betty Campbell of Pikeville wasn't about to miss her chance.

Although she is from the area, it was her first time voting in Wayne County since she got married and moved away to Winston-Salem.

"I just wanted to make sure I got to (vote)," she said. "Today was a good day to do it."

And Diana McCullen, a new resident of the area, came early to change her registration from Nashville and said she put a premium on the right to vote.

"If you don't vote, you don't have an opinion," she said.

That much many agreed on.

And they seemed to be on the same page about the benefit of early voting, too.

Samuel Johnson characterized the process as "quicker and easier."

His wife, Linda, agreed.

"I like early voting because I don't like to wait until the last minute, get it out of the way," she said.

And Nikki Thornton of Grantham said she typically takes advantage of the earlier option.

"I'm hoping to avoid the lines on Tuesday. It's much easier," she said. "I want my voice to be heard. It's my right."